Without wishing to blow my own trumpet too much, I often gain new clients because of the ‘how to’ posts I write on this site. The three main comments I get are usually:
“you make [particular topic] easy to understand”
“it’s information that’s relevant to me as a small business”
“your writing makes you sound like a real person”
This is all very nice to hear and especially so because those three things have long been my personal objectives – to know that I’m hitting the right marks is heartening. To know that this translates into actual clients is fantastic.
And so, a book
Why not? It’s something I’ve been thinking of/promising to do/starting/stopping/gaining and losing confidence in for a good couple of years but for a number of reasons hadn’t yet fully committed to. Until now.
Some of those reasons are practical – writing all day for work, then starting again out of hours can be challenging; if I’m going to write a book, it needs to be good and ‘good’ doesn’t often come after a deadline when I’m hungry and my eyes are tired from looking at a screen all day. That said, when I get excited about a topic – and have a plan – I can write and write and write.
Some reasons are less concrete. I could empty my brain out completely of everything I know about tenders but the result would be an epic tome, probably not something your average, time-pressed business owner would ever read.
So that’s been my sticking point: how to decide what to put in and what to leave out, where to start and where to stop, who I’m aiming it at and why they should read it.
Taking my own advice
‘nail down the specifics and get them in, then look at any added extras that will further boost your claims’
‘develop a coherent structure and narrative, clearly guiding the reader from one point to the next’
‘don’t go off on tangents – just because it’s interesting, doesn’t mean it’s relevant. What do they really need to know?’
Recognise any of these? Yeah, me too but it took me a while!
Applying my own methodology – the one I constantly batter down the throats of my dear, bewildered clients – to my own issue was a real lightbulb moment.
Approaching this book in the same way as I approach writing a tender response achieved two things:
Firstly, and arguably the most crucial element, was defining an audience. My core client base for my day to day work is the ‘S’ end of SMEs, small and micro businesses. You guys are my bread and butter. Turns out I do know what you need to know because you tell me and then you hire me. Cheers!
Thinking about the types of work I’ve done and the guidance I’ve given to my clients over the last several years really cleared my mind on what the book should be. I even came up with a working title:
‘Understanding bids & tenders: A practical guide for small businesses’
From there it was clear to me what was relevant and what was not for this particular audience. That set in motion a ‘start to finish’ outline of chapters and sub-topics, each clearly defined as a particular stage in the process of understanding, finding, writing and submitting tenders.
It also allowed me to jettison a whole raft of previously written blurb that was beyond the range of this book (but, handily, has now become the backbone of a couple of other books. Woo! Get me, running away with myself already).
Where I’m up to right now
The aim of the book is to cover a wide range of information that every small business would benefit from knowing about tenders but to do it in such a way that, if the reader doesn’t have the time or inclination to read the whole thing through in one sitting, they can dip in and out as they need to and easily find clear information and guidance on their own immediate issues, as and when they come up. Hence ‘practical’ in the title.
I’ve got about 65% already written, about 25% left to write just out of my own head and about 10% that needs some extra factual research which I keep putting off because ugh.
Someone very dear to me, who also happens to be an Actual Editor of Instructional Type Books, is giving it a quick once over before I get much further just to make sure I’m not, in reality, the book writing equivalent of an over confident, tone deaf singer at an X-Factor audition.
My next step is a bit of market research. I’ve signed up to a few networking events WHY DEAR GOD WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF and I hope to bother some small business owners into telling me what they’d want to see in a book like this and whether they’d actually buy it.
At some point, I’m going to be looking for ‘beta readers’ – if you’d like to know more about that, or just give me your views on what would be useful to you in a book like this, give me a shout.
I’ll also be posting excerpts from the book from time to time, partly as a way to drum up some interest but also because, while I’ve been writing the book, I’ve been holding back on posting my usual amount of ‘how to’ type blog posts. If there’s anything specific you’d like to read about, let me know!
New book, new website AND new services!
I’m still tinkering with my website in general – I have a new design sort-of-almost ready to go, bar a few tweaks here and there and my aim is to launch the new design before the end of June.
This new and improved version will be more responsive. My stats tell me that the majority of people visiting the site now do so on some form of mobile or tablet and the current site just isn’t up to scratch.
As well as redesigning to help promote the book, I’m also adding a couple of distinct new services: day training and speaking. See my announcement here for full details but, in a nutshell, I’d like to get out and about a bit more and meet and help people face to face. If you’d like to know more about either of those services and/or book me, get in touch.
Twitter, Facebook, all that jazz
Lately, I’ve been a bit jaded with Twitter and I haven’t done much with my Facebook page for ages. Once the book is out, no doubt I’ll be social media-ing all over the place – apologies in advance 😀
In the meantime, I’m still umming and ahhing over whether to split my Twitter account into two and, if I do, whether to make the current @LyndseyMichaels handle solely business or solely personal. Historically, I’ve always felt that having just the one account achieved two key things: it stopped me turning into a cheesy self-promoting annoyance to non-business followers and, at the same time, helped my business followers see me as a human, with a life and interests and opinions etc.
Instead of walking the tightrope of trying not to annoy everyone, I’ve ended up staying on the podium and not venturing out on to the wire at all. So, decisions to be made.
Get in touch
It’s still business as usual while all this other exciting stuff is going on behind the scenes, so if you are in need of bid writing services, tender-ready services, coaching or consultancy, do get in touch.