THE BLOG

Ten Tips to Write and Publish Your Best Leadership Book

15/10/2015 10:31 BST | Updated 14/10/2016 10:12 BST

I love leadership books. They can inspire and help more people to lead themselves and the people around them, creating great change in the world. So you could say that leadership books change the world. Bravo to you if you have decided to put one together and get it out there in the world. I hope it makes a big impact on your life and the lives of many others. To improve your chances, I've put together my best tips from all the work I've done over the past fourteen years. Hope it helps you plan, write and publish a better book. Best of luck to you!

1. Understand exactly what you want to achieve with it. Yes, you heard me right. I'm asking you to be selfish for a moment and think about what you want from this. You are going to put a lot of time, effort and money into this project. It has to pay off for you, and I suggest you have some really specific targets in mind, financial as well as career goals.

2. Know what kind of book you want to end up with. Yes, it will be a leadership book. But what kind? A comprehensive manual, or something that is more of an introduction to your ideas and work? Should it be serious or lighter? Longer or shorter? Figure this out before you do any other planning or writing.

3. Get into your reader's head. There are a lot of leadership books out there so yours really needs to hit the mark. You should have complete clarity about the issues they are still dealing with, despite all the other leadership books out there. If you don't feel you understand your reader's issues and needs well enough, ask some of your clients, do a survey or focus group or work with your book coach to figure it out.

4. Choose your title carefully. You have several choices: literal, wacky, play on words, metaphorical etc. I've seen leadership books do well with literal titles, as well as ones that are more 'fun'. It depends on the book, as well as your nature and style. I also don't personally believe you need to know your title to get started. Hundreds of my clients chose their titles during the writing process or even after the book was finished! You can get help from your book coach, or you can ask your readers before you choose the final title. Be careful, though. People outside the industry may know what they like, but not necessarily what will sell.

5. Pour everything you know into this book (without making it too long). Don't hold back. The reader will be impressed with the amount and depth of your content. Don't worry that the book will be a substitute for working with you in person. Far from it. If you impress them enough with the book, they will feel more confident about working with you because they will see that you know a lot. If you leave important things out, readers will sense that.

6. Make your content truly original. People want to see your ideas, your content and your models. They have probably already read, or read about, Maslow, Collins, Covey, Gladwell, Godin and others' ideas. There is a sad phenomenon taking place where authors are simply referencing other authors' and thought leaders' stuff, sometimes with a new 'spin'. That is cheating and insulting the reader. Don't do it; you have plenty of your own ideas and your book needs to be more than just a new spin on old ideas. With so many leadership books out there, you need the sharpest angles, clarity and content for this book, which takes work and thought, but you can get help with that.

7. Get personal. The best books I've read, and the books which get the best reviews, share personal angles, stories and even feelings. There is a fine line, though, between personal stories and thoughts that help the reader get to know you as a person, and those that make the reader fell uncomfortable or embarrassed. You may need to put extra time and thought into this, to get it right.

8. Get the best editing you can afford. There is obviously a minimum standard that readers are willing to accept, but I believe that to stand out in a crowded market, you need a really great, polished book. It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that a poorly edited book will result in poor reviews, which will reflect badly on you and hurt your reputation.

9. Publish your book in the most professional way you can afford. It's great to save money but your book needs to shine in that crowded market. (Did I mention there are a lot of leadership books out there?) If you are reading this article, you are probably planning to invest in your own book, as opposed to waiting for a deal from a traditional publisher. Consider a full-service publishing partner or a cooperative publisher, who can do a lot of the leg work for you, such as manage the entire project and reach more outlets and readers than you could do on your own. The best cooperative publishers launch your book to the media, and list your book with hundreds and even thousands of sites, not just Amazon. They get your book into bricks and mortar stores, and they can arrange foreign and translation deals for you. I happen to be biased towards this type of publishing but I won't go on any more now.

10. Stay humble. I have seen a lot of business authors get a little too cocky when their books come out. Remember the reasons why your clients like working with you and the qualities they see in you - arrogance should not be one of them. If you allow others to rave about your book, the effect will be better. Yes, you have to promote it on social media but no one wants all of your posts to be about your new book. Go back to your reasons why you wrote the book and I think you will find it had something to do with giving back and helping people. That's who you are.