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  • Writer's pictureLaura Schaefer

5 Mistakes Coaches Make When They Write Their First Nonfiction Book

Updated: Jan 28, 2020

1. They begin at the beginning. Sounds like a very good place to start, right? Wrong. One of the first things I ask during a free consult call is this: “Imagine your book is done and perfect. What’s next?” I ask this question because I want to understand what result you seek with your book. What will your book do for you, for your business, for your clients? What need will it meet? What problem will it solve? By starting at the end, from the future, we can work backward to create the best book possible.

2. They say their book is for “everyone.” AUGHHHHHH! Your book is not for everyone. Very, very few books are for everyone. Even Harry Potter isn’t for everyone. I challenge you to describe your ideal reader to a person. I want to know that individual's problems. Their age. Their interests. The pop cultural references they love.

The best books and coaching practices speak to a specific niche. If you want to reach everyone, we’ll have to write many, many books together. I’m cool with that. But let’s just start with one reader and write for her.

3. They don’t focus. I want readers to get a clear sense of your book and its main idea from the title and subtitle alone. It won’t work well to say, “I just want to tell my story because I think it can help people.” Yes. Telling your story WILL help people. But you won’t get anyone to pick up your title and actually read it in the first place unless you get more specific than this in your overall concept. Tell me why someone should care. Tell me what you’ve figured out that very few people have. Tell me how you’re going to challenge conventional wisdom. Surprise me. Make me think, “Huh. That’s new.”

4. They fail to dig deep. You can have a very strong hook, a very narrow niche, and still fall short of excellence by failing to push yourself while we are working together. Now, I’m not saying write a book has to be difficult. Far from it. Writing a book with me is fun and cathartic because I’m a goofball. But you have to dig deep within yourself and share the truest truths you’ve ever learned.

You have to be willing to ask yourself, over and over if necessary, “What is the ONE MAIN THING I want to teach?” I cannot have surface-level summaries of your knowledge. I need stories...the more unusual, the better. I need to understand the key moment of transformation for you. The moments of transformation you’ve seen in your clients. Give me the good stuff and don’t save anything for your second book.

5. They over-focus on costs and unit sales to the detriment of the big picture. Producing a good book costs money and time. It won’t do to scrimp on a ghostwriter or a cover designer. If you’ve been wanting to create a book for years, now is not the time to hire someone for a couple grand on Fiverr and hope for the best. Similarly, it’s unwise to expect book sales to recoup all of your costs immediately.

Selling books isn’t easy, so I encourage you to think about ten ways having a book will help your business that have nothing to do with your sales ranking on Amazon. Will having a great book increase the number of speaking engagements you’ll schedule next year? Will it change the perception your customers have of your business or your level of expertise? Will it create a runway for a different product? Will it create a legacy for your children and grandchildren? Figure this out ahead of time so we write the right book.

I am taking on a very limited number of new clients in 2020. I hope you will be one of them.

With love, Laura

Laura Schaefer: Book Nerd At Large

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