How to Publish a Book to Grow Your Business
If you are in a service business, you need a book. That’s because a book can:
- Outline your expertise
- Allow you to discuss your target clients’ pain points a way that helps them see you can solve the problem
- Become a key marketing tool to sell higher-priced products and services
Many solopreneurs, sales professionals, small business owners, and freelancers miss the opportunity to stand out in their fields because they don’t realize how important having a book is. A book often is the best way to go from average to credentialed star. That is because a professional, small business owner, or freelancer with a book behind his or her name is immediately seen as someone who knows something. This person, just by virtue of having published a book on a subject, is seen as more knowledgeable, more authoritative, and more useful than someone who hasn’t written a book on the subject. And this means the professional with the book can charge more money and sell more products and services.
One key difference between writing a book to grow your business and writing a book as a hobby, creative literary endeavor, or other undertaking, is that this is not your life’s work. It doesn’t have to take years and years to produce this book. In fact, it shouldn’t. Getting your message out to your target customers and clients is the point. Not blowing everyone away with your use of five syllable words or the beauty of your prose. You want to produce a great product and pay good money to ensure that happens, but you don’t want to get lost in the process. After all, you’ve got a business to run, sales to bring in, and a reputation to build.
Learn the process so you can publish with efficiency, excellence, and effectiveness. So how do you publish a book to grow your business?
Address Your Clients’ Pain
If you are running a service business, that means you are there to ease someone’s pain or make it disappear altogether. If you are a fitness trainer, you’re there to address the pain of obesity, health issues, and poor body image. If you run a writing business, you are there to address the pain of poor writing ability, poor sales, and lack of communication. If you run a photography business, you are there to address the pain of missed moments and unflattering pictures.
We help clients with book projects. Their pain: They need to produce a book but don’t know how — or want — to do it themselves. A lot of the people come to us for information about publishing. So the natural book product for us was The Easy Guide to Getting Your Book Published. It’s a complete resource to help readers self-publish or position themselves for traditional publication. But for readers who realize they would just prefer to have someone do the work for them, it becomes a marketing tool that leads readers to contact us for a quote on a book project.
So consider your clients’ issues. Why do they come to you? What questions do you get over and over? What types of projects come your way? What bugs your clients? If you don’t know, then it’s probably safe to say you’re not doing as well as you could be doing in business. So it’s your job to find out. Ask them. Ask your clients what their most pressing concerns are, related to the area where you can help.
Write a book that addresses this concern — pain — in some way.
Within the book, outline the problem, why it’s a big deal, and the experience you have with it. Explain, through examples, how you’ve been able to solve this problem for others. Give some suggestions for how to address this problem. Include your website several places throughout the book or at the end. Also at the end, offer a call to action. Invite people to join your mailing list, sign up for your service, call a number, or take some other action, if they want additional help.
Hire the Right Editorial Help
When you’ve finished your manuscript, send it to an editor. (Of course, if you don’t want to write the book yourself, then you’ll need to find a ghostwriter). The editor you are looking for is one who will do a content edit for marketability. In other words, it’s not enough to ask your cousin who got a good grade in high school English to edit your manuscript, or even your teacher friend. While having a grammatically correct product is good, you are looking for a higher level of expertise for your business book. You need an editor who will edit to help make sure your book will appeal to your target client. Is the book written in a conversational, yet authoritative tone? Are all logical questions answered? Do you illustrate your points in a way your target client can understand? Is the book organized well? Do you share information in an interesting — not dry or boring — way? You see, something can be grammatically correct, but still boring. You don’t want boring for your business book. That’s why the editor is important.
Your designer needs to have experience designing business books. It’s not enough just to have a pretty piece of art on the front of your book. Your book’s cover includes three elements, the front, spine, and back. An experienced business book designer will use or recommend a standard trim size so you’re not paying extra to publish some odd-sized book. The designer also will use appropriate fonts and art, based on your book’s genre and target audience. Many authors think as long as the cover is pretty, that’s all that’s needed. But your experienced designer will consider much more than that.
Besides the cover, the designer will typeset, format, or design the interior. Many considerations go into interior design. The designer will use an appropriate font, art elements as necessary, etc. The designer also can advise you on whether art (photos, illustrations, etc.) that you have provided will print well or be appropriate for your book. Just because you can print a picture on your home printer doesn’t mean it is appropriate for commercial printing. The last thing you want is some low-resolution image ruining your hard work, or stalling the project at the printer stage because it doesn’t work.
While it’s possible you may end up hiring an editor and then a designer in another place, it’s also possible to work with an editorial company that provides both editing and design, as we do at our company, RootSky Books. That way you can get all the services you need to publish your book, in one place. But even if you hire those professionals separately, make sure they are what you need. This book is for your business. It has to hit the mark.
Handle the Technical Details
If you want to sell your book at bookstores or have it eligible for library consideration, you’ll need to have certain technical details, including an ISBN, barcode, and LCCN/PCN. You can go to the different agencies and get these elements yourself (Bowker for ISBN and barcode, Library of Congress for LCCN/PCN), or your editorial team may handle these details for you and save you the time.
Find an Appropriate Printer
When you self-publish a book, it’s never wise to just go with your local printer right off. That is because there are huge price variations in printing. Collect quotes from at least three to four, just so you can be assured you are getting the best rate. Or, if your editorial team provides print project management, go for that option. This can save you a lot of time. But if you choose to solicit your own printer quotes, you’ll need to request the same information from each printer, so you are getting quotes based on the same elements. Printers sometimes change out one or more elements of the quote, so you’ll need to review each quote to make sure it is as you specified. For instance, a markedly cheaper quote may be cheaper because the printer is quoting you on a different paper weight than you requested. Unless you want specialty printing or need something fancy, getting quoted for perfect binding (with hinge score), interior pages stock: 60 lb regular offset (black with no bleeds), and cover stock: 10 pt. C1S – gloss nylon (layflat) film lamination (full-color with bleeds), will work. You’ll get quotes from offset or digital printers, depending on the quantity. Higher quantities mean offset printing.
If you want to use print-on-demand technology to order a very small quantity, then go for a POD printer, rather than a POD publisher, as using a POD printer simply means you are using POD services but you still retain all rights and control over your project, including getting your own ISBN.
Send the Project to the Printer
Once the project has been edited, designed, and corrected, based on any errors or changes noted in the final review, it’s time to send it to the printer! The printer will send you a proof, which is a file where you can review the product once more before it is printed. The proof will be digital or it may be in hard copy form, mailed to you. This is not the place to make a lot of sweeping changes, as changes at the printer’s proof stage are quite expensive. But if you see some big issues or changes you absolutely must make, go for it.
Order a modest quantity. I’ll tell you why in a moment.
Get Your Book
When those books arrive from the printer, you’ll be excited! Or at least, I hope you will be. This is a big deal. Your new marketing tools are in your possession and ready to go to work for you. Plan your release party and marketing efforts before your books arrive, so you know where you should send review copies, promotional materials, etc.
Also, review the book as a reader. While you should take the time to go through the book with enjoyment and pride at your accomplishment, also note any minor changes you may want to make in a future printing. Don’t let the desire for minor changes spoil your joy in this moment. Revel in the book you have just produced and know that it is a good product that will help you accomplish your goals.
Reasons to print a modest quantity:
1. Why tie up too much money in inventory? Unless you have solid distribution already lined up, it’s not necessary — or wise — to publish more than 3,000 books to begin. Those books could end up taking up valuable space in your garage, spare bedroom, or elsewhere, if you don’t have a means to market and sell. A better idea is to publish 500 to 2,000 in your first print run. As you get low on books, you can use the money from the sales to reorder.
2. You might see some changes you want to make. No matter how many times your book is edited, or how many times you personally review the manuscript, it’s possible that a mistake or two will slip past. That’s normal, and part of the process. Of course, there should not be egregious errors or too many, but printing a small quantity helps to ensure that you don’t invest in a large print run only to realize there is some issue. For instance, if your aim is to use this book to drive traffic to your website, wouldn’t you hate to print 5,000 books, only to realize your website was left out? … Even as you review the book for changes, don’t go crazy. It’s not necessary to make changes for every print run. This isn’t about the elusive quest for perfection. In business, sometimes good enough is good enough. This isn’t to say, produce junk! Obviously that won’t work. But remember that sometimes you can get caught up in the idea of tweaking and changing, but not really improving. Just because you make something different, doesn’t mean you make it better. So don’t fall into the trap of unnecessary changes. If you see real issues or errors that need to be corrected, sure, correct them for the next print run. But don’t go into rewrite mode. Save that for your next book. Produce your best work for this book, market and sell it, then produce your next book. Don’t get fixated on one book. But more on that in a moment.
Market, Market, Market That Book!
Of course producing a quality book is important. After all, you are building your professional reputation on this product. But next to production, marketing is the most important part of publishing your book. After all, you’ve got to let your target client and reader know about this great book! Whether you will publish your book a year from now or 30 days from now, start marketing now. Yes, you can — and should —market the book before you get it in-hand. In fact, if you wait to get the book in-hand before you start marketing, you’ve waited too long.
Marketing your book means getting the word out. Your marketing activities will vary based on your industry, goals, resources, etc., but your marketing activities may include:
1. Blogging. Tell your blog community about your book and how it can help. And also comment on related blogs, but don’t spam! Make thoughtful, relevant comments, rather than comments that are designed only to promote your book. If you spam other blogs, you may find that those blog owners delete your comments or mark them as spam.
2. Publicity. Send press releases to local and regional media. Post press releases to online sites. Press releases to local and regional media can land you interviews, while press releases on online sites can help build your online reputation by showing up in searches. Some press releases at certain online sites can result in interviews.
3. Social media. Post to your social networks about your new book. But don’t be obnoxious about it. Consider the culture of the network. Abide by the etiquette and rules of engagement of the networks so you don’t alienate or annoy those you are trying to reach.
4. Content marketing. Write guest blog posts, letters to the editor, and articles about your book’s topic or some area your book covers and submit them to the appropriate publications.
5. Industry events. Attend appropriate industry events where you can share your expertise and information. There are lots of conferences, conventions, and retreats going on, online and offline, so create a list of events, along with relevant information (entry fee, entry deadline, whether you need to travel there, etc.) and then go through the list to determine the best events for your. Sign up as a vendor or presenter.
6. Speaking. Speak on your book’s topic to your local civic groups. As you gain more experience and comfort, you may expand your speaking to include other organizations and events, and even offer speaking, training, or lecturing on your book’s topic for a fee.
Rinse and Repeat
A book can sell as long as you are willing to market it. That’s why you see some books that are years and years old, but they are still selling. But building your expertise in an area may mean regularly producing books, so just repeat the process you did to publish the first one. Consider the type of book it needs to be, how it will help your readers, and do the appropriate production details (have it edited and designed, get ISBN, barcode, etc., find printer).
Producing new books can mean new income, a new audience, or new interest from your existing clients and customers. Your books are just the tool to grow your business.
Once again, you've blogged exactly what I needed to continue to market, "His Name Was Merle - Our Journey through Alzheimer's Disease". You are a marvelously helpful resource, especially for us novices. Thank you!
I'm glad you found it so helpful, Lynda! Publishing has grown tremendously in the past few years, so the availability of options can be a bit confusing. This was a quick primer for any writer looking to see how to go about doing it properly — and in a way that can grow a related business.