So you've written a book... but how do you actually use it to grow your business?
A book is a business card on steroids.
It’s the difference between the entrepreneurs who get highly paid speaking gigs and those who have to beg, plead and hustle to run workshops for free.
It’s why some entrepreneurs compete on price and others charge five times the industry average and still have a six-month waiting list.
Yes, writing a book has its perks – it positions you as an expert, gives you negotiating power, educates the market and presells your prospects.
But there’s a catch…
None of that happens on its own.
The day after you write a book, your inbox is not going to be flooded with interview requests from journalists. You won’t have an automatic influx of new clients who are eager to pay you ridiculous rates. And event managers won’t be calling you to fly you first class to exotic locations to run high-end retreats.
And the Ferrari that was supposed to be waiting in the driveway with a red bow on it? Unless you already had the Ferrari before you wrote your book, it’s unlikely to have materialized just because you got published.
The problem is that so many entrepreneurs think that, just because they’ve written a book, all of the business opportunities they want will magically come flooding in.
After all, that’s how we sell the dream:
‘Become a published author and your revenue will increase 300%, you’ll get featured on national TV and the biggest brands in your industry will be happy to fund the next stage of business growth.’
I know – I’m just as guilty as anyone else in the entrepreneur publishing space. I’ve written articles and given talks about the power of publishing to transform your business, and I’ve seen clients who have experienced incredible success as a result of publishing their books.
But the truth is it’s not about the book.
Yes, you need to write a good book. You need to choose the right idea, and it needs to be professionally produced. But even if you get that right, if you don’t know how to use your book to grow your business.
If you don’t know how to leverage your book, it’s going to be about as useful as any other business card or brochure that’s stuck in a drawer.
No one will see it. No one will get value from it. No one will learn about your business from it. And no one will buy your products and services as a result.
Instead, all you’ll have is hundreds of books stacked in your garage, and an investment of thousands that hasn’t paid off.
So what should you do instead?
As an entrepreneur, how can you write, publish and leverage a book so that it will grow your business by 20%, 30%, 50%, even 300%, rather than just becoming an expensive paperweight?
To find out, I brought in the experts. I reached out to over 20 entrepreneurs and authors who have either successfully leveraged a book to skyrocket their own business success, or have coached others in how they can do just that.
I asked each of these experts the following question:
What is your #1 tip on using a book to grow your business?
This article shares their best advice gained from hitting the bestseller lists, building multi-million dollar businesses and establishing themselves as thought leaders.
Long post warning!
This article covers the top tips from over 20 entrepreneurs on how to use a book to drive business success. With all of this knowledge to share, this article is a long one, clocking in at over 5,000 words.
If you don’t have the time to read if right now, you can download a free PDF version to read at your leisure, and you’ll also get access to our ultimate guide to writing an awesome book which includes free interviews, webinars, booklets and more to kickstart your journey as an author.
Who are these experts? Here’s a full list:
Joel Friedlander | Jeff Goins | Jesse Krieger | Josh Steimle | Benjamin Hardy | David Hancock | Matthew Gartland | Mohit Pawar | Austen Allred | Mark Lack | Charlie Hoehn | Mike Michalowicz | Tom Corson-Knowles | Michael Hanrahan | Angela Lauria | Tom Morkes | Tyler Basu | Derek Doepker | Marian Hartsough | Jacqui Pretty
Once your book is published, remember to always refer to yourself in biographies, signature lines, and profiles as an author who is an "expert" on your subject. Your book will become the ultimate door opener for you, allowing you to enhance your authority in your field.
This can make a surprising difference in how you are perceived by others. As an author, you are the "person who wrote the book" and you should emphasize that perception as vigorously as you can.
Never forget that it takes initiative and hard work to actually publish a book, and that's why many of your colleagues, competitors, and peers haven't done it. But you have, so take the position of expert authority, and that book will pay off for you in a big way.
Joel Friedlander is a book designer, blogger and the author of A Self-Publisher’s Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish. He is the proprietor of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, a publishing services company that has helped launch many self-publishers since 1994.
Create a Facebook group to interact with readers of your book, then listen to them!
Jeff Goins is the author of four books including the national bestseller, The Art of Work. He publishes new articles on his blog and records podcasts two to three times per week, hoping to continually serve his readers.
My #1 tip for using a book to grow your business is to have crystal clarity on what your readers will want to do or know next. By having an understanding on where your book fits into the overall trajectory of your reader’s life and growth, then you can position your deeper-engagement, higher-priced offerings as the logical next step for your reader to take.
For example, with my book Lifestyle Entrepreneur, I knew that if readers came away from the book believing that a lifestyle of travel, freedom and opportunity is possible, and that an online business structured to be run from anywhere in the world is the way to achieve that, then working with me to train them how to build that business is the next logical step, based on their commitment level to their goals.
In another example, we published a book called Launch Your Business by Rosetta Thurman and planned the book launch around her live event by the same name. Now the book becomes a feeder to her future live events, where she enrols long-term coaching clients into her masterminds.
Jesse Krieger is an international bestselling author and the founder of Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press. He has signed two publishing deals on two different continents and has navigated the world of becoming a bestselling author - twice. It has been his honor to work with 100+ authors from around the world to achieve their dreams of writing and publishing a book.
Start utilizing your book as a marketing tool way before it's published. I run a digital marketing agency. We sell services to marketers at all levels, including chief marketing officers.
My book Chief Marketing Officers at Work includes interviews with 29 CMOs from companies like PayPal, Target, Spotify, GE, and The Home Depot.
From the day I made the first call to get the first interview with the first CMO I was already using my book as a marketing tool, because I knew there was a chance that CMO might be interested in my agency.
The same goes for all the other CMOs I contacted for the book (I had to contact a lot more than 29 to get 29 interviews). But that was just the tip of the iceberg, and if I never get a lead from one of the interviewees that's just fine.
I've used research from the book to create a full list of Fortune 500 CMOs which I posted on my blog and in a CMO group on LinkedIn where it has attracted thousands of views and hundreds of comments. The one post has been consistently getting over 2,000 views per month by itself. I then did some simple analysis on that list and found out that Fortune 500 companies with a CMO perform 15% better, on average, than companies without one, and that became another blog post that has become popular.
I've taken excerpts from my book and turned those excerpts into articles that are getting published on Forbes, Inc, CMO.com, and other outlets. I'm pushing promotion of the book on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I'm working the speaking circuit and am already getting paid to come talk about my experiences writing the book and what I learned from all these top notch CMOs.
And as I write this, the book isn't even out yet! These are just a few simple examples of how to market your book for your benefit before the book is out. The message here is that it's never too early to start.
Josh Steimle is speaker, writer, and entrepreneur. He has written over 200 articles for publications like Forbes, Mashable, TechCrunch, Entrepreneur, and Time, and is the author of Chief Marketing Officers at Work: How Top Marketers Build Customer Loyalty. He is the CEO of MWI, a digital marketing firm he founded in 1999 with offices in Hong Kong and the U.S, and is the director of the Hong Kong chapter of Startup Grind.
I wrote an e-book and used it as a free giveaway. At the end of each article I wrote, I invited readers to subscribe to my free newsletter by letting them know they'd get my free e-book as a result.
13 months ago, I had zero blog subscribers. Now I have over 40,000.
Many people who read my e-book loved it and have since become high paying consulting clients.
Benjamin P. Hardy is the author of Slipstream Time Tracking: How To Cheat Time, Live More And Enhance Happiness. His writing has been featured in Fortune, Fast Company, Psychology Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, New York Observer, Thought Catalog, and others.
It's not how much one can make from the book, but because of it. The book enables you to charge more and negotiate less for your product or service.
Own the credibility it gives you and become the authority the audience now sees you as.
David L. Hancock founded Morgan James Publishing in 2003. A mortgage banker at the time, he had written a book and been less than thrilled with the conventional book publishing process—yet pleasantly surprised by the immense power of publishing a book. Morgan James has become the first hybrid publisher to blend the strength of traditional publishing with the flexibility of self-publishing.
Branding is an important consideration for nonfiction authors. When you write a nonfiction book, you’re putting yourself forward as an authority on that topic. It’s important that you’re comfortable associating yourself and your business with this topic.
Before you finalize your topic selection, ask yourself if you’re willing to speak on it (and have your business associated with it) for the next several years. This is an especially important question if you're planning to give your book a clever or cutesy title. Clever and cute are welcome, but you also want to make sure you're comfortable with being associated with a title that has the potential of associating you and your brand with something that can be construed as a catchphrase.
Make sure you’re comfortable being “the Horse Whisperer” for your entire professional career.
Matthew Gartland is the CEO and Executive Publisher at Winning Edits. He specializes in digital content development at the nexus of web technologies, business thinking, editorial strategy, storytelling, and modern publishing. By spirit, Matthew is a producer with an almost ungovernable impulse to make things good, and to make good things better.
Make sure that your prospective customers see it. If they like it, they will see you as someone who is knowledgeable about a particular topic and someone they can trust with their business and money.
Here is how I make sure that right people see my book in different scenarios.
When speaking at a conference:
Before my talk begins, I get the organizer or host to talk about my book a bit. Then I offer a copy of the book as a prize for the most engaged member of the audience. This gets almost everyone in the room excited about the talk and the book.
Those who want the book but don't win, end up buying a copy. If you try this, make sure that you or a colleague carries some extra copies for potential sales and your website is ready to greet those who visit.
Before a meeting:
I get on the phone for a discovery call. During this call, I talk a bit about my book and offer to send it across. I send it to those who take me up on this offer, before the meeting. With this approach, you will not have to invest a lot of time in trust building. Instead of seeing you as one of the service providers they will see you as someone who is knowledgeable about the topic of discussion. Because of this, the discussion will move straight to the business and exchange of value, without a lot of probing from the client.
When hanging out in public places or while on a plane:
I pull my book out and put it where others can see it. Your book cover is really important here. So invest in a good book cover because people do judge a book by it’s cover. Once people ask you about the book and you get talking, see if the person is the right fit for your business. If she is then you can exchange contact info and send a copy of the book.
Not long back, I was hanging out in a cafe and met this famous business person. She runs a global business with presence in 138 countries. We started talking and she gifted me her biography. I gifted her my book. About a month after this chance meetup, I got an email from her chief of marketing to meet for coffee. We met and discussed business. This should turn into a potential revenue stream of about $30,000 over next 12 months.
As per my estimates, if you give your book to the right people you will get 1 deal out of 50 copies given away. At $8 per book it will cost you $400 and net your anywhere between $1500 - $15,000. This is a superb ROI.
Not every book you gift or giveaway will turn into a business deal but some will and that’s enough. Remember, this does not end at you giving the book away. Even when you do not get the deal instantly, keep the relationship going. It may take some time before you win.
Above all, write a good book. If you are a busy entrepreneur who needs to focus on growing the business, take the help of experts like Grammar Factory. If you do it right, you will laugh your way to the bank.
Mohit Pawar is an author, blogger and entrepreneur. He is the author of “India 2014” with Derek Sivers and recently wrote “The Digital Marketing Handbook”. He runs a digital marketing agency and helps fellow entrepreneurs achieve success in his spare time.
The best way to gain traction for your book (and your business) is the same: To provide value. If you create something that is actually useful it ends up going to the top of every forum and social network.
As far as a book goes it's really simple - release incredibly valuable content slowly over time. People will link to you, read you, and slowly but surely you'll become a brand name. When you do that, you grow your email list and a following. I like to think of it as building equity in the Internet the same way you would in paying off a mortgage.
Eventually you reach a tipping point where you don't have to pay the mortgage anymore and it just starts coming back to you every month.
Austen Allred is the author of Secret Sauce, senior growth manager at LendUp and co-founder of Grasswire.
My #1 tip for using a book to grow your business in the "expert" industry is to think of the book as a lead magnet. Meaning it is used to generate you leads so the book will likely be given away for free, or sold for a low price. The intention of the book is to add lots of value that leads to the reader taking action that leads to a benefit.
Throughout the book there should be call to actions that offer the reader more valuable free content and training; you can think of these as doorways to your product offers.
Someone who enjoys your book and benefits from it, will probably take action if you provide them more valuable free content. And this is how to build a relationship and nurture this reader, and hope fully turn them into a customer/client.
Think of a book as a tool which is designed to generate leads at a low acquisition cost.
Mark Lack is a sought-after speaker, peak-performance coach, and bestselling author of Shorten The Gap: Shortcuts To Success And Happiness.
Before I fully committed to writing Play It Away, I wanted to see how my audience would respond.
The “How I Cured My Anxiety” post went up six months ago, and immediately took off — hit the #1 search result on Google for “cure anxiety,” averaging 900 visitors per day, etc. (I couldn’t have hit #1 on Google organically if I didn’t have a well-established, 5-year old blog). After the post got some traction, I embedded a sign up form at the bottom of the post, asking readers to fill out a brief survey.
I asked if they were interested in buying a full book on the topic, what format they wanted it in, what would make the book worthwhile, and their email address.
Within one week, I had more than 100 readers signed up. In two months, over 1,000 people have signed up. Finally, to ensure my book had the potential to sell for a long time, I looked up Google Trends data on “cure anxiety”. The demand has been steadily increasing for years, and with all the recent news pieces I’ve come across on anxiety and loneliness, I suspect the timing for this book is ideal.
The lesson? Creating a great product is really hard and time-consuming, and it will be extremely painful if you make something that no one wants to buy.Confirm that there’s strong demand AND strong intent to purchase for whatever you plan on making beforehand.
If people aren’t biting, either re-position your product, find a category with stronger demand, find a niche that’s ready to buy, or go back to the drawing board. You MUST validate your idea before you make it!
Charlie Hoehn is the author of Play It Away and Recession Proof Graduate. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and has created several e-courses. Learn more about how he marketed his books here.
The biggest tip, hands down, is to put everything you know and every ounce of your soul into your book. Some aspiring authors feel that the book should be a teaser for sales of services or other products. That is a mistake. Write a book that stands on its own; a book that delivers all of your knowledge and empowers your reader. That is a book that will market itself.
Mike Michalowicz is an American author, entrepreneur, and lecturer. He is the author of the business books Surge, Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal.
Draw readers in with video.
If you're writing a non-fiction book, chances are your readers want even more information from you after they're done reading. Create a few free videos where you walk them through what you explained in your book.
Readers will love it, and it will give them a reason to connect with you on your website and outside the book.
Tom Corson-Knowles is an entrepreneur, blogger and international bestselling author. He started his first business at age 13 and has authored more than 20 bestselling books including The Kindle Publishing Bible, Schedule Your Success, Rules of the Rich, and Email Marketing Mastery.
Be active and targeted. Your book is an extremely powerful tool for leveraging, opening doors, making connections, attracting clients, gaining publicity, building your profile – I could go on and on (and I often do). But these things don't happen by themselves.
Being active means you don't just stare at the boxes of books in the corner of your office and wait for it magically happen. Start planning in the months before your book comes out, so you're ready when it comes in.
Targeting what you're doing means giving thought to each book you send out. First-time authors sometimes get so excited they jump all over the place trying to grab every opportunity. That's not going to be productive. You only have so many hours in a day, so use your time and energy wisely.
Michael Hanrahan is the Director of Publishing at Michael Hanrahan Publishing. He has worked with many best-selling authors, and has experience in publishing, writing, editing and design for a wide range of clients, including Oxford University Press, Australian Book Review, Bystander Press, Southern Cross Care (Vic), Overland, RMIT Publishing, John Wiley & Sons Australia, Random House and the Australian Institute of Family Studies.
Choosing your book topic is one of the most important steps in the process of writing a book. Get this one wrong and there is no amount of marketing that an make up for it. There is no editor you can hire who can or will change your topic. There is no cover designer who can solve a badly chosen book topic with a great design.
No amount of marketing can get a book with a badly chosen topic into enough hands to make the difference the author wants it to make. You can’t invest your way out of it. The short answer is that more than 50% of your success is determined by how well you choose your topic.
To pick the right topic, you must know what you want to get out
of your book before you write it!
Many people feel called to write a book but they aren’t sure what they want from the experience. They tell me they want to have written a book – but why? Let’s say you wrote a book, it was published and not a single other human ever read it.
Would that be enough? For a few of our clients the answer is yes – but very, very few! Most people want to write a book for it to be read. But wanting it to be read isn’t enough unless you are really into playing the lottery. Yes, some books get magically discovered, but the great majority don’t. So the way those authors get their books into people’s hands is with something called a “back-end” on their books.
Your back-end is how you will fund getting your message out to the world. That means you need to know how you will generate the revenue to promote your book BEFORE you write it. Generally this is with speaking, coaching, consulting, teaching or through donations. If you try to write a book that does all of those things, your efforts will be diffused and you will likely get none of them.
If you focus your energy on getting a book to do one thing for you, you actually get many other side benefits. The clarity of your intention for your book is essential to picking your topic. If you don’t know why you are writing a book, you will almost certainly pick the wrong topic.
Dr. Angela E. Lauria is the founder of The Author Incubator™ and creator of the Difference Process™ for writing a book that matters. Helping entrepreneurs free their inner author since 1994, Angela has created almost 200 bestselling authors in the last 2 years. Her clients have been seen everywhere from Vanity Fair to O Magazine to the Today Show.
A book is almost necessarily a loss leader. That is to say: if you're selling just one book, whether through a traditional publisher, or as a $0.99 self-published project, the amount of books you need to sell is so great you may never make a significant amount of money.
Yet while a book won't make much money by itself, it's still far and away the best medium for spreading a message. That means don't focus on profit from book sales - this is the worst place to put your attention - but on the entire system and sales funnel you can (and should) build around your book to generate new leads and sales for high ticket items (courses, speaking engagements, in person workshops, etc).
Tom Morkes is the founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing. From bestsellers and chart toppers to crowdfunded success stories, he has helped launch countless books. Prior to entering the publishing sphere, he was an officer in the US Army. To put it simply, he loves bringing worthwhile art into existence.
One of the keys to making a book launch successful (and profitable!) is the ability to contact your readers after they purchase your book. When you sell your book on Amazon, for example, you have no way of knowing who that customer is or how to contact them. For that reason, I recommend directing people to an independent sales page for your book (one that asks for their email address) before directing them to Amazon.
You could also offer a supplementary free resource from inside your book that can be claimed by visiting a specific page on your website. Obtaining the email address of your readers enables you to stay in touch with them, continue building a relationship with them, and offer them additional products or services that supplement the material in your book.
Tyler Basu is the author of several books, including the #1 Amazon bestseller Lifestyle Business Blueprint. He is also the publisher of Lifestyle Business Magazine, a digital magazine for lifestyle entrepreneurs that has paved the way for a successful podcast by the same name.
The #1 tip I have for using a book to grow your business to is use the book to connect on a deeper, personal level with potential customers. It's commonly said we do business with those we know, like, and trust. A book is your opportunity to share your voice, your expertise, and just as important your personality. The more I've been able to be vulnerable and share personal experiences through my books, the more I attract clients I want to work with.
We live in an age where anyone can google whatever information they want. Realize that when someone buys your book, they're not buying information, they're buying your perspective. In other words, they're not buying what you say, but how you say it.
No one will be able to express a message the same way you can, so be sure to develop and express your voice in your writing. Your experience and your expression of it can be the ultimate unique selling proposition for your business.
Derek Doepker is the #1 Amazon Bestselling author of Why Authors Fail, and several other books. Derek leads hands-on training workshops, courses and retreats to teach authors how to turn their passion for writing into a sustainable business. Readers can get a free copy of Why Authors Fail here.
Publishing a book is one of the best ways to promote your business and has the potential to open so many doors for you. Having a book gives you instant authority status and increases your perceived value, which makes it easier to get interviews, speaking engagements, and higher-value clients. Using your book as a sales tool is a great way to pre-screen prospects and educate them on what services you provide.
Before you publish, one of the first things you want to do is determine your goals. Do you want to go after the dream of being a bestselling author or do you primarily want to increase your business? While you can do both, it’s best to analyze what will have the greatest impact.
Getting to bestseller status is a lot of work and can potentially cost quite a bit as you would likely need a publicist, support staff, and good marketing plan. How much time do you have to take away from your core business to become a publisher? Or is it more important to get your book into the hands of a select group who are hungry for your service or product?
The second thing you want to do is analyze the lifetime value of your customer. It could be hundreds or it could be thousands of dollars. How many books would you need to sell to reach the value of one good customer, client, or patient? If you self-publish, your profit per book might be a couple of bucks, if that, taking into account amortized production costs, printing, and marketing. If your goal is to get your book into as many hands as possible, view your book as an advertising cost and give it away.
Thirdly, you should consider that you are not marketing a book, you are marketing yourself. You are the product. You are the focus. Your book is to some extent a prop.
Lastly, no matter how good the content of your book is and no matter how much value it will give your prospect, it needs to look good. If people perceive that your book looks cheap or amateurish, they won’t even pick it up to realize what great content is inside. You want to hire professionals; this is not the time to do it yourself. You need a trained copy editor, a seasoned designer, and a cover designer who knows print production. Your book needs to stand up to industry standards.
Marian co-authored Publishing for Publicity: How to Promote Your Business with a Book with Roy Rasmussen. She is a publishing consultant and owns a book production service specializing in editing, design, and print production, working with small business owners and entrepreneurs. publishingforpublicity.com
Successfully growing your business with a book comes down to two things – having a premium product, and making sure the right people know about it.
Ensuring your book is a premium product starts with choosing the right idea. Is it something your target readers care about? Does it solve a problem or help them achieve a goal? And is it an area where you can provide valuable advice based on your knowledge, skills and experience?
The next step is making it look like a quality product. Is the cover professionally designed? Has it been professionally edited, both on a structural level as well as on a language level? Is it printed on high-quality paper?
Finally, you need to get it in front of the right people, which means you need to know who they are (How old are they? Are they entrepreneurs or employees? Are they male or female? How much do they earn? What are they interested in? Are they married or single? Do they have children? Etc) and where to find them (Which social networks do they use? Which events do they attend? Which magazines and newspapers do they read? Which podcasts and radio stations do they listen to?).
Once you know who they are and where to find them, you can start getting your book and business in front of them through advertising, podcast interviews, guest posting, attending events and more.
Jacqui Pretty is the Founder and Head Editor at Grammar Factory, an editing company that helps entrepreneurs write awesome books! grammarfactory.com
Where to from here?
At this stage you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of information in this article. I get it – it’s a lot to process!
If you’re in this space then I’d:
- 1Bookmark this page so you can come back to it in future
- 2Just choose one piece of advice to get started
If you just implement one piece of advice, you’ll be way ahead of the 90% of entrepreneurs who write books, and then have no idea what to do with them.
Once that tip has become a regular part of your book and business marketing routine, add another tip to the mix. And then another – it only takes a couple to make a measureable difference.
What if you try something and it doesn’t get you the results you wanted? That’s perfect – at least you know!
If something doesn’t work, then set it aside and move onto the next tip – there are over 20 here for you to choose from!
Finally, share your experiences in the comments. What worked for you and what didn’t? Do you have any additional tips you’d like to add to the mix? I’d love to hear them!
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Thanks so much for including me in this awesome roundup. And great advice, to pick just one piece of advice and put it into action, that’s how you make real change.