Choosing the best topic for your professional “how to” book: Part I

“What should I write my book on? How do I pick a topic?” These are common questions asked by professionals writing their first book. One approach is to employ a multi-step process to help you winnow down the list of possible topics to identify the best one to achieve your objective.

The first step in this process is to identify your primary objective. For many professionals, the primary objective for their book is to use it to grow their business. What drives your prospective customers to buy from you is trust — trust that you have the right product or service they need, and trust that you can give the right expertise and support, when it comes to that product or service. Having your name on a published book enables you to build that trust. You have the opportunity to educate your target market, enhance your credibility and expand your reach through increasing your visibility. Your book also serves as a great marketing tool, to give to prospective customers as well as former and current customers.

The next step is to identify a product or service you want to sell more of, for which you have significant expertise and interest. If you have multiple products or services, think about what product or service you sell that brings you the most profit, or the most enjoyment, or will take the least amount of effort to grow, or has the largest target market and thus the greatest opportunity for growth, or the weakest competition.

When you have selected the product or service you want to write about, think about the target market for that product or service. Who is your typical customer? What are the demographics for your target audience – their income, educational level, ethnicity, age, etc.? What do they like to do in their spare time? Try to learn as much as possible about them, to really understand them. The more you know your audience, the better able you will be to emotionally connect with them and to write your book to be meaningful for them.

Then think about their particular problems and frustrations that your selected product or service can solve for them. Talk to your current and former customers; talk to lost leads on why they went somewhere else. Ask questions on social media to get people’s input. This will enable you to identify the selling proposition for your book — why people should buy it, which will give you the opportunity to shape the book around this proposition. Books that are written to solve the reader’s problems do much better than those that are principally about the author’s interests. When you are able to solve your reader’s problems, particularly in a short 20 page book, the happy reader will tell everyone about your book, promoting it for you.

Stay tuned for Part II, which will cover keyword searches, competitive analysis and development of your unique approach to solving your customers’ problems.

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