September 15, 2009
News & Opinion: Recipe For a Successful Business Book
Start with multiple authors – including an academic from a prestigious business school and a seasoned business consultant plus a business journalist from a major newspaper or magazine (someone has to actually write the book).
Using free graduate student talent from the B-school, develop a database of the performance of thousands of companies over the past decade – more if you want to sound really authoritative. Be sure to select a few unique performance metrics to differentiate your results from all the other formulaic books.
Select the top performing companies and “study” them to determine why they are better than the others. Interviews and visits make things sound much more legitimate. Use “strategy”, “execution”, and “management talent” as this makes for good reading and advice. Always avoid “a great market”, “favorable economic factors”, “lousy competitors”, and “luck” to explain success.
Develop a list of between 8 and 12 characteristics (the chapters of the book) and expound on them. It always helps to close each chapter with a summary list or two so readers of your book can copy it and pass it around at management meetings to impress their peers.
Come up with a catchy title; get a few quotes for the back cover; and publish. Then go on a brief book tour to business meetings around the country; trash the prior books; and wait for the checks to roll in.
About Dylan Schleicher
Dylan Schleicher has been a part of the 800-CEO-READ claque since 2003. Even though he's stayed on at the company, he has not stayed put. After beginning in shipping & receiving, he joined customer service and accounting before moving into his current, highly elliptical orbit of duties overseeing the ChangeThis and In the Books websites, the company's annual review of books and in-house design. He lives with his wife and two children in the Washington Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee's West Side.