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The New Business Card: A Simple Guide to Using a Book to Expand Your Small Business
By Penny C. Sansevieri, Adjunct Instructor NYU & CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
We’re fast approaching the New Year and with that, comes renewed energy to find new and creative ways to attract new business. And every business, no matter what their specialty, is always on the lookout for new business.
When I started my business sixteen years ago, I didn’t have a lot of money to invest in advertising. In fact, I didn’t even have a sales team. What I did have was a book. Though I wrote it with the intention of sharing knowledge, it did something very different altogether. It expanded my business. People would call me to say, “I read your book and want to hire you.” If you’re sitting in a cluttered and competitive market, a book may be the key you need to help you and your business rise above the noise.
If you’re sold on the idea of writing a book, here is a short course on what you need to know as it relates to bringing a book to market:
Do you want to bring in more business, get speaking engagements, or get more media coverage? Defining where you want to go and what you want this book to do for you will help you create a book that is unique to that goal or goals.
To be a self-published author you need a good book, solid cover, and an ISBN, which is a unique bar code assigned to your specific book. Most businesses don’t have time to become their own publisher so I recommend that they go through a third party, a publisher designed to help you go from finished manuscript to finished book. These publishers typically charge less than $2,000, and will create a book for you, load it up on Amazon, and get it into a distribution system.
Editing & Book Cover Design:
Your book cover will be important and often tie into your branding so you’ll want someone to create something that is as professional as you are. For this reason I often go outside of my publisher to hire a cover person to do this for me. A cover can make or break any book.
Regarding editing, your book is not just a business card, it’s a resume. Hire out for this, too. I recommend a content editor and a copy editor, in fact I’d recommend doing a few rounds of copy edit because the last thing you want to do is publish a book that’s full of typos.
Analyze Your Market
Before you launch head-long into the publishing world, see what other people are writing about, who else is writing in your industry. You want to get a sense of what they address, how they address those issues, and how you can improve on the conversation. If you don’t see books in your market decide if this is just a trend, or if there’s some other reason why. The best way to do this is to talk to someone in a bookstore. If there isn’t a market for your book they’ll be able to tell you.
What Does Your Audience Need, Right Now?
It’s important to determine what will pull in new business. Let’s say you go to a bookstore and find that there isn’t a consumer market for your book. This could be because you are in a very specialized industry or B2B, in which case then consumer research isn’t going to help you. This will be a time when you’ll want to know what might drive consumers to your company. What needs do they have that you can help them with? If you know what motivated a person to buy; this will help you to create a book that feeds that market.
Here’s a tip: if you do speaking events the audience Q&A is a great place to develop book ideas. I find that the Q&A time can be a goldmine for books, articles and even blog posts!
No Time to Write:
Many business owners I work with often have content in the form of blog posts and white papers that can easily be repurposed. You can either pull the material together yourself or hire someone (typically an editor) to do this for you. If you have no content and even less time to write, consider hiring a ghostwriter. A ghostwriter will do everything for you and, in some cases, even research and write the content. It is important to find a ghostwriter who can mirror your voice, but that’s easy enough with a writing sample.
Short is the New Long:
In some cases, you may feel that you want to publish a lot of content and that perhaps several books might work better for your market. If that’s the case, consider doing shorter books which will allow you to divide up your content across several segments of your book. How short is short? Well, 50 pages should be your minimum – anything less than that falls more in the area of it being a white paper. Generally I see business books that fall into the shorter category being over 65 and under 100 pages.
Putting your Book to Work:
Now that you have your book done, consider the wondrous things it can do for you. For example, you always want to have something that leads readers to get more information, whether that’s a sign-up bonus or a way to go deeper into the content. Links back to your website will lead them to a backend where they can access all sorts of things not included in the book; this will also help you grow your mailing list!
Print Book, eBook or Both?
There are many authors who just publish their work to eBook while others use a combination of print and digital. Which one is right for you? Well that kind of depends on what your goals are. If you’re selling them during your speaking gig, you will probably want a print copy – though if you do that I’d recommend just getting a paperback book because they travel better and are less expensive for attendees to buy. If you don’t aspire to speak and have no need for an actual print book, then going eBook only is perfectly fine.
If you’re looking to expand your market, get more business, and create a 24/7 sales tool, consider writing a book. And with publishing so accessible, it’s become easier than ever to do this. The key is: reach. Having a book gives you the kind of reach that an ad or some other paid marketing effort never could achieve.
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Follow on Twitter @Bookgal.
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