Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with @ BizBookWriter. Julie Anne Eason has been a professional writer for over 20 years. After figuring out that fiction writing wasn’t for her, she turned to freelance journalism and copywriting for a living. As technology advanced, she witnessed the balance of power in the publishing industry shift. Once, the big New York publishers held all the cards. Writers were “lucky” if they could land an agent or a book contract. But now individuals are taking the initiative and writing, publishing, and marketing their own books without the need for an agent or publisher to give them a chance — which means that finally businesses, non-profits, and entrepreneurs can take advantage of the amazing power of books.
Today, she ghostwrites full-length books for entrepreneurs, speakers, coaches, CEOs, and other business people who want to expand their reach and build their brands. And most recently she has combined her love for marketing and writing to create The Successful Author Podcast, where she interviews book industry experts on writing, publishing, and marketing books. You can find more information and free training on her website JulieAnneEason.com
SmallBizLady: How can writing a book actually help grow a business?
Julie Anne Eason: There are several ways a book can build your business. A book helps you drive traffic to your website where your main offers are. It positions you as the go-to expert in your industry. It gives you something tangible to hand out to prospects instead of a business card that gets thrown away. And if written correctly, it helps you pre-sell your products and services. All this is dependent on you putting elements in your book that direct people to your website or store and ultimately lead to the sale.
SmallBizLady: Can any business benefit from a book? (Even brick & mortar, B2B, or service businesses?)
Julie Anne Eason: Yes, ANY business can benefit from a book. If you’re selling something, you need to have a conversation with your prospects. Part or all of that conversation can happen in a book format. You’re educating or entertaining your prospective clients and customers—getting them to pay attention to your business.
SmallBizLady: How should business people go about finding a topic for their books?
Julie Anne Eason: It depends on your business. You need to define your target audience and then decide what they might want to know about. If you have a service business like an accountant, you might write a book of tax tips. If you sell products, like bicycles, you might write a book about local bike trails or bike maintenance. If you’re a local restaurant, you might write a recipe book or a list of local attractions. If you sell software online, you might write about all the ways that product makes people’s lives easier.
SmallBizLady: How do you move a reader towards becoming a customer?
Julie Anne Eason: When I write for clients, I add four elements to the book which move the reader over to the website and into a conversation. First, I put a high-value bonus offer somewhere in the first 3 pages. Next, I include bonus audio or video content that can only be viewed on the website (where we capture email addresses). Throughout the book, I drop little seeds (or hints) about what the author does and how he or she helps people. Finally the last page is a list of backend offers and how to get more information.
SmallBizLady: Writing a book seems like a MAJOR project…how long does it really take to write a book?
Julie Anne Eason: It takes as long as it takes—real helpful, right? Most people turn it into a bigger project than it has to be, though. To get a realistic timeline, write a blog post and note how long it takes you. Divide the word count by the time to figure out how many words per hour you write. For example, I write 1,000 words an hour when I’m focused. So, to write a full-length 50,000-word book will take me 50 hours.
Once I know my rate and my desired word count, I can figure out a deadline. If I write 5 hours a day, it will take me 10 days to finish. If I write 1 hour a day, it will take me 50 days. That’s the draft. Then editing has to happen, and publishing takes time, too. But the majority of the work is done in the first draft.
SmallBizLady: Business people are so busy already. How can they find the time to write on top of everything else?
Julie Anne Eason: You don’t “find” the time; you make the time. Excuses are easy. Make a commitment, and follow through. Even 10 minutes a day works, if you have a strategy in place to keep you moving forward. Wake up a little early; stay up a little late; write during lunch; write during your commute; write during your kid’s soccer game—every minute counts. Turn off all distractions while you write, including your phone, Facebook, and the TV. Snatch moments of time wherever you can. It all adds up, if you keep moving forward.
SmallBizLady: What are some strategies for faster writing?
Julie Anne Eason: For the first draft, don’t go back and edit yourself. Keep moving forward. Write out a super-duper outline that breaks the work up into lots of short chunks. Then write the chunks out during short periods of free time. Don’t feel like you have to write linearly from page 1 to the end. You can skip around. Also, you can dictate your book into a smart phone and get it transcribed (be SURE to edit!). Or you can “blog your book”, which is write short blog posts over time and then put them together into a book.
SmallBizLady: What if you failed English or just hate to write? Is it cheating to outsource the writing?
Julie Anne Eason: It’s not cheating to outsource your writing—especially for business books. You can hire a ghostwriter like me. Find someone who can write in your voice. Or you can invite guest authors to contribute one chapter each. You can also invite your past clients or customers to submit case studies to be included in the book. Remember this book is your reputation—don’t hire someone just because they’re cheap. You lose credibility if your book is poorly written. You want a quality manuscript written in your voice.
SmallBizLady: What are some of the mistakes people make when trying to write a book to build their businesses?
Julie Anne Eason: Just writing a book is an accomplishment. But you don’t want to write any old book. You want an extraordinary book – one that people actually want to read. Here are some mistakes to avoid.
- Not identifying and writing to your target audience (the folks you want as customers).
- Writing at too high a level. Potential customers want the basic information and frequently asked questions.
- Not making an offer in the front, middle, and back of the book. Don’t make them guess what you do or how you help people.
- Not covering common sales objections. If there’s a price, quality, or value objection—address it right in the book.
SmallBizLady: Do you have to be a best seller to get the business benefits of having a book?
Julie Anne Eason: No! In fact, you don’t have to sell a single copy to get the benefits. You can give the book away—at conferences, meetings, to your list, etc. You can get people to your site just from the “look inside” feature on Amazon. (That’s why you want an offer in the first 3 pages.) You can get speaking invitations just because you’re an author with expertise in a subject. You can use the book to get publicity opportunities like magazine articles, and TV/Radio interviews. Depending on the price point of what you sell, you could reap huge benefits from just a few sales.
SmallBizLady: How can authors get the MOST out of their books? (How can they repurpose the content in the book?)
Julie Anne Eason: Once the book is written, it’s time to tear it apart again into smaller chunks that can be used for promotional content. Pull out segments of 2-5 paragraphs for blog posts. Pull out segments of 2-6 sentences for social media posts. Little quotes of 1-2 sentences can be turned into Tweets. Short quotes, lists, or tips can be added to pictures for Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest. All these can be used to promote your book AND your business.
SmallBizLady: Once the book is written, then what?
Julie Anne Eason: Editing is the next stage. You want to edit the manuscript yourself first. Then hire a professional copyeditor to do a final grammar/spelling/ formatting check. Next, the book goes through design and layout—where the cover and interior are designed. Finally, you need to purchase an ISBN number and get the book printed and into distribution. If an indie or traditional publisher is handling your book, most of this is taken care of in-house. The last step never ends—the Marketing! (And that’s a whole ‘nother tweetchat.)
If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter. Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz
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