There are more than half a million books published in the United States every year, and on average they sell fewer than 250 copies each.
So when I tell you that you ought to write a book for your business, it’s easy to be skeptical. After all, you’ve got too much to do with your time to waste it on a time sink with no payoff.
But for the kind of book I’m talking about for you, a client-attracting book, the ordinary rules of “how to make money in publishing” don’t apply.
Traditional Publishers Need Not Apply
For traditionally published authors, book sales are the main payoff.
In fact, since it’s the publisher who has invested in your book and bought the copyright from you, that’s pretty much how it goes.
If you want to give away 100 copies at a conference, you need to buy them from the publisher.
But for you, an expert in your field, book sales are gravy. The meat and potatoes are what your book can do for your business.
Your client-attracting book is a relationship-building book, an authority-establishing book, a client-nurturing book. It’s a book that brings in revenues far beyond the royalties of any but the highest-grossing mega-best-seller.
Your Client-Attracting Book
Here’s how it works.
You get your book written (there are different ways to go about this).
It’s not long, academic, or traditionally published. It’s not a textbook.
You craft your book to meet the needs or answer a specific question of your ideal audience. You speak to them in their own language, in a conversational style, the way you might talk to your clients over coffee.
You publish your book using technologies now available for the first time in history. You’ll be able to distribute your book —
- In PDF format from your website,
- In ebook form through Amazon and other online booksellers,
- As a print book using print-on-demand or short-run printing services (which means you don’t have to store copies in your garage),
- Through physical bookstores by using the print-on-demand service of the main book distribution company.
And then you are free to sell your book or give it away in whatever strategy works for you, your business, and your clients.
A visitor to your website signs up for your mailing list and receives a PDF copy of your book. The marginal cost of that book is exactly nothing, and if you’ve crafted your book well, it can show the value you offer.
You put strategic calls to action inside your book, that invite readers to your website for more information, where they join your mailing list.
When you meet a client, instead of just handing out a business card, you autograph a copy of your book and hand it over. The business cards may get thrown away later, but the book is a lasting reminder that you gave it to that client.
Where the Money Comes From
How much is each client worth to you? If you’re like most professionals, the answer is in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars in ongoing business and referrals. The cost of your print book is a few dollars per copy. A pittance in marketing terms.
Your book is not just a calling card, though, It’s also a ticket of admission to the inner circle of your field. If you’ve written a book, authorities and influencers look at you differently. You become “someone” (not that you weren’t someone before, but it was harder to see).
Reporters ask your comments on developments in your field. Event organizers want you to speak to their audiences. Your peers find a place for you at the table.
All these effects multiply each other.
I asked before how much is one client worth to you. Now I ask, how much are thousands or tens of thousands of people in your audience, listening to your message, lining up to work with you?
Royalties are a fine thing, and being on a best-seller list can make your book even more influential. But you don’t need sales to have your book turn a profit.
Your book gives you status.
Your book delivers your message.
Your book lifts you out of the crowd.
Those things are far more valuable than 8-12 percent of the net price of the book that publishers pay for your copyright.
And they don’t require you to “sell” a single copy.