WRITE STRATEGY: How Thought Leading Authors Plan Better Books

Dr. Liz Alexander

THE FORMER CEO who sold only a few dozen copies.

THE SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT who ended up writing a 526-page “doorstop.”

THE CONSULTANT who published a book then wasted seven months figuring out how to market it.

All were smart, high achieving individuals
who made one big mistake before writing their books:

They didn’t strategize!


There are many pitfalls that unsuspecting authors don’t know about; this guide will help you avoid the most common ones.

The good news is that the seven steps I am about to share are already second nature to you. They simply involve transferring the strategies you use in the business world to authorship.

The even better news is that each page prompt requires you to do what dispensable individuals dislike: To think. Thought leaders think deeply; so do the authors of good books. That’s what makes you indispensable.

Just answer each of the questions and enter your insights where indicated. Then either keep them handy until you’re ready to start developing your book, or share them with me (the last page shows how) as a means of exploring how we might work together.

Are you ready to begin the process of getting that book out of your head and into people’s lives? To publish at a level that compels others to call you a thought leader? Let’s get started!

(Note: Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions. Just send along what you have; perhaps we can think them through together?)


“Big A” authors want a writing career. “Little a” authors want a book to serve some other important goal. ~ Dr. Liz

Savvy strategists know to begin any major project by answering the question “Why?” You’re most likely a “little a” author, which means for you it’s not about writing a book but what writing a book can do for your business or career.

You need to discover the true end goal early on, to keep yourself focused and motivated during those times when writing a book feels so darned hard! Keep asking why, over and over, until you get to the outcome you really want to achieve. That’s the vision that will see you through to the successful conclusion of this project.

Question: What’s the bigger goal that publishing this book will help you accomplish?


7Ps of Project Management – Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance. ~ Guy Ralfe & Himanshu Jhamb.

Strategic planners always take inventory of the skills they have available before embarking on any big task. Successfully publishing a book involves more of these than you might imagine.

Take a look at this Wordle display of book development and production skills.

Which of them do you already possess? Which do you need to seek out? What services are available to you in-house, what might you need to pay for? Do you have the budget to move forward with a serious book development project at the moment?

Question: What book development skills do you have and which do you need to source and pay for?


A book that knows why it is being written, for whom, and most important, what it wants to say, is a book well on its way to successful publication. ~ Susan Rabiner.

Complete this sentence: The question I answer in this book is…

Who might be asking that question, apart from you? Who else cares about the answer? That’s your target audience for this book. You can write a book for yourself, but don’t be surprised if few others are interested in reading it.

Think about the importance of the customer experience in today’s business world. Your readers are your customers. If you know what needs they have that you can fulfill then not only do you have a marketable book, you’ll have a clearer indication what to include in your book and what to leave out.

Question: Who wants or needs this book, how big is your target market, and do you know where/how to find them?


A mind primed to make connections is a mind that literally can imagine more. ~ Eric Lui and Scott Noppe-Brandon.

Ignore your professional position and knowledge for the moment -- what are you passionate about? What do the people outside of work admire you for? The idea here is to discover the “intersection of ideas” that Frans Johansson writes about in The Medici Effect. Ideas that clash; that on the face of it assume no relationship; that hit you, out of the blue, to which you say, “That’s an interesting thought, how could I weave this into my book?”

Surprise yourself and you will surprise your readers. There are likely tens of thousands of books already written about your core topic (go online and check)! The only way to make yours fresh and unique is to make unexpected connections. Don’t think too much about that right now. Just be open to the possibility.

Question: What other idea(s) could you combine with your basic concept to strengthen your book and make it uniquely yours?


As social media evolves, the power of the everyday user is growing and those with a high influence could be invaluable to your company. ~ BrandMovers.

Marketing. Don’t leave it until you’ve completed your book before giving this side of the publishing process some thought. As most authors will tell you, if you think writing a book is hard -- wait until you have to promote it!

Here’s how to make that easier. Start NOW to build relationships with “key influencers,” people who are already having conversations with the readership you want to reach. Then, when your book is close to publication, you can let these connections know. Give them the opportunity to spread the word among their readers/listeners/viewers, invite you to write a guest article or blog post, and/or become an affiliate partner for book sales.

Question: Who are your “key influencers,” and how many of them already know about you?


I don’t want your thoughts and feelings undigested. I have plenty of those of my own. ~ Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

Think about some of the nonfiction books you’ve bought. What differentiates those whose pages you are compelled to keep turning, and those that leave you cold by page 8? Both presumably contain content that was of interest to you, but how that content was structured and organized inevitably influenced your reading experience.

Before you jump too quickly into devising a Table of Contents, examine some of those “successful” books. Consider how many of them use what I call The Power of Three, organizing chapters into categories that answer readers’ bigger questions in a logical way. For example: Why is this topic important? What is different about this approach? How might readers apply this to their own situation?

Question: Given your topic and material, what might an initial, draft Table of Contents look like for this book?


Are you leaving behind an easily found trail of accomplishment? ~ Seth Godin

Your responses to the Vision, Target, and Relate prompts can help guide you toward the right publishing option(s) for your book. This decision needs to be made while you’re still at the planning stage.

For example, is it important to you that your title is available through bookstores? Do you have a ready-made distribution channel through your company’s salesforce or strategic partnerships? Will most of your sales be “back of room,” after speaking gigs or other events? Are you prepared to wait 12-24 months with an agent and publisher controlling what happens? What about digital versions?

One of the keys to a successful outcome is knowing how to get your books into the hands of your readers.

Question: How much do you know about the best formats and channels to achieve the highest sales for your book?


Congratulations! You’ve just done what most commercially and critically unsuccessful authors fail to do – to think and strategically plan the foundation for your book.

Are you ready to move up to the next level? To transition from thinking to taking the action necessary to make this project a reality?

I’d like to help you fill in any gaps you may have discovered as you moved through the process. In the meantime, find out more about my services and process here.

Please complete the form below before sending me your responses (fields marked with * are required):

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I'll be in touch as soon as possible to review your responses and discuss next steps.

In the meantime, please:

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