7 Steps for writing A PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BOOK
There are a lot of A/E/C marketers out there with something to say, but the idea of writing a book seems as likely as swimming to the bottom of the ocean and back. It’s an intimidating idea that stops most would-be authors from even trying. Fear not! Writing a book is much like preparing a proposal—you break the work down into a series of tasks and tackle them one at a time.
It’s been a year since my book Marketing at Low Tide: How to Recession-Proof Your Marketing Department was released. In celebration of that and to hopefully encourage you to take the plunge, here are the seven steps that got me from that first initial spark to a finished book. Allison Tivnon, Pursuit Strategiest, Middle of Six
1. CRAFT YOUR IDEA WITH POWERPOINT
Talking out loud about your idea is a great way to refine your thinking and gauge interest and initial reactions. If the response is consistently positive and people enthusiastically engage with the content, you’ll know you’re on to something book-worthy!
TIP: Aim to present no less than 5 times. This gives you time to refine the content and achieve a clear and conversational tone that will speed up your writing time.
2. Get 'Legit' as soon as possible
A great way to go ‘all in’ early and stay motivated is to make this a true and bona fide book project: get your copyright, your Library of Congress number, your ISBN number(s), and select your self-publishing company. Intimidated? Don’t be. There are numerous resource guides online and once ready, this work can be accomplished in a matter of days.
TIP: There is cost associated with this stage, especially regarding ISBNs. You’ll need different numbers for print, e-book, audio book, and future editions. Consider it an investment and start dreaming about how far you can take this.
3. assemble your experts
To add dimension and ‘lived experience’ to your book, you need to invite people into your inner circle. Identify 10-20 industry colleagues and request time to interview each of them. Craft starter questions and let them run with it. Locked within your interview notes will be insightful, compelling quotes to sprinkle throughout your manuscript.
TIP: Plan for 2 hours per person (1 for the interview; 1 to review your notes, capture quotes, and verify permissions).
4. Create your blueprint (outLINE)
From the copyright page all the way to the 'About the Author,' you need to map out every section of your manuscript. To outline your chapters, simply use your PowerPoint as your guide. Estimate how many pages in Word it will take to capture each chapter.
TIP: After creating your outline, go back through and estimate how many hours you think each section will take. Committing to page counts and hours will help you set your daily writing schedule.
Now that you have an outline and estimated page counts, don’t be afraid to dive in. Start anywhere you like—beginning, middle, or end. Cap your daily commitment to 3-4 hours. This helps prevent fatigue and writer's block.
TIP: As you’re writing, always look for opportunities to add bulleted lists, tables, graphics, or other imagery. Not sure yet what those might be? Just add a note 'Add graphic here' and come back to it in the next stage.
6. EDITORIAL & LAYOUT
Determine who’s on your A-Team. At minimum, you will need an editor, a graphic designer, and a cover designer. Estimate a minimum of $1,500-$3,000 for these services. If you know your way around InDesign, you can save a lot of money and retain full creative control of your interiors. That said, always outsource your cover to a professional.
TIP: Visit the bookstore and your bookshelf. What books do you like to hold? What size feels right? Which layout do you prefer? Pick your favorite characteristics and model your book after it!
7. Publication and promotion
Once editorial and design is complete, now is the time to upload your PDFs to your preferred self publishing company. This step is mainly administrative in nature, leaving you plenty of time to promote your book on your social media channels.
TIP: Coming around full circle, don’t forget about that PPT presentation! As part of your promotional strategy, consider outreach to industry organizations and chapters far and wide to give your presentation. This grows your network and builds awareness of your book.
Remember that marketing should be humming in the background at all times! This means you’re: presenting, growing your online networks, crafting back cover copy, soliciting testimonials, spotlighting the many experts who contributed to your book, seeking out post-publication presentations, creating anticipation on social media with periodic ‘countdown’ updates, and brainstorming potential sites and periodicals to approach for reviews.
EXPLORE THE BOOK
MEET THE AUTHOR
Allison joined Middle of Six after serving as a partner and Director of Marketing for the Pacific Northwest’s largest consultancy specializing in economic research and policy analysis, where she oversaw the firm’s business development outreach and philanthropic involvement and giving.
For over a decade Allison has dedicated her professional career to the world of city planning and the built environment, having partnered with Cities, Counties, regional governments, DOTs, and others on behalf of urban planners, transportation engineers, economists, and policy analysts. Allison is the author of "Marketing at Low Tide: How to Recession-Proof Your Marketing Department," and currently serves on the Beaverton City Council.