On Episode 63 of The Content Download, we talked about the two questions you need to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide which book idea you should go with when you want to write a book to grow your business.
Read on for the transcript or listen to the full Episode here
A lot of the authors I work with inside my group book coaching program, The Soul Works Atelier, have more than one book inside them. Which means the first big question they need to answer before getting started with the writing is:
“Which book do I write first?”
Books with strategy & Soul
I had this exact problem when I started writing my own books. There are at least five non-fiction books that I would like to write around the topic of writing, content and other things that I teach about, like messaging, content planning, storytelling etcetera. In fact, I had so many options it kind of put me off making a decision at all.
But in 2022 I decided to write my first book, Soul Story: How to Tell Stories that Call Your Soul Tribe, all about how to tell your story, because I knew this was a book that I was burning to write, but it was also strategic for my business as well.
This meant it was both a book of my head and of my heart, which is kind of sweet spot that we talk about inside the The Soul Works Atelier, because it is a really powerful place to write a book from, when you’re an expert.
I was burning to write this book because storytelling held a huge personal importance to me. It isn’t just something I teach because it works or because it’s the new trendy thing to do. Storytelling is something I have a history with. It’s something that’s deeply personal to me. And so in that sense, Soul Story was a book of my heart because it shares the story of how and why I became so fascinated with stories and how storytelling shaped my life as a child, influenced my career and now is at the heart of my business and how I show up in my life professionally and privately.
But the truth is, if I was just going to write a book of my heart, Soul Story probably wouldn’t have been the first one that I would have sat down and written. I’ve got many fiction books burning holes in my heart at the moment that I wish I had time to write. And I also have a narrative nonfiction memoir idea that I would like to write at some point as well. So those probably would have been my first choice if I was just thinking, I’m just going to write a book that I just really want to write.
However, Soul Story also had a strategic purpose for me. Storytelling is obviously a big part of what I help my clients with. My background as a journalist and features writer means that I’m particularly adept at helping my clients uncover and vocalize their stories and tell their stories. And teaching my students how to weave stories into their content, whether it’s a book or a blog post, is a huge part of what I do. For years I’d been asked “How can I tell my story?” and “How do you become a storyteller in your content?” I knew that this was something that I could teach and that people wanted to learn about. That’s was why I had created the course Soul Story, and so then I decided to turn it into a book. That’s why Soul Story was a book of both my head and my heart, which meant that it had strategy and soul.
Choosing the right book topic
Getting your book topic right is so important. Should you go for a more granular topic that you are an expert in, or should you talk more broadly about your subject area? And what is the premise of your book and how does it help your book become successful?
The chances are you’re not just writing a book for a simple love of writing. I mean, you love communicating, yes. You love writing. You definitely want to be an author. And you want to serve people. But there is usually some kind of end goal for writing your book, or at least, there should be.
So what might your goals be?
1. Revenue Stream
Now, it’s hard to make a living or even a significant income from a single book. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is hard since a book is a low cost product. It is possible to make a decent revenue stream from a series of books though, as the model used by 20 books to 50K works. And so if you are planning on writing multiple instalments of a series, this could be a viable reason for writing a book. Think about the ‘For Dummies’ series or “Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series as good examples of successful non-fiction series. But as an individual ‘expert’ it probably shouldn’t be the only one purpose of your book if you want your book to give you maximum ROI.
Planners and journals are also a a good example of books that can generate a new revenue stream, as these often can be purchased by the same customer multiple times. Danielle Laporte and Leonie Dawson both have these revenue streams in their product spectrums.
2. More Customers for your products or services
The more common end goal for a coach, creative or entrepreneur to want to write a book is because they want to use their book as a vehicle to drive more traffic to a particular service or product. And that means, if that’s your goal, you have a secret weapon at your disposal.
Writing to market
The secret to success for many authors that you will find on the bestsellers lists both in fiction and non-fiction is that they have written their books to market. As a business owner, you have an ideal customer (AKA reader) already, and you have a solution for them that you probably already offer or sell, and keeping what this is at the front of your mind as you plan your book is going to help you choose your topic.
So what does writing to market means? Writing to market is when an author writes a book designed specifically for the needs of a target audience. If you’ve been doing any content marketing, you are writing to market already. Every time that you create a piece of content marketing, hopefully you specifically know who your reader is, you know what their problem or challenge or desire is, and you are creating content to fill that gap.
The difference of course, is that with social media you can try something out and if it doesn’t work, you can try it again tomorrow and there’s not really any harm done. With a book which is going to take you weeks, if not months, to complete and which is going to probably take some kind of investment of money and time, you’ve got to get it right.
So I picked the topic storytelling, because it was a book of my heart, and I was very motivated to write it. I had some personal stories around it as well, but I also knew that there was a need. I knew that there was a market for this book. My clients wanted the answers in this book. I saw lots of people asking these questions. I knew it was a common question. I knew it was a popular topic. And on top of that, it tied in with the products and services that I offer.
So the premise of my book Soul Story (the idea my book would prove to my reader) was:
Storytelling is the most powerful way to grow your influence and call in your soulmate clients.
Your book as a lead magnet
So let’s say your end goal, like me, is to help people, to get more people engaging in your services or your products. This basically makes your book a lead magnet, which also means that your book is essentially marketing. But although it’s marketing, if your book is in any way salesy, no-one is going to read it. Now, there is a way of subtly making people aware of your offer without it feeling sleasy (it’s essentially what we do in content marketing), but predominantly, your book needs to be valuable to your reader.
Genuine Value for your ideal customer
So your book is both a lead magnet that is raising awareness of your end goal (which could be a product or a service), and also needs to give your reader tools in order to solve their problem.
But it also needs to do a third thing: for those readers who might want to dive deeper with you, you’ve got to use your book to help them to decide whether you, your approach or way of doing things is right for them.
This is what a good book funnel does. And I am someone who loves being sold to via books!
Enter: The Book Funnel
I first came across a book funnel in 2017, before I started my business. I read Carrie Green’s She Means Business. I read the book. I liked her, I trusted her. She gave me valuable information. She got me excited and motivated and really wanting the thing that she was selling, ie a wildly successful business. And by the time I finished that book, I was a yes for joining her membership, The Female Entrepreneur Association.
I knew she had a membership because she’d mentioned it in the book in subtle and natural ways, and I was a yes! I wanted to get in there. And I remember going onto the page to sign up and it was closed for enrollment and being so keen that I emailed them directly and I said, “I know you’re closed for enrollment, but I want in now. I don’t want to wait until October. I want to join now.” And so they let me in through the back door. That is how powerful a book can be when you choose the right topic.
The Two Questions You Need to Ask when Choosing a Topic
So if you want your reader to go through a similar process to what you’ve probably been through with many books and which I went through with Carrie’s book, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions.
1. What does my reader need to understand to decide if my solution is right for them?
2. What does My reader need to believe in order to want to commit to this solution?
These two questions will be gold in helping you to work out the right topic for your next book. There’s so many topics that you can talk about that perhaps you’re overwhelmed by choice. But start with your end goal and work backwards from there, and the book you’re meant to be writing will suddenly be clear.
So, decide what your solution is that you’re ultimately going to be selling to them, and then ask yourself those questions. There will always be those that read the book and either take no action, or take the tools and go away and they do it themselves. But then there will be those who are convinced its the right approach, but want more help and those will be the people who will want to dive deeper and invest in your solution, and that’s when you’re book really starts to give you return on your investment of time and money.
Find out more about my group book coaching program for coaches, creatives and heart-led entrepreneurs who want to write and publish their own book go to www.theluminous.media/soulworks