Write your own book

Should You Write Your Own Business Book?

by Tom McKay

It’s the ultimate in information marketing: Write a business book that displays your expertise.

Sure, only a relative handful of authors like Jim Collins, Tom Peters and the Freakonomics guys write best-sellers that bring in megabucks. But that’s no reason for you to abandon the idea. Book sales, after all, are only one way your business book can attract income.

Attract Clients

The real payoff of a book is attracting clients. Becoming an author immediately distinguishes you as an expert in your field, so it’s a powerful and persuasive sales tool. Readers who like your book are predisposed to buy your other products, and to hire you for lucrative consulting engagements, speeches, workshops and the like. Your “expert” status as an author also translates into higher fees and more prominent, high-profile clients.

My longtime client, Philip Verghis, has enjoyed that kind of success with his book, The Ultimate Customer Support Executive (Silicon Press) which I edited. It offers a niche audience — service executives — specific help on a crucial topic: how to earn (and then demand) respect on behalf of customers.

Phil’s prior successes at Akamai and Duke University forged his initial reputation and helped attract a publisher. While the book has been well received (the Association for Services Professionals called it “By far the most intelligent book on how to manage support organizations”) and has sold well among its target market, the real payoff has been in attracting clients.

With his higher visibility and credibility, Phil’s keynote speeches and workshops around the world are regularly filled with movers and shakers in his field, and his newsletter (here’s a sample issue) provides valuable advice and guidance to a broad cross-section of readers– while also subtly promoting his book, workshops and speaking engagements.

Your Touch of Celebrity

Phil told me becoming an author has triggered two interesting reactions. One, which he anticipated, was the extra boost a book gives your reputation among CEOs, CIOs and other top executives, as well as with international audiences.

The second reaction, he said, was more of a surprise. Call it the “celebrity factor.” Or, as Phil described it, “the mini-pedestal people put you on, when they see the author of a book they read and carry around.”

Hmmm… visibility, credibility and even a taste of celebrity. Not too shabby.

So what about you? Do you have in-depth experience? Proven success in your field? Do you have expert advice to offer, and a compelling story to tell? If so, you might consider writing a book. The benefits are obvious.

Not ready to tackle an entire book? An e-mail newsletter will demonstrate your know-how while raising your visibility among potential clients. And because it is distributed regularly (usually weekly, bi-weekly or monthly), subscribers get frequent reminders of who you are and what you do.

Don’t worry — you don’t have to do either of these projects by yourself. In fact, very few business books supposedly penned by CEOs were actually written by them. Most get help from an editor and/or ghostwriter like… uh, me.

Just ask.

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