6 Things All Best-Selling Business Books Have in Common
Writers must consider the overall picture and proceed with clear guidelines and goals in mind.
More than 2.2 million business books are published each year, but only a handful of them ever enjoy best selling status. Even so, there are common threads between business writers who have books that consistently top the charts. Following their proven formula gives any aspiring writer a solid shot to succeed.
That being said, it’s naive to think there’s a single and easy secret, and what makes or breaks a book’s success is ultimately determined by several factors. Before ever putting pen to paper, it’s important that writers consider the overall picture and proceed with clear guidelines and goals in mind.
A little technical foresight gives a book the best shot possible to find and connect with an audience, which is crucial for any writer looking to make a splash. Make sure your book and publishing and promotion strategy meet these essential needs.
1. Actionable advice
When a person picks up a business book they are seeking something far different than fiction or leisure reading. While they might be interested in the writer’s story and style, at the end of the day what readers want is advice that is readily applicable to their professional life.
This can take almost countless forms — everything from time management to supply chain philosophy, and most business books live or die by the quality of advice they give readers. Before a writer ever starts a book, they must ensure they have something to say to their audience that 's worthy of their audience’s time and attention. Without this, the ship is doomed to fail before it ever sets out to sea.
It’s important to understand that readers look to gain new perspectives through business books, but they also need to be assured that these solutions are rooted in reality.
Related: How to Give Great Advice
2. Proven solutions
After a book has established its niche and recommended actions, the writer must ensure their words are backed up by facts. In business especially, people desire to see data packaged and presented in a digestible manner.
Supporting their claims with facts is essential, otherwise the words can just be brushed off as pure conjecture without any basis in reality. In business, there’s no room for this kind of fluff, and citing credible sources cements your legitimacy.
The best means to substantiate words and gain your reader’s trust is to not just regurgitate studies — connect to them and comment on the trends as a whole. This along with first-hand experiences from the writer’s professional past gives the advice a more well-rounded effect.
Tie it all together with some personal flair, and the book takes another important step forward towards success.
3. A polished product
Even the best advice and solutions can be dragged down by poor editing and writing, and virtually all successful books underwent several rounds of edits before ever hitting the shelves.
The importance of editing cannot be understated as it provides a level of refinement to a book that the writer themselves cannot provide. Having an editor smooth out any overlooked grammatical errors and ensuring the ideas and advice all support one another makes the reader far more likely to believe in the writer’s message.
Details like font choice and book-cover design are easy to rush through, but these must be consistent and attractive for readers to take notice of the book. Polishing these aspects until they meet a professional standard is essential work for any writer before heading off to publishing.
4. A clear plan for publishing
Writers have more choice than ever when considering publishing options, and firmly deciding upon a publisher and seeing it through is a strong indicator of future success for any book. The two main routes are to go work with a traditional publisher, whether that’s one of the big five or an independent press, or to self-publish.
There’s a world of difference between the two, but in short, self-publishing gives more potential profit to a writer while traditional publishers offer more support and structure.
Entrepreneurial writers tend to naturally have skills in marketing, production and distribution, which make up for the main drawbacks of self-publishing, so this route specifically is worth researching as it has the highest potential financial return.
There is a third option, which is worthy of being made mention as well: hybrid publishing. In theory, hybrid publishing provides writers with the best of both worlds — speed, as well as control and ownership — but with the added benefits of help with editing, design, marketing and any other support you might get from a traditional publisher. Writers who opt to work with a hybrid publisher can expect to pay anywhere between $10,000-$50,000.
5. Modern marketing campaigns
While quality content is what will get readers to stay, a strong marketing campaign is what will garner their attention in the first place. Classic marketing campaigns for a book include critical reviews and participating in a writing contest for recognition, and these will still work for some.
A more modern approach, especially for writers who already have a strong following, is promotion via email and social media campaigns. This activates the network they already have which is favorable to them, and through word of mouth and successful ad targeting, find similar individuals who would enjoy their work.
6. Staying active with the audience
Writers aren’t always known as the most social bunch, but being active and accessible after a book is published can help keep crucial momentum going for a newly published book. Live-streaming Q&A sessions with an author engages their audience on a personal leveland can also serve as a testing ground for new ideas. Promoting their own work through presence and conversation can help further tip the scales in the favor of a writer.
There are no guarantees in the publishing industry, and sometimes a writer needs a little luck on their side to make it big. These tried- and-true methods position a book to succeed regardless of luck and give you a real shot at success.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor