VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 6 CATEGORY: Strategy POSTED ON: 4/28/2012
Anybody in any business should have an "expert" book to confer credibility, authority and "expert" status. An "expert" book is the ultimate business card and generates revenue for its author without a single copy ever being sold. How do you write an "expert" book? This article provides many possible formats.
An “Expert” Book Can Take Many Forms Note: This is an excerpt from the book, “Why Every Speaker Should Have an ‘Expert’ Book”, by Alan Stransman, available as a free download at: http://www.expertbookcreation.com. Michael Levin, who has ghostwritten a great many business books through his company, Business Ghost, maintains that there are two common formats for a business book. The first is a “solution” book which describes, in step-by-step detail, the solution which you offer to the problem or problems that keep your prospective customers and clients awake at night. This type of “expert” book is typically about 150 pages in length, consists of between 10-12 chapters and contains between 1-3 main concepts. According to Levin, the traditional “solution” or “problem- solving” book should have the following structure: Chapter 1: Empathy – I feel your pain! The author presents a “killer personal war story” to demonstrate that he or she has “been there” and understands the reader’s pain. Chapter 2: I am the solution – there is hope! The author presents all of the wrong ways that other so-called “experts” propose to solve the reader’s problem, and then positions him or herself as the only one with the right solution. Chapter 3: Here is the solution. The author lays out the process – that is, the fastest, best, cheapest and/or simplest solution to the reader’s problem. Ideally, this process consists of 6 or more steps, which will be described in subsequent chapters. Chapters 4-10: Step-by-Step description of the solution. The author describes the solution to the reader’s problem in step-by-step detail, devoting an entire chapter to each step. Chapter 10: Summary of the key problem and of the author’s solution. The author restates, in slightly different language, the problem, the “wrong” solutions and the right one. Chapter 11: Encouragement plus a Call to Action The author encourages the reader to go “out there” and succeed on his or her own if the reader is so inclined or to visit his or her website, call for a free consultation, attend a conference or seminar, or whatever is the first step in the process of engaging the author to solve the reader’s problem. Chapter 12: About the Author The author’s bio, contact information and additional products and/or services offered by the author. The other most common business book format, according to Michael Levin, is the “Captain of Industry” model. The “Captain of Industry” Model As the name suggests, the “Captain of Industry” business book model can – or, perhaps, should – only be attempted by iconic business leaders like Bill Gates, Howard Schultz and Jack Welch. This genre of business book can actually be longer than the first model – as long as the author wishes it to be, really – as it conflates history with personal memoir, along with a bit of prognostication. Although it may contain more chapters, The “Captain of Industry” template is, essentially, comprised of six main elements: 1) History of the author’s industry (i.e. automotive industry, computer industry) 2) History of the author’s company (either as founder, partner or as an employee) 3) The author’s rise to the top of his company (usually meteoric, but not always) 4) The author’s philosophy of business (and of life, if applicable) 5) The author’s vision of the future for his or her industry (and for the world and/or business world) 6) The author’s prescription for society The “Solution” and “Captain of Industry” models may well be the most common formats for an “expert” business book, as Levin suggests, but they are far from being the only types of book that can be created by or for someone wishing to establish his or her expertise or authority in a particular industry or niche. I always tell my prospective book clients that there is a model or template to fit any industry, niche, personality and price point. (On this last point, if you are considering hiring someone to write your “expert” book for you, as a general rule, a book of 150-175 pages would require approximately 100-150 hours of my time as a ghostwriter, and that would include 10-20 hours of interviewing time. A book of 250-350 pages could well require 200-300 hours of my time.) If you are planning to write your “expert” book yourself - and you are not an experienced writer – the two common business book formats cited by Levin may take much longer than they would take me, for example – and prove to be prohibitively time-consuming. Happily, there are many other ways to create an “expert” book which require less time and effort. Additional “Expert” Book Formats The following list will give you an idea of the wide range of approaches that one can take to creating an “expert book’. Many of them can be accomplished by the author – or by a ghostwriter like me – in 50 hours, or even fewer. • The “List” approach, such as 21 Ways to Be Save Time and Money on Your Tax Return • The “Step-by-Step” format, as in A Step-by-Step Guide to Opening Your Own Small Business • The “FAQ” model, as in 20 Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor Before Your First Baby Arrives • The “Mistakes” format, such as, The 9 Biggest Mistakes First-time Home Buyers Make • The “How-To” book, as in, How To Lose 20 Pounds in 20 Days • The “Interview” book, in which the author is interviewed and the transcript of the interview is edited and published in book form • The “Collection” approach, in which a collection of previously published articles, blog posts or even stories written by the author are compiled and published in book form • The “How to Hire” model, in which the author explains how to hire someone like him or herself, as in How to Hire a General Contractor or How To Hire a Nanny • The “Recipe” book - one of my personal favourites for chefs and/or restaurant owners – in which the author presents some of his most popular recipes or creates new ones And that is not all. Internet marketing and Kindle publishing guru James Jones suggests that anyone can base a book upon the “tips”, “tricks”, “secrets”, “techniques”, “tactics”, “strategies”, “plans” or “shortcuts” – in other words, the inside “dope” - in a particular industry or niche, an approach which could certainly work well for an “expert” business book. The opportunities to create a helpful, informative and authoritative “expert” business book are truly endless. And, in the brave new world of print-on-demand and digital publishing, books do not need to conform to a publisher’s standards or expectations in terms of length, format, content or genre. They only have to fulfill the informational needs of the reader. In other words, if the content is valuable to your prospective customers or clients, the book will be valuable to you. For example, Maria Gudelis’ book 21 Ways to Use Social Media contains 21 chapters – one for each way to use social media– and is only 48 pages in length, and yet, has been published on Amazon. While it is considerably shorter than either of the common formats cited by Michael Levin, it is, nonetheless, an “expert book”, and one which Maria has used to attract a significant number of clients to her personal coaching and consulting business. Perhaps, the most important lesson from this section of the report is to recall Woody Allen’s remark that “80% of success in life is about showing up”. The same could well be said of an “expert” business book. Just having a book can confer benefits upon anybody in any business – and the more relevant the information, of course, the more stature, credibility and visibility it will confer - and the more value it will have. For more information on how to write an “expert” book visit: http://www.expertbookcreation.com.
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