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The future of books: short, solution-oriented and electronic

The days of the printed business book are numbered, according to Jim Kukral of Digital Book Launch (, leader of a workshop on book publishing at Content Marketing World 2012. Books are being reborn as short, oriented towards a specific problem, and increasingly, not in physical form.

Shorter is better

While a “standard” business book would have anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 words, a book today needs to be a much quicker read -- 15,000 to 35,000 words, something that might be consumed in two or three hours on a plane. Jim indicated that if he had published his previous books today, he would break them into two or three shorter works to form a series.

Solve a problem

People buy books for two reasons -- to be entertained, or to solve a problem. Business book authors should first think about what kinds of people form their target market and the problems people in that market face. Then, the book’s content should be around solving those problems.


While some business books are still bought in physical form, this is quickly becoming the case primarily only for big-picture, thoughtful books bought by C-Suite members interested in understanding the trends. This means that most successful business books are optimized for electronic distribution, and developing skills around publicizing them to online purchasers is essential.

It all comes from the title (but don’t be tied to it)

In planning a business book, Jim said that it’s best to start by developing an effective title. This would include using Google’s keyword tool to find the most popular search terms, being sure to include those in the title. Use Amazon to find books that are of a similar theme, and consider incorporating elements of their titles into yours.

Having develop a title will make the book seem more real in your mind -- but bear in mind that you should not be a slave to that title, and as the book text develops, you should feel free to change the message.

After developing a title, Jim advised commissioning a cover for the book. There are many sources such as who can do a good cover cost-effectively; in some cases it may be good to commission original artwork for the cover as well. Print out the design and pin it to your wall, Jim suggested, as this will help make the book more “real” in your mind. Increase the urgency to get the book done by deciding on a launch date for the book. Put the cover design on your website with the notice, “Coming soon” to make it more likely that you will actually take the time to develop the text.

Master do-it-yourself publishing online

Jim said that there are many companies that will gladly take your money for providing services such as formatting your book for Kindle. However, some research will make it easier for you to do much of this work yourself. As a constantly changing picture, electronic publishing is rapidly becoming easier and more accessible.

Interactive systems by major publishers such as Kindle Direct Publishing allow for greater access to global markets for a book, so that success becomes less a matter of the size of one’s budget for publishing, distribution and publicity, and more based on the strength of the book’s ideas.


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