Many entrepreneurs are aware of the benefits of becoming a published author. But only a very small percentage of business owners ever get around to writing a book.
This is a big lost opportunity for those who don’t put pen to paper, according to Sue Richardson, who outlines five ways that writing and publishing a book can help your start-up to take off;
I believe that at the heart of every business lies a rich seam of stories, expertise and knowledge just waiting to be revealed.
I’ve observed, over many years, how business owners are able to dig down into these undiscovered riches of their business and turn words into profits. Yet many a publishing project backfires on the business owner author because they haven’t spent enough time creating a plan for it.
The most successful authors I have worked with have been those that have been very clear from the start about their objectives for publishing in the first place. In my experience, the clearer the author is about their reasons for publishing the more likely they are to succeed.
These objectives can be summed up as ‘the five pearls of publishing’:
- Purpose (passion)
1. Purpose (passion)
There is nothing like writing for focusing the mind on one’s purpose in business and in life. Most business owners are in fact pretty passionate about what they do and passion is like the petrol in their tanks. It gets them up in the morning and keeps them going through the dark and difficult times.
So before you start on your book, ask yourself
- What am I in business for?
- What is my life’s purpose?
A business owner’s mission or purpose can be very inspirational for other people – which is why so many of us love to read books by other business leaders. Writing down and sharing your philosophy or knowledge will significantly improve your own focus as a business leader.
Some years ago, a young home economist and chef called James McIntosh from Northern Ireland came to my office. He was passionate about helping families to cook and eat better. His theory was that there were thousands of recipe books out there that didn’t actually show people how to cook. He believed that many people had forgotten the basics after years of buying ready meals and fast food.
‘Sue, I want a television series’, James said to me.
‘Um, James, I think you’re in the wrong office. I’m not a television producer, I’m a publisher’.
‘Yes, Sue…’ he said, ‘I know. And that’s how it’s going to start. With the books. Then just watch me take it from there!’
Just 18 months later I was sitting in the Comedie Francaise in Paris and watching James collect the Gourmand World Cookbook Award for the Best Cookbook Series.
And best of all, just a few weeks later I received a text from James from the Great Wall of China.
‘Had to cook snake today! Filming just brilliant. I’m loving it (well not so much the snake part)!’
Yes, James was filming his first television series and already his dream had come true.
Okay, so you’re not likely to make a fortune out of publishing a book. In fact, I would go so far as to say that you may have to get used to just breaking even when it comes to book sales. This, for an entrepreneurial type, may seem counter-intuitive.
However, although you may not make a lot of money from the actual sales of the books themselves, as a marketing tool they are second to none. I could tell you countless stories of the success of my authors who have yet to sell even a couple of thousand books.
One, in particular, is Andy Osborne, an expert in business continuity. He published a couple of small books a few years ago.
Just a few weeks after he published the first one I rang him to ask how it was all going. He told me that while he wasn’t selling vast quantities of the books he’d received a call from someone who had read his book and now wanted to meet him. This meeting resulted in a £25,000 contract.
The same thing happened again a couple of weeks later. So while the book had cost him perhaps £5,000 to produce, he had made ten times that amount within a few weeks of publishing.
While you may not need to sell lots of books, it’s a good idea to get as many out into the world as you can, one way or another!
Writing and publishing a book means that, as if by magic, you can be in more than one place at a time!
So, while you may be a speaker, or a good networker and great at getting your message out there into the world, imagine having an army of books marching out to spread that message to a much wider audience. Books create hugely searchable content. Amazon is one of the most frequently searched websites today and because books are content rich, Google loves them.
A book gives you huge credibility – the fact is that if you’ve written 40,000 or 60,000 words on something, you probably have a fair amount of knowledge and expertise in the area.
People will be impressed, even if they never get around to reading your book. And if they do, they will be even more impressed – as long as you do it right!
A book can also be a very useful tool in social media terms – becoming a published author can make you the ‘go to’ person in your field and if you use this on your blog, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc., you will find yourself becoming a magnet that will attract a great deal of business.
And to return for a moment to the profit pearl, as an expert you are likely to command higher fees because the demand for your services will rise. There are many speakers and advisers I have worked with who have said that they found it easier to charge more after they had published books.
Alongside the credibility you get from being a published author you also gain visibility. A book is the most impressive calling card a business owner is likely to have.
Books are a great basis for PR. They are full of content and expertise and give journalists plenty to work with.
Take Vicki Wusche, a property investor. As well as having a successful property investment business, she also teaches and mentors other investors.
Vicki has been publishing independently since 2010. Her Using Other People’s Money: How to invest in property is now in its third edition. She also published Make More Money from Property and Property for the Next Generation in 2012.
In 2013 she was placed on the list of ‘The top 20 most influential people in property’ by the Daily Telegraph. She has had numerous mentions in that paper as well as hundreds of other online and print publications. Her business has grown exponentially as a result.
All of this came about because the journalists loved her books.
There is no doubt about it, publishing a book can help build your business. It may bring you speaking engagements if that’s your thing, or it may bring you press attention.
Whatever it is that you want in the way of attention and remarkability, a book will help you to get it and quickly turn that visibility into business building profits.
To learn more, read Sue’s guide on How to publish a book guaranteed to help build your small business.
About the author
This article has been written for ByteStart’s by Sue Richardson. Sue is the founder of SRA Books, an independent publishing house working with non-fiction authors to publish professional, high-quality books. Find out more at SueRichardson.co.uk.
Other ByteStart guides that will help you to promote your start-up or small business, include;
- Making your small business a big success online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
- How to develop a strong USP and how to use it to attract more customers
- 7 Brilliant branding tips for start-ups
- The 5 unbreakable rules of free publicity
- 21 killer ideas to get free publicity for your small business
- 7 clever copywriting secrets for business owners
And to help you get noticed through social media, try these;
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- How to get started with Twitter
- Tweets that get you followed and your business noticed – How to build a loyal following, 140 characters at a time
- 5 ways to maximise your business with social media
- How to use Facebook to grow your small business
- Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success