Whenever I talk to an entrepreneur about writing a book, I often get this question, “Should I wait until my business is successful before I write a book?” We have in the back of our minds that we should wait until we’re 50, 60, or 70, filled with wisdom and wit, before we publish a book. That is exactly what the traditional publishing houses would have recommended. But we’re not in a traditional publishing world, anymore, and Amazon has completely changed the game. Let’s talk about how to grow a business by writing a book.
First, have a back-end in place.
A back-end is simply what exists in your business besides the book. You don’t have to have much planned, here. You could offer one-on-one coaching or consulting. You could have an online course or membership site. You could plan to be a speaker or lead in-person workshops.
You only need one back-end offering to make this work, so if you can even put together one coaching package, that’s enough to get this business rolling.
Second, identify who you are helping in your back-end.
This is classic business advice, but for some reason, when we start writing a book, we lose sight of who it is that we’re helping and why. Don’t get too wrapped up in your story or who will be interested in it or who “needs” your story the most. You’re the creator, here. You get to choose who you’re helping and why.
Keep your eye on the clients you want to be working with in the next three to five years. Write the book that will speak directly to those clients. Let me give you some examples about how one topic could be positioned to help completely different audiences.
Bad idea: This book will help everyone manage their finances better.
Good idea: Breaking it down into a niche topic.
- This book will help young, professional women pay off consumer debt and set their finances in order.
- This book will help families plan how to save money for their big goals: home, college, retirement, home.
- This book will help entrepreneurs create an investment portfolio so they can continue growing their business and their profits.
- This book will help parents teach kids how to earn and use money responsibly.
Do you see how we could keep breaking this topic into more and more specific topics? This is called “niching” down, and the more specific you can get, the easier it will be to grow your business. Think this can’t be done with your book? Challenge accepted. We’ll do one more, and then if you want, you can leave a comment below with your book topic, and I’ll show you how to break it apart into at least three more specific niche topics.
Topic: Overcoming a difficult life
Bad idea: This book will help everyone see that they can overcome struggles in their life.
Good idea: Breaking it down into a niche topic.
- This book will help parents who have a child living with an illness to ask for support and plan for the future.
- This book will help teenagers who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD to find work that’s fulfilling for them.
- This book will help women who have experienced depression to find joy and peace in their lives.
- This book will help people who have suffered emotional heartache to become vulnerable in relationships again.
Which do you think will sell better? The topic that applies to ”everyone”, or the topic that when the identified person picks it up, s/he says, “Wow, this is exactly the book I need!” The latter, trust me.
Third, you can start to imagine how book sales will fill your back-end.
When you have a back-end, you don’t need to sell a million copies. Selling even 1,000 copies could completely change your business and life. It’s true that only a percentage of the people who read your book will look you up for your back-end services, but here’s what you could reasonably expect from selling 1,000 copies of your book.
- Sign up five new clients for three months of one-on-one coaching or consulting at $3,000 each.
- Sign up 20 to 30 students into your online course at $497 each.
- Sign up 50 people to your membership site at $29 per month.
- Fill a workshop with 15 to 25 people at $200 each.
- Land four speaking gigs at $500 to $1,000 each (and that gives you visibility to bring in more people to your back-end).
And that’s only selling 1,000 books. It would extremely reasonable to set a goal of selling 1,000 books every year (especially if you follow the marketing advice I share on this blog).
It’s all about how to grow a business like a snowball.
When you first pack together a snowball, it’s hard to get all the snow to stick together. It keeps coming apart on you. Sometimes you accidentally smash it and have to start over. But once you can get a small little snowball together, then you can start rolling it in the snow and growing it more efficiently.
When it comes to the question of how to grow a business, the trajectory is similar. It’s hard to get your marketing and offerings to stick together, and sometimes you accidentally smash it all to pieces and have to start over. But putting out a book is actually a great way to solidify who you’re helping and how you’re helping them (that’s your offering), and the book, itself, is a marketing tool that will help you fill up your business’ back-end offerings.