How to write a non-fiction business book – 3 simple methods
|Over the next few articles we’re going to look at my model: Directions, Map or Landmark.|
This is a model for business book development. 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 is a long article, take your time reading it, come back later after you’ve thought a little. If you have questions pop me an email, I’ll respond, I promise. If you don’t like my model tell me why, if you do like my model tell your friends!
And remember, this is just a model — it’s not real. There are lots of different models. A model helps us make sense of complex situations, and to do that it reduces the situation to smaller, more manageable parts.
“Everything simple is false. Everything which is complex is unusable.” — Paul Valéry, French poet.
This means there will be successful books that don’t fit in my model. That’s OK. It’s just a model. A model simplifies complexity, we’ve been complexifying simplicity!
Helping people get from A to B
Imagine you want to get to the new restaurant in town, so you ask a friend to tell you how to get there. They send you a detailed list of turn by turn instructions to drive there from your home, a 20km journey. But you are at work, on your bike, 2 minutes away from the restaurant. How helpful are the directions? You really needed a landmark to help you — ”head towards the train station and it’s on the left”.
Or perhaps you are new to the area and want some help finding your way around, getting to know the local environment, the best restaurants, where the good schools are. A manifesto on re-opening the canal system won’t be particularly helpful. Of course, later, when you have been there a few years you might be really interested, but right now?
Late at night you realise you’ve walked down a dark alley and are completely lost in the middle of a city, in what appears to be a not too salubrious area. A large scale, tourist map won’t get you out of danger fast. You need a detailed, turn by turn, ‘get me to the closest metro station as fast as possible’ solution.
There are different ways of giving information for different types of people, with different needs and at different starting points. There’s a recurring word here — different — one system does not fit all.
To give good help you need to know where the person is now, where they want to go, why they want go there, how they plan to get there and whether you’re going with them.
When you write a book in the style of someone famous, or following the rules of other business books, or you emulate the same book everyone else is emulating, you are not understanding the subtleties and differences.
The Directions, Map or Landmark Model – DML
I first came across the idea of using directions, map or landmark from my brother, Joe. He came across it in a book: The Back of a Napkin, by Dan Roam.
Directions (how to…) books describe directions to a new place in detail (turn left at the church), map (what & where to…) books must describe the whole map, with all the contours and buildings (detailed terrain), a landmark (why to…) book identifies a bright, shining destination, that we head towards (even if we might never get there).
Directions books (how to…) are good for people who sell structured training, video courses, other books in a series — “ie do this and then do the next thing in the list”. If you have a team of people who take action, do the work and take the hassle off the client, this is the book you could write. How to books are great for readers who are desperate for a solution, right now!
Map books (what & where to…) are great for people who have multiple products to sell too, but they allow the customer to decide — like, buy my coaching, or buy my book or buy my in-house training course. Map books are for curious readers who will happily get stuck in and solve their own problems with a little help from your or your team.
Landmark books (why to…) are for people who want to lead, who are looking for followers and who are able to describe a bright shining opportunity — like mavens (making connections), prolific writers (who can monetise their writing), prolific video makers (who can monetise video), keynote speakers (get paid for speaking), government or big business advisors, also those looking to create follower-leaders (offer mentorship, coaching, train the trainer, which lead back to the manifesto). Your reader needs to be inspired by you and the issue. They are looking to follow an inspirational leader.
No one type is better than the other in absolute terms — they each have their role and place and time.
I’ve found that expert author business books fall into about 30% Directions, 50% Map and 20% Landmark. So the vast majority of small expert business owners, consultants, trainers, coaches will end up writing a map type book — and that’s where they get lost — in detailing the terrain!
If you’ve already started writing, you might be writing the wrong book! Call me to find out.
I have developed the DML model and have a way of mapping yourself and your reader so you can work out what book to write…
In the next articles we’ll look at each type, see who they work for (reader and writer), and what you need to make it work.