By Robin Colucci
“Eureka! I should write a book about that!” is the way a lot of book ideas come. In the moment of discovery, energy elevates, and happy hormones course through the writer’s veins.
Usually, these ideas falter and fizzle long before they come anywhere near fruition as written and published books. If you want to ensure your book idea makes it over the finish line, and makes a difference for you, your readers, and your business, you will need to develop it into a salable concept.
A book idea, as it emerges through the ethers of inspiration, is underdeveloped and untested. For business, a salable concept means the book idea has a specific purpose. It speaks directly to your ideal client, and it helps you stand out as an impactful thought leader in your field.
Picture your favorite classic painting—Di Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Monet’s Water Lilies, Van Gough’s Starry Night. Now, picture that same painting with an orange and black plastic Looney Toons Tasmanian Devil frame around it.
Not the same effect.
The content of the painting on the canvass is extraordinary, but if it’s set in the wrong frame, onlookers might become distracted from fully appreciating the work.
The same is true for books. The ideas within may be excellent, but if they aren’t framed properly, most people won’t be able to fully receive or appreciate what’s inside. With books, the metaphorical frame is the salable concept, which creates a context—a frame of reference—for all the ideas within.
For your book idea to become a salable concept, it needs to have three specific traits.
- Aligned with and authentic to you
- Connected to what your ideal client or customer already knows it wants
- Unique and relevant in the marketplace.
Most book ideas come out aligned with and authentic to the author. The only trap there is if you get into writing a book that has nothing to do with your other goals in life. For example, as a business coach, you may have all kinds of ideas about parenting that could go into a book, but there’s no payoff for you to become known as a parenting expert. You’d be far better off writing a book that highlights your expertise in coaching.
If you are a CEO, the best justification for having a book is if it plays some direct role in your business’s growth. Let’s face it. To write and publish a book requires a significant amount of effort. You have neither the time nor the bandwidth to go about writing books in all sorts of directions.
The second trait of a salable book concept—it connects to what your ideal client already knows it wants. This one is easy to miss if you confuse what your ideal client knows he or she wants with what you know they need. Meet your reader where they are, with what they already know they want, and that gives you the opportunity to share what you know they need.
Another mistake I often see people make is to focus their books around their own personal stories. “I want others to see that I left my corporate job and started a business, and if I can do it, so can they!”
If anyone is going to read your book and benefit, they first need to know, “What’s in it for me? Why would I invest the hours to read it?”
Unless people already know who you are, or if your story is so extraordinary that even the most jaded person would find it riveting, you will need to come up with something more compelling than just your own story to pull readers in.
When I tell people the third trait, unique and relevant in the marketplace, they usually freak out at first. The idea of needing the book to be unique and relevant triggers the fears that all authors have at one point or another: “What if I don’t have anything unique or new to share? What if no one cares?”
The first cure is to be willing to look. Check out the other books and authors writing in your genre and topic area and find out. If your message seems old hat, take another look and see what you do have to say that is unique and relevant. And don’t sit there and say, “I don’t have anything unique,” because that is nonsense. You’re a leader who had enough drive and belief you opted-in for all the ups and downs and uncertainties, so you could fulfill your mission. Of course, you must believe that somewhere in all those ideas, you can pinpoint that salable concept. Don’t stop looking until you do. Demand it. Demand it of yourself to write a book that makes a difference.