In an increasingly digital world, one way to distinguish yourself is refreshingly old-school: publishing your own book. A book is an instant reputation-builder: It conveys expertise in a subject matter, provides a platform for your ideas, and serves as a business card that can be shared with clients and colleagues.
In a fresh twist of irony, the digital world makes publishing a book easier than ever. Here is why self-publishing can be the marketing turn that you need and here are some tips on moving from your initial ideas to a bound volume.
Should I Write a Book?
The term “thought leader” is a well-worn one on LinkedIn pages, but if you contend that you are an innovator in your field and have pioneering new ideas, you should have a platform for expressing them. This makes a book a great marketing vehicle for degreed individuals in the professions, including speakers, management consultants, and psychologists. If you market yourself on the claim to expertise, there is no better way to convincingly demonstrate that expertise than a book.
You should also give thought to how you will use your book. Are you looking to put some marketing power behind the book and sell it? Will you give it to potential clients to showcase your ideas? Will you use it as a free giveaway to build your email list or utilize excerpts for content? Thinking about how you’ll use the book will inform its content.
Develop Your Ideas
As we’ll discuss below, you don’t need to be a great writer to be an author, but you do need to have a clear set of ideas that will form the nucleus of your book.
Here are some tips for organizing your thoughts into an outline that a writer can use to flesh out into book form:
- Do what I like to call a “brain dump.” Write down all of the ideas you have for the book—anything that pops into your head that you’d like to cover.
- Organize your ideas into related topics. Create lists of related ideas with headings or subheadings. You could also create a mind map from your brain dump. Then take a break before moving onto the next step.
- Take a look—with fresh eyes—at what you’ve come up with so far and eliminate unrelated ideas. Store these extraneous ideas elsewhere for use in another project.
- Decide on how you want to organize your thoughts for the most impact. Think about how many chapters you want to have in the book and experiment with the order of chapters that makes the most sense. Some authors like to write ideas down on old-fashioned notecards so they can easily be shuffled. There is also software available, such as Scrivener, if you’d rather do this onscreen.
- After you’ve organized the book, you can repeat a similar process for each chapter. Once the entire book is outlined to your satisfaction, you—or your writer assistant—can start the actual writing process.
Develop a Plan
You can’t write a book over a week or a weekend, even if you have help writing it. But long-term projects have a tendency to be given lower priorities to everyday emergencies. For that reason, it’s important that you set a deadline and interim goals for completing those chapters. Set deadlines for completing initial drafts of each chapter and due dates for revising and editing those chapters as well. If you’re working with a ghostwriter, these dates can overlap, so that review of chapter 1 occurs while the draft of chapter 2 is being written. You may even want to build in time for second or third reviews, and you’ll certainly want to make sure you do a read-through of the entire book at the end.
Get Started Writing
Now that you have a plan in place, the next step is to start writing. Some professionals are great writers and authoring a book is a point of pride. However, if that’s not you or if you simply don’t have time to write an entire book, hiring a ghostwriter, like a virtual marketing assistant who specializes in writing, is an option.
Marketing Your Book
Before your book is completed, you’ll want to develop a marketing strategy for the book. This includes basics about the book itself, such as the title, cover design, and circulating your book to those who could potentially contribute blurbs. It also includes your plans for the book after it’s published. This could include plans to promote the book on Amazon, utilize sections for online giveaways or marketing campaigns, or spinning off the book into webinars to speaking engagements.
Whatever your plans for the book, make sure that you have a clear plan for how you will market the book once it is complete.
Publishing Your Book
Self-publishing today takes very little investment—unlike the thousands it may have cost just a decade ago. Platforms such as Kindle Direct Publishing make the process accessible to anyone. The first thing you’ll do is set up your account and answer some basic questions about your book, including the category and price you’d like to charge.
For the electronic version of your book, you can generally upload your Word file, and the platform takes care of the formatting. For the print version of the book, you’ll need to lay out your pages in book format using one of their provided templates. You’ll save that file as a PDF, which can be uploaded to the site.
Kindle Direct Publishing also has cover templates you can use to create a nice-looking cover. The e-version will only have a front cover, but the paper version will have both a front and back cover.
Publishing your own book can make you and your ideas stand out in the crowded throng of the voices all claiming expertise in your profession. With the right ideas, planning, and help, your book can be the engine that allows you to market your business and personal brand.