It takes more than information to write a book that drives your business and builds your personal brand.

Information, by itself, is not enough to write a book that builds your personal brand!

No matter how much you already know about your field, or how much experience you’ve accumulated, writing a book requires more than just information.

7 characteristics of successful nonfiction books

The following are 7  important abilities, characteristics, and skills–beyond information–that authors need to write and publish a nonfiction book that builds their brand and attracts qualified prospects.

  1. Empathy. The most important characteristic is empathy–the ability to put themselves in their reader’s shoes and write the book that reader’s want and need, rather write a book that showcases their knowledge and abilities. The best training I ever had was reading books like Richard Bolles’ What Color Is Your Parachute? and Jan V. White’s Editing by Design. Books like taught me a lot, but were more like letters that the authors wrote to me, than “textbooks” that had information but no sense of personal connection.
  2. Perspective. An author’s empathy for their readers is reflected in their perspective…the way they approach their topic and the author’s ability to selectively decide what should be included in their book and what should be left out. Atlases, dictionaries, and encyclopedias are stuffed with impersonally-delivered information, but best-selling nonfiction books focus on just the information that readers need to solve a problem or achieve a goal.
  3. Organization. Atlases, dictionaries, and encyclopedias present information organized alphabetically. Successful nonfiction books, however, present information in a logical order, based on the sequence readers need to know the information.
  4. Titles. Successful authors choose titles for their books that project their book’s empathy, perspective, and organization. Titles sell books by offering a specific promise to a specific categories of  readers, the types of readers whom the author wants as clients and customers down the road. A great title can sell a book with “average” contents, but an average title can torpedo the success of a book with great contents.
  5. Blog. Authors need marketing savvy to leverage their information, empathy, perspective, and organization into a book that builds their personal brand and attracts prospects to their business. In the past, blogs were viewed as marketing tools for selling books. Now, however, as authors like Seth Godin, David Meerman Scott, and Rajesh Setty have shown, blogs are used as tools to attract literary agents, publishers, and readers before the books are written.
  6. Commitment. Successful authors–in terms of writing books that build their personal and drive qualified prospects to their businesses–aren’t necessarily the best or the fastest writers.  But, they are the most committed. Successful authors recognize the value that a book can create, and they commit to doing whatever it takes to plan, write, promote, and profit from their book. Their commitment is both personal and public, and gains strength the more it is repeated.
  7. Discipline. An author’s commitment to their book becomes reality when it is accompanied by the discipline–or habit–of daily progress, often in short working sessions. Brand-building books are rarely written at the last-minute during frenzied, last-minute, “marathon” writing sessions. Commitment is a strong form of intention, but commitment doesn’t get the book written. Discipline is what’s needed to transform into a published book.

Discipline transforms an author’s experiences, information, empathy, perspective, organization, titles, and commitment into a successful brand-building and business-driving book.

What do you need to do to write your brand-building book?

What do you think? Did I omit anything from my list? More important, what do you need to write a brand-building book? If you’ve been successful so far, as a student, employee, or self-employed professional, which of the 7 above characteristics above do you need to fine-tune in order to write your brand-building book? Share your concerns and ideas below, as comments.


Roger C. Parker shares ideas for planning, writing, promoting, & profiting ideas and strategies in his daily writing tips blog. His latest book is #BOOK TITLE Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, & Event Titles.