What makes your book unique?

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“I wrote a book” now means nothing. Anyone can write a book; anyone can self-publish one. If you’ve written a nonfiction book, the question to answer is, what makes it unique?

People hear about books that sell

One way to stand out is with a book that sells. To get your book to sell, you have to do work — generate word of mouth, hire a publicist to whip up press, contribute bylined articles or op-eds, get friends to write about it, or get media and podcast interviews. Here’s one analysis of how those types of activities can get your book to catch fire.

If you do this successfully, however, you can describe your book as:

  • The most popular book about content marketing.
  • The bestselling inside story of how Amazon makes money.
  • The number one book on artificial intelligence.

You get the idea. Popular books get word of mouth, which leads to more people trying them out.

And popular books can lead to speaking gigs and consulting engagements.

Books don’t have to sell a lot to be successful — but they must be different in some way

Imagine that you wrote a book on how to run an IT department — and it got you a job as the CIO of a Fortune 100 company. Or that you wrote a book on internet security, and one of the readers became your biggest client.

Even if books like that sold only a few hundred copies, you might still consider them a success.

For that to happen, though, your book still has to be unique. No one is going to pick it up unless it stands out.

Here are some other ways your book can be unique:

  • The first book on blockchain as it applies to the healthcare industry.
  • The most comprehensive book on all aspects of B2B marketing.
  • The only book about the rise and inevitable fall of Uber that has interviews with dozens of former executives.
  • A completely different spin on how salespeople should speak to customers.

Unless you are the first, the biggest, the inside story, or a whole different way of looking at things, it’s hard to get attention. You need a niche, and you need to own it.

You’re certainly not going to succeed with “yet another book on” (your topic here).

How to create your unique book proposition

Ask these questions:

  • What perspective do I have that is different from everything else I have seen or heard about?
  • What do I know that nobody else has realized?
  • Who do I have access to that no one else has interviewed?
  • What stories can I tell that no one has told before?
  • What kinds of people can I help better than anyone else?
  • What data do I have that’s not available elsewhere?

These are not the only questions that will get you a unique perspective. But they’re a start.

A unique book can certainly fail. You could write it poorly, fail to publicize it, or just be plain old wrong.

But if a book is successful, you can bet it started by being unique.

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