By Wendy Keller, Senior Literary Agent
How would your business grow if journalists were calling to interview you? What difference would it make to your stature in your industry if you were to become the third-party verified expert? How many more qualified customers would you attract if you gave the world a sneak peek into the depths of what you know so well?
The most expedient way to achieve all the above and even more customer-attracting benefits is to write a book. There are many publishing models to leverage, and writing skills aren’t even necessary. (We got people for that!) Becoming an author may be the most impactful, valuable, income-generating single marketing step you will ever take in the life of your business or career.
A client whose book I sold a few years back reported that his business profited an additional $800,000 the year after it released. Another client, a financial advisor to the ultra-wealthy, told me 9 months after his book released that his “business has tripled – I don’t have time to sleep anymore.” (He wasn’t complaining!) What could the almost-free publicity and prestige a book generates do for you?
Your specialized knowledge – what you know that few others do – is valuable. Don’t believe it? Then you’re probably suffering from “expert blindness”, a term coined by marketing genius George Silverman (www.mnav.com) Expert blindness is what happens to someone like you who knows everything there is to know on a subject…except what it is like to know absolutely nothing about it at all.
The first step is to decide what your book will be about. While your life story may be fascinating to you and your mother, book buyers only pay $20 for something that will give them a solution to a problem they have. The solution you should offer in your book is the same one your business provides. From preparing taxes to lawn care tips, from consulting business owners to hiring the best attorney (you!), there’s a strong chance that you know something the world doesn’t – and is willing to pay for. Even if there’s some similar content available online, gathering it all in a book gives you the “expert stamp of approval” and grants your perspective validity in the minds of the public.
Now go to Amazon.com and type in the keywords that relate to your topic. “Sales, selling, salesperson, sell”, for instance. See what else is out there. If what you want to write is almost identical to one of those books, you might end up choosing to self-publish unless you can alter your content to create something new, different, better or which offers the consumer something more than those books.
Decide if you have the time, inclination or ability to write well. This one decision trips up most people, but like everything else in your business, it’s better to delegate your non-key strengths to competent people. Here’s a secret: most of the business books you see on the shelves were written by someone other than the person listed as the author.
The first thing that needs to be written is called a “book proposal”. Never write a whole book until you’ve got a publisher’s check in your bank account already. A proposal is the tool you will use to attract a literary agent. Then, the agent will take that nonfiction proposal and use it to entice a publisher. In the US, it is almost impossible to sell a book without an agent. Once you get an agent, you will trot down the well-worn path to success pretty fast.
You will have about a six month window to capitalize on your book. Done right, it will bring you unimaginable opportunities for publicity, marketing, advertising, co-venturing, and helping your company and your career grow. A book is as a fabulously impressive business card and can help grab market domination or just astronomically increase your revenues. Compared to other marketing strategies, “writing” a book may be the best investment of your time and knowledge that you’ve ever made.