Making the Transition from Executive To Author
by Karen Raugust (ARA)
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
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