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Is there a book in you somewhere? Do you have a yearning to write? Or can you think of nothing worse but know there’s a need for you to string a few sentences together to get your business message out there – be it a message of hope and inspiration or simply a list of what you do and where you do it?
We need to write for our business. Here’s my 7-step guide based on the acronym E.X.P.E.R.T.S.
E = Expertise
Writing, be it a book, a white-paper, an article or a blog is a way of showing your expertise. Your ability to write several thousand words on a subject shows you have considerably more knowledge than the average person has. You are an expert.
Having said that, let’s clear something up here, writing (again be it a book or a tweet) does not mean you know everything about the topic, nor that you are the only person to know about that topic. Don’t be put off by the fact that when you start you don’t know everything (you’re going to learn a lot more in the writing process, I can assure you). And don’t be intimidated by the fact that there are people who know more than you. Of course there are. They may well have even written a book on the subject too, but that does not negate the need for your book.
We need information. Most of us will read 3-4 books on any given subject. How many recipe books do you own? How many books on relationships or leadership or curtain headings (a personal favourite) do you have? Once we’ve found a subject we love, we want to hear new angles and new perspectives from experts. Your opinion counts. So share your expertise and be proud.
You need to explain what you do. This could be a simple list of features or it could be more complicated, but somewhere, be it on your website, your pamphlets or your sales letter, you have to explain what you have to offer. A features and benefits list is paramount for all your marketing material but what about going into more depth? You can do this in bite-size chunks by writing a blog every week. Write about an aspect or insight into your business and build up a loyal fan base of people who are genuinely interested in your work. Then when you’re ready to sell to them, they will know what you’re about, they will know who you are and how you work and most importantly they’ll like and trust you.
Explaining what you do in a longer piece of writing is also very important. As an interior designer, I have no two jobs the same. No home is the same as another and no family or client either. So I’ve had to create something that is consistent and that’s my system as detailed in my book. ‘Creating Space’ is a step-by-step guide teaching people what I do. I am explaining interior design and family-life design to them in a fun and easy-to-follow guide.
P= Publisher vs Self-publishing
Don’t get hung up on the whole publishing deal before you’ve started. It will only hold you back. It’s a good idea to speak to a few authors about how they got their work published but again, there’s no single way guaranteed to publishing success. The best thing to do is to write a brilliant book first – something you’re proud of – and then when it comes to publishing time, you’ll be determined to make sure it gets out there. If you start with the complications of understanding the publishing industry you may never start. There are pros and cons to publishing and self-publishing so face them when you get there.
Any good marketing consultant will tell you that you need to build a relationship with your clients. You want your customers to have an affinity with your brand, you want them to know, like and trust your brand (which is often just you). And to do that you have to create an emotional attachment. This is considerably easier to do in a longer piece of writing than it is in 140 characters. A book is a great opportunity to build a relationship with your clients, to share your passions and emotions, to reveal parts of yourself – to show people you’re just like them! Emotions are what people buy, not products, and writing is where you have a great opportunity to reveal them.
In my book, I talk about the emotions of home – what that word really means – and not necessarily just to you, the reader, but the children you are bringing up. What do you want them to believe home means? Can you see how this sits outside the general ‘so what do you do?’ chit-chat or website landing page copy? It needs another platform to get into the deeper side of what I do, and you do, whether you sell artisan cheese or write wills.
It’s important to understand your reasons behind writing a book. It took me two years to write my book and on occasions I was getting up at 5am in order to find the peace and quiet to do so. It’s a discipline, there’s no doubt about that, and your reasons for writing have to be powerful in order to keep you going. How many people do you know who are halfway through writing their book?
Find your reasons, find your ‘why’s (your motivation) and make them as compelling as you can. Add them up on top of each other so they really cause you to take action. Don’t just write because it will help your business, know who it will help and how. Where do you see your future book? A coffee table art book in a living room, an e-book to indulge in on Kindle, a solid report to help your customers or just a bit of insider gossip or top tips? All of these have their place. Have a solid grasp of what the book is for and you’ll be far more motivated to getting it finished than if it’s just a pipe dream.
Books take time, blogs take time, even updating your status reports take time. Don’t kid yourself that you’re just going to ‘squeeze it in’. You have to find a time that works for you and you need to create a disciplined habit of writing in that time, even if you’re not feeling very inspired or creative. Be in the habit of writing. Proximity also helps, so hang around other people who write. Talk about writing, read about writing. Read full stop. Being among others who are writing will encourage and inspire you.
If on the other hand, you don’t have the time to write or don’t feel you have the talent to write but still have a great story then get someone else to write your book for you. There are plenty of people who will build a story for your brand and will then design a campaign of blogging for example, or even ghost write a book for you.
My final point is what I’m touching on here – it’s about marketing. Writing is excellent marketing for your business but you’ll find that marketing a book requires as much dedication as marketing your products or services.
It’s all very well spending two years writing a book but my purpose has been to get my book and my message into women’s homes. I don’t want to just say I’m an author, I want people to actually benefit from what I’ve written.
So how do you sell and promote your book? Now that’s the next big question. Why not comment and send any innovative PR or marketing ideas you’ve seen or been involved in. I’ll feature them in my next blog.