If you’re an expert in a given field, like personal finance or communication, you can generate new streams of revenue and open up career possibilities for yourself by writing a bestselling book.
But what does it take to write a bestseller? And how do you get started if you have no previous writing or publishing experience?
The Good News
First, the good news: you’re already an expert. If you have years of experience in a given field, if you have an advanced degree, or if you have other credentials that make you a verifiable expert, you probably already have the knowledge and experience necessary to produce a bestselling book. You just need to figure out how to consolidate that knowledge and experience.
If you’re not quite an expert yet, or if you’re not feeling confident about your own expertise, don’t worry. You can spend time cultivating your own expertise and write your book at a future point.
Is Self-Publishing the Right Move?
Thanks to the inexpensiveness of printing your own book, self-publishing could be the best move when writing your book. You’ll retain full rights to your publication, you’ll have much more control over how your book is published and distributed, and you could end up making more money, since you won’t be subject to a commission deal.
That said, self-publishing does come with some downsides. You’ll need to make many decisions on your own if you go this route, such as choosing your printer, setting a course for distribution, and establishing your own marketing and advertising strategy. For many experts, working with an official publisher may be a more convenient strategy.
Identify a Target Market (and Work to Understand It)
In any case, before you start to write your book, you’ll need to identify a target market and work to better understand it. Bestselling books aren’t always the best-written or most creative books; they’re usually the most marketable books. Accordingly, if you want to bump up your sales and make a bigger impact, you must ensure your book specifically appeals to one target audience.
Who is going to be most interested in your work? What are their values, perspectives, and experiences? What strategies can you use to better appeal to these people?
Compile Your Knowledge
You already have a lot of knowledge, so work on compiling it.
- Start with what you know. What are your main areas of expertise and how can they form the foundation of your book? Are you in a position to start creating an outline for your book?
- Interview people in your target demographics. It’s not just about what you know; it’s also about what other people know. What is the current knowledge or experience level of the people most likely to read your work? What do they know about your topic and what do they want to learn?
- Talk to other experts. What do other experts like you have to say about this topic? Do they have complementary expertise that they can lend? Do they see any holes in your outline?
- Challenge your assumptions and beliefs. This is also an important opportunity to challenge your assumptions and beliefs. Are there any core ideas about your field of interest that have been challenged in the last few years?
Practice Competitive Differentiation
Competitive differentiation is the process of making your product different than others on the market. It’s incredibly important if you want to stand out and sell more copies.
To practice this, study other books written by people like you. What do those books all have in common? How can yours be different?
Don’t Worry About Your First Draft
Most experts get stuck on the first draft. They want everything to be perfect, so they become paralyzed by indecision and analysis. Instead, it’s best to crank out your first draft with little regard for its quality; you can edit and revise a draft, but you can’t do anything with a blank sheet of paper.
Polish, Polish, Polish
Once you do have that first draft in place, you’ll need to polish it to perfection.
- Revise. After taking a break, spend time revising and editing your work. You’ll probably want to rearrange some sections, add new sections, and delete some sections.
- Share. Share your revised draft with colleagues, friends, and other people who will give you honest feedback. They can help you identify shortcomings and make up for them.
- Collect feedback from readers. You’re probably familiar with focus groups in the marketing realm. You can conduct something similar by having a test audience read your book. What do these people love and hate most about your work?
Finally, you’ll be able to publish. With a reliable printer, a distribution strategy in mind, and ample support from marketing and advertising, your book of collective knowledge and experience has the potential to crack the bestseller list. Just keep in mind that even amazing books don’t sell themselves; you’ll need to put in work (and probably invest some money) to make an impact.