For a long time, business books weren’t much fun to read and they didn’t do much for the author’s reputation. Then, in the 1970s, Robert Townsend wrote Up the Organization. It was the precursor to the reputation books that would come later.
“Later” turned out to be the early 1980s. In Search of Excellence made business rock stars of Bob Waterman and Tom Peters. The One Minute Manager did the same for Ken Blanchard. The books boosted the authors’ reputations and fees.
That was before self-publishing. If you wanted to have a book with your name on it, you needed to find a publisher willing to take it on. The web and self-publishing technologies changed all that.
The Business Book as Table Stakes
For decades writing and publishing a book was enough to set you apart from the pack No more. These days it seems like everyone has published at least one book. Books have become table stakes.
Writing and publishing a book, by themselves, won’t give you a competitive advantage. If you don’t do a book, you could wind up in the career backwaters, where hardly anyone knows your name.
What You Must Do Today
If you want to increase your reputation and your take-home you must write a great book that sets you apart from the competition. You must surround your book with profit-building products and services. You must give your ideas legs.
Write a Book that Delivers Value
Write a book that solves a difficult problem or answers a vexing question for your reader. When readers tell each other how good your book is, you’ve got marketing money can’t buy.
Write a Book that’s Distinctive
You book must be different in a good way. It should have research, insights, and memorable phrases that make it stand out.
Surround Your Book with Profitable Products and Services
A book isn’t enough anymore. These days people consume information and ideas in a variety of ways. Build what Gordon Burgett calls an “Information Empire.” Products and services should promote each other. Think about how consulting, speaking, and training can make your book more valuable. Develop workbooks, “field books,” and card decks.
Give Your Book Legs
Make your book evergreen. Deal with issues that won’t go away any time soon. Use examples that won’t seem “ripped from the headlines” today and old news a week from now.
Publish books on your key topic every few years. Use your blog posts and speeches as test beds to find out what works.
In a world where books have become table stakes, your book must deliver value and stand out from the pack. Surround it with products and services that build profit. Give it legs so your ideas and insights keep working for decades.
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