I sometimes talk myself right out of being someone’s ghostwriter (probably not a tactic they teach you in time-share sales seminars). And that’s a good thing because hey, I can only write two or three books per year. So I spend as much time trying to figure out if you’re a good client as you spend trying to figure out if working with me is a good investment.
As you might imagine, this sometimes means talking would-be authors out of being authors altogether or at least talking them into putting their books on the back burner for a while. If you’re a would-be author wondering if you need to be talked out of writing a book, then this article is for you!
My Die in a Ditch Belief About Writing a Book
I don’t have a lot of die in the ditch beliefs — another good thing — but when it comes to writing a book, my #1 die in the ditch belief is this:
If you can’t make a business case for writing your book, abandon your book.
I’m serious. The business case for writing a nonfiction book related to your business or career needs to be the core driving force behind you putting fingers to keyboard. Otherwise, you’re wasting precious time.
And by the way, I’m constantly asking myself this question as I work on my own book.
Now, as with all beliefs, we need to put this one in context. I help experts with big ideas get those ideas out of their heads and into the hands of their fans. That help comes in the form of a complete nonfiction business book manuscript. My clients see their book as part of their business model or a bigger marketing strategy.
In other words, I don’t write fiction. I don’t write novels. I don’t write legacy books. I don’t write memoirs without some connection to business or a bigger life lesson. It’s not that there couldn’t be a business case for writing fiction (oh hey, George R.R. Martin, I see you). It’s that I simply can’t wrap my head around hiring a ghostwriter for these types of projects. So I choose not to do them.
Also, I’m not suggesting that there’s no value to writing or even publishing a book that doesn’t make you money. I’m simply suggesting that if you’re going to make a significant investment in writing your book, you need to see your way to getting a return on your investment. It’s only logical.
All this is to say, apply my die in a ditch belief to your situation with care. I’m really not trying to rain on your parade.
What’s the Business Case for Your Book?
Since I don’t want to rain on your parade (unless you’ve decided to schedule a parade for a rainy day, which isn’t my fault!), let me help you figure out if there’s a business case for your book.
First thing to know: There are a ton of ways to make money with your business book.
Many of my prospects focus on book sales. But unless you have 100,000 followers and a book deal with the New York Times (which means they think you can sell 25,000 books), you’re probably not going to make much money on book sales alone.
But you don’t need to give your book away either. Think about your book as another product or even an adjacent business you’re launching. You’ll want to devise a marketing strategy for the book. You may want to hire a P.R. person to help you get podcast and other media interviews, guest blogging spots, and other features. These will help you grow your audience and sell more books.
With business books in particular, though, you’ll want to focus on making money in less direct ways. Let’s look at the main ways you can make money with your business book:
1. Your book as a platform for your personal brand.
Publishing a book (whether self-published or traditionally published) can be a springboard for your personal brand. If there’s one thing you need to create and expand a personal brand, it’s content.
- You need social media posts
- You need a website
- You need webinar material
- You need a newsletter
But most importantly, you need to be clear about what’s “on brand” and what’s “off brand.” You want to become the go-to person in your industry. You’ll know you’re building an effective personal brand when people start giving you nicknames. “Oh, I know you. You’re the brainy mom.”
A book can give you the core content you need to make a name for yourself. And once you have name recognition, marketing and selling your products or services becomes easier.
2. Your book as a consulting fee booster.
Consultants and coaches can get a lot of mileage out of publishing a book. If you’ve ever wished you could reach more clients, a book is a great way to spread the word about you. Think of it as giving you instant “street cred.” From there, supply and demand take over. The more prospects who reach out to you because they’ve bought your book, the more you need to raise your consulting fees.
Plus, a book can be a great confidence booster. Not only will your book help you get clearer about your approach, systems, and methodology, but also it will help you speak more confidently about your business. All of this makes increasing your fees a no-brainer.
3. Your book as the key to paid speaking gigs.
With increased confidence comes the ability to stand on stage and speak to bigger and bigger audiences. Many paid speaking gigs, like keynote addresses for big conferences, go to authors.
Also, speaking at conferences is a great way to increase book sales. Who doesn’t want a signed copy of the book written by a dynamic, inspirational speaker?
But there are other ways to get paid through speaking and having a book moves you to the front of those lines too. For example, you could create a course or training program around your book. Add the book fee to the course registration and call it a bonus. For this, you’ll have great luck targeting industry associations and companies looking for training for their members or employees.
These are only a few of the ways you can make money with your business book. But the main point of this article is not to list all of the possibilities. My aim is to make sure you think about this question before you invest in your book.
Sure, wanting to write a book because you know you have a message that others need to hear or because your business frenemy just came out with a book might be good motivation for writing your own book. However, unless you’re confident you will see a return on your investment, these are simply vanity reasons.
So, what’s the business case for your book?
If you’re wondering whether you need to be talked out of (or into) writing a book, let’s chat! I’m happy to help you figure out if a ghostwriter is a good investment for you.
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