As a business professional, a published book can be one of the most powerful tools in your personal marketing arsenal. Not only does it deliver value to your readers by sharing what you know on a subject, you directly benefit, too.
It can elevate your profile as an authority on the topic you write about. It can reveal your passion. And if your book is really well-written, it also gives people a sense of what you’re like as a person, both on a personal and professional level.
But there are choices to make.
Your first choice: how do you want readers to feel about you when they read your book?
The voice you choose for your book is crucial. This isn’t about what you say: it’s about how you say it.
We live in an age now where likeability is a key ingredient that determines the business relationships you’re going to have.
Neuromarketing specialists will wisely point out that this has long been a key factor.
What’s changed, of course, is the amount of evidence available to your audience that helps them formulate their opinion on how likeable you are. Today, that amount is determined in large part by what you post, share, say and do online. That includes books, because it’s your thoughts in long form.
So voice matters. A good editor can help you with that.
Your next choice is about objectives.
Is your book meant primarily to be a profit centre or a lead generator? You want both, of course. We all do. But unless you’re Tony Robbins or someone else with a proven track record for book sales, you have to make a choice. Sorry, but it’s true.
If you do intend for your book to be a profit centre, then it’s important to keep in mind a few things. First, 70% of books published today don’t turn a profit. At 10:3, those are pretty lousy odds. And it gets worse of you’re considering publishing strictly as a hard-copy product (I’ll come back to that in a moment) via a publisher.
Risk is your next choice.
How much risk can you take on in your publishing venture? If you can handle more than an average level of risk and you’re adept at managing the entire buying cycle, then I recommend what I call the Bob Bly Method.
By the way, not only do I call it that because Bob’s a copywriting and publishing legend. It’s also because he was extremely generous in calling me directly the other day with thoughtful answers to my questions (thanks again, Bob!)
Bly publishes some of his material with large publishers, but only for topics that have a large potential audience. For niche topics (and let me tell you, this guy has a lot of niches), he publishes via his own publishing company, through which he manages the sale from start to finish. There’s an initial start-up investment to doing this, but that’s mostly a one-time cost that you pay down as you go.
The risk is 100% yours. But then so are the profits.
This takes us to the last of the initial choices you have to make when writing a book: format.
Paper or ebook? I’ve already shared with you some sobering facts about publishing via the let’s-cut-down-more-trees method.
These are tough times in that industry. So you can be pretty much assured that the days of book advances from publishers are behind us. Again, unless you’re Tony Robbins or some other publishing superhero.
My personal opinion here, as a professional writer, business owner and consumer: paper books don’t deliver good value to most authors or their readers anymore.
Ebooks are much faster to build and to bring to market. They’re easier to market and most definitely easier to sell as an impulse buy or as a free enticement.
You can still use the Bob Bly Method for ebooks if you can handle the risks that I’ve identified. You keep all the profits, but you must have a handle on everything over and above writing the thing. Or have someone who can do that for you.
A very important downside is that you don’t get the traffic that you would by publishing via the Big Three of epublishing today: Amazon, Kobo and Apple’s iBookstore.
On that point, it’s worth mentioning that in my recent phone conversation with Bob Bly, he explained that for him, he offsets that traffic by the fact that he can drive his existing, large readership to a landing page featuring copy that he controls. Can’t do that to anywhere near the same extent with Amazon, Kobo or iBooks. But then again, you need major copywriting talent (not to mention ecommerce expertise) to make this work for you.
Publishing your ebook with one or all of the Big Three means that you split each sale roughly 70-30%
In exchange for that 30% cut, they give you a proven platform to sell from, an existing traffic base to connect with and a format that has reasonable DRM features built-in. There are a few other nice little support features, but those are the big benefits.
One last thing. No matter which method you choose…and no matter which format you adopt, ebook marketing is going to be your next task.
But again, you can get help with that, too.