Just this week a consultant told me he wanted to self publish his book. I told him that was foul language; what he meant to say is that he wanted to “bring his book out through an independent publisher.”
Being a published author is the quickest path to becoming an expert that attracts new clients. So why doesn’t every professional and consultant have a book? Thanks to new technologies, today it is not only possible to produce a professional-looking copy of your book for under $1,000, you can also market the book through reputable sales channels.
A decade ago, there weren’t too many options for professionals and consultants to get into print as a book author. If a traditional publisher wasn’t interested in your manuscript, your only other option was to spend tens of thousands of dollars with a subsidy press or custom printer. And then, without ready distribution, good luck trying to sell the books.
But that has all changed because independent publishers are able to print both paperback and hardcover books as they’re needed due to the bold new digital publishing technology known as “print-on-demand.”
Going digital allows books to be produced in small quantities – even one at a time – almost instantaneously. No longer does publishing require behemoth offset presses, hangar-size warehouses, and fleets of trucks.
These independent publishers have made a conscious decision to offer their services to everyone, rather than give control to an elite clique of editors and agents, as is often true in traditional publishing. While incoming manuscripts are checked for formatting before a new title goes online, alternative publishers do not edit for style and content. These companies do not make value judgments about the literary merit of books. The author decides what the public reads, and the public decides if it makes good reading or not. It is a purely market-driven approach, and allows almost anyone to make a new book available to millions of readers, at a small fraction of the cost of traditional publishing methods.
There are challenges, of course. Because print-on-demand books are not typically stocked on bookstore shelves, authors need to do a good job of marketing through publicity, direct mail and the Internet. But if you are a nonfiction author willing to be a self-promoter and whose book targets an identifiable market, then alternative publishing may be right for you.
If you are an independent professional or consultant, how should you use getting published to increase revenues? First, understand that generating leads is an investment and should be measured like any other investment. Next, quit wasting money on ineffective means like brochures, advertising and sponsorships. The best marketing investment you can make is to get help creating informative Web sites, hosting persuasive seminars, booking speaking engagements, and getting published as a newsletter columnist and eventually as a book author.
The first challenge for professionals, consultants and small business owners is creating new clients. There is a proven process for marketing with integrity and getting a 400% to 2000% return on your marketing investment. To attract new clients, the best approach is the Educating Expert Model that demonstrates your expertise by giving away valuable information through writing and speaking. In addition, you can increase closing rates up to 50% to 100% by discovering and rehearsing the right questions to ask prospective clients
Rather than creating a brochure, start by writing how-to articles. Those articles turn into speeches and seminars. Eventually, you gather the articles and publish a book through a strategy called print on demand self publishing (we’ve done it under 90 days and for less than a $1,000 for clients). Does it work? Here are a list of business best-seller titles by professionals and consultants that started out self-published (Source: Southwest Airlines Spirit, March 2005):
* The One Minute Manager by my buddy Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson: picked up by William Morrow & Co. (Sidebar: when Spencer came to my last book launch I told him that between us we have sold 12 million books. He smiled and said, “Actually Henry, between us we have sold 25 million books.” He also wrote Who Moved My Cheese?)
* In Search of Excellence, by Tom Peters (of McKinsey & Co.): in its first year, sold more than 25,000 copies directly to consumers—then Warner sold 10 million more.
* Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun, by Weiss Roberts: sold half a million copies before being picked up by Warner.
How much should you invest in marketing? That depends on your business goals, but here are some norms. Law firms generally spend about 2 percent of their gross revenues on marketing, and the average expenditure is about $136,000. Marketing costs for accounting firms average about 7 percent to 10 percent of gross revenue (Source: The New York Times, November 15, 2001). The typical architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firm spent a record 5.3 percent of their net service revenue on marketing (Source: ZweigWhite’s 2003 Marketing Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms).
Here are some of the key benefits of following the Educating Expert Model:
* Allows your message to be heard above the noise of all the other professionals and consultants
* Systematizes your marketing with a proactive, monthly approach that is simple and affordable to implement
* Makes it easier for your clients and business advocates to refer potential clients to you
* Creates multiple streams of income because prospects actually pay for you to market to them
* Increases closing rates up to 50% to 100% by discovering and rehearsing the right questions to ask prospective clients
* Produces all-help, no-hype marketing you actually feel proud to communicate
* Quits wasting money on ineffective tactics like brochures, sponsorships and cold-calling
* Leverages your time so you get more results in less time
If writing for you is, as a late New York Times sportswriter put it, “easy . . . you just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein,” then the tourniquet for you may be a ghostwriter or collaborator.
Getting published is an important variable in the marketing success quotient. Don’t let the excuse that you’re not a good writer prevent you from earning a byline. What is essential and can never be farmed out, however, is your ability to present quality information and ideas. Your material should spark an “ah ha” in your readers and ignite them to reach greater heights. If you can prompt someone else to succeed, then you will have too.
There is a plethora of professional writers who are eager to find good ghostwriting assignments. Finding them just takes understanding of how such writers get their work. A good place to start is with a professional writers’ association in your community. The library, bookstores, university English or journalism departments or your local paper may know of the writers’ organizations in your town. If not, chances are a local public relations, marketing or advertising agency may know. You can find writers online at elance.com.
Literary agents are another good source for writers. Some agencies may give you the name of several writers who can help you polish your prose into a marketable work that the agent would then try to sell. Journalism departments at colleges and universities may employ professors who write for consumer magazines and books, or a professor may refer you to a prize student.
Writers don’t come cheap. You may be lucky to find a good, hungry writer who is trying to break into magazines or book publishing who is willing to work on the come. But, typically, you’ll get to work that way only once with that author. Any writer who earns his or her living writing soon discovers that while he or she is writing for nothing, you, the expert, are earning a living in your field. You have an income and a book. The writer has only a byline.
Recognizing that writing is a profession only if he or she can earn a living, a good writer will charge an hourly or project fee to ghostwrite or collaborate. Fees vary, but an average hourly rate ranges between $50 and $200. Magazine articles may be written for as little as a few hundred to as much as several thousand dollars. And book proposals’ flat fees can reach as high as $5,000 to $8,000. Web sites like elance.com have brought the price down because writers compete for assignments.