Should you write a Map-Type business book?

We’re looking at my model for business book development: Directions, Map or Landmark – in these next articles. It will help you choose what type of business book to write, write the book and most importantly work out how that book can fit in with your business strategy, enhance your profile and provide you with a lucrative marketing tool.

This article is focusing on Map Type Books.


With a map type book you need to diagram everything, set out all the nooks and crannies, show the whole terrain — landmarks, corners, traffic lights, McDonalds (even though you hate fast food), you need to be complete and all encompassing within a specific scope, size, scale and span. Let’s have a look at the 4Ss that determine a map-type book.

MAP  —  Scope

What purpose will the map provide? Is it a cycling map? A pub crawl? Lost treasure? Motorway service stations?

This helps you work out your “who for” — a cycling map is for cyclists.

The map isn’t for everyone!

The biggest problem I find (and my bugbear) is that plenty of business people say something like: my book is for everyone who wants to be a coach? My book is for everyone in business. My book is for startups. My book is for executives.

No! They have to have a need to move — cyclists want to cycle, they could use a road map and work it out themselves, but they’d be much happier with a map just for them.

So, your book needs to be for:

  • Coaches who want to grow their practice from X to XX (where they are now to where they want to be in the future).
  • Big companies who want to improve their entrepreneurial spirit (current place, new place).
  • Managers who want to become CEOs (current role, new role).

MAP – Size

Where are the edges of the map? Is it the whole of the USA? The World? The Algorrobo mountain (that’s where I live if you want to send wine or Campari)? If you’re writing a business startup book for getting VC the rules are different in the UK than the States. You need to decide the size of the map, and where your map ends.

MAP – Scale

How much depth will you provide — what scale map? Will it be detailed? An overview? The depth may be effected by or effect the size of the map. You need to provide the same attention to detail, to the scale, for all parts of the map.

If your book is for starting up a small business in the UK, and you cover everything in detail, except the legislation — that would be a crap map.

That fuzzy bit in the middle is where you’ll lose (literally) your reader.

MAP – Span

What time period — how often will it need updating? Mountains are harder to move than McDonalds.

The biggest problem with maps is that they go out of date. The biggest benefit of map type books is they go out of date. You will need to re-visit your book in a few years, do a revised edition, update everything and SELL IT AGAIN! If it was a great map book, people will buy the revised edition too. Of course that means you have to do the work.

Each of these questions impacts the others — a detailed, but small map is doable. A detailed, in depth, map of the world, all the shops, every traffic light is a little more of a challenge — unless you’re Google of course. But even they haven’t written the book about that!

Lots of competition

My Going Native in Murcia book came in this category. I wrote about every town, village, golf course, shopping centre, beach and bar! Restricted to the area of Murcia and for holiday makers. It’s now in its third edition — because the territory changed. Map books can go out of date really quickly, and they can be hard work keeping on top of — but— you have a ready made audience, your readers (clients) need to know what’s changed, what’s new, what’s been torn down. I also wrote a map book for the same region, covering the same scale for people wanting to buy property here. Their movement would be different — they still needed to MOVE — but for different reasons.

In this category — map — there will be lots of competitors, lots of ‘me too’ books — after all you’re all describing the same territory. Your trick is how you differentiate yourself from the crowd. How do you encourage readers (clients) to purchase your map book? What’s different? What’s special?

Your readers are curious about the landscape, the terrain, the options. They want less instruction, more information & exploration…

Map books don’t need everyone to start from the same place, if the terrain (scope, scale, size & span) is well set out then you can parachute the right reader into any location on the map and they will be able to find their own path.

What business books are in the Map category?

Book writing books fall here — you are in place A and you want to be in B — where do you go? What routes could you take? What will you find on the journey?

Also, setting up in business, developing coaching skills, becoming an entrepreneurial type company, creating agile teams, how to be happy, self help…

This category is busy, it’s where most business people end up writing their book.

Tie in to your business: if you want to sell yourself as a speaker, sell products, 1to1 consultancy, training courses, workshops, mentorship, coaching, then a map-type book could be right.

How Map-type books can go wrong…

Neil Gaiman says it best in Fragile Things:
“One describes a tale best by telling the tale. You see? The way one describes a story, to oneself or the world, is by telling the story. It is a balancing act and it is a dream. The more accurate the map, the more it resembles the territory. The most accurate map possible would be the territory, and thus would be perfectly accurate and perfectly useless. The tale is the map that is the territory.”

If you’re stuck in the middle of writing your map book, go back to your basic map skills.

When you get bogged down in the detail you are not creating a map you are creating the territory. The art of writing a map book is getting the scope, size, scale and span just right.

Remember: You must decide what type of book your are writing – Directions, Map or Landmark – before you write the outline or decide on the title and subtitle.

If you’ve already started writing, you might be writing the wrong book!
 Call me to find out.

Debs Jenkins

PS: I personally reply to all emails, shout if you have a question…
PPS: If it takes me a little while to respond, it’s probably because I’m herding cats, dogs, goats, chickens or horses! I’ll be back – send me a map!

Should you write a Landmark-Type business book?

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