As promised in yesterday’s Launch Content About Launch Content, today we’re going to talk about why you might want to write a book.
Now, before we begin, let’s talk about what kind of book we’re talking about here.
For now, and for the remainder of this series, when I say “book”, I’m referring to a specific type of book. I’m referring to what’s colloquially called a “calling card book”.
A calling card book is the book you write, on the topic of your expertise, that establishes you as an authority and an expert.
While it does many other cool things, it’s DESIGNED to prove you’re a pro.
Yes, it also gets a foot in the door for speaking gigs. Yes, you’ll also get new clients and buyers. Yes, you’ll finally have something to link to for the rest of your life. Yes, you’ll have something to talk about when your crazy bat of an aunt asks you what you’re up to these days.
Those are all true.
But its primary function is the establishment of expertise.
Depending on your industry, this can take on many different forms.
Sometimes, it’s a pure knowledge book. You take a bunch of stuff you know, put it in a logical order, and slap a cover on that baby. That’s the usual method.
But if you’re in a different kind of industry, you can do it other ways. If you run a cooking blog, a cookbook would be the logical choice here.
If you run a knitting podcast (?!), it could be a pattern book. But it could also be what’s called “narrative nonfiction”. (Like a memoir or story on the topic of Knitting And Stuff.)
It could even be resource or encyclopedia style. (Luca Turin’s Perfumes: The A-Z Guide is just a few lines of his HIGHLY biased opinion on a bunch of different perfumes, and it’s a master work.)
So there’s a ton of ways you can write a calling card book, and no matter what your style, preference, or ability, there’s a way we can make a calling card book work for your situation.
The one thing that is consistent is that the topic of your book is related, however loosely, to your area of expertise.
We’ll move on.
7 Things You’ll Get From Writing A Book, And 3 You Almost Definitely Won’t
As I said yesterday, for everyone who knows they want to write a book, there are half a dozen more who are unsure if it’s right for them. (Or right for them at this time. Or the best use of their time right now.)
Some people are in the position professionally that their lack of book-with-a-capital-B has become embarrassingly conspicuous. For those people, yes, now would be a good time. You guys can just go back to your coffee. I’ll see yo in class. It starts on the 5th
But for others, it’s not so clear cut.
There have been a ton of changes in the way your potential customers and clients consume content, and the book industry has been turned on its head. Is a book still a thing? Will it have value for me as a business owner? Will it be worth the effort?
So, if you might be in that camp, here are some things to consider.
First, to clear up some misconceptions and establish expectations, I’ll tell you straight up what a book is NOT going to give you. Then we’ll move to the fun stuff of what it WILL give you.
The Things It Ain’t Gonna Do
1. You will not make money from book sales.
The sales of the book itself will not make you any appreciable money. If they do, it will be a happy accident.
However you sell your book – via a traditional publisher, a new hybrid publisher, or self-publishing – you’re just not going to make any real money.
If you sell a thousand copies, and you make a few bucks a copy, you make $2,000.
Granted, $2,000 is not nothing. But it is about the worst return on investment I can imagine.
If you were to put a tip jar on your website, you would make more money.
If you were to sign up for Patreon, you would make more money.
If you were to make a 10-page checklist and sell it for $7, you would make more money.
We do not write books to make a little money off the books. We write books to make a ton of money other ways.
(Note: There are exceptions. One of my clients has a 60-pager on Amazon and it’s bringing her about $800 a month. Awesome, yes. But don’t ever count on it.)
2. You will not get access to bookstores.
If you’re anything like me, you have dreams – possibly dreams you don’t talk about in public – of seeing your book in bookstores.
When I was young, I had two box sets of books, and I used to read them, straight through, back to back, for years. (Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie, in case you’re interested.) I used to look at the author’s name and dream of seeing my name on the spine of a book in a bookstore. I used to dream about book signings. I used to imagine that if I was really prolific, I’d get a whole shelf.
Yeah, for all practical purposes, those days are gone. Realistically, they were gone before I was even born.
If, via some means or another, your book ends up in bookstores, that is FABULOUS. Let me know and I’ll go buy one, in person, the old-fashioned way, and I’ll tell everyone around that I know the author. I will blush and squeal for you.
But don’t count on it.
Don’t let the amazing process of creating a book be tainted by wishing the world were different than it is. Embrace what is true NOW.
(Note: Again, there are exceptions. Many of my clients and colleagues are in bookstores. It could happen. But I want you thinking of making an awesome book, not seeing your name in lights. DO NOT DISTRACT YOURSELF FROM BEING AWESOME.)
3. You will not have an opportunity to sell stuff.
In this case, I’m going to contradict myself a little bit.
Your book will almost definitely lead to an increase in sales of the other things you have for sale. Done right, it will be significant. Done well, and it will be mind-blowing.
So, yes. You WILL make sales as a result of your book, and we’ll talk about that more in a few moments.
But you will not be doing any SELLING.
That’s not what a book is for. A book is not an opportunity to do any active selling. The internet is awash with scathing, blistering one-star reviews of otherwise decent books, trashed because they’re “one big sales pitch.”
Yeah, we’re not going to sell in our books.
We’re going to make it VERY easy to buy. But we’re not selling nuthin’.
So that’s what we won’t get. Shall we move on to what we will get?
There are a lot of really cool benefits that come from writing a book, far too many and diverse to list here.
BUT! Here’s a list of the 7 things a book will give you better than anything else. These are the seven things that books are best in the world at.
1. Invitations – podcasts, interviews, speaking gigs, guest posts, and so on.
This is simple and doesn’t need much explanation.
There are two types of people in the Subject Matter Expert arena.
There are people who OBVIOUSLY know what they’re talking about.
And there are people who MIGHT know what they’re talking about.
Writing a book means people will invariably assume, forever, that you’re in the obvious camp.
Now, writing a book doesn’t make you an expert. Plenty of morons write books. But it makes people assume you’re an expert, which gets your foot in the door.
Whether you’re actively pitching guest posts, podcasts, speaking gigs, and so on, or you’re introvertedly waiting for the world to beat a path to your door, YOUR BOOK WILL SAVE YOUR ASS.
And besides… which sounds cooler?
Sally Hogshead blogs at blah.com.
Sally Hogshead is the author of Fascinate: blah blah blah.
2. Sales – direct.
I’ve divided sales into two categories. Direct sales means sales that can be obviously attributed to the reading of the book.
If you read my book, and in passing, I talk about The 1-Hour Content Plan, and you buy it, that’s a direct sale.
If you read my book… and I talk about The One-Hour Content Plan… and you check it out… and you don’t want it… but you click around… and you look at the coaching page… and you get in touch for a Hopes and Dreams call… and you eventually buy coaching instead? That’s still a direct sale.
If you’re reading my book… and you forget your Kindle at home… and you’re thinking about it on the train… and you go to my website from your phone… and you poke around… and you find a blog post… and the blog post links to Product in a Weekend… and you buy it? That’s STILL a direct sale.
Yeah, you don’t have to sell a lot of books to make a lot of money.
3. Sales – indirect.
On the other hand, books are extremely efficient at selling indirectly. Indirect sales means sales that indirectly result from your book’s existence.
This is harder to grasp, but it’s actually more common.
Let’s say I see you, and I see your book. The book looks… I don’t know… good enough? Sufficiently credible? If we were giving your book a report card, let’s say it’s “satisfactory” or better?
But, for whatever perfectly valid reason, I don’t want to read your book. Maybe it’s for beginners and I’m advanced. Maybe it’s advanced and I’m a beginner. Maybe I hate reading. Maybe I have a To Be Read pile that’s taller than most residential apartment buildings. Maybe I just had eye surgery.
There are TONS of reasons I might want to not buy your book.
But the EXISTENCE of your book influences me sufficiently that I give you money some other way – today, soon, or later.
Mark Schaefer has six books, one of which is The Content Code. By all accounts, people seem to like it. Am I going to buy it? Hell no, I’m not going to buy it. I need another inbound marketing book like I need a fish needs a double-wide.
But I might buy something else, and there is a 100% that the something else I buy from you has a much higher purchase price than the book did.
4. Legitimate self-confidence – the ultimate impostor syndrome vaccine.
Impostor syndrome has two core fears at its root:
One, that you are a fraud who doesn’t know what you’re talking about.
Two, that people will find out. (And that everything will come crashing down as a result.)
When you write a book – a real, actual book – you have hard, physical proof that those two core fears don’t match up with reality. You can see for yourself, in physical (or digital) form, that you DO know what you’re talking about. Because you WROTE A BOOK about it.
That takes care of the second fear, too. You don’t have to worry about getting “caught”, because there’s nothing to catch. In fact, the opposite happens – you get to feel MORE confident when people investigate your book. Hell, you might even invite people to do so. A lot.
You can guess what that will do for your self-confidence overall.
Of course, it’s not a magic wand. You’ll still FEEL like you suck sometimes. But a book is really handy for proving that you don’t.
For the fuss we make about referrals in the business and marketing industry, they’re actually pretty hard to give. We, as people, often don’t know what to say. How do we refer? What do we refer? What’s the call to action?
There are a few experts I really like that talk about ADHD. My favorite is a guy who created a taxonomy of ADHD motivation. It’s REALLY cool. I can never remember his name. I have to Google it every time I want to tell someone about it.
The others are Daniel Amen, author of Healing ADD, and Ari Tuckman, author of Understand Your Brain, Get More Done.
When I’m trying to tell someone to check out a resource, it’s a hell of a lot easier to do it WHEN THERE IS A RESOURCE. It gives me something to tell people to do.
As a coach, I talk to an average of four clients a day. Three of those usually involve at least one expert recommendation. I gotta tell you, it’s a whole lot easier to tell someone to read a book than pretty much anything else.
“You should check him out” results in “Wow, thanks.”
“You should read their book” results in, “OK, I will.”
Plus, books are cheap. It doesn’t feel weird to tell someone to buy a book.
6. Significant list growth.
The biggest barrier to getting someone on your list is getting them to invest enough time to consider it. People are busy and surrounded by wannabe experts giving lukewarm advice and making obscene promises.
We’re surrounded by content. We just can’t bring ourselves to care or invest.
If they have your book, through any means, they’ve already cared and they’ve already invested.
Yes, books can be a cool way to get people on a mailing list directly. Cool resources in your appendix, little freebie libraries, quizzes and questionnaires – they’re all good ways to build your list from your book itself.
But if nothing else, you’ll get more traffic, more social engagement, and more name recognition. If you NEVER make a call to action in your book, you’ll still get a hell of a lot more signups.
7. On-page credibility, time on site, and improved calls-to-action.
Regardless of what your revenue goals are, as an ittybiz owner, there are plenty of things you want people to do. You want them to follow you, or like or retweet or favorite a social media post. You want them to click through to read a blog post. You want them to check out your services page.
At its most basic, you want them to stay on you – your LinkedIn profile, your article, your website, your whatever.
A highly visible book makes every one of those things more likely.
I see you on LinkedIn and it says you’re a nutrition coach? Meh.
I see you on LinkedIn and it says you’re the author of How To Eat Stuff? Guess what! You’re now about 52 times more credible, and therefore interesting.
Credibility makes people a lot more inclined to hang around you and do the stuff you want them to do.
Our culture has made authorhood the very highest echelon of credibility.
To my knowledge, writing a book is the fastest way to become an author.
Now, speaking of becoming an author…
Tomorrow, we’re going to talk about what’s involved in writing a book. We’re going to talk about steps and stuff.
I’ll see you then.