The brilliant marketing and advertising maven Roy H. Williams, co-author with Michael R. Drew of the insightful book Pendulum, has figured why certain hit songs became hit songs (I won’t reveal his findings here – but they’re pretty cool).
But no one has yet figured out a way to have a bestselling book (though my colleague Michael Drew is gifted at creating them). Other than writing the next Harry Potter novel or become James Patterson’s latest collaborator on one of his thrillers, most people are in the dark.
There are trends, and bestselling books built on these trends, such as zombies or erotica.
But what about business? A zombie’s guide to takeover? An erotic take on mergers and acquisitions?
Business are less trend-prone. If you look at the current New York Times list of business bestsellers, you’ll see that certain themes again and again: books that talk about prosperous companies, effective leadership and growing money. For example, one examines the characteristics of companies that succeed, especially in hard times (“Great By Choice,” by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen), another on how to be a more effective leader (“Strengths-Based Leadership,” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie), one of several on business personalities (“Steve Jobs,” by Walter Isaacson) and all sorts of money advice (“Total Money Makeover,” by Dave Ramsey).
These kinds of titles on the business bestsellers list haven’t changed much in years: leadership and money.
Well, that’s what business is about, of course. But if you’re writing a book, or building a platform to create and expand an audience and brand yourself you might be wondering what you need to do to stand out.
Simple: be yourself. Which is harder than it seems. Most people don’t think they’re good enough, or original enough. But this isn’t true. The mistake most people make is in trying to follow what the other person is doing, or in not trusting his or her own sense of what sounds true. Perhaps you haven’t found your voice yet, or you haven’t crafted your message in a way that puts across who you really are. Maybe you actually have a new way of looking at leadership, of creating prosperity, of organizing companies. Go for it: but don’t try to jump on the bandwagon of zombies or erotica or whatever.
Write what you believe, and speak to your audience in a way that engages them. Your book might not be a bestseller (since no one ever knows what will become one), but it will touch people and build your business. And that’s what’s important.