I’ll start with the clarification that I am talking about business books here. You may have a burning desire to write the Great American Novel. That’s great. I cannot help you with that.
But a business book? You’re in the right place.
Most business authors are either self-employed or have risen through the ranks of corporations up to C level. They have information to share that will be helpful to others. That’s incidental.
The reason people write business books is to raise their profile.
Do you need a book if you’re in business for yourself? The answer to that is going to be a very solid, MAYBE. You get to decide, but I’ll give you two reasons why you might want to consider writing a book.
Both of which raise your profile.
The fact that you have written a book gives you a large amount of credibility in your chosen field. You have enough knowledge to write a full book. And because you are the one saying it, it immediately confers authority on you. While quantity does not always indicate quality, a book is physical proof that you know what you’re talking about.
Authoring a quality book differentiates you from your competition. It helps you to stand out from the crowd and can pre-sort prospects so the right people, your tribe, can better find you.
A Book is the New Business Card
I hate this expression, but you will hear it said time and again: A book is the new business card. To me, it cheapens the effort that went into writing and publishing a book. Print on demand (POD) publishing has demolished the old publishing paradigm and now it seems anyone and everyone can publish a book.
Does that mean writing a book has no value in the marketplace?
Fortunately for me and you, the answer is no.
It means that authoring a book is now one of the necessities of being a leader in your field.
Think about free delivery, whether we are talking Amazon Prime or your local pizza place. Free delivery used to be a bonus, a perk. Now it is something that can be a deal breaker. “I have to pay for shipping? Let me check and see what the price difference is at Amazon; I can probably save money.” Amazon offered “free” shipping (you pay for Prime but it is such a low amount and, with the added streaming video and audio, it feels free) and raised the bar. Because of Amazon Prime, you can now get free shipping on eBay and Etsy. Many retail outlets offer free shipping with minimum orders. Amazon’s free shipping set a new standard and raised the bar, and in doing so, made it harder for smaller businesses to compete.
Authoring a book is the new standard in business. The bar has been raised.
Just to hold your place in the market, whether you are a consultant, speaker, or business leader, people expect you to have authored a book. It’s the new minimum.
Writing a book is not easy. It takes time and effort. Just writing a book knocks out your competitors who don’t have a book. Writing a high quality book, giving it the polish to stand out–professional editing, interior layout and cover–knocks out almost all the rest of your competition. It raises you to a higher level. You are no longer playing catch-up; you’re setting the bar.
Like a business card, your book should be high quality. Have you ever received one of those thin, flimsy business cards? You turn it over and it actually says “Printed free at VistaPrint.” How does that make you feel about the person who gave it to you? Does it make them look successful? Even worse is getting a card that still has the little perforations or a company issued card that has a line for the person to fill in their name. That tells you that person’s not really investing in their business. (Or hasn’t been in business very long.)
Just as you don’t want to have a poorly made business card, you do not want to put out a poorly produced book. If a book is the new business card, you want to make sure it is a quality book, in both content and production. The point of doing all that work is to make a good impression.
The POD Revolution
Too many people think just having a book is enough. And ten years ago, it was. Self-employed business owners—coaches, speakers, consultants—started publishing their own books.
What facilitated this change? Print on demand publishing.
Twenty years ago, if you wanted to publish a business book, you had to write a proposal, get an agent who would rep you, and hopefully, that agent could get a publisher interested in your book. Most often, you had to have a level of success in the corporate world. You wrote the book and it was put through an editorial process, then a printing process with professional layout and cover design. The publishing house distributed and helped market your book. If you couldn’t get a publishing contract, you could pay thousands of dollars to publish through a vanity press, with no editorial supervision and usually a poorly designed cover and layout, then end up with cartons of books in your garage or office, because you had no way to market and distribute the books. Amazon and other online retailers have changed that.
Now you can print one book at a time, or 15, or 100. No more cartons of books molding in the cellar. Authors can buy their books at incredibly reasonable prices, about $3.50 for the average book plus shipping. Not quite as inexpensive as a business card, but definitely not costly. Would you buy a prospect a cup of coffee? Your book is a cup of coffee.
People—in general—want to author a book and admire people who have done so. A New York Times study found that 81% of people wanted to write a book “some day.” Entrepreneurs and business leaders appreciate the benefits of authoring a book, and have more motivation than the average person to do so. But when the book is done—an accomplishment in itself—they are faced with two challenges: how to publish the book and how to sell the book.
I have addressed self publishing in tons of blog posts, and yes, I have a course on self-publishing as well as concierge services if you would like someone to walk you through the process.
I’ve also written many blog posts on how to market your book: various kinds of launches, marketing ideas, getting publicity. This book will cover those things in more detail.
But in business, it’s not about selling books.
A Slight Shift
I want you to make a slight shift here to what I feel is the key to gaining more visibility and more clients. For most of us, it’s not about selling copies of our books. We are in a business that is not the book selling business.
Here is the shift: Stop thinking of your book as an end product. Your book is a marketing tool for your business. Your money is in bringing in more clients who pay premium prices to work with you, not making a $7 royalty every time someone, whose name is not known to you, orders a book from Amazon.
Too many people get hung up on “making their money back” through royalties. And that is why there are so many crappy books out there, to just blurt it out. Internet gurus sold people on the idea of writing a “book in an afternoon,” throwing it on Amazon, and raking in royalties. You have no idea how much I wish that was true.
That resulted in people throwing together a book just to put a book out there. They didn’t want to spend money on editing, on layout, on a fantastic cover, on the marketing. They worried the money going out the door would never come back. Understandable. But doing that is an expensive way of shooting yourself in the foot.
Your book reflects back on you. A book filled with typos, no clear message, and the same content in more than one section of the book (yes, I’ve seen it in published books, word for word) is worse than not having a book at all.
Just as with any other marketing strategy, you’ve got to put a little money behind your book. Most books will never make in royalties what they cost to produce. That’s exactly why you need to know how to leverage your book properly to not just make back your initial costs, but to reach a wider audience and grow your business.
If you’re reading this, you are somewhere in my target market – you have written or are in the process of writing a book for your business (even if you’re just thinking about it). You may have already published your book and would like it to do more for you. You see a book as part of your platform. You understand that the reason we write business books is to bring in more business.
This book will discuss how to leverage your business book for maximum marketing impact. Marketing starts in the actual writing of the book—adding in marketing hooks and highlighting the results that you provide your clients. I’ll go into different strategies and tactics that help achieve various marketing goals, whether it is lead generation, credibility, or setting a new business paradigm. My goal is to give you practical techniques to help you leverage your business book, gain more clients, and afford better scotch. It’s a mission.
This is a work in progress. Please comment — I would love your feedback and suggestions! And, if you want to make sure you don’t miss an installment, subscribe to my blog (if you haven’t already). Sign up is in the right hand sidebar. Many thanks!!
Not sure if this is the type of comments you want, but just in case.
When you wrote:
“A book filled with typos, no clear message, and the same content in more than one section of the book (yes, I’ve seen it in published books, word for word) is worse than not having a book at all.”
I had to re-read the paragraph a few times to really get what you meant. I get the idea, and I totally agree!
Yes, that is exactly the kind of feedback I’m looking for. If something isn’t clear, I need to fix it — and I will, thanks to you!
Hi Barbara, I love this book-in-the-making of yours. I’ll be following every installment. And I’m so glad you explicitly included me in your target audience as “someone in the process of writing a book (even if you’re just thinking about it).”
Also I find it refreshing that you value quality in the writing, unlike so many other book marketers.
Glad you’re here, Marylyn! I’ve been around long enough to see the evolution of having a book go from any book is good to “SHEESH! Look at all the crap that people are putting out.” If you’re going to put your name on it, you want it to be good. Cheers!