How to build a business around your book – part #1 ideas
Many people who want to write a book, dream of how their book will make them money and change their life. One of the best ways that I know is to think about how to build a business around your book before you start writing.
This concept is often one of the last things that people think about as they consider the task of writing a book. Yes, a book does take time, but then so does all products that are worth waiting for.
It is often argued that it’s easier to produce an online course first. As someone who also does this, I can tell you that it takes time and effort to produce a course. Even courses that are text-based that do not require you to make and record videos still need planning and the content creating.
Nothing that is worth having will come in a flash, unless of course you win the lottery and then you still have to buy a ticket and keep your fingers crossed – for a long time.
Where do you start?
You start with a business plan. I’m also assuming that as part of the business plan you have a marketing plan. Yes, really. But for the purpose of this article I am going to assume that you have a plan for your business and it’s more about product development.
Next, then become clear about why this book. In fact, why a book at all? I guess for most people you write a book because you want to reach others with your message and inspire them. You want an asset that enables you to raise your visibility, be seen as credible and an expert in your field.
Remember you may not always end up with the book idea that you first started with.
When you have a clear vision about the book and your message then you can start to imagine what other products you could be selling that makes running your business more interesting, which gives you greater flexibility and variety. Plus, you have a business which is both more enjoyable but also sustainable.
Writing your book gives you clarity of purpose and message and it gives you a starting point for developing ideas for other products and services. It makes sense to see your book as a business asset around which you can create a business that you love.
It will mean venturing into the unknown and perhaps adding to your skill set or utilising a skill set that is a little rusty and it will mean tearing your hair out at times learning the ropes of this new way of thinking.
Because I’ve come from industries (IT and manufacturing) where product development is the life blood of the business, I can see clearly how this works and so, I hope, will you.
What do you want to build a business around?
Before you can bring your book or books to life, I always ask the question what you want to create in the world? Never what is your why? What I have noticed is that while start with why is popular it seems to stop rather than start the conversation, or at least for a while.
I, for example, am creating a community of people who want to make a difference. Where people come to write to heal, through this they find who they are, who they, in turn, want to inspire, by writing a book, developing other products and services, share their knowledge, skills and experience and uncovering what they want to create in the world.
Words change lives, whether that is writing in a journal, a blog or a book, words change the way that people think about themselves and the world.
As you write your book, you will change. Even writing a book that you think is based purely on a business concept will change you. One client shared that writing his book enabled him to gain clarity about his coaching process which he’d never had before.
For me, it means using my skills to help my clients to share their knowledge, skills and experience in a way that supports them to build a business around their book from a place of creation rather than feeling like they should do it.
Everything I do comes back to will this support a writing community?
It is more than writing because when someone sets out to write the book, I encourage them to think of the bigger picture and ask what else can you create with this book or series of books?
Then out of that, there are the many business building tools that are needed. In simple terms, when you write a book it is not a single solitary act, it requires more thought, depth, planning and resources.
I think my many years as a business consultant drummed it into my head that it’s ok to have a brilliant idea, but you have to create a brilliant business around it too.
ACTION: Let’s get back to that all important question – what do you want to create in the world?
Daydream a while, then bring your imagination into reality by writing it down, play with your ideas, then start to map out the possibilities and the actions required. It’s ok you don’t have to do it all yourself, however, while you are at it think about what resources you might need.
This creates an umbrella over your business. Or a rainbow if you like of the many possibilities you are now going to manifest.
What is the core message of your business?
Creation and the core message go hand in hand. This is the big idea which lies at the heart of your business.
This answers the questions of why you do what you do, your values and the value you deliver, the what, which is the difference you make in your customer’s lives.
Because it is about making a difference, isn’t it? It’s about solving ‘problems’ for other people and adding value to their lives in some way. And finally, the how, which is the way in which you do things. If you can distil this into a few sentences you will be able to show what this is.
ACTION: On a sheet of A4 mind map the answers to the questions above.
What are your business values?
When you have your core message, everything hangs off that. Your core message has to come from within, which is why after creation, I move onto my values. My business values look like this:-
- Right people
My values tell a story. If I create and deliver value, inspire the right people who want to make a difference, I will create wealth for all and have the community I desire.
ACTION: What are your business values? Do they tell a story, and can you use them to craft your core message? What do each of your values mean to you?
Why does your business exist?
Outside of making a profit, whenever I think of my business the word inspiration always comes to mind. I want to inspire others to use their wisdom to inspire others. I believe that if we can inspire one other person to change and grow and they go out and inspire someone else we can make this a better world.
Perhaps a little too idealistic for you? You might want something more practical. My business exists to fulfil the needs of its customers, I assume yours does too.
The practicalities come in how I do what I do. Planning, writing and publishing the book. The development of the launch and marketing plan and product roadmap are other elements which we consider. Then we can get right down to the detail for example of the day to day brand building stuff such as blogging or creating an e-book and lead page.
ACTION: Start with a word that helps you to feel your why and then think about what you might build a business around. Then consider what problems you solve for your clients and then the how can flow from that.
Who are you building a business with your book for?
This is your ideal reader or ideal client. The one person that you want to connect emotionally with and ensure that their needs are fulfilled. A client who loves your book may engage you to coach them, or they will find your website and book a retreat or perhaps enrol on a course or into your membership system.
ACTION: What are the characteristics and behaviours of these people and where will you find them? A matchstick person will suffice for this quick brainstorm.
What products can you create?
This is going to sound glib, but you really are limited only by your imagination and the energy to create said products and services. You can as I said earlier create coaching programs, courses (on and offline), retreats, memberships systems, add on journals, and apps.
These products can be for the end user and/or they can be to support people like you in your industry. You can package what you know and sell it to other people to teach and resell. On top of these you can also design a speaking career where you get to share your message with a larger group of people all at the same time.
What about live streams, webinars and videos that can support building your brand? You can associate affiliate links and targeted ads with these.
ACTION: Make a list or mind map all of the related product ideas that you have, connect the ones that are related to this book and the rest ponder if they would be related to another book or if they make sense in this business at all. Never throw away an idea as you may be able to adapt it later on.
Ideas are the lifeblood of every business. Every business started with an idea. One of the problems we have is that logic and limited beliefs creep in. They become a monkey on our shoulder telling us why we can’t. Or it can seem overwhelming to take an idea and consider all of the amazing things that you create.
Every product takes time, but if you chunk everything down. Chunk the book down into stages, write out your product roadmap so that you can see 24 months into the future, and do one thing at a time, everything will come together. At this point forget logic and allow creation and daydreaming to show you what is possible.
Let me leave you with this one question ‘how open am I to exploring how I can improve my business with new products and services?’