How to Write and Publish a Bestselling Business Book in 17 Steps

(Episode 2 of 2 with Alinka Rutkowska)

How to Write and Publish a Bestselling Business Book in 17 Steps

Welcome back to another episode with Alinka Rutkowska. Today, we will go through the 17 steps to create a bestselling business book.

Why Should an Entrepreneur Write a Book?

There are many reasons an entrepreneur might write a book, and it often isn’t for the revenue the book will make. Business books have other benefits such as bringing exposure to a business. They can help an entrepreneur build a personal brand and become a thought leader on the topic they write about. Books can also help an entrepreneur advance their career.

A book is the ultimate instant authority and credibility builder. A LinkedIn profile that says, “CEO of [company name],” doesn’t seem as credible as one that says, “Bestselling author of [book], CEO of [company name].”

“[A book] is an instant credibility builder,” Alinka said. “If you give your book to your prospect before the call, the probability of you closing that call is much, much higher, because they come . . . warmed up and almost ready to go. They already know the process; they’re super informed.”

Along with credibility and authority, books can generate leads and conversions. Alinka’s company, Leaders Press, was able to land the co-founder of DHL International because he found their book Outsource Your Book.

Books can give entrepreneurs credibility, exposure, authority, lead generation, and more. Here are the 17 steps to publishing a business book.

1. Position the Book

As with a business, the book needs to fit in and stand out. To fit in, it needs to fit in certain categories. We can find these categories by looking at how Amazon categorizes books. Our book should fit into one or more of these.

At the same time, we want it to stand out from the other books in the same categories. Why would somebody buy our book as opposed to all the other books on the bookshelf? What is unique about it?

2. Outline

There are two types of writers: plotters and pantsers. Plotters plan out the details of the book before they write it, and pantsers fly by the seat of their pants, figuring it out as they go.

Nonfiction books generally work better with an outline. This outline can vary for the kind of book it is. A memoir generally lends well to an outline in chronological order. A business book might do well following a framework. For example, Outsource Your Book follows the same structure this article does, only it goes more in-depth into each step.

3. Get the Ideas Out

Once we have an outline, we need to go deeper by asking questions. We can write out everything we know about a topic, asking ourselves questions along the way. We can also discuss it with someone to work through the ideas.

If we are using ghostwriters like Alinka’s business does, we can have several interviews with the writers discussing our topic, then they can use the transcript of the interview to write the book.

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4. Transcript to Manuscript

Once we have all our ideas written down, we need to turn them into a manuscript. If we are using ghostwriters, they will do this step for us. If we are writing the book ourselves, we’ll have to write it out ourselves using our outline and idea transcript to help us.

5. Developmental Editing

Once the first draft is done, we’ll need to do a developmental edit. We should make sure that it’s logical and makes sense, that the beginning is at the beginning, that there are no loose ends, etc. If we’re writing a biography and we discuss an argument with a business partner, we should say what happened with that argument or how it was resolved so that it doesn’t frustrate the reader when we leave it unresolved.

6. Copy Editing

After we are done with the developmental edits, the next step is copyediting. This is the step where we make sure all the grammar and usage are correct. As with developmental edits, we likely need someone else to read it and give us feedback. We can hire editors to do this for us. 

7. Interior Layout and Formatting 

Once the copy editing is done, it is time for the book to be formatted so the layout and margins look neat and the font is the proper size so it is easy for the eyes to read. This can also be hired out. 

8. Design the Cover

“The cover is everything,” Alinka said. As with our positioning, we want a cover that fits in and stands out. We can look at the bestselling books in our genre and take inspiration from those, so they will fit in. But we don’t want it to look exactly like those books.

Leaders Press shows their clients a selection of bestselling books and asks them to choose which ones they like. Then, based on their choices, the team designs a few covers that they like and know they will do well and lets the clients choose from those.

If we are publishing the book ourselves, we can hire a book cover designer to design one for us. We shouldn’t create it ourselves or ask a friend that’s an artist to do it. We need a professional who has experience in the industry, but this doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. When we brief the designer, we should show them the bestselling covers in our category and say, “Please emulate these covers.” 

The cover should look good as a thumbnail because many people will see it shrunken down on Amazon. What the book is about should be clear; the title should take up about half the space and there should only be a single image. “The decision whether they’re going to click on that book cover or not is instantaneous—it’s milliseconds. . . . You have to give them a really good reason to click on yours,” Alinka said.

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9. Optimize for Online Sales

Behind the scenes, we need to make sure our book is optimized for online sales using keywords and categories. We need to use keywords and categories in the title and in the description of the book. This is where a lot of self-published authors go wrong. 

In the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) dashboard, there are seven keywords we can upload and they say optional, but we have to upload those keywords because that’s how our book will get found on Amazon.

Alinks said, “If you’re self-publishing, and you see optional in anything you’re doing with your book, it’s not optional; you have to do it.”

For the categories, we need to really study them to know where to position our book because our bestseller rank depends on it. The more categories we get our book into the more visible it is.

10. Write a Captivating Book Description

To explain what the book is about we can use the AIDA framework: attention, interest, desire, and action. In our description, we should get their attention by giving them a reason to start reading the book’s description. As they read they should become more interested. The desire can be achieved by bullet points saying how they will benefit from reading this book or how their life will change after they read the book. Then we should have a call to action that says something like, “Grab your book now,” or “Scroll up to get your book now.”

11. Write an Outstanding Bio

Many of our entrepreneurs are already high-level entrepreneurs before they write their books. The mistake that a lot of people make in their bio is starting in chronological order, but the first thing we do in our career is usually not the most impressive. Many readers will only read the first line of the bio, so we should lead with the most powerful thing.

12. Distribute

The advantage of working with a traditional publisher is they will distribute the book for us to bookstores. If we published our book on Amazon, it’s really only available there. This doesn’t mean we can’t get our book into stores though.

“As an independent author, you can go after independent bookstores and get your books in there,” Alinka said. “You can do a lot of fun things such as going to local hairdressers and have your books there. . . .  If your book is on surfing, you might want to go to a surf store or even where they rent equipment and sell your book there because it’s related.”

We can think outside the box to sell books in places where people interested in the subject will buy them. The nice thing about cutting out the publisher as the middleman between us and stores is that we also cut out the percentage they take. Often in traditional publishing, a book is sold for $20, but the author only makes $1 on it. With self-publishing, we can make a higher percentage of the sales. If we are going to stores and asking them if we can sell our books there, we should be giving them a percentage of the sales, but it won’t be as much as traditional publishers take.

13. Launch

We should start preparing for the launch months before it comes. To hit the bestseller list, we need to sell about 6,000-7,000 copies in the first week. “It takes a lot of effort, but it’s all doable,” Alinka said. Even self-published authors can do this, though it will take a lot of research and preparation. 

14. Achieve Bestseller Status

The big places where we want to hit bestseller status are Amazon, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. Amazon is relatively easy to get because there are thousands of categories and the rank changes every hour, so every hour we have a possibility to hit it. USA Today has only 150 spots on the list every week. To be in the top 150, we need to sell about 6,000 copies, depending on the week. For the Wall Street Journal, we need about half of that because it’s only for business books. The New York Times is an editorial list. We might sell enough books to get there, but if they don’t like our name or face or publisher, they won’t put us on their list.

15. Conquer Libraries

Libraries are a great place to have a book. When we go through a traditional publisher, they put it in libraries automatically. If we publish the book ourselves, we can go to local libraries and introduce ourselves and our book to the librarian because they often love to have local authors.

16. Pitch to Foreign Rights Agents

We can use foreign rights agents to bring in an extra revenue stream by selling our book in other countries. Often when we hit bestselling status these agents will reach out to us, but it doesn’t hurt to be proactive and search for them.

We can download a directory from the Frankfurt Book Fair, see who’s exhibiting there, and reach out to them to see if they’re interested in purchasing licensing rights for the book. We just need to make sure we’re selling it to publishers of the right genre.

17. Implement the Book into a Sales Funnel

In many cases with traditional publishing, they don’t let us link to our own website because they want links to their website. However, this is something we can negotiate with them. We want to be able to link to our own website because we can add upsells into the sales process and earn more revenue.

On our website, we can offer the ebook or audiobook and we can offer a course, video series, or something else to go with it. This is especially helpful if we are traditional publishing because we won’t have to worry as much about the publisher taking a large percentage of the sales because we’ll be making money in other ways.

Key Takeaways

Thank you so much Alinka for sharing your stories and insights with us today. Here are some of my key takeaways from this episode:

1. Before we start the book we need to choose our positioning so it fits in and stands out. We should also create an outline and write down all of our ideas to make them easier to write.

2. Once the book is written, we should fix all developmental and copy-editing errors. Then it’s ready for layout and formatting.

3. The cover is everything. It needs to fit in and stand out so that readers will choose our book over others in the same category.

4. Using keywords and categories is how our book will get found on Amazon. The more categories we get our book into the more visible it is.

5. We need captivating descriptions and outstanding bios to get people interested in the book.

6. If we are self-publishing, we can go to local bookstores and libraries to get our books into those places.

7. To achieve bestseller status, we need to prepare before the launch and sell about 6,000 copies the first week after the launch.

8. We can use foreign rights agents to bring in an extra revenue stream by selling our book in other countries.

9. We should link the book to our own website because we can add upsells into the sales process and earn more revenue.

Connect with Alinka

To learn more about or connect with Alinka:

-Connect on LinkedIn

-Visit her website at 

-Check out Outsource Your Book to go deeper into each of these steps

Next Steps

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    About the author

    Nathan Gwilliam

    Nathan Gwilliam

    I help organizations navigate tectonic shifts that are transforming the business landscape, so they can optimize marketing, accelerate profits, and make a greater difference for good.

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