Should You REALLY Write That Book?

I can’t even count how many times I’ve been approached by would-be authors with a book idea, looking for feedback on how it could build their brand.

Your driving reason for writing a book is not to tell your story or explore your creative muse (although you’ll need to do both), but to drive your business.

The question you struggle with is this: should you dedicate hundreds of hours of your time researching, writing, editing—and let’s not forget marketing—your book? Is it the right investment for you?

Well here’s the rub. Before a book can drive ANY business your way, you have to add value to your audience. Clear, compelling value. Knowledge. Understanding. Maybe a little humor. Stories that resonate.

If you can’t meet that hurdle, spare yourself a lot of wasted agony. The last thing the crowded, over-saturated book marketplace needs is another big fat yawn.

But if you’ve clearly got something to say, well, the beauty of book-writing these days is that you can make a book pay for itself in a myriad of ways. You just need some clarity—not to mention a thoughtful plan—about how you’ll use your book as a fundamental part of your business.

Book as Business Card. This book is often the classic first book of experts, from financial advisors to PR mavens to health care gurus. You’re ready to be taken seriously and want to put your thought leadership front and center. This is a book that rarely sells more than a few thousand copies—in fact if you break 1,000 you’re doing better than average. So don’t make this decision thinking you’ll recoup your time investment on book sales.

This might be for you if:

  • You’re in the early years of growing your business and you’re looking for a credential to share with prospects and speaking opportunities.
  • You want to expand your bricks and mortar, locally-delivered services into digital leads, selling and perhaps delivery (remember you can repurpose book content to use in many other ways on various platforms).
  • You’re still working for someone else, but want to pave the way for a future shift (easier to book-write when you’re not stressed about paying the bills).
  • You plan to stay employed, but want to spread your ideas beyond the relatively small group of clients—internal and external—you currently serve.

Book as Social Proof. This book positions you as an expert in a niche AND serves as entrée to your speaking, workshops or programs. You could sell 10,000+ copies, as Tim Grahl did in a highly personal email campaign that delivered thousands of potential workshop participants to his “Instant Bestseller” series. Or you could build a digital audience of 100,000 as Jeff Goins accomplished with his “You Are A Writer”. Oh and he also transformed that audience into a 7-figure and counting “Tribe Writers” course for aspiring writers.

This might be for you if:

  • You have deep expertise in your niche and dearly love to teach it. That teaching could take the form of workshops, speaking and digital programs where you deliver your brand of savvy on various platforms.
  • You have real clarity and insight into your audience. You know their triggers and can write as though you’re speaking directly to them.
  • You’re ready to build a digital platform, including using social media to drive future clients and buyers to your virtual doorstep. The beauty of Book as Social Proof is that you don’t have to start with a built-in audience—you can grow it as you build your content.
  • You’re willing to laser focus on your expertise—go deep and be THE expert, willing to invest the time and energy to be ahead of the curve and, occasionally, take on the pretenders-to-the-throne. This also has the side-benefit of making you like catnip to the media.

Book as Solidifier. This book is almost an after-thought, typically written after you’ve ALREADY achieved some fame and plenty of revenue for your expertise. The goal is normally to introduce a wider audience to what has been a high price point service or product. Jeff Walker, the creator of Product Launch Formula is an excellent example. He built a multi-million dollar highly successful on-line business—typical price point: $2,000—but wrote a $10 book that encapsulates much of his thinking (and made the NY Times Bestseller List). Exposing his ideas to a wider audience gave him a whole new pool of potential prospects for his programs.

This might be for you if:

  • Your goal is to expand your reach beyond your typical buying audience.
  • Your goal transcends money (if it was only about money, you could make more of that by plowing your book-writing hours into your core business). It’s really about influence. You want to direct the conversation in your niche in new ways, building a bigger platform.

Book as Game-Changer. This book is the big kahuna—the one everybody strives for. It’s the breakthrough that allows you to do anything from speaking to inventing deep business models that leverage your talents best. Timing helps, but don’t kid yourself. The folks that have been successful in this arena not only work hard at their craft, they tend to be unwaveringly focused on creating value for their core audience. Think Dan Pink, Seth Godin, Tom Peters or Michael Port of “Book Yourself Solid” fame.

This might be for you if:

  • You’re writing for an audience you can almost feel—it’s just that visceral.
  • You can dedicate the time (and the money if you’re self-publishing) to do this right.
  • You have an established platform—email list, social media, media contacts in your niche—or are going to make a concurrent commitment to build a well-constructed one.
  • You are willing to work with an editor who won’t always tell you what you want to hear, but will make your work 10 times better than it was without her.
  • You understand that marketing your book begins when you’re writing it, not when you’re done.
  • You already have a business model that allows you to fully exploit the success of your book OR are ready to create one.

Writing your book—launching your ideas out into the universe—is an exciting, fascinating, soul-stirring time. By all means, fully embrace the process.

Just know that if your goal is to create a book that sells—whether you measure it in copies sold or revenue from your other services and products—creating the right strategic plan BEFORE you commit is an excellent investment.


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