Here’s my inspiration for this latest blog post on publishing a business book: the business cards scattered on my desk, crumbling in the bottom of my purse, and languishing in little piles in my desk drawers. Business cards from people with whom I’ve struck up conversations over the years at various events, but few that I’ve actually ever seen again, much less contacted.
But books? Every book I’ve ever received from a grateful client, a colleague, or someone who would like to do business with me – I can place them, I know how to reach them, I follow them on social media, I’ve done business with them, I’ve bought their next book.
A Business Book is a Promotional Tool
I’m sure I’m not alone in my experience, which is why if you are in business of any kind or have reached a pinnacle in your profession, if you’re a blogger or want to become a thought leader in your industry, if your accumulated knowledge can enlighten others or help people solve a problem, it’s time to write a book.
Because a business book is the ultimate promotional tool; it’s better than your business card.
People are in awe of those who author a book. Even in today’s age of start-ups and technological miracles, the general public still appreciates the tremendous amount of work that goes into writing a book, the confidence and talent it takes, and the sheer fact that someone has enough knowledge to fill hundreds of pages. A book validates your knowledge and expertise. It sets you apart from others and could open doors to consulting jobs, speaking gigs or new business.
All this to say that authors stand out in a crowd, and entrepreneurs and professionals who publish books stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Self-publishing a Business Book
Don’t wait for a traditional publisher to pick up your book. People don’t much care about who published the book. Honestly, when was the last time you looked at the imprint on a book? Traditional publishers don’t do as much marketing of a book as they once did, and you, as a business person or blogger (or both) most likely have a built-in marketing platform in place with a website, social media, clients and colleagues.
Here are some tips for entrepreneurs, bloggers and professionals about writing and self-publishing a book:
What to write about: Some professionals write a book once they have accumulated enough knowledge to be somewhat of an expert in an area. Perhaps they are at a transition point in their career, where they have moved up as far as they want to go and would now like to explore opportunities for speaking. A book is an essential element for those who want to promote themselves as speakers. Think of a book as the advance party when approaching speaker’s bureaus and conference planners. Other professionals write books as legacy pieces after retirement; books sometimes serve as a pivot point into a new career post-retirement. Bloggers can easily turn their blog material into a book; here’s a blog from our archives about how to turn your blog into a book. Entrepreneurs—those in control of their own businesses—have the ultimate freedom in terms of what they can write about. Perhaps the book is about a revolutionary idea, an experience, an invention, best practices – the sky is the limit. Entrepreneurs who want to take their business to new heights should, however, consider where they want to expand their business to—the market, the products, the services—and target that demographic with content that helps to grow their customer base and sales, along with the author’s reputation.
Can’t write? No time? No problem: Consider hiring a ghostwriter. Here’s a blog from our archives about ghostwriting. A ghostwriter can take your notes, interview you, and do more research for you. Alternatively, a writing coach can help you along the way. An editor can take your musings and transform them into a cohesive book that’s on-point with your goals (read up on the Developmental Edit and how it can save your book). Being unsure of your writing talents is not an excuse to forgo a book.
Design matters: As a business person or professional, or as a person with an online presence, you’ve invested a lot of time and money in building your brand. Your brand is more than your logo; it’s your reputation—what people think of you and expect from you. Through your work and yes, through the design of your existing marketing materials, people have developed an image of who you are and what you represent. Poor book cover and page design will be off-brand and detract from your image.
Hire the right team for the job: In your business, you understand how to hire the right people for the job. The same goes for book design, editing and book marketing. Graphic designers are not necessarily good at designing book covers or page layouts. Cover design is an art with special considerations; preserve your relationship with your in-house graphic designer by hiring a book designer. Ditto for editing and book marketing, both of which require a special expertise that cannot necessarily be met by staff in-house or family members, friends or colleagues. The above applies even more so for complicated books with many tables, charts, illustrations and complex indices.
Be prepared to spend some money: Your staff don’t work for free; neither should the team working on your book. The age-old adage “you get what you pay for” also applies to the world of self-publishing. And please don’t be tempted by those who say you can do it yourself; figure out what your time is worth. If you can’t afford to have a professionally designed and edited book now, better to wait or consider crowd-funding for your book. Treat your book like a business and create a business plan with goals, research and a budget.
Hand out books like business cards: Keep some books with you at all times and be alert to opportunities to give them out. You can have books printed as needed from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and IngramSpark; there is no need to order hundreds at a time. Order ten to keep around the office, and then order some more when you have a book signing, go to a conference or attend an event where there are opportunities to distribute your book. IngramSpark now provides a service to personalize the front page of a book – even just one copy. Imagine if you could personalize the copies that you give to clients! You can’t do that with a business card. Books might seem more expensive than business cards, but look at it this way: a box of 500 business cards, professionally designed and printed, easily costs $30-$75 depending on the colors and whether both sides of the card are printed. While the sales price of your book might be $16.99, for example, the actual printing cost may be only $5. If you’re spending $50 on cards, that’s ten books – ten books that will have much more staying power and impact than a business card.
And finally, be proud! You published a book, representing a huge chunk of your knowledge, creativity and expertise. Writing and publishing a book is an amazing feat. Don’t be shy about letting everyone know about your accomplishment.
Now, where’s that business card…
1106 Design specializes in design and editing for business and other nonfiction books, particularly those with unusual formats, numerous charts and illustrations, and other complexities. We’re your team for self-publishing your special book. Contact us today and tell us about your plans to publish a book.