Your Book, Your Brand, Your Business
Why should you write and publish a book if you’re an entrepreneur? In her 2012 article, Why Writing a Book Is Good Business, Erika Anderson outlines several compelling reasons after stating the obvious: you must begin with a good book.
Let’s start by defining our terms. By ‘good book’ I mean one that is well-written (grammatically and syntactically correct, with complete sentences and understandable, appropriate vocabulary); contains clearly stated, useful ideas; and is engaging – meaning readers will be drawn in and interested, vs. bored and confused.
So, assuming that you’ve written such a book, how will that help you or your business? In 2006, Mike Schultz, principal of the Wellesley Hills Group, of Framingham, Mass., decided to find out. His firm, a marketing consultancy for professional service providers, released the results of a survey of 200 business-book authors. They called it The Business impact of Writing a Book. In an article in BusinessWeek that same year, Schulz said “The vast majority of the authors we surveyed — 96% — said they did realize a significant positive impact on their businesses from writing a book and would recommend the practice.”
He goes on to note, though, that the primary business benefits are indirect – that is, even the authors whose books sold well didn’t make much (if any) money from the sales of books. The benefits they cited were things like “generating more leads, closing more deals, charging higher fees, and getting better speaking engagements.”
Having worked with several entrepreneurs over the years, I can attest to the above. While it is possible and likely that you’ll make money from book sales, the real value of the investment comes from increasing your credibility in the eyes of your prospects, expanding your brand and influence, and leveraging your book to attract better speaking engagements and higher fees for services.
In my line of work as a ghostwriter, editor, and independent publishing consultant on my own, with Writestream Publishing LLC, and now on my own again, clients have used their books to help them achieve their goals. For example, Major General Linda L. Singh transitioned from a successful corporate career to owner of her own mentoring/coaching business with her memoir, Moments of Choice: My Path to Leadership.
As Andersen states in her article:
I’ve certainly seen those outcomes in my own business, as have other friends and colleagues who’ve written business books. Here’s why I think those things happen when you write a good business book:
Personal credibility: Having a book published makes people think you’re smarter and more expert. I don’t know if you get the same effect through self-publishing, but it’s certainly been true in my experience of having books published with traditional publishers. As soon as my first book came out, at the end of 2006, you would think by the way others responded to me that I’d suddenly gained 20 IQ points. It was almost disorienting – I knew I was the same person, but previously closed doors magically opened, and people I knew wouldn’t have paid much attention to what I said before were suddenly listening hard. It was (and still is) enormously helpful in establishing initial connections with potential clients and business partners.
Business credibility: If you’re running a business and you publish a good book, your business gets a halo effect from your rise in credibility. Being associated with a business book and its author gives an enterprise legitimacy in the eyes of the world. Being considered more legitimate simply makes it easier to get things done. In my experience, it also gives a lift to everyone who works in the organization – it becomes a source of pride and espirit de corps.
Brand clarity: Having a book or books that lay out the key intellectual property or the core models or principles of your business really helps potential clients understand what you’re about and how you can be valuable to them. It can also help your own staff be clearer about who you are and what you’re offering. People have often been surprised when I’ve said this – they question whether it’s really a good idea to put your ideas out in public for anyone to see (and, by implication, steal). But our experience has been that the ideas in a book quite often whet people’s appetite for more in-depth knowledge or consulting.
This has certainly been true for me, although an unintended (welcome) consequence of writing and publishing Water Signs: A Story of Love and Renewal, back in 2008. At the time I had a corporate job as a Knowledge Base writer, but the book expanded my then freelance-on-the-side business of editing when Shlomo Attia walked into a book signing a mutual friend hosted for me and insisted on buying a copy, in spite of my warning that a contemporary romance might not appeal to him. Little did I know he had an ulterior motive, because some time later, he called me to inquire about my ghostwriting services. Up until then, writing a full-length book for someone else had not even occurred to me, but Shlomo felt certain I was the right person for the job. His confidence led to the publication of Steps To Salvation in 2014 and expanded my menu of services to include ghostwriting. To date, I’ve ghostwritten ten books, with two more coming out this year.
I take pride in my work, understanding the importance of capturing someone else’s voice and guiding them to produce the best possible product to engage their audience. But as Andersen remarks, there is more to the story, so to speak.
Having noted all these powerful benefits – and the positive outcomes that they can bring, let me add a note of caution. Schulz also noted:
It may sound obvious, but the biggest finding was that authors who sold more than 10,000 copies of their books were much more satisfied with how the effort paid off than were those who sold fewer than 10,000. Those who sold 20,000 copies or higher were off the charts in their enthusiasm. So, more than anything else we measured, the number of books sold was the biggest factor contributing to the project’s success.
We also found out that people who self-published, didn’t use a literary agent or hire a PR firm, and didn’t do a lot of public speaking, sold fewer books and were much less pleased with the process.
So, if you have a book in you, writing it might benefit you and your business in a host of ways. However, writing it is just the beginning. Then you have to focus on selling it: the more you do that, the more you’ll see a return on your investment.
One of the benefits of attracting and networking with like-minded people is having the referral resources needed for my clients to experience their own version of success as a result of publishing a book. I’m not a book publicist, nor a PR firm; however, I do have access to professionals who offer excellent services in this regard.
Your Book, Your Brand, Your Business.
Now more than ever, this applies to anyone seeking to take their business to unprecedented heights.
Ready to get started? Contact me to schedule your complimentary phone consultation.