Is Publishing Right for You?

My colleagues at the Intuit blog have been filling my RSS reader with terrific content, and when I saw Pat O’Bryan’s recent post about the advantages of book publishing, I had to chime in.

Pat’s Story

Pat published his book, Money From Anywhere, as an ebook and then as a paperback. To create the eBook, Pat used OpenOffice to write and save the manuscript as a PDF. He then printed the book publish the book using CreateSpace, which is Amazon.com’s self-publishing service.

Pat says that with a little marketing, he was able to drive Money From Anywhere to #1 on the “Movers and Shakers” best-seller list, #1 on the “Home Based Business” best-seller list, and #156 out of all the books available at Amazon.com. The book achieved Pat’s goals: he established himself as an expert in his field and added thousands of qualified leads to his mailing list.

Marketing and Goal Setting Are Key

As an author who is releasing a sixth book this fall, two things stood out to me in Pat’s post.  First of all, Pat makes reference to – and even links to another complete post – about doing “a little marketing.”  In truth, anyone who publishes a book in any form, whether via a self-driven mechanism like CreateSpace or through a large, traditional, New York-based house, must do a tremendous amount of marketing to ensure that book’s success.  Activities include extensive online outreach, media relations, public speaking, and free content development.

Secondly, Pat set clear and measurable goals for what he expected his book to do for his business.  As a result, he was able to write and promote the piece strategically and ensure that in the end, he was satisfied with the result.

Hard Publishing Realities

At least once a week, I get an e-mail from someone who wants my advice on writing a book.  I suppose this shouldn’t shock me, since I’ve seen statistics that 80 percent of Americans believe they have at least one book in them.  My advice is usually the same, especially if the person is a busy leader who doesn’t really need to the book to break into an industry and is considering it more as a vanity exercise.

So what’s the advice?  Follow Pat O’Bryan’s lead.  Regardless of how you publish your book, be prepared to sell it yourself, one copy at a time.  Publishing houses and private publicists cannot do it for you, because no one has your contacts or understands your subject matter better than you do.  If you don’t have the time or the will to do this, stop and think, for who wants to spend hundreds of hours writing a book that no one reads?

Understand also the book’s purpose.  Is it expected to drive your business forward, or serve as a thought-leadership vehicle for you as an executive and your organization?  How can you plan the book’s execution and promotion so that these goals are realized, and how will you measure its success?  Make sure you have satisfactory answers before proceeding – after all, when it comes to this amount of work, vanity is not enough and there may in fact there may in fact be better ways to accomplish your objectives.

Alexandra Levit

Alexandra Levit’s goal is to help people find meaningful jobs - quickly and simply - and to succeed beyond measure once they get there. Follow her @alevit.

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