If you’re planning to write a book you may have a title or topic in mind. Before you sit down to write it, though, be sure that the topic you’ve selected will accomplish your goal for the book.
Selecting the right topic is critical if you want your book to advance your business or your livelihood. Whether you’re a seasoned professional with a business in motion, at a professional crossroads, or a student about to embark upon a career, you need to know what end result you want from writing and publishing a book. People skilled in professional writing know that the place to start with your book is at the end.
The Best Beginnings Start at The End
Think of a book’s end point as being analogous to keying a destination into your GPS. The system needs your destination to show you the best route to it.
When picking your topic, start by visualizing where you want the book to take you.
Do you want more clients? Speaking engagements? Credentials for launching a new career or business? Knowing where you want to be is one of the key elements in determining your book topic. You must start at your desired destination and use your book to help you bridge the chasm over where you stand and where you want to be.
I wrote a top-selling book on writing to grow your business. It enhanced my credentials and drove clients to my business. But that isn’t the first book I ever wrote or published. I had to learn a lot about choosing the best topic before I wrote the right book for my business.
My first published book is a nifty little touchscreen cookbook, all linked up to visual resources. I used it to test out the self-publishing and marketing process. Even though I always wanted to write a cookbook to help busy people eat well, cooking is a hobby for me, not a vocation.
Since I had a cookbook and website with a blog I became a food blogger and was nationally syndicated for a time through the Patch.com and a few other platforms.
Great! Right? Not really because too much of my time was suddenly consumed with writing about one area–food, when I’m really a business writer and ghostwriter. On the one hand the book brought me some food industry clients. But it could have pigeonholed me into an area I didn’t want to write exclusively about if I hadn’t extricated myself from the food-blogging process.
The same thing can happen to you if you don’t chose a topic for your book that will lead you to your best result.
Use Your Differentiator to Make Your Choice
As you’re mulling over your topic options be sure to include your differentiator. That’s the rare or unique thing that makes you different from and the best choice for your competitors. Knowing it and using it helps you to frame your story in the way that best positions you to use it to your greatest advantage.
My colleague, best-selling author Steve Matter, did an exemplary job of using his differentiator to launch a successful business. Before he wrote, Get Noticed and Get Hired, Steve stood at a career crossroads. As he says in his book, “In early 2009, I was laid off for the first time in my career and learned firsthand the difficulties of searching for a new job during this Great Recession.” Steve wrote his book about how to conduct a successful job search, even in a recession. His book went to #1 and he launched his business from it.
Steve used his differentiator–the fact that he had stood in readers’ shoes and learned the way to transcend their situations–to move on to even greater success.
Know What the Market Needs
Sometimes I mentor students to help them launch their careers. I recently talked with Kimberly Minor, a bright, ambitious, and already-accomplished communications student who is nearing graduation. Kimberly enjoys public speaking and has an impressive record of speaking at some prominent venues like the Carter Center in Atlanta, GA.
As a next step Kimberly wanted to write a book to launch her career. So I helped her to take a step back and think about the way in which she would best monetize her skills. She had been leaning toward creating a fee-based public speaking business. But that can be a tough row to hoe with limited professional experience. After talking about her situation a bit we generated a few options in which she would use public speaking engagements to drive customers to a primary business. That business would be built around another communications skill that is easier to monetize. Once she develops a presence in her field, she can begin to charge for speaking engagements and make that a larger part of her business model.
By examining her many skills and the things she likes to do, Kimberly produced a few options for using a book to best position herself to make money.
Make sure that you pick the topic that will grow your business best, and find the mode to use it to your greatest advantage.