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Barbara Richter on Why Writing a Book is Great for Business

Written by:

Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

Barbara Richter on Why Writing a Book is Great for Business

Welcome to our interview with Barbara Richter, a renowned author, public speaker, and the innovative mind behind DIYBook and In Ink Ghostwriting.

In this insightful conversation, Barbara shares her expert perspective on the transformative power of writing and publishing a book for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Whether you’re a budding author or a seasoned business professional, this interview promises valuable takeaways for anyone looking to elevate their brand and influence through the written word.

 Barbara Richter

Background and Expertise

SBS – Can you share a bit about your journey in the writing and publishing industry and how it led you to start DIYBook and In Ink Ghostwriting?

Barbara – Our home was a bibliophile’s paradise, so, of course, I became afflicted with that love of great books. I grew up in a small town in central Massachusetts, in a house filled with books — books in the basement, garage, bathroom. There were so many that C-SPAN recorded a house tour in 2008 to showcase these archives. Each had a purpose and a place, though I occasionally worried the house might collapse under the weight of our treasures. All these were either review books or books pressed into service as research aides. At the time, my father, Nicholas Basbanes, was reviewing books for his syndicated column while writing what would become the authoritative sources on the history of books and book culture.

My love of languages began early, too, when I was introduced to French in elementary school. I earned a BA and an MA in French literature from Smith College and Tufts University, and then, as a public school teacher for nearly a decade, I shaped language curriculum. I revived French and Latin programs as part of my linguistic and cultural education commitment.

Eventually, I left teaching and began writing and editing full-time, interviewing authors, illustrators, and literary influencers. I founded In Ink Ghostwriting to help craft bestselling books for authors from Fortune 500 CEOs to Grammy Award-winning musicians and pro athletes. Our work drew nationwide acclaim, with several titles becoming bestsellers and securing film options.  

Good ghostwriting is expensive. I had to turn away a dozen for every client I signed, not because they didn’t have great stories but because they couldn’t afford my services. It upset me that I couldn’t help these people, which led to the creation of DIYBook. To make good writing assistance affordable and accessible, I disassembled the ghostwriting process into a series of discrete steps that anyone could follow and end up with a book. I spent over a year developing and refining the patent-pending program that became DIYBook. Now, authors have access to the storytelling tools, techniques, and writing prompts used by professionals and a secure platform on which to write their stories. Then, DIYBook will print and ship completed books to the author’s door. We priced the base service at an affordable $89, and a complimentary 7-day free trial is automatically included.

The Value of a Book for Business Owners

SBS – In your opinion, how can writing a book benefit entrepreneurs and business owners in terms of establishing their authority in their field?

Barbara – Having a book helps entrepreneurs establish themselves as authorities in their field. Books are great business cards because they help build tremendous company and brand awareness. Any entrepreneur or small business owner can benefit from writing a book. Remember, if you write it, you are the expert. 

Well-written business books help readers solve problems. The author identifies customer’s needs and explains how their business or service can help them. 

A physical book instantly elevates your authority, too. It shows that you care about your topic and believe in the words you’ve written. Ebooks have their place, but a hastily written PDF is no replacement for a well-written and designed book. 

Starting the Process

SBS – For a business owner who is new to writing, what are the first steps they should take when considering writing a book about their business or expertise?

Barbara – Writing a book takes work and commitment to getting it done. The first step business owners should take is determining whether they have the time to invest in this project. You don’t have to devote your entire life to writing the book, but consistency is the key to getting a book done, so sit down, look at your calendar, and determine how much time you can consistently carve out of your week to write your book. If you can dedicate 30 minutes a week to writing your book, you will make much more progress than if you only write an hour at a time every few weeks. Plus, writing frequency keeps the topic fresh in your mind, and the more often you sit down to write, the easier it gets. This is why DIYBook provides weekly writing prompts to our business book writing customers; the prompts help authors develop and sustain a writing practice. 

Balancing Business and Writing

SBS – How do you recommend that busy entrepreneurs manage their time effectively to write a book while running their business?

Barbara – Balance is important. Prioritizing the book like any other meeting helps, so blocking out time on your calendar as dedicated writing time ensures that you treat this project like any other work assignment. 

Maximize writing efficiency using a strategy like the Pomodoro technique, which is great for easily distracted people. Work in focused intervals of 20 minutes with two to three-minute breaks. These breaks will help avoid burnout. 

Dictation can help capture your thoughts quickly, especially if you have a great idea when commuting or are otherwise unable to write. 

Finally, set realistic goals. If you say you’ll write your book in three months while bootstrapping your company, you may be in for a letdown. Consider everything going on with your business and personal life, and set a realistic timeframe for completing your manuscript. 

Ghostwriting Insights

SBS – Could you explain how ghostwriting works and how it can be a viable option for business leaders who may not have the time or writing skills to pen their own book?

Barbara – Ghostwriting is different from other types of writing because ghostwriters do not take credit for their work. The person who hires the ghostwriter receives credit as the book’s author — which they are. Ghostwriters are merely the scribes, the hired hands who help shepherd an idea to the page. Ghostwriting is a great option for executives who want to write a book but simply do not have the time or patience to sit down and write it alone. 

The actual process of writing the book will vary by client. Normally, the first step would be to create a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline with the ghostwriter. A robust, detailed outline clarifies the book’s flow and the content of each chapter. 

Once the outline is set, the writing starts. Each client has different needs. Some ask for research assistance, some provide research materials, and others prefer to fill each chapter based on interviews, which can be done via Zoom or phone. Some clients want us to do the writing, and others hire ghostwriters for guidance and support. Whatever their specific needs, good ghostwriters can tailor their services to best serve the client and the book. 

Content Strategy

SBS – What advice do you have for selecting the right topics and content that will resonate with a business leader’s target audience?

Barbara – Write what you know. If you’re an expert in AI, write about AI. If you’re passionate about golf, there’s a way to work that into your narrative. If you want to become an expert on a topic, get smart about it first, then share your findings in writing. Of course, also know your audience. If you’re writing for a younger target audience and love talking about cassette tapes, you may want to fine-tune your talking points. 

Publishing Choices

SBS – What are the pros and cons of self-publishing versus seeking a traditional publisher, especially for a business-themed book?

Barbara – Long story short, you are as much a “real” author with an independent publisher as you are with Random House. In both cases, the goal is to get your book in front of the right people who will promote it and get others to buy it.

To secure a traditional publisher (think Random House, Simon & Schuster, or Doubleday), you must first find an agent who believes in your story. You then write a query letter and a book proposal explaining your book to that agent. If the agent likes your idea, he or she will sign you up and pitch your book to various publishers. 

Let’s say you’re lucky enough to snag an agent. Pitching the book to publishers can easily take a year, if not longer. If it doesn’t work out, you’re right where you started — with no book deal and no publisher. 

Pursuing a traditional publisher is challenging, and getting a deal is not guaranteed. 

The second option is to do it yourself. Although many of my clients have published in traditional houses, many others are having success through what’s often called concierge, indie, or self-publishing. The advantages of self-publishing are that you don’t need an agent, and you retain total control of the publishing process, including any royalties you may earn on book sales. Plus, you can still get on the bestseller lists. 

It used to be that self-published books were snubbed, looked down upon, and derided. And deservedly so; most early self-published books were poorly written and flat-out ugly. That’s all changed. As more authors have turned away from traditional publishing houses, the quality of self-published books has risen dramatically. Also, business owners can create imprints and maximize their brand authority.

Marketing and Promotion

SBS – Once the book is published, what strategies do you suggest for effectively marketing it to enhance a business leader’s brand and reach?

Barbara – Start thinking about promotion and marketing six months to a year before the book comes out, even if your book will be published traditionally. The publishing industry has changed drastically, and many publishing houses expect their authors to do much of their own PR. Authors should include a marketing and PR plan when writing a book proposal. This is helpful whether you’re traditionally published or go your own way. Hiring a PR team can be very helpful in identifying your target audience and how you will reach them. Authors can employ many strategies to boost reader engagement and excitement leading up to launch, but you need to work on this before the book comes out if you want to see any results at launch. That said, of course, you can work on publicity after the book comes out, but you will have to wait a few months before seeing results. 

Measuring Success

SBS – How should entrepreneurs measure the success of their book in terms of business growth and thought leadership?

Barbara – Bestseller lists are not always the best measure of success. Reader engagement — whether you have great reviews and write-ups — can be vastly more impactful. Your book can help you secure speaking engagements and appearances on podcasts because now, the hosts can introduce you as the author — the authority on the topic. Books open doors to new and exciting business opportunities. 

Common Challenges

SBS – What are some common challenges you’ve seen business leaders face when writing a book, and how can they overcome them?

Barbara – My clients’ greatest challenge is finding time to work on the book. This is where working with a professional writer can help ensure the project continues apace. 

Future Trends

SBS – Are there any emerging trends in business book writing and publishing that entrepreneurs should be aware of?

Barbara – Self-publishing is normalized. Create your own imprint and own your work. It can be done well (there are costs, of course), but it’s an exciting time to launch your own imprint. 

AI is another huge factor. I believe AI can help write books, but it isn’t perfect. Here’s an article I wrote about best practices using the technology.

Personal Insights

SBS – Finally, can you share a success story of a business leader who transformed their career or business through writing a book?

Barbara – Here are a few famous ones: 

  • Henry Ford, founder, Ford Motor Company, My Life and Work (1922)
    • Ford wrote this book “in collaboration” with Samuel Crowther, a journalist who helped Ford and other captains of industry write their books.
  • Tony Hsieh, founder, Zappos, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose (2010)
    • This is a great example of a successful pre-launch marketing campaign. Hsieh’s book debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list largely because he gave away copies in exchange for online reviews.
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Meta, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (2013)
    • Sandberg’s manifesto explores how women can build and sustain a rewarding career.


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Barbara Richter on Why Writing a Book is Great for Business