Writing a Book: Buyer Needs and Perceptions Trump Author’s Preferences

Later this year, Sylvia will release a book for managers and executives. We’re following Sylvia through this journey with a series of blog posts. This post is the fourth in the series. To read the past blogs, click here.

I believe you’re considering changing the forthcoming title “Two Minutes to Executive Excellence.” Is that still a possibility and, if so, what factors lead to this decision?

Changing the title while actually writing the book is not at all unusual.  I have officially changed my book’s title to Executive Excellence NOW because, as I discussed the book’s content with various people over a period of several months, it became clear to me that they didn’t really grasp how executives could achieve excellence in just two minutes.  This is an example of something making perfect sense to an author but remaining cloudy to the book’s potential readers.  I continually learn that writing a book is not mostly about author preferences; it is mostly about buyer needs and perceptions.

You’ve recently updated your website to include three major pillars of career development.  How will this recent clarification of business focus affect the content in the book?

My business focuses on three career development areas:  upgrading your current job performance, seeking a job promotion, and planning/navigating a career transition.  My book aligns primarily with the first area because it shows executives how to achieve excellence right where they are now.  That said, however, the last chapter addresses the issue of “moving on”:  how to know when the time has come to leave your position and seek employment elsewhere.

We’ve talked before about the myriad of things to consider when writing a book. To date, what’s been your biggest takeaway?  What can you recommend to others who are considering writing a book in the future?

I have been learning over and over again that writing a book is a fluid, ever-evolving (nonlinear) process.  Authors cannot be rigid if they want to end up with a great book that actually sells.  Authors have to be willing to flow and adjust…willing to make appropriate shifts and changes that reveal themselves over time.  For example, I had a certain title in mind when I first started to write my book a year ago.  While I liked this title—and still do—I discovered that my original title may not be the BEST title for this book in the eyes of potential buyers.  I needed to be open to another idea.  If I resist altering the title, then I may not reach as many people as I’d like to reach with my book after it is published.  After all, the whole point of writing a book is to get it in the hands of a lot of people who can benefit from its content.  If you are thinking of writing a book, approach the project with a high level of flexibility and openness to making necessary changes and taking appropriate detours along the way.

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