Should You Write a Book to Boost Your Business?
One thing we have heard a lot in recent years is: You should write a book to leverage your business and make you look like an expert.
We have all kinds of online pseudo-gurus saying you NEED to write a book to build your business. And with that fad, we have all kinds of books in the marketplace that maybe should never have found themselves there.
On the other hand, writing a book has been proven to be an incredible business leveler and credibility builder. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will position you more as an expert than a well presented, thought-out, and well written book.
- A great website won’t do it as much
- A dozen powerful testimonials won’t do it as much
- Even a degree falls short in many instances
So yes, writing a book can definitely add a great measure to your stature, posture, and credibility. According to an article by Lisa Evans for Entrepreneur.com (https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/236911 ), writing a book can help you and your business in five ways:
- It helps you find your focus. Nothing trains your mind to focus more than the exercise of writing and researching.
- It may give birth to a new business. A great book idea that innovates can bring speaking and consulting opportunities in your niche and lead to a new business being born.
- Introduce your business to the public. When your book is out on Amazon and bookshelves across America, people have an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and what you have to offer. This is great exposure!
- Gain Clients. A good book will enable the people who trust you after reading it to reach out to you as clients.
- Improve your personal credibility. As I just mentioned earlier, there is just something magical about adding ‘Author’ to your resume.
Here are some interesting stats about books and writers:
- According to a survey 81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them — and should write it.”
- 2011 statisticians counted 329,259 books published in the United States, and 2.2 million books published in the world.
- Google estimates 130 million books have been published in human history.
- in 2017, book sales increased 1.9% over 2016 according to NDP Bookscan (they had increased 3.3% in 2016 over 2015, according to Publishers Weekly)
So, in this blog post, let’s consider if writing a book is a good idea for you and for your business by considering different aspects of the whole process.
In recent years, many, many entrepreneurs have taken to writing a book to position themselves better in the marketplace.
This idea has gained much momentum, and becoming an author is now very trendy.
Now, I am not going to lie, when I wrote Lead Like a Superhero two years ago, that was certainly part of the equation.
However, it was far from my guiding force behind the writing of the book.
I had been wanting to write books since I was in my early twenties. In fact, when I was twenty, I wrote an eschatological non-fiction book that was over 300 pages long. In French, with no internet access. So, I already had some desire and chops as an author.
Am I saying this to impress you? No.
I am saying this to impress upon you that a prior desire to write a book is a pretty good clue to know if you should write one at all.
When you listen to book writing experts’ seminars today, you would think that just anybody can and should write a book, and I believe that just isn’t the case.
In fact, someone once said:
“We have been told that everybody has a book inside of them, and for most people, that is just where it should stay.”
I know this last part sounds blunt, and maybe even mean, and I don’t want to insult or hurt anybody’s feelings, or be a dream crusher. But let’s face it…
This is partly why we have so many bad books out there today. I speak of this trend in one of my other blogs entitled: I See Dead Books (https://www.thrivingonpurpose.com/blog/see-dead-books/).
Now, bad books are not a recent phenomenon.
In fact, Voltaire, who lived in the 1700’s said:
“It is far better to keep silent than merely to increase the quantity of bad books.”
And J.C. Ryle, an English Evangelical Anglican bishop from the 1800’s said:
“Whatever you read, read the Bible first. Beware of bad books: there are plenty in this day. Take heed what you read.”
And, in a 2002 N.Y. Times Article titled: Think You Have a Book in you? Think Again. The author said: “Something of 80,000 books get published in America every year, most of them not needed, not wanted, not in any way remotely necessary.”
Now let me be very clear.
By saying this, I am not saying that everybody doesn’t have a story to share, expert knowledge in their field, or a voice to be heard. All I am saying is that maybe writing a book isn’t the right platform for you.
There are plenty of other platforms to tell a story or share ideas, and not all should be in book format. These should be considered carefully before you opt on book writing…
1- Blogging (which can actually give you a good grasp in the art of writing and may later develop you into an author)
2- Video platforms, such as Facebook, Periscope, or YouTube.
3- Becoming a public speaker
4- Podcasting, and last but certainly not least…
5- Course creation platforms like Udemy
For some, these platforms may be better suited to tell your stories or teach your knowledge than writing a book.
But maybe you aren’t attracted to these. And maybe you’re like me and you really have a strong desire to write a book.
So, before you get started, let’s look at some questions you need to ask yourself before embarking in the grueling process of writing a book. Because we want to make sure your book adds value to yourself, and others.
1- What is your motive? What is your motive in writing a book? Fame? Money? Helping people? Bringing some important information to light? Spreading the word about something?
If you’re in it for the money, you might be disappointed. A book, by itself, will rarely make you rich.
The stats actually prove it:
The average U.S. nonfiction book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime. And very few titles are big sellers. Only 62 of 1,000 business books released in 2009 sold more than 5,000 copies, according to an analysis by the Codex Group (New York Times, March 31, 2010).
You see, I believe that writing a book is something better done with altruistic motives than with profit in mind.
Will the book help you leverage your business? Sure. It will definitely help position you as an expert in your field. And this can add a great deal of income coming your way.
For some, your book might actually be a springboard to build a business, in which case it can definitely help to bring in significant income – depending largely on your marketing savvy.
I’ll talk about marketing later.
For most nonfiction writers however, the book is used largely as a powerful business card extension to get your name out in the marketplace. And as such, will not by itself make you wealthy.
So, knowing this, you should have a better motive than making money. Your list of motives should include, but not be limited to:
- Helping people
- Extending your reach
- Spreading useful knowledge
- Spreading the Gospel (If you’re a believer)
- Correcting existing false beliefs in your field
- Making a difference
- All of the above?
Writing a book with these in mind is stronger motive than writing to rack in the big bucks… and will probably save you heartache if you don’t make it to The New York Times Bestseller list.
All that said, if you do have the guts to write a book, I wish you that kind of success!
2- Have you ever had the desire to write a book before?
Before you heard someone online or elsewhere mention that writing a book is a good lever for any business, had you ever wanted to write one? And if so… was it…
A vague desire with no clear idea or direction? A fleeting thought?
Or was it clearly defined? Was it a strong desire?
In other words…
- Did you know pretty much what you wanted the book to be about?
- Did you have a general sense of purpose and direction with your writing?
- Did you already have a title in mind?
Those who already have a title in mind are one step ahead in the creative process. And, if it’s a good title… even better!
By this I am not saying that you must have had a prior desire to write a book if you are to write one now.
What I am saying is: Make sure this is not just a fad or something you fancy in the moment because of its popularity.
We are literally bombarded with book writing seminars, coaching programs, and Facebook posts that say things like:
- Sign up today and write your bestseller in thirty days
- Get the software that will write your book for you
- 95$ to write your book in one day
- Become a Kindle bestselling author, etc.
So, what do ads and prompts like these do? They create hype.
As a result, everyone now wants to write their book, tell their story, put their book out.
Is that bad? Well, let me put it this way…
Do all people enthusiastic to audition at American Idol sing well. NO.
That’s what hype does. On the one hand, it is good because it increases awareness and popularity of a thing – in this case writing books. So, it made books, writing, and becoming an author more popular – which is great.
On the other hand, it can potentially decrease the quality of the final product because of such an increase in quantity – in this case, the books themselves.
Back in the early nineties, hockey cards became popular – extremely so. All the guys in my high school were buying Upper Deck hockey cards and trading them. We were always on the look-out for the most valuable and rare cards. And the card companies, like Upper Deck and Score, were glad to oblige… so they began making them by the truck load.
Guess how much these cards are worth today? No much.
So, what I am saying is this:
Don’t write a book because it’s the popular thing to do as an entrepreneur. Write a book because you have a burning message to tell that could set the world on fire.
3- Are you knowledgeable enough to write a book?
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: Read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King
You might be knowledgeable in your field. But, do you have enough knowledge to pack into a 200 page book?
I know, it’s a direct question. But it’s so important.
Maybe you do have a book in you, but is it ready to come out just yet?
You see, the same way singers should love music, authors should love to read.
So, right away this gives you a clue as to the seriousness of your inquiry into writing a book.
Reading and writing go hand in hand.
If you have no books at home, don’t particularly enjoy reading, and have no real appreciation for books in general – allow me to be straightforward: You should probably find another platform to tell your message.
I don’t believe in writers who don’t read. Period.
Being an avid reader increases your knowledge, your vocabulary, and yes… your writing ability.
Like most authors, before I had any desire to write, I had already read many books. I loved to read. I loved books. I even loved their smell. That’s what authors are like – they love books and reading.
Much reading increases knowledge. And trust me, you’re going to need quite a bit of knowledge if you are going to package it in at least 160 pages of interesting, captivating, and sellable content.
Now, you may be saying, “But I don’t want to become an author, I just want to write this one book and be done with it to give traction to my business.”
I’ll address this later.
4- Is your business book-compatible?
There are some fields that fit in better with adding a book to your business arsenal than others.
If you are in:
- Direct Sales
- Christian Ministry
- Health and Wellness
- Specialized knowledge (psychology, medicine, science, philosophy, etc.)
These fields are very book friendly. In fact, most fields that are knowledge based are book-friendly. Because books happen to be thoughts on paper.
That said, oftentimes these fields are already saturated with a huge number of already existing books – some good, some bad. So, you must be aware of the competition. Making your book stand out might be a challenge.
By the way, if you are have been a pastor for some time and you haven’t written a book yet, what are you waiting for? In my opinion, writing a book if you’re an experienced pastor is pretty much a given since you already have so many of the vital elements of book writing already in place: an audience, knowledge base, and expertise. And any pastor worth his salt is already a reader… So why not give it a go if you have a message to convey?
That said, you may be in a field where a book would perhaps not help your business much, or even at all. You need to assess that.
Why? Because writing a book is not an endeavor that should be entered in lightly since it is long, time consuming, and sometimes, depending on the biz, not profitable at all.
If you are, for example, a jewelry maker and have an online shop, it might not be relevant to write a book on jewelry.
Or if you have a soap-making business… how would a book be relevant to this?
Some fields are less book-friendly than others.
In those examples, a book about your story and how you built an empire could be a good idea (if you actually made it that BIG), but maybe not a book about your soaps or jewelry – catch my drift?
In French we have an expression: “Le calcul vaut le travail.”
In other words… reflecting on how a book would fare in your field is highly important before you get started.
Do a market study before hand. Check out similar subjects or ideas on Amazon to give yourself an idea if this is a potentially sought-after or income producing niche.
5- Do you have a BIG idea?
It was the late Charles A. Dana who is credited with saying: “If a dog bites a man it is not news, but if a man bites a dog it is.”
In other words, people are attracted to novelty. People like new information that shocks, educates, or entertains.
Writing a book is a lot like a PhD dissertation. It requires a BIG idea to be explored at length. I’m talking of course about a non-fiction book here.
So, by Big idea, I mean an idea that could potentially improve, transform, give a different angle on an already existing subject, or add great value to your field.
When I wrote Lead Like a Superhero, I very well knew that I didn’t have a revolutionary idea by writing a book on leadership. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of books that were written on the subject of leadership.
However, what got me excited to write the book is the angle or the lens through which I was going to explore the subject of leadership.
I knew that exploring it through the lens of Superheroes and their leadership attributes hadn’t been done the way I was going to do it. I knew I had a BIG idea. And it made the book stand out.
When Robert Kiyosaki wrote Rich Dad, Poor Dad, he knew books on finances were a dime a dozen, but his angle was revolutionary, and a bestseller was born. Writing about finances by taking his two-dad’s advice as thesis and anti-thesis was a stroke of genius.
So, make sure your book is a BIG idea. Ask yourself these questions to find out:
- Does my book idea improve the knowledge in my field?
- Does my book present new information that could transform, challenge, or revolutionize the status quo in my field?
- Does my book idea add tremendous value to my respective field or niche?
- Does my book offer help and solutions for people?
- Does my book shock, educate, or entertain?
6- Would YOU buy and read your book Idea? Now, most of us would reflexively answer YES! That’s understandable. But it’s very subjective.
As an author, you need to look at what you’re trying to write as objectively as possible. You need to out yourself in the consumer’s shoes.
Here is what I want you to do:
I want you to visualize your book in a bookstore, on a shelf, among other good books… would you pick it up?
Would you read the back cover description?
And then, would you take a look at the table of contents?
And then, would you pay for it at full price?
And then, would you read it?
Page after page, would it keep YOU interested?
If the answer is ‘yes’ – good! You’re most likely on the right track.
If the answer is ‘no’, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write the book.
Maybe you just need to get back to the drawing board. Maybe it’s just time to re-evaluate your book idea. Make a few adjustments, have clarity, and you can still write an awesome book.
7- Is you book idea related to your niche? This one is a given. If you are going to write a book for your business – do just that.
In others words…
Don’t write an Amish love story if your business is in the financial industry. Or, if you do so, use a pen name.
Your book idea has to marry into your business. Don’t forget that the main question here is: Should I write a book for my business?
As such, you need something that will complement or add value to the service or product you have to offer.
This book will be your calling card and could potentially bring much more business your way, so make sure it represents your business well.
8- Do you already have an audience for your book? On this question, experts are vey divided. Some say you should write your book only if you already have an existing audience for it. Others say it isn’t necessary to have a successful book.
Here is my two-cents…
I think it is much easier to give traction to your book when you do have an audience.
Think about it, when your business is already well established with people who like, know and trust you, they will be delighted when they hear you have a book coming out! Most likely you will get a lot of pre-orders and sales from this already existing audience or customer base.
And I’m going to let you in on a little secret…
The first few weeks of a book are crucial in determining its future success.
Let me repeat that: The first few weeks of a book are crucial in determining its future success.
Here is why:
- Pre-Orders. An existing audience will get you more pre-orders. Pre-orders count toward first week sales that often determine whether a book winds up on a bestselling list, a possibility that can be huge for any author.
- Early Reviews. It is estimated that less than 10% will leave you a review on your book, even if they loved it. And yet, early positive reviews can really make your book stand out in a big way! With an already existing audience, you get early sales… and early reviews. And early reviews create early hype over your book – which means more visibility. Amazon will actually boost books that get more reviews in their rankings, which means more visibility, more sales and potentially more business for you. And this is hard to do without an already existing audience. According to a 2014 survey by Bright Local, consumers are 84% likely to trust an online review as much as a personal recommendation. Good reviews will give your book more visibility.
When I wrote Lead Like a Superhero a couple of years ago, my audience wasn’t as big as it is now. So, I had to make up for my smaller audience with bigger investments in time and marketing of all kinds. I wanted to get the word out because I believed, and still do, that my book can change lives. So, I marketed like crazy that first year.
I believe in my book so much that I was willing to stretch myself to the limit in time and money to get the message out.
Which brings us to the next question your need to ask yourself…
9- Are you willing to put in time, money, and effort to market your book? Whether you have a huge audience or none at all – you will need to market your own book.
Only a very small percentage of authors don’t need to market their book anymore. Unless your name is John C. Maxwell or Stephen King, you will need to be willing to learn and do some marketing.
Writing a book is now a two-part process.
50% of the work is writing it, finding and publisher or self-publishing, and getting the book out.
50% Is getting the word out, making it stand out, and getting it known.
Marketing book is not like it used to be. Publishers don’t do much unless they know it will provide an insane ROI. So, that means it’s up to you.
It will take more time than you’re willing to give.
It will require more money than you’re willing to pay.
And it will take more effort than you expected.
Marketing your book comes with the territory when writing a book now.
You will learn to make great Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram ads.
You will learn to pitch your book to podcasters, reviewers, bloggers.
You will learn to contact book stores for book signings.
You will learn to weave clever copy to get people interested in your book.
Susan Cain, who wrote the bestselling Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, admitted in an interview that she had to learn to greatly get out of her comfort zone when she wrote the book in order to market it. Even her publisher had concerns at first. They asked her if she was willing to do this… and she did… and a life-changing bestseller was born.
You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone to market your book effectively.
You can only write a life-changing book if you are willing to change your own life first.
10- How will you feel if you never attempt to write — or fail to finish — this book? This one is very personal. You see, today, I gave you my two-cents. As much as I hope this will help you to determine if you should write a book for your business – the decision is ultimately your own.
Only you know how hot the desire burns inside you.
Only you know the message God has put on your heart.
Only you know how long it has been nagging at you.
Only you know how much regret you will have if you don’t do this.
And the last thing I want is for you to be discouraged.
Should you write a book for your business? Ultimately, only you can answer this question.
If you do have a desire to write this book, I urge you to do it! Get that message out!
Folks, those are just ten questions you need to ask yourself, and they are by no means exhaustive when it comes to writing a book.
Writing a book is a marathon. It will take hours upon hours and, in the end, it still won’t be as good as you wished.
And the frustrating part is that you will keep growing and learning after the book is out… but your book will stay the same.
Today, I really wanted you to approach this question with honesty and with a realistic outlook. But I do want you to leave reading this blog encouraged.
Every writer must begin somewhere. Every writer must begin to write. The best writers were once amateurs whose penmanship was mediocre. So, by all means, if there is a song in you that needs to come out through a book – start writing!
As Picasso once said: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” ― Pablo Picasso.
Dear friend, if you have a story to tell, a fire inside you that will consume you if you do not let it out, do the world a favor: write!