Can (should) you write/publish a book?

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social media book

Does published author status lead to more business, credibility and success?

This traditional perception had real validity a decade ago, when you would have needed a professional publishing business to back you as an author. The publisher, who would absorb the costs of producing and marketing the book, would pay you modest royalties, perhaps after paying an advance. However, the book provided enough credibility to create speaking and consulting engagements.

These concepts remain in place today, but the book publishing world’s rules have changed. E-book options coupled with print-on-demand technologies, widespread on-line marketing through services such as Amazon.com, have broken the barriers to self or small-scale publishing. You can conceive, create and publish your book (and achieve international distribution) on your own for modest cost, within months.

There are some catches to this new publishing order, of course.

  • The gatekeepers no longer control quality — the book needs to earn and live with its reputation (often through readers’ reviews.)
  • proposal development secrets coverThe power impact of the book on yourreputation is less dramatic than before; books are no longer scarce, therefore they have lost some of their value;
  • While many costs have disappeared, you can still pay an arm-and-a-leg for mediocre services or packaging deals when you are self-publishing a book.

So, should you do it?

The best answer I can provide are three observations, two successful and one not so successful (though the not-so-sucessful writer probably doesn’t mind.)

In the first, Matt Handal has achieved some significant success with his Proposal Development Secrets:  Win More, Work Smarter and Get Home on Time. He hasn’t quit his day job, but certainly earns significant revenues from the book and related products (including his book/video package produced after a successful Construction Marketing Ideas webinar. He has also garnered some speaking invitations.

My books haven’t sold as quickly and effectively as Handal’s but three years after publishing the Construction Marketing Ideas book, it continues to sell about 20 copies a month.  The social media marketing book hasn’t sold as many copies, but it is a great give-away and supplement to the main book. Both books have given me some speaking gigs, helped out in sales and client service, and overall has produced solid residual income and results.

book coverThe third project, which I won’t identify in public, involved turning a consultant’s extensive manuscript into a book. We spent several months on the project, designing a cover and proofing it. It has sold less than a dozen copies in two years. The consultant brags about the book in his marketing materials, though I suppose (based on the turgid reaction to it), the book’s value is more in his perception than in reality.

Conclusions:

Book writing and publishing is much easier than before, but still requires writing ability (Matt is a great writer), editing, design and marketing. If you have all of these skills, of course, the process is a cinch.  (I’m a publisher, after all, so have access to various services and resources to help out — and worked as a writer/journalist before starting the publishing business.) If you don’t, you will need to contract for these services, and they can be either inexpensive or really costly, depending on which services you use. If you are not experienced at publishing, you’ll probably pay far more for he services than you should.

You can’t escape the need for quality. Yes, you can publish a bad book probably less expensively than before in the era of vanity publishers, but the book, if bad, won’t do much good for your reputation and success. If you seek to build quality by using contract writers, proofreaders and designers, of course, your costs will rise and so will the risk of an incomplete payback — but I think if you don’t have the basics, you need to be ready to spend for these services.

Blow-away-blockbusters are rare. Don’t expect miracles. Neither my nor Matt’s world changed that much after we published our books. Sure, we bask in some glory, enjoy the residual income and reputation-building success, but I don’t think we are ready to quit our regular jobs just yet to go on the author/speaking circuit. In other words, if you do it right, the book will help your business, but won’t have overly dramatic impact.

Can we help you in your book-writing project? Possibly. If you’ve written a book, we might be able to take it through to publication for you for a modest fee. The cost will depend on the book’s size — a small e-book would cost less than a 200 page hardcover. I estimate that the process could require a $5,000 investment if the book is a full-scale volume, with some editing but not requiring a complete ghostwriting. Depending on your business and the book quality, that investment would probably have a greater ROI than many other marketing options. You can reach me at buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com for more information.

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