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6 Questions That Will Help You Launch Your Book Like a CEO

Did you watch the launch of the Apple Watch last week? Hundreds of thousands–probably millions–of people did. Apple CEO Tim Cook took the stage and, in dramatic fashion, introduced the next Big Thing in technology. In the days that followed, he gave dozens of media interviews, and probably made plenty of calls to key investors.

Why? Because it’s his job as the CEO to cast the vision for his new product, and to inspire us to be as excited about it as he is. To do that, he needs to know the facts—the size and key programs and whatnot. But more than that, he needs to be able to articulate, over and over, why this is the right idea for this particular time, and why his team is the best to build it.


That’s his job as CEO of Apple—and that’s your job as CEO of your business as an author.   

Why is your book the right choice, why is now the right time, and why are you the right author to write it? 

We know the stereotype: the reclusive author, typing away madly in an attic office, consumed by the story unraveling from his fingertips, forgetting to eat or sleep. When at last he types “The End,” he sends the battered pages off to his agent, who passes them along to his publisher, who typesets them and ships cases off to every bookstore in the country. The publisher schedules a book tour, and the agent convinces the author to take a shower, put on a tweed jacket, and go out to greet the admirers who have devoured his book and cannot wait to meet the man behind the legend. Royalty checks pour in, and once the national tour is over, the author can retreat back to his garret, while his assistant sits in the office below carefully cataloging his fan mail and answering phone calls from the media.

If only it were true…

The reality for writers today is much more complicated, and much more exciting. If you decide that you want your book to be published, you need think of yourself not as a reclusive writer, but as the CEO of your own small business, with your book as the primary product. Regardless of whether you have a publisher or not, it’s your job as the head of your company to be able to introduce your product and cast the vision for why it’s important.


Here are 6 key questions that will prepare you to talk about your book in an Apple-event-worthy way:

Part One: Know your product and what sets it apart.

1.  Can you summarize your work in one sentence? One paragraph? One page? Cast a vision quickly and concisely for what’s at stake, and leave readers wanting more. (Read my article about perfecting your book pitch.)

2. Do you know where your book would be shelved in the bookstore? What are the most popular books in that section? Have you read them? (If not, stop and get reading; you have to understand where you fit in the competition.)

Part Two: Know your buyer.

3.  Do you know who your primary reader is—the person or group of people who will naturally be attracted to your book? (Hint: it’s not “everyone,” or “men and women from their teens to their nineties. People are more unique than that. Who reads books like the ones that you write?)

4.  What are their buying habits? Do people who read books like yours buy them online or in bookstores? Do they read voraciously, consuming dozens of books every month, or are they selective? How do they decide what to read?

Part Three: Know how to stand out from the crowd.

5. Why should your readers trust you? What’s your platform? This is different for every person, but if your readers don’t know you exist—if you’re not doing anything to stand out from the crowd of other people who dream of writing books—then they won’t have a reason to buy your book. You might be a public speaker, or a blogger with growing traffic, or active on social media. You may have an influential position that establishes your credibility.

6. Why is this the right time for your book? Look at popular culture and current events. What’s on TV? What’s on the news? People follow trends, which shift over time. Wizards were popular for a time, and then vampires, and then zombies. Low calorie diets turned into low fat, which became low carb, which became something else.  


Your answers don’t have to be perfect, especially not on the first try. But keep at it. Become the CEO spokesperson and vision-caster your book deserves.

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