Big Ideas. Short Books.

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Vishwas Lele’s secret to turning a boring topic into a compelling eBook

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Vishwas Lele eBook coverVishwas Lele signed up to work with me as a Beta Author this past summer to write a short eBook.

He is CTO of DC-based systems integration company Applied Information Sciences. I was delighted he was local because it meant we could meet face-to-face.

Still, when we met for the first time at Baked and Wired, my heart sank.

Vishwas told me he wanted to write a short book explaining the next version of Office™. Office 2013 is essentially software-as-a-service, meaning it’s Web and cloud-based. It’s fairly complex and it can be customized a thousand ways.

Uh oh.

Not an inspiring topic for an eBook.

A product marketing brochure maybe. But not a page turner to read on your Kindle.

So I challenged Vishwas to think about this from the reader’s point of view. What would make this interesting? And useful?

We put our heads together over several book coaching sessions and I suggested he approach the writing project in a different way.

Make it a story, I said.

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Make up characters who can explain how this complicated product works, how it will make them more productive and how it will improve their lives.

Make them real characters and make us want to read the story.

He was a bit skeptical at first. I nudged.

Let’s say one of them is a woman, I proposed, and she is driving to work. She’s running late and she’s preoccupied about a big deadline or a vexing problem. Maybe she’s balancing her Starbucks coffee in one hand while scribbling notes with the other.

Now visualize her walking into her office. Who will she interact with that day? How will she solve her problem? Which is related to the new software-as-a-service version of Office, of course.

(I think this scene, altered a bit, made it into the book!)

Vishwas ran with it.

There’s a little more to how I worked with him, of course. I helped with the structure and organization, voice and tone. I suggested a way to introduce the story. I critiqued and pushed back and cheered him on.

But he finished writing his eBook in just over 8 weeks. And he published it in time to meet his deadline: this week’s mega SharePoint conference in Las Vegas.

He turned a geeky topic into a compelling narrative starring Jane, Rob, Rama, Phil and Gaby.

It’s a short book, 39 pages in Word, but it’s the real deal: a business novella in the tradition of Built to Sell or The Go Giver.

He uses the characters as mouthpieces (they include an eager young Sharepoint developer, a skeptical systems administrator and a shrewd industry analyst) to explain the complexities of the new Office™.

The story is propelled forward by a business problem that is introduced and then solved. There is drama, intrigue and plenty of complexity.

Which is the whole point of a successful business book.

A good business book is one that is entertaining to read, that makes the reader think about a business challenge in a new way and, ideally, prompts the reader to take a next step: buy a product, visit a Website, sign up for consulting, etc.

Hats off to Vishwas, a Beta Author who was brave, bold and creative.

He asked an executive at Microsoft, Arpan Shah, to write the Foreword.

And he is launching his book at the magical price of  $0.00, which has prompted enough downloads to vault it into a category best seller, Software Development.

The best part (for me, at least): Vishwas can’t stop bubbling over with excitement about his eBook and about becoming a published author. And he’s a serious geek, not a bubbly kind of guy.

Who knows what’s next?!

 

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