Why focus on how to write a book for your business?
Like many service professionals, Elizabeth had thought about writing a book. But she hadn’t done anything about it. Why not? She wasn’t really sure she needed one. And since she didn’t consider herself a writer, she found it more comforting to let that stop her than to step forward into a new learning curve.
Does this sound anything like your thought pattern on the subject of figuring out how to write a book? The following article should help you clarify just what a book can do for you and your practice or business. Hang all the way through it, and at the end I’ll show you the best way to learn everything you need to know about how to write a book.
A few weeks ago, I told you why your business needs a podcast. Now I’m telling you why you need a book.Jeez, where do I get off with making you feel like you need to do all this effort-intensive, time-consuming stuff?So OK, maybe you don’t need a book. But if you’re having problems getting enough business, or the right kind of business, or you’d like to make it easier for people to find you online or offline…it’s worth thinking about.
(I’m thinking about this mainly in terms of service businesses, but the same reasons apply to just about everything. There are some examples of software businesses with books at the end, for example.)
What kind of book can you write?
However dry you might think your business is, there’ll be a book in there somewhere. Here are some formats you can use:
- Your insights about the industry. This is a great format for showing your expertise and raising your profile in the industry – Tessa Stuart did this about the food industry, and as a result she’s getting a lot more opportunities like judging awards.
- How the reader can do something themselves. So if you’re a wedding planner, write a book telling the reader how to plan their own wedding. As you’ll see later, this won’t do you out of a job.
- Stories you’ve encountered in your industry. Harder to pull off, but a “general interest” book about your experiences could work if your industry is, well, generally interesting enough.
- A book that’s almost totally unrelated to what you do. This type won’t give you all the advantages we’re going to talk about, but it’s still great for branding – and we’ll see some examples later.
So let’s get into the reasons why writing a book is so beneficial…
Books hack people’s trust circuits
“Got a book? Must be good” is a weird kind of mental shorthand, presumably coming from the assumption that someone, somewhere, must’ve vetted you and given you permission to write it.
Now that anyone can write a book without bothering with publishers and agents, that mental connection might weaken. But for now, just having it be known that you’re written a book puts you a step ahead.
A book is the ultimate authority builder
If you pour everything you know about a subject into a book – and it’s actually good – what more do you need to do to prove your authority? Anyone can blag their way through a meeting making out that they know what they’re talking about, but blagging it through 50,000 words is a lot harder.
It also positions you as an educator rather than a salesperson – and most people love to learn but hate to be sold to.
Worried they’ll just take your ideas and implement them themselves? Don’t be. Some will, but plenty of readers will want the personal touch, or the ideas applied to their specific problem, or lack the skills, time or willingness to do it themselves.
A book pulls the reader into your worldview
By explaining exactly how you believe something should be done, the reader has two options: agree or disagree.
If they disagree, they’ll stop reading and you’ll never hear from them again. Fine.
If they agree, and they want to hire you to do something for them, they’ll already have totally bought into your way of doing things – they’ve read about it, and that’s why they came to you in the first place.
Say your book was about the future of SEO, and how you believe disseminating great content is the best way to earn links. If a client comes to you after reading your book, they’re not going to be bugging you to blast thousands of spammy forum links.
You’re essentially using the book to prepare and train them to become a client of yours – and they’re paying you for the privilege.
A book exposes you to a whole new audience
Amazon is one of the biggest search engines in the world – and it’s used only by people who want to buy something.
A lot of people like to get their information from books, and will never read blogs or listen to podcasts. Having a book on Amazon reaches these people, who never would otherwise have found you.
Even if someone does read blogs or listen to podcasts, they probably read books too – and a well-reviewed book is much easier to rank in Amazon search than it is in Google.
This has been true for us. Search “digital nomad” on Amazon and we’re the second result; the same search on Google, and we’re nowhere. As a result we’ve had people find our books on Amazon, enjoy them, then become regular blog readers.
A book creates offline media opportunities
Newspapers, magazines and radio and TV stations love to plan their features around books. All you need to do is come up with an angle to make your book relevant to their audience.
A local radio station will never just run a news story about a wedding planner, for example. But if you’re a wedding planner who’s just released a book about “The 20 biggest wedding problems, and how to solve them”, that’s all the material they need for a fun segment about weddings with you as the guest expert.
Having a book also makes it easier to secure speaking gigs at events and conferences.
A book is the ultimate business card
Give out a business card, and it’ll be thrown away, lost in the bottom of a bag, or wrapped around used chewing gum by the next morning.
Give out a book though, and it’s far more likely to be kept. Even if they intend to read it but never quite get around to it, it’ll be sitting on their bookshelf as a reminder that you exist. Sometimes, coming to mind at the exact time your potential client has a problem is all you need to win the job.
The same principle applies at trade shows. Forcing business cards or flyers on everyone who walks past is pointless. But if you’ve got a book packed with valuable information, people won’t just take it – they’ll part with their email address in return for it.
But if you can’t face writing a whole damn book…
…just write a free PDF mini-book.
You can’t put it on Amazon and it won’t help you with offline media opportunities, but it still spreads your message – and sometimes that’s the most important thing.
We’re doing this ourselves by putting together a PDF booklet that we’re going to give away on our Mortified Cow site. We don’t have time to write a whole book, but it’s just going to quickly summarise everything we believe in and why it works.
The intention is to pull people into our worldview – if they read it and agree with it, they’ll be better clients because they won’t question our decisions.
It’ll also make visitors more likely to remember us. Rather than reading the site then getting distracted and never coming back, they’re more likely to download the PDF, read it later when they have more time, then remember us when they’re ready to buy.
Freshbooks did the same thing with their free mini-book, Breaking The Time Barrier. The book doesn’t mention their product at all – the intention is just for people to spread the book to their friends because it’s genuinely useful, and those people will indirectly discover Freshbooks as a result.
And it doesn’t end there. Clarity gives away a PDF compiling advice from some of the experts on their platform, which showcases the knowledge available if you use it. Mailchimp even gives away a colouring book – it’s stilly, but it’s in line with their values and makes you love them a little bit more.
So what do you think?
Could a book be useful in pushing your business forward?
Have you written one already? If not, what’s putting you off?
This article, ‘Why Your Business Needs a Book’ by Rob Dix, originated on Quora.com.
So, there you have it. Does that help to clarify the question for you?
Still, however, you may be beset by the question of how you could ever master the process of writing that darned book. And that is a worthy question! Because a book is a big project, one it would be easy to lose yourself in, or get distracted from. It’s not something to plunge into without a plan and a mentor.
And there’s more. Writing the book is just the first step. Beyond the writing, you need to know how to use the book to move your business forward.
Dedicated to helping you write a book that makes a difference for your business,