When you’re writing a book as an entrepreneur, you’ll include a lot of different kinds of content. Much of this will come from your own experience and content you already have, such as blog posts, internal documents, and information you send out to customers. You might have an outline or even a first draft that covers all the major topics you want to include. But a compelling, engaging, and credibility-enhancing book needs more than “just the fact, ma’am”.
Each chapter of your book covers a topic that contributes to your overall message. To make your message convincing and your writing enjoyable to read, you must do more than simply make your points and move on. You need to include supporting content that draws your reader in and helps convince them of what you’re saying.
There are three types of supporting content that you can use to do this: 1) descriptive content, 2) evidentiary content, and 3) interactive content. There’s also a fourth type of content – storytelling content – which is a bit different than the rest that I’ll also cover.
1. Descriptive Content
Descriptive content is used to explain topics and related concepts. Some examples of descriptive content include explanations, comparisons and contrasts, real or hypothetical examples, and even simple definitions. That description of descriptive content? That was descriptive content.
2. Evidentiary Content
Evidentiary content is qualitative or quantitative proof that backs up your claims. In other words: it’s evidence. This might include individual statistics or entire tables, charts, or graphs. Case studies are great to use too, since they show how real people using your methods get great results. Expert, third-party validation can also be very compelling evidentiary content. This might include excerpts from studies, articles, or reports, as well as short quotes from – or interviews with – other experts.
3. Interactive Content
Interactive content actively involves your reader by having them do something. Especially for how-to books, it’s important that your readers absorb your book’s lessons and put them into practice. Adding interactive elements is an excellent way to do this. You can include recommended activities that encourage your reader to do something specific (relating to the content they’ve just read). You can also include one or more pointed questions for the reader to consider. By having them reflect more deeply on concepts, you will help them really learn and internalize them. You could even include questions in quiz form, with a scoring system – allowing you to offer some form of assessment and/or recommendation based on your reader’s result.
4. Storytelling Content
The types of content we’ve discussed so far appeal to the rational part of your readers’ brains. While that’s important and necessary, it’s not usually enough for convincing or inspiring people. That’s where storytelling content comes in.
Where the other types of content we discussed are focused on convincing the reader’s logical left-brain of your message, stories engage their emotional right-brain. Think of the last time you went out with your friends, or caught up with them over the phone or on Zoom. Did you spend the entire time talking about statistics, or did you tell each other stories? Stories, of course – that’s how we connect to each other. We’re social creatures, and we love to tell and be told stories.
Use that in your writing. Tell stories to, for example, open up a chapter, covering the success of someone who uses the strategies in that chapter.
In Chapter 6 of Entrepreneur to Author, I go into more detail about how to round-out your manuscript after roughing in your first draft, including all these types of supporting content, as well as layering visual content into your book. It also offers guidance about how to structure a compelling story, using a three-act story structure like the one shown in the diagram below.
Stories make people want to believe something in their heart. Then, the logic of descriptions, evidence, and interactivity give the reader’s left-brain permission to follow. While logic lends credibility and teaches the nuts and bolts of your message, storytelling helps your reader identify with and care about what you have to say – making them all the more likely to internalize, remember, and act on what you’ve shared.