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The Real Value of Publishing a Business Book
by Charlotte Cutter


Most of us can’t help but wonder what it’s like to publish a book. When we meet someone who has published, there’s a universal admiration for having taken the time to write and publish an entire book. What does it take to do that? How can you find a publisher, or an agent? Should you publish a book yourself? It’s a complex process, yet worthwhile in the end: Publishing a book can bring about numerous business and publicity opportunities -- especially for entrepreneurs, consultants and other professionals --  that are difficult to obtain any other way.

Some business authors know what to write about from the get-go. After toying with the idea of writing a book for a few years, “the topic hit me and from that point on I couldn’t not write a book,” says Vicki Donlan, Founder/Publisher of Women’s Business Boston Magazine and author of Her Turn: Why It’s Time for Women to Lead in America (Praeger Press 2007). Authors are passionate experts on their topics, and their day-to-day activities add to this expertise without providing an outlet to express their views. This is where a book helps them out. As opposed to a more limited article, a book creates a permanent source of valuable information, revealing a profound level of knowledge that can be tricky to present in another manner.

Having a published book also validates the author as an expert in her field.  Some authors publish for this reason, deciding that the best place to start is by covering untouched ground. Dealing with what has never been explored, whether in subject manner or approach, will position you as a leader apart from authors who merely repeat what’s already out there.

Once you’ve got your ideas down, you’re not done yet. If you choose to work with a publisher, you must seek out an agent and learn to structure a book proposal.  The procedure demands much of your time, effort, and dedication, and you must be willing to take criticism and revise your ideas. When Laura Leist, President/Founder of Eliminate Chaos, LLC, and author of Eliminate Chaos: The 10 Step Process to Organize Your Home and Life (Sasquatch Books 2006), first submitted her book, “I was told to ‘keep writing’ [but] the publisher cut all of that last material.” This criticism, however, can be valuable, confirming that you broadened other people’s perspectives as well as your own. And in spite of her frustration, Leist now has completed a major section of a new book she hopes to publish soon.

Whether you publish a book on your own or with a publisher, you are primarily responsible for promoting and selling it. In fact, you may find that your publisher does much less than you had hoped in this department. But remember, you, the author, know your audience better than anyone else. You have already demonstrated that you’re capable of promoting your book to the right audience by virtual of the fact you have been serving that audience as your clientele for years.  Promoting your book will thus both sell your book and also win you visibility and credibility as an expert among those who may wish to hire you. A book is more than a packet of information; it is a powerful marketing tool that you must use to promote yourself in addition to your ideas.
While a book can spread information to people you have never met, it is most useful in generating business with people you already know. Merely slipping a mention of your book in conversations will generate interest and trust in your ideas. A book never guarantees continuous recognition, so you have to manipulate it to your advantage as you underline the authority you already have. A book validates your research and shows that you followed an in-depth thought process to reach your level of insight. You have both the knowledge and expertise to have written an entire book, so it’s crucial to emphasize the exceptionality of your book in addition to your qualifications for writing it.

Despite all the effort and tribulations involved, authors agree that publishing a book is worth the personal and business payoff.  Very few people have published a book, so it’s considered a great achievement that commands respect. It may seem easier to simply release articles or information on the Internet, but nothing can top the respect for a physical and published book. Book authors risk putting their time and money on the line, asking readers to trust their book’s content over Internet information that is (in comparison) relatively effortless to issue.

Unlike article authors, book authors seek to create something lasting. They hope their books will become an ageless authority that readers can continually consult. And while a book can indeed create that lasting impact, publishing another one is never a bad idea. Continuing to publish demonstrates that you are active, informed, doing new things, and getting better. But if you do decide to publish again, take care that your new book says something new and unique, or you may risk defeating your previous book.

In addition to attaining readers and respect, a book can open the door for numerous business prospects, including speaking engagements and workshops. Suzanne Bates, president of Bates Communications and author of Speak Like a CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention and Getting Results (McGraw-Hill 2005), suggests giving your book to prospective clients as a marketing tool. But why would you give your book away for free? The bottom line, explains Suzanne, is that no matter how it sells, “the real value in a book is in all the business it generates.” The fact that you have published a book authenticates your expert status, motivating organizations and individuals to invite you to events that feature you and to seek out what you have to offer. The best reason to publish is not for the revenue book sales can provide: some books sell and some books don’t. Nevertheless, every book you publish offers priceless new opportunities for visibility, credibility, and recognition, allowing you to increase your overall business and to stand far ahead of your competition.


The Author

Charlotte Cutter

Charlotte Cutter is a Publishing Assistant at Emerson Consulting Group, Inc. (Concord, MA), which transforms consultants, attorneys, CEOs, and professionals service firms into “thought leaders.” She is also a student at Colby College (’09) where she is majoring in English and Art.

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Copyright 2007 by Charlotte Cutter. All rights reserved.

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