Both new businesses and new books often start with an idea that you just can’t shake. I have spent a lot of time talking about how entrepreneurs should approach a new business and have found that there are a lot more parallels between starting a business and launching a new book than you might imagine. Below are a few insights from my recently becoming acquainted with the book launching process and the similarities that exist with entrepreneurship.
What’s Your Purpose?
Deciding to start a business is different than deciding to start a successful business. The plans to open one store vs. a goal of creating a massive nationwide retail chain vary significantly. It is hard to know what steps to take if you don’t know your end goal.
The same goes for your book. What’s your end game? Are you using it as a calling card to get more clients? Are you seeking a label of achievement (like “best seller status”) for your brand? Are you hoping to make gobs of money from it or are you using it to spread a message (by the way, if your goal is make gobs of money, you might want to chat with a few industry professionals first)? These goals will significantly impact the planning and strategy of not only your manuscript, but the launch and marketing of your book.
And while you are at it, you might as well set the biggest goal that you can. Nothing happens if you don’t achieve your stretch goal, but as Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of shots that you never take!”
Know Your Customer
I am always preaching in business about how important it is to know your customer, but my first book manuscript go-round was somewhat lacking in this department (which got fixed in the second go-round, thanks to great feedback from industry folks!).
To be successful in business, you have to know what pain point you are solving for your customer and how you are delivering value. Plus, if “everyone” is your customer, you are going to have a hard time reaching anyone at all, so having a focus is critical. The same goes for your book (particularly non-fiction books). Ask yourself what tangible benefits your reader will take away from investing their time and money into your message. Who is your specific reader and what quantitative and qualitative benefits are they seeking? This will shape not only how you deliver your message in the book, but also how you plan to market your book.
The Idea Isn’t Valuable; It’s The Execution
In an era where we have access to virtually everything we want and need, plus a whole bunch of crap we don’t care about, it is hard to have a truly novel idea (pun intended). Having the idea for a business isn’t valuable; it is executing on the business plan every day. The same goes for a book. Once you have the idea, you have to write the manuscript and then market, market, market! Most publishers care at least as much, if not more, about your marketing plan than the content of the book. So, even if you have a great idea, if you can’t or don’t want to pound the pavement to meet your goals, there isn’t a lot of value there.
The Day You “Open For Business” Is Where The Hard Work Starts.
Conceiving a business idea and writing your plan is a cakewalk compared to what you have to endure day in and day out to make your business successful. The same thing goes for a book. The common misconception is that you are done when you finish writing- not so! Writing the manuscript, as daunting as it may seem, is easy compared to everything that comes next. Prepare to devote a lot of time, effort (and depending on your goals, money too) AFTER the book is written!
The takeaway: Make sure you evaluate and prepare for launching a book, just like you would a business, if you want to be successful with it.
Please share any other similarities you have found between starting a business and launching a book.
Carol Roth writes Unsolicited Business Advice (TM) for aspiring entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and other small business owners at CarolRoth.com You can find her on Twitter as @caroljsroth Carol helps businesses grow and make more money. An investment banker, business strategist and deal maker, she has helped her clients, ranging from solopreneurs to multinational corporations, raise more than $1 billion in capital, complete hundreds of millions of dollars in M&A transactions, secure high-profile licensing and partnership deals and more.
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That's right. You can have a genius idea. An eBook that's literally priceless… but without a marketing plan you're dead in the water. The Lotus Code is a prime example of this. Integrated ancient + modern psych and it needs a stupendous push to 'be anything.. '
Warren, what exact steps do you take to 'know your customer' when we're all working remotely on the web? Web based surveys? Geoff D.
surveys are one way to compile information.. but today LISTENING can be done on a one-to-one basis.. that's the power of social media.
For instance, you leave a comment. I answer YOU.. not “the group” .. getting to know you helps me know what authors who don't speak up want.
nothing beats a conversation
a good idea doesn't need a “push” .. it needs to connect with the people who are looking for it.
old media was about “pushing” .. the future is going to be LISTENING