There are five elements to a great book—only one is your content. To create a successful book, you need:
1. A great concept
2. A catchy title
3. An outstanding cover, and book interior (design)
4. Good editing (content and copy editing)
5. Great content
Whenever you are considering writing a new book, you should put your project through a rigorous test against the books that are best-sellers in your chosen category. Once you have a short list of your “competitors” in your mind, then consider the preferences of the readers in your books genre(s).
You can borrow a marketer’s mind and build a “portrait” of your potential readers. Once you have both images of your reader and your peers in mind, you can ask yourself the following questions:
Does my book present an original concept or a new way of seeing a familiar concept?
How does your title grab the attention of your reader? What is he or she reading now?
Have you consulted a graphic designer to help you design your book? A book IS read by the cover. The very first thing a potential reader sees is the cover. If it is unprofessional or dull, it will lose readers in the first few seconds.
There are two kinds of editors that may be involved in producing a book: the content editor and the copy editor.
- The content editor helps the author organize her thoughts, helps the author create flow and maintain the logic throughout the manuscript. The content editor often serves in the role of a creative consultant/coach/mentor for the author.
- The copy editor is the grammatical expert that keeps you and your manuscript from committing literary gaffes. Both editors are critical to the production of a great book.
Believe it or not, great content is the least important element of a book–at least in initial sales. A book cannot sell its content to most readers, as they are not likely to even look at the book–much less read it–if it doesn’t have the other four elements.
However, the content is the most important item in engaging readers once you have sold them on the idea that the book is worth buying and reading. Your content is what can make your book a classic, and can make your book an integral part of your path to success.
Take it one step further: can you think of any book-turned-movie that did not have great content? Books can take you on the path of success in ways that you may not even imagine at this point. All authors and creators–no matter how skilled or successful–can benefit from a good creative coach: the best coaches know what makes a good book and how to create a brand of the author’s work, helping them with the total direction of their creative career. A coach can help you with your content, ideally marrying it with the other four elements so that your book is more likely to be successful.
I will be writing more on how to make a great book in subsequent articles.