Times Have Changed
There was a time when simply being an author was enough to give you an advantage if you were a speaker, trainer, consultant, or just a business person who wanted to be known as a “thought leader.” That was when it was relatively hard to get published. Just about all the business books were published by legacy publishers who had a strict vetting process. Some self-published business books turned into successes, but not many.
In that environment, just having a book was enough to set you apart. Being an author was a credential that not many people had. That’s not the case today.
The Big Challenge
Today, just about anyone can publish a book and, there are some days where it seems like everyone has. In 2016, over a million books were published and 700,000 of them were self-published. There’s more competition than ever before.
In the old days, most books went out of print after a year or so. A rare few made it to the “back list” and lived on, but that was rare. Today, everything makes the back list because books, effectively, never go out of print. The result is even more competition.
Today, having a book is table stakes. You must have one if you’re going to compete with all the people who already do.
That creates the big challenge. If you want to write a book that gives your career a boost, it should be great if you want to compete successfully with the ever-growing volume of titles.
Meeting the Challenge
If you want to be the author of a book that makes a huge difference in your career, there are three things you must do. You need to write the best book you can. You must make your book the center of an information universe. And you must promote it effectively.
Write the Best Book You Can
Career-boosting business books are written about a specific issue to a specific audience. Find a want and fill it. Career-building books are usually both effective and lean. They give the reader everything he or she needs to fill that basic want and no more.
Writing a lean book is also the best way to make it the centerpiece of an information universe. If you write a great book about a specific problem or issue that will be around for a while, you can create products and services on the same theme.
Make Your Book the Center of an Information Universe
Products are things that people buy without you needing to be there. They include audio, video, and print products such as workbooks. They may include other job aids or even novelty products like coffee cups with your catchphrase on them. The book should also be the core of the theme you use in speeches and workshops and consulting. All your products and services should cross-fertilize each other.
Promote Your Book Effectively
Ralph Waldo Emerson may have thought that a great product was all you needed to get the world to beat a path to your door, and maybe that was true when he was writing, but it’s not true anymore. If you want your book to boost your business or career, you must promote it.
In today’s world, that means paying attention to keywords and getting found on Amazon. It includes having a specific launch strategy and a strategy for re-promoting your book regularly. It also means you need to take the advice I heard from Tom Peters that you “promote it ‘till you puke.”
A Word about Passion
Take a deep breath and consider what I just said. Writing a book that makes a difference in your life and career means committing to a subject for the long term. You had better be passionate about your subject because you’re committing your life to it for a decade or more.
Today, you must have a book just to compete, but if you want your book to make a big difference, you need a lot more. You need to write a great, lean book that solves a problem or answers a question for a specific audience. You need to make that book the center of an information universe. And you need to promote it aggressively and effectively.