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Guest Post: 5 Ways to Use a Book to Build Your Business by Kevin Tumlinson

Kevin Tumlinson

For most of my author coaching clients, and for listeners of the Self Publishing Answers Podcast, the biggest motivation for writing a book is the book itself. Having your name on the spine of a book is a big draw, and for many it’s enough. The dream fuels the effort, puts your posterior in the chair, and gets you tapping a keyboard or scribbling with a feather quill (or whatever your writing fetish happens to be).

That dream can be a real motivator, but what if having a book isn’t the dream itself, but just a part of your platform?

Members of the Expert Industry live in a publish or perish world. These are coaches, consultants, and keynote speakers by trade, and they may or may not crave having their name on a book cover. Despite this, as an audience-reaching tool, a book is a powerful totem for any entrepreneur.

Here are five reasons why you, as an expert, should have a book as part of your platform:

1. Build your credibility

In the indie documentary “That  Guy … Who Was in That Thing,” Xander Berkely laments the fact that after decades of being a character actor, producers and directors still want him to audition for a role. “You know what I look like, more or less. And you know what I’m capable of, more or less. Why don’t you save me a lot of trouble and just offer it to me? Or not.”

Even if you’ve been at the game for a while, you may find yourself having to “audition” all the time. You’ve been in this industry for years, you know your stuff, you have a reputation with everyone who has ever worked with you. But to someone new, who might never have heard of you or your work, you have to start completely over. You have to send the press packets and the emails and the links to your website. You have to schmooze and hand-shake and reassure.

Having a book helps you to change that. A book has a certain psychological heft to it, and it almost instantly adds an air of “expertise” to your name and your brand. For an executive assistant or human resources director, tasked with booking someone to speak at a corporate event, a book is a shortcut for determining whether or not you are as smart as you say you are, or whether or not you’re a legitimate expert. So having one (or several) books displayed prominently on your website or bookshelf can be the difference between someone booking you or moving on to the next candidate.

2. Ask for more money

With increased credibility comes increased value. Your book is a tangible resource that tells the world you know what you’re talking about, and people naturally place a higher value on confirmable expertise. So having a book in your toolbox means having the leverage to ask for higher fees.

It also makes it a little easier to raise existing rates. When you add “Author of …” to your press packet, your former clients see it as a sign of upward mobility. No one expects to pay entry-level rates to an accomplished professional. Progress means increased value, and increased value means higher rates.

3. Define your business

Writing a book means being really organized about your approach, your philosophy, and your ideas in general. That much organization can’t help but make you more aware of any weaknesses or absences in your current business strategy. Writing a book can help you fine-tune and polish, to get things humming like a precision instrument and get rid of all the rough patches that make the presentation of your business less than stunning.

If you’re just starting out, a book can be a good foundation to build upon. It can help you work out exactly what your business should be, right from the start, by forcing you to focus on the essential, organizational structure of it all. To that end, you might consider writing a book on your topic from the start, rather than writing even a business plan or back-of-the-napkin strategy.

If you think about it … you read books all the time to learn how other people are structuring their business. This is your chance to define the structure of your own business, to see what it looks like from the “inside” before it ever exists in the real world.

4. Pad your wallet with book sales

One of my own mentors in the business told me from the beginning that to be successful, you need three prongs of revenue. As a coach, consultant, or keynote speaker, your first prong might be pretty obvious. Coaches coach. Consultants consult. Keynote speakers play poker online and risk it all on an inside straight. And presumably speak a little.

Book sales make a great second or third revenue stream. Just offering it on your website can lead to sales, but carrying a box of books with you to a speaking engagement or a workshop or other public appearance is a must. When people hear your ideas and philosophy, they will often want more of what you have to offer. If you move them with what you do, they will happily shell out the cover price, and ask for your autograph to boot. Which, by the way, is quite a rush.

5. Go viral

Books make it easier for you to scale what you offer. They’re easily handed from person to person, or recommended by readers and fans. They become a topic of conversation at the gym or the coffee shop, and one pleased reader leads to another.

This kind  of word-of-mouth marketing is gold, because it helps you broaden your reach and increase your audience exponentially. If your work really catches on, it could even go viral, spreading your message like crazy, far and wide, and bringing fresh faces to your website and your work.

There are never any guarantees on something like this, but at the very least a book does make you more accessible and discoverable to people who might not have direct access to you.

It’s also easy to hand off a book to someone who may be on the fence about hiring you, to help you close a sale. As a marketing tool, you might consider offering the book for free to anyone who signs up for your mailing list, or giving it for free to local libraries and to potential clients. A book is the ultimate business card.

As a reader of this blog, you’re already considering writing a book. But you may never have considered how a book factors into a larger business model. A book can be the very top of a sales funnel, or the foundation of a content marketing strategy. So aside from the tingly feeling of having your name on a cover, and having something you can point to on your bookshelf as you swell your chest in pride, you should consider a book to be an essential tool for building and growing your business.

Kevin Tumlinson is the Wordslinger | Author, Speaker, and Entrepreneur. He has written dozens of books, and has helped hundreds of clients to build their own author businesses. He is the host of the Wordslinger Podcast, as well as co-host of the Self Publishing Answers Podcast. You can learn more about Kevin and his work at www.kevintumlinson.com

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