When I first published in 2000, I had no idea how helpful a book would be to my business. My initial goal for writing it was to share my knowledge, but the book did so much more than that: It helped advertise my business in a way that wasn't advertorial, pushy, or ran the risk of getting ignored.
First, let's go through some of the reasons to publish a book and then a few issues that might arise.
Books Are a Business Card
Most business owners know that getting word out about your business is crucial, especially now. If your business has a national audience, all the better. Even if it doesn't, there are still many benefits to writing and publishing a book. I'll list more of those later in this article. Think of it this way: While you're out there working your business, your book can be out there as well helping you grow your audience.
Expert Status and Credibility
Books have a great way of growing your expert status and enhancing your credibility within your market. Yes, generally authors are considered experts and no, not all of them are. But consumers in general assume that if you've written a book on a particular subject, you probably know a whole lot about it and therefore, you're an expert. Expert status and credibility are also helpful if you're looking to gain more media attention.
Books are great networking tools. Whenever I go to a networking event that isn't book-related, I always take a copy of my book with me. Often, I will offer to mail a copy or send an e-copy to folks I network with. Keep in mind that publishing a book isn't always about the additional income, though it will leverage you more money in book sales. As a networking tool, a book is fantastic.
I've known and worked with business owners who were fantastic speakers but couldn't grow their speaking careers without having a book. The minute they published however, new and better speaking opportunities came their way. This might not be true for every industry, but in most cases a book can really enhance a speaking career.
Yes, you'll make money from your book, but don't lose sight of why you published it. You'll always make far more in the customers a book can bring to your door than in the book itself (unless you have a national best seller) but you can still count on money from the sales of the book, regardless of how you use it.
When I've coached business owners on creating a book, it will sometimes also take us into product creation including webinars, workbooks, and other electronic products. Business owners don't always realize the many and varied ways they can reach into their market. Publishing a book may just be one step in that process.
The Age of Content
We live in an age where we are almost overwhelmed with content. Why would you want to add to that by publishing a book? Because solid, helpful, insightful content gets shared, read, and talked about. Most businesses are dealing with the content wars right now: How can you publish helpful blog content that gets shared, tweets that get retweeted and so on? Content is king and turning that content into a book could be the next best way to enhance and grow your business.
Consumers Don't Like to Be Sold
Ads don't have the pull they once did. If you've run an ad recently (whether online or off) you know what I'm talking about. Consumers are tired of being sold, bottom line. A book is a much better way to leverage and enhance your consumer outreach. Remember when we talked about the book as the business card? It's probably the number one reason why business owners publish and probably the best. Over the years we've had hundreds of consumers come to us because they read my book.
Now you're starting to get a sense of why you should write a book, yes? But there are perhaps as many reasons not to. Let's look at a few of the arguments.
I Don't Have Time to Write
I hear you. Every business owner is tasked with far more than he or she can or should handle, certainly more than five years ago. There are many options for getting your book done. Consider a few:
- Blog content: You probably have tons of content on your blog that you can reuse, update, rewrite, etc.
- White papers: Have you written any white papers or other such content that you can repurpose it for a book?
- Ghost writer: If all else fails, hire a ghost writer. Many good ghost writers can help you crank out a book in three months or less and that's starting from scratch! If you already have the content in blog postings or whatever and don't have time to assemble it into a book, a ghostwriter can help do that, too. While he or she is working on pulling content, they'll also help to smooth over the voice so it's consistent throughout.
Yes, and yes. We share tons of content on our blog, Twitter feed, YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest, and consumers still find us and hire us. Generally if you put a lot of content out there, your consumer will think, "Wow, they know so much, I wonder what else they know," which leads them into your expert status, and credibility. Now, I'm not asking you to give away the keys to the kingdom. Don't share proprietary information because that's not helpful, either.
How Should You Publish?
The question of how you should bring your book to market is a pretty big one, mostly because you have so many options now. I recommend that you self-publish and also do an e-copy of your book. While eBooks are all the rage, some consumers still like their paper counterparts and I find that it's much more fun to carry a book to an event rather than trying to show someone on my e-reader. At the bottom of this article, I'll list a few other posts that I've done on how to get published, but basically, you could see a finished book on your shelf in three months or less. Yes, it's that easy.
How Much Should I Promote My Book?
That really depends on what your goal is for the book, but keep in mind that a book is a real door-opener. Pitching yourself to media, speaking events, and perhaps industry newsletters, blogs, etc. could really help get the word out about your book. If you already have relationships with a lot of these people (and hopefully you do) the marketing piece of this should be fairly easy.
If you're ready to take the next step to enhance and grow your business, consider publishing a book. The long-term benefits will astound you as will the amount of business a single book can bring you. Books have a much higher perceived value too, so "gifting" a book to a potential client can bring great rewards. Publish a great book and, like the Field of Dreams, they will come.
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