If you just read my post What is a Book Coach? you might be saying to yourself, “Now I know what a book coach is, but how do I know if I need one or not?”
You’ve come to the right place for the answer, but if you’re already thinking you need a book coach, you can skip ahead to my post How to Hire a Book Coach.
Should You Hire A Book Coach?
Maybe I should dance around the question and give you more information until you convince yourself, but let’s cut to the chase—writing a book without a book coach is like entering the Olympics without a sports coach. Sure, you can write and publish a book without a book coach, and an Olympic athlete could enter the Olympics without a coach, but what kind of results would you expect?
There are a few instances in which I’d recommend you don’t hire a book coach:
- You’re broke and would have to go into debt
Actually, that’s the only reason I can think of. I was going to say that if you’re a professional writer, or a book coach yourself, then maybe you don’t need a book coach, but even in those circumstances I think the benefits of hiring a book coach outweigh the cost by a long shot. Even a book coach who is an experienced author needs an outside perspective sometimes, not to mention someone else who can take care of much of the minutiae.
What Will A Book Coach Do For You?
A good book or writing coach will help you do everything you need to do in order to write the right book, for the right audience, while getting the best results possible while saving you time, money, and effort.
Why do you want to author a book? Why do you want to author this book? What do you hope it will do for you and/or your business?
One of my clients, when I asked him these questions, told me, “I’m kind of a big deal in my industry, except nobody knows it. Nobody knows who I am. I walk in to talk to them about what my company is doing in this space and they think I’m some random sales dude. They don’t know I’m worth 100x what they are, and of course I don’t want to tell them.”
For this client, writing a book was a way for him to let everyone in his industry know who he was, without telling them. He wrote a book that is not about himself, it’s not him pointing at himself and saying, “Look how awesome I am!”, but because he’s sharing such good information in his book, he can send that book out to all his potential customers and then they’ll know who he is and they’ll see him as the expert he is.
Sidenote: This particular client got a side-benefit from writing his book that he wasn’t expecting—it forced him to think through how he was running his own business and caused him to overhaul it. He since said that even if he never published the book, the exercise of writing it was worth it by itself.
Your vision may be different than this client’s. Perhaps you want to give back by sharing your knowledge. Perhaps you want to leave a legacy. Perhaps you want to generate leads. Perhaps you want to launch a business around your book. Perhaps you want to leverage the book to become a public speaker. There are many possible reasons to write a book, the question is what is the primary driving motivation for you? A good book coach will help you figure out what’s truly motivating you (in case you aren’t sure), help you define your vision, and check your assumptions when you have a vision that isn’t realistic.
2. Genius Zone
Your book coach should help you write from a place of strength, even if that means you end up writing a different book than you intended to. Whatever book you write, if it’s going to be a great book, needs to come from your genius zone.
A potential client I’m talking to right now is a billionaire heiress. Without going into too much detail (I’m under NDA), she has a cause she cares about, a lot, and she wants to write a book that will help her spread awareness of that cause, especially with high-ranking government officials and policy-makers.
When I began communicating with this client, my first question was what experience she had with this cause. As it turns out, she has a lifetime of experience with it and has already set up multiple organizations to support it and has already been on stage with world leaders to talk about it. She’s definitely an expert on the topic. What’s more, she already knows how to communicate about it. The book is merely another channel to deliver a message she’s already been delivering for years.
If you’re not sure your experience, skills, or traits line up with your vision for your book idea, try this simple exercise:
First, make a list of all your “expert” zones. These are all the things you’re at least halfway good at. Think more broadly than just what’s related to your book’s subject matter. For example, I might put down:
- Running a marketing agency
This is a short list, I’d recommend you make a much longer one, but this is long enough to teach the concept.
Then, I start to overlap these areas to find potential genius zones.
- Marketing + skateboarding + adoption + LinkedIn + podcasting. Mmm, not so sure there’s a genius zone there.
- Marketing + skateboarding + podcasting. Could I write a book about using modern communication tools to reach the youth demographic? It’s at least possible, given this combination.
- Marketing + podcasting. Too broad, too general.
- Marketing + skateboarding. That’s pretty niche, but if I were after a the top marketing job at Nike SB, or I wanted to be a high-paid marketing consultant in the skateboarding industry, I could set myself apart from the competition by writing a book based on my decades of experience both as a marketer and a skateboarder. How many other people in the world have run a marketing agency for 20 years and also been involved in the skateboard industry for 30+ years?
The point is, think about what combination of expert zones from your list make you the ideal person to write the book you want to write. Once you find the right mix of expert zones, which may be two, three, five, or ten (although it’s usually three to five), it becomes easier to know what your strengths are, how to focus them to craft the right book, and you will gain confidence.
One client of mine is in commercial real estate. As we discussed his genius zone, we knew his genius zone needed to be more than just commercial real estate, and we discovered that it was the combination of commercial real estate, innovation, technology, and an uncanny ability to spot future trends in his industry. That genius zone became the core of his book.
How can you combine your background, experience, skills, and traits to find a genius zone that allows you to do something no one else can do and reach people no one else can reach?
3. Ideal Audience
Speaking of who you can reach, once you find your genius zone, who is your ideal audience?
The big mistake many would-be authors make when asked about their book audience is to say, “It’s everyone!” Other variations of this include:
- Everyone who wants to be a leader
- All entrepreneurs
- Anyone who wants to improve
As they say, if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll end up appealing to no one. Even Oprah, Stephen R. Covey, and Richard Branson don’t go this broad with their books.
To help authors find their ideal audience, I ask these questions:
- How many people need to be deeply impacted by your book to make it well worth it? For most authors, the number if surprisingly few. For the author who wants to double the number of consulting clients, or double their fees while keeping the same number of clients, the answer might be “Five.” For an agency owner who wants to double the size of their business, they may only need ten people to read and respond to their book. For the founder of a SaaS tool, it might be a thousand.
- If you could only impact one person with your book, who would you most like to impact? I then ask my clients to describe them in great detail, even give them a name and personal details. Perhaps they even tell me about a real person, a client they have that is perfect and whom they wish they could duplicate.
- What’s the impact you want your book to have on that ideal reader you just told me about? What do you want them to feel and think? What do you want them to do?
I ask more questions, often playing a game of “Would you rather…” and asking things like “Would you rather have readers who have lots of money or no money?” and “Would you rather have readers who will buy your products and services tomorrow or in one year?” and “Would you rather have to explain exactly what you do or attract readers who already understand what you do?”
Some of these questions are easy to answer, and yet many authors are afraid to answer them, because they feel like they’re leaving money on the table. The fact is, if you don’t get hyper-targeted, you’ll leave all the money on the table. If you want to maximize the benefit you and your readers get from your book, you’ll need to zoom in on exactly who your ideal reader is.
The Rest of the 7 Systems
The remaining four parts of the 7 Systems are:
- System 4 – Content: This is where we figure out exactly what goes in your book.
- System 5 – Action: This is the plan we’ll follow to write, publish, and leverage your book.
- System 6 – Collaboration: As an author, you can improve the quality of your book and increase its reach by working with others. This may mean bringing on a co-author, working with a ghostwriter, interviewing experts, enrolling a book army to market your book, and more.
- System 7 – Love: You have to care about your book and the audience you’re writing it for. If your heart is in this book, everything will work out, even if mistakes are made along the way. If you merely see the book as a tool to make money, everything becomes transactional, stale, boring, and even if you finish your book (which you probably won’t) your readers will sense that you’re merely trying to manipulate them, and your book will fail to have the impact you want.
What Else Does a Book Coach Do?
If you’ve ever hired a leadership or executive coach, their coaching job is different than that of a book coach. An executive coach asks lots of good questions and helps you find the answers. A book coach will do some of that, but they’ll also give you answers and dig in and help you when appropriate and depending on the nature of your agreement with them.
A good book coach will help you:
- Set goals
- Stay accountable
- Answer questions you didn’t even know you had
- Advise you at every step of the writing and publishing process
- Connect you with others whose help you may need, like editors and publishers
- Get you unstuck at any stage of the process
- Help you get your book done
Your book coach will also help you overcome doubts and fears.
One of my clients is a phenomenal entrepreneur. At age forty, he has created a company already worth several hundred million dollars that will hit over a billion dollars in annual revenue by 2027. His model and way of doing business is unique, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Once I saw it in action, I knew he had something special, and he needed to help other entrepreneurs do what he was doing. I told him, “I don’t care if you hire me to help you or not, but you need to write a book about how you’re doing what you do.”
Many entrepreneurs would be flattered and love the idea of writing a book, but instead he said, “Am I really doing anything that special? I’m just a kid from a small town and I’m doing what seems normal to me. I don’t think I have anything to offer anyone.” That wasn’t his only fear, as he later told me, “I don’t want to be like Tony Robbins or other guys out there. I feel like they’re showing off, and I don’t want to be that guy.”
I respected this entrepreneur for being humble and not wanting the spotlight, but just the same, I knew there were hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs out there who desperately needed him to share the knowledge in his head. It took some work, but I finally convinced him to write his book, and we began to work on it together. He keeps doubting himself and what he knows, but each time he does I remind him how often he mentors other entrepreneurs and how they always tell him things like, “Nobody has ever told me what you’re telling me,” or “This makes so much sense, why doesn’t everyone do it this way?!” I also tell him how I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of his book with my own audience, and they keep asking, “When is his book going to come out? I need it!”
Yes, you need a book coach. You especially need a book coach if you have doubts and fear, or if you feel stuck.
But don’t hire just any old book coach, hire the right book coach. Learn how in my next post.Liked it? Share it!