13 Tips for Writing Your First Professional Development Book

Question: I want to write a professional development book. What is your number 1 piece of advice for a first-time author?

Question by: Will

How Will Yours Stand Out?

"It's a popular niche, so you need to ensure that the book you write is going to stand out from the crowd and hold its own against what's already there. Before you even put (virtual) pen to paper, figure out why people should read your book instead of any other and identify what they'll get from doing so, that they can't get anywhere else. Once you've done that, just get writing!"

What's Your Personal "Why?"

"I am sure you are very passionate about what you want to write. Take the time to figure out why you want to write the book. Just wanting to prove you can do it is different from really wanting to move units. Know your personal "why" and remember that writing a book is totally different from marketing and selling a book. I learned the hard way."

- Michael Bruny | Conference Networking Speaker | Coach | Author, The New Art of Conference Networking

Develop Strategies

"Work backwards. First, evaluate what your target market really wants and needs to hear. Then develop your book. As you begin working on your book, start positioning yourself as the go-to person on the subject matter. Write and speak about it as often as you can. Before completing your book, develop a plan for how you'll get it into the hands of people who need it."


Character Trumps Credentials

"Worry less about impressing us. Instead, describe the journey you've been on. What have you learned the hard way that you don't want others to suffer and struggle with? People love to learn from those who have an interesting story to tell. Or better yet, a story to identify with as their own. What's missing from the conversation, but you think really matters? Make that the gift of your book."


Ask Writers for Help

"If you're going to engage in something as difficult as authoring a book, make sure you have some help. Find a writing mentor like Carol Tice of MakeaLivingWriting.com and get them to support you as you write your book -- since writing a book is a very different skill from covering news stories and blogging."

- Danny Wong | Co-Founder, Advisor and Lead Evangelist, Blank Label
Start Today!

"Stop talking and start writing today. It doesn't matter where you are in the process, but in order for your book to become a reality, you must begin. Make an outline of the chapters you want to include, then map out the main points in each chapter. This skeletal foundation is easy to do and will give you an outline for the rest of the book."


Write a Proposal First

"Instead of plunging into writing a book, write a book proposal first. This document will help you to clarify what your book is about, who is in your target market, and what is your competition. This is also what you will need to show to a book agent if you're planning on pursuing a publishing contract."

- Elizabeth Saunders | Founder & CEO, Real Life E®

Build Your Audience While Writing

"The best piece of advice I was given was to market the book while writing it. Publishers print books without marketing them. As the author, you are in charge with building awareness for your book and selling copies. I built my following, shared the books ideas, and got publicity for it -- over a year in advance of publication!"


Get a Great Agent

"If you can get a great agent, you are already halfway there. It is extremely hard to get the attention of a publisher, but it is very important to tap into publishers for their distribution networks and media connections. Agents are the best way to get a great publisher and big advance. They can also help you write a killer book proposal."

- Vanessa Van Edwards | Behavioral Investigator, Science of People

Niche, Niche, and Niche Some More

"As the CEO of a company that publishes over 100 business, motivation, and self-help books every year, I've seen about everything! Nothing makes me cringe more than when I hear an author proudly proclaim, "My book is for everyone." Success for the non-household name is a matter of being important to a small niche of people. Craft your book to a specific subgroup, and own that sliver of pie!"

- Adam Witty | Founder & CEO, Advantage Media Group

Get a Fantastic Editor

"Many books do not become great books because of the lack of professional editing in the interior. Hire yourself a fantastic editor who can work with your book and make unemotional, unbiased suggestions and corrections. This will take your book from good to great, and will leave you feeling much more confident as the book is shipped to your reader's hands."

- Erin Blaskie | Co-Founder, Digital Strategist, Next Dev Media

Is Your Content Even Original?

"Buy every book that's already been written on your specific topic, and read (or at least skim) them all. That way, you'll know a specific angle you can take that hasn't already been covered. The top mistake first-time authors make is writing a proposal for a "me too" book that's already been written by someone else. Then, convey in your proposal why you are credible to speak on that fresh angle."


Don't Even Think About It

"Who is going to buy your book? How are they going to know about it? First, you need fans of your work -- a blog is the perfect place to start. Very quickly, you'll realize whether or not your ideas have merit. If they aren't spreading, well, you just saved yourself a lot of time and effort. The book is the easy part; creating a loyal fan base is the hard but critical part."

- Adam Gilbert | Chief Body Tutor, My Body Tutor

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC leads  #FixYoungAmerica, a solutions-based movement that aims to end youth unemployment and put young Americans back to work.

About YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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