Writing a book represents an effective way for executives to
promote themselves and their companies. It can also be a personally satisfying milestone
in a businessperson's career. Executives ranging from Chrysler's Lee Iacocca to Disney's
Michael Eisner have had books published, generating significant publicity at the time of
the book's release and beyond.
Some titles written by executives focus on a specific
industry, containing how-to information about that business, and are targeted toward a
relatively limited audience. Others are intended for a wider readership, offering general
business advice and opinions. Still others are memoirs of the author's life and career.
Books by business veterans often combine elements from all of these genres.
Submitting a Proposal
The first step is to choose an appropriate list of publishers. Browse the relevant
titles in a bookstore that features an extensive business section. Which publishers have
released books by executives? Which publish titles that relate to the field you plan to
cover? Which do you like in terms of design and content?
Ascertain the correct editor to whom to send your proposal by calling the publisher
(its location is printed on the cover page of the books it releases). Ask which editor
acquires business titles. You can also check the publisher's listing in your library's
copy of Literary Market Place.
You do not need to send the full manuscript. Instead, send a cover letter and a
proposal. The latter contains a one- to two-paragraph synopsis of your idea, a description
of the target audience, a summary of titles that could be considered competitive, an
outline of how long it will take you to research and write the book, and a
chapter-by-chapter outline. A writing sample, along with your biography or resume,
completes the package.
How to Proceed
First, spend some time jotting down all your ideas for the book's contents, not
necessarily in any particular order. Once you have listed your thoughts, group them into
themes; each theme will become a chapter. Some chapters may require fleshing out, some may
need to be combined with other related chapters, and others may contain too much
information and benefit from being split into two. When finished grouping the information,
place the chapters into a coherent order; it can be helpful to check some of the business
books you like to see how they are organized.
Next, create an outline for each chapter and then an outline for each section within
each chapter. This step will assist the writing process by breaking down the manuscript
into manageable bits.
Once your outline is complete, start researching facts and figures that will strengthen
and support your arguments. Are applicable statistics or documents available? Who should
you talk to for insight and quotes? Can newspaper or magazine articles shed light on
historical events? The amount of research will vary depending on the type of book being
written, but most will require at least some digging.
Writing the first draft of the manuscript is the most difficult step for many authors.
Try taking it one paragraph at a time, following your outline, writing for a short period
of time each day until the rough draft is complete. Don't worry about perfecting every
sentence at this point; just get the basic structure and content down on paper.
Once the first draft is finished, the editing process begins. Clean up the writing from
the first draft, make sure it flows smoothly, eliminate redundancies and rectify
omissions. When the overall organization meets your approval, start examining spelling,
grammar, word usage, and the structure of each sentence. Read through the manuscript
several times, each time focusing on one specific element within the text. For example, a
single pass could be devoted to searching for often-repeated words.
After you believe the manuscript is as good as it can be, put it aside for at least a
week or two. Then go over it again; you'll be surprised at what you missed the first time.
Finally, read the entire manuscript aloud, either to another person or to yourself. If you
stumble over any sentences or come across paragraphs that do not sound quite right, rework
them. This step may make you feel uncomfortable at first, but it is one of the most
valuable editing tools there is.
Contrary to the expectations of novices, editing a manuscript usually takes as long
as-or longer than-the writing phase.
Working with a Collaborator
The process of writing a full-length book, outlined only sketchily here, may sound like
an insurmountably difficult and time-consuming challenge to executives without much
writing experience. Yet their desire to write a book remains strong. Luckily, help is out
there in the form of ghostwriters, collaborators, editors and book doctors. These experts
can write the manuscript from your notes, guide you through the process from beginning to
end, do the editing for you once you have written a first or second draft, or take your
completed manuscript and transform it into a publishable document.
Employing a professional ghostwriter can cost in the thousands or the tens of thousands
of dollars for a book-length manuscript, depending on their responsibilities and on the
amount and complexity of the writing or revisions. In some cases, retaining their services
can mean the difference between an accepted and a rejected manuscript. Even more
importantly, it can mean the difference between completion and noncompletion of a project
that is not only professionally but personally fulfilling.
Karen Raugust is a Minneapolis-based independent business writer. She contributes to
more than 20 trade and consumer publications, ranging from Publishers Weekly and Animation
World to Produce Business and American Artist. She has also written five books, including
Merchandise Licensing for the Television Industry (Focal Press), and has contributed
chapters to several books by other authors. Her company, Raugust Communications, provides
editorial and marketing consulting services to entertainment companies, artists, nonprofit
groups and other business organizations.
Courtesy of Article Resource Association, http://www.aracopy.com