You have a deep desire to write a book. You’ve been writing down ideas, and you believe that you could develop an original approach to your subject.
This makes a great start, but before you set the keyboard on fire, do your research.
Check Out the Competition before You Write a Book
Whether you started a business or stepped into the leadership of an already-existing company, you need to know what the competition is doing. Avis never takes its eyes off Hertz.
As an author, you don’t need to maintain that kind of perpetual focus, but if, for example, you intend to a guide about women succeeding in business, you must not only research but read other books in that category.
You can do this in several ways. Ask your friends in business what they’ve read on the subject recently. Start your list.
If you watch talk shows geared to women, see if authors on the subject are appearing or have appeared on the show. Watch their interviews.
Finally, go to Amazon. You will find this to be an invaluable source of information. I’m demonstrating this by breaking down the listing for a best-selling book on the subject of women succeeding in business.
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, by Sheryl Sandberg
(4,368 reviews averaging 4.5 stars)
I found this listing by using the search terms “Best Sellers Women Success Business.” Although other books were listed on the page, I chose this one because of the phenomenal number (4,368) and quality (4.5 stars) of the reviews.
Next, I read the synopsis, from which I list an excerpt.
“Lean In [combines] personal anecdotes, hard data, and compelling research to change the conversation from what women can’t do to what they can. Sandberg provides practical advice on negotiation techniques, mentorship, and building a satisfying career. She describes specific steps women can take to combine professional achievement with personal fulfillment, and demonstrates how men can benefit by supporting women both in the workplace and at home.”
Next, I read some of the reviews. I recommend reading some 5-star and some 1-star reviews. This gives a feeling for what people most like and dislike about the book.
Finally, I look at the categories.
#3 in Books > Business & Money > Biography & History > Economic History
#4 in Books > Business & Money > Women & Business
#6 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Women’s Studies > Feminist Theory
The book is a best seller in some carefully targeted categories. Reading them will give you an idea of what the book covers.
But don’t stop there. Get the book and read it.
Repeat as Necessary
Look for other best sellers in these categories. Check the numbers and quality of reviews. Read the synopses. Look at the sales status statistics. If you decide the book is worth reading, get it.
Do the same for the books that have been recommended either by friends or the media. Come up with a list of five or six books you think will be worth reading. Read the descriptions, taking notes.
Then focus on what you to say on your subject when you write a book, a new twist on familiar subjects, and how your own experiences can demonstrate an original approach to familiar ideas.
Now that you know you can add something fresh and valuable to your subject, it’s time for you to write a book. Congratulations! You’ve launched your author’s journey.
- There is an article or book trapped inside you that is aching to get written
- You are interested in developing or expanding your ability to write for publication.
- You are unsure how to get started as an author.
- The idea of writing seems so overwhelming that you do not know how to start.
- You are afraid of being embarrassed by misusing words.
- You are concerned with avoiding traps associated with being an author or editor.
If you liked this post, you’ll love How to Get Published.
Pat Iyer is an editor, author, book coach and ghostwriter who helps individuals create books that encourages their expertise to shine and advances their businesses. She has written or edited 48 of her own books.