Small Business Talk

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How to Write A Business Book That Will Actually Sell

Welcome to Small Business Talk Podcast #025, today’s topic is How to Write A Business Book That Will Actual Sell with Laurie Wright.
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Show Notes

How to Write A Business Book That Will Actually Sell

Ever thought about writing a book but didn’t know where to start?

Today we’re going to talk about how you can write a business book that will actually sell. We know lots of people have books in their heads and not quite sure where to start, and then will somebody actually buy it.

Laurie was a kindergarten teacher for 10 years, who then wrote a book inspired by her students. After she started having kids, while being a stay at home Mom /Mum she was looking for some intellectual and creative stimulation. Her first venture into business was with a direct sales company, an MLMs.

The MLM opened Laurie’s eyes to how much the internet had progressed since she had stopped working 8 years earlier. She had only been using Facebook, email, Google search, and Amazon of course. Laurie hadn’t realized all the possibilities that were out there on the internet. The MLM had opened her eyes to things like the email marketing, and the other platforms that make it so easy for you to sell your products, and the self-publishing platform on Amazon.

“That’s how I got started. I revisited the book that I had written 10 years prior, and I really, I just did as much research and learning as I could online to figure out how to do it. At the time, figuring out how to publish is what seems like the hard part, and then after I published, I realized that actually selling your books is what is the hard part.” Laurie Wright

To really be an authored you need to sell your books to people you don’t know, not just your friends and family. “With 8 million books on Amazon, and 80% of online sales going through Amazon, it’s hard to find one book in that haystack, for sure” Laurie said.

How to publish your book on Amazon

There’s a platform on Amazon, it’s kdp.amazon.com, you need your PDF files of your book, you need to have it formatted, so there’s lots of programs out there that do that, or people you can hire to do it fairly cheaply, and you just upload your files so you have a cover file separate than the interior, and it’s as easy as filling in some keywords in your title, and the author, and all that kind of stuff. You need an ISBN of course, and you press publish. So, as overwhelming as it is mentally, it’s not a difficult process.

One of the things probably people would find most difficult is what to do for a cover, so for a business book, you’re not really looking at artwork, but you do need a cover, and not everybody is able to design that themselves.

Laurie’s first tip would be, go to the category where you think your book would be, so non-fiction and then whatever you talk about, and look at similar covers. A lot of people have this idea that the more unique, the better because it will stand out, but actually you really want your cover to fit in because that makes it look like all the other traditionally published books, and if your book cover stands out and it doesn’t stand out in a good way, people will bypass it.

Where would we go to get an ISBN?

Whatever country you’re in, you need an ISBN from your country, so for example in Canada they’re free, in the United States and Australia they’re not free. Half your listeners are in America, so they need to go to Bowker, B-O-W-K-E-R, and unfortunately they’re not free like they are for Canadians, they are quite pricey, but there are sales once or twice a year.

In Australia ISBN’s are paid too,  go to The Australian ISBN Agency for more information. You need to be get an ISBN in your country of publish, as opposed to where you want to sell it.

“I’m in Canada, but I’m the publisher, so the publisher needs an ISBN where they are. So I have the ISBN from Canada, even though I sell through Amazon.com, and actually a few other Amazons as well. So, the country where the publisher is.” Laurie said

Do some research

I recommend market research on Amazon.

Go to Amazon, go to similar books to what you want to write, and look at the reviews. Especially the number 1 to top 10 books in the category where you think yours will go.

Look at the reviews and see what they say as far as

  • “I wish the author would have covered”,
  • “I wish the author would have been more specific about”,
  • “This author, this book did a fantastic job on this topic that I haven’t seen done before.”

Look for things that stand out like that, and that’s what you want to make sure you include in your book.

How do we actually write it?

What to write on is every writer’s preference. Laurie is a Google Docs fan because it’s so easy to share and to have other people edit, it’s just really made her life easy, and the life of her students. You can share a links and you can really easily edit the work. Laurie recommends Google Docs.

“Some people are diehard Word fans, and the new MacBook Air has changed things up a little bit, but I would say just start the writing and the hard part for writers of all kinds is writing.” Laurie said.

Get rid of all the distractions, turn them off or put them away. It doesn’t matter if the house is dirty, it doesn’t matter what’s going on. The hardest part is to sit down and right and write. It is the same non-fiction and fiction. If you have an hour to write half of that hour might be spent staring at the wall. Then the ideas will start coming and your fingers will start flying over the keyboard and that’s what we call flow. And it will really flow out of you.

Laurie feels like you need to be in that mental space where you can do some deeper work, so you can’t have Facebook and emails going. You can’t have your phone next to you, blinking with notifications. You really have to moderate your surroundings and focus on what you’re doing and be okay with that, staring at the screen, staring at the wall, for a good chunk of time. It does take that well that time often to get the ideas to start coming.

Start with Brainstorming

Start by brainstorming your topic. If you’re talking non-fiction it would really help to have the ideas of your topics and sub-topics. If it’s going to be 10 chapters then what are they going to be about. What sub-topics are going to be within each chapter, write them down too. All that kind of stuff. As much as you can, dump it out, so you don’t forget any of it. Then you can go back and start to fill in each topic, each sub-topic in that and then you have to edit.

Is it worth getting an editor?

Hire an editor. It is certainly be easier but if money is an issue, then you might be more inclined to trade your time instead of your money. There are some tactics you can use so you can self-edit, but it is hard work. “Pretty much everybody will scream at you, that you need to hire an editor.” Laurie Said Your first choice is to hire a professional to do the job that they’ve trained and that they do. You can’t skip the editing, whether you have the money or not, so you just make a plan for it. First you edit for readability, then you edit your spelling, you edit your grammar. Any sort of roadblocks that somebody as they are reading would get to and stop. Anything that doesn’t make sense, or a spelling mistake will pull us out of our reading. Or a big glaring grammar mistake. That’s your first round of edits that you can do yourself, it’s time-consuming and your eyes go a little bit wacky, so it can help to play with your document size. You can either make your document really wide or really skinny and just looking at the words differently does help you to see it differently. Laurie recommend making it as interesting as possible. You need to end a chapter on a really interesting sentence. You then begin the next chapter on an interesting sentence.  We call these hooks. It’s just to get people to keep reading. So even though it’s non-fiction, the ultimate goal is you want people to read your book.

Get Feedback

Laurie highly recommend beta readers. Beta readers might be your friends/family or if you already have a Facebook group, maybe some raving fans. Anybody that’s willing to read the book for you and give you some feedback. Often beta readers will find spelling mistakes that you missed, or they might pull out one section or even one sentence or maybe even your chapter arrangement. They might call that into question actually, this would make more sense something like that and beta readers are so beneficial. This is so helpful, they are worth their weight in gold.

You can put out the call for either 10 readers and you make it specific. I’m looking for 10 readers who can read my book in this time frame. Maybe it’s two weeks because you don’t want it to go on forever and give me some honest feedback.

  • Then if you can ask specific questions for them so which chapter was your favourite?
  • Would you reorder them, or did it make sense?

The Cover Matters

Hire a cover designer because they will be the best and that is money well spent. If your cover stands out in a bad way that nobody’s going to look at your book. If you don’t have the money for that then I would do some research and try to figure out what you want it to look like and how you can do it either in Photoshop or Canva. There are free programs you can use those to do one and to try to get it really similar to the top selling books in your category.

Formatting Your Book

You need to format your books.

This means making sure that all new chapter to start the same way eg: on the right-hand side.
Do you want the page numbers at the bottom or no page numbers?
Do you want headers or footers or what not?

Best to pay someone to do this for you. It can be really frustrating and time consuming to do yourself. To meet the requirements of KDP you need to have your book properly formatted in a pdf format. Amazon’s KDP service have the set of guidelines that you have to follow

How to sell the book

Your first step is to ask anybody who has read your book, your beta readers; to leave a review. The magic number that Laurie has found for reviews where it makes a difference is 10 reviews.  Amazon doesn’t release that information or publish that information anywhere. Some people say it’s 100, some people say it’s 50. Laurie says after having 10 books published and for her, the magic number is 10.

It can be really hard to get reviews and the best advice I have is you have to ask so once a week on your social media if you just make a post, make it really easy for people so you can offer the link to it and make it really obvious way.

Hello, everybody, I’m looking for some honest reviews today and the reason why is because more reviews boost my visibility on Amazon. You can go so far as to say there’s over eight million books on Amazon and visibility is a huge, huge issue when you’re trying to sell the book.

In your email newsletters, you can offer a free PDF or e-book version and then say I’d really appreciate a review.

You have to be consistent with asking for reviews. If you put it in your scheduled posts once a week or your scheduled emails once a month, then pretty shortly within a few months you should definitely have your 10 reviews.

When people start saying, “I read your book, it was fantastic,” a lot of authors say, “Oh, why, thank you, I’m so glad you like it.” Use that as an opportunity to say, “Thank you, it would really help if you could write that down on Amazon on a review.” And you know it’s awkward and a lot of times we don’t like to do that ask, but people are very happy to help us if we tell them how they can help us.

Write a Description

One of the most important things that authors can do to sell their books that they don’t realize is, when you write the book description on the Amazon page. It’s called your book page, you have your book cover, sometimes there’s some interior pages, and then there’s a description.

A lot of people have a wall of text as there description or they repeat whatever it was they wrote on the back of the book, and it’s not interesting to read. Nothing will make somebody click away faster than having a big blob, a wall of text that isn’t interesting to read.

This is where you really have to hone your copywriting skills, which is different than creative writing and which is different than professional writing. It’s writing for interest with as few words as possible and has a really big strong hook for your first sentence, in eight words or less. And then when you’re talking copywriting, leaving a space in between sentences is just as important as what you write in the sentence. For example, you want your strong powerful hook to be your first sentence, eight words or less, so that people can skim it.

The point of that short hooky sentence is to get people to keep reading, but you want to make it easy for their eyeballs, really easy for their brains. You can leave a space after that first sentence and then you can write maybe two sentences. And so, they’re also interesting, they can be longer or shorter in length, and then you leave another space. The purpose is just that waterfall effect.

Listen to How to Write A Business Book That Will Actually Sell episode #025 of The Small Business Talk Podcast  for all Laurie’s Tips.

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