Publishing a book is one of the fastest and most effective ways to attain expert status in your field. When you author a book on a subject people naturally believe that you know a lot about that subject – you become an instant authority.
Even if you did not know so much about your chosen subject before you started writing, the very process of writing a book will cause you to think, do lots of research, interview experts, read many books and articles and synthesise all that you’ve learnt to form your own position. By the time you process all the information you acquire you would have known more about that subject than you did at first. And that would have placed you several steps ahead of most people. In short, you would have become an expert.
Most dictionaries define an expert as a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area. Some of the synonyms include: specialist, resource person, authority. By the way, have you noticed that ‘author’ and ‘authority’ are from the same root word? Becoming a published author is one powerful way to grow your business and personal brand. Look at every prominent and successful person you know and you’ll find that nearly all of them have authored a book. So why haven’t you?
For most people the answer boils down to self-doubt. They express fears like, Who am I to write a book? Would anyone want to read what I write? I’m not even an expert neither am I a professional writer. Well, the first point I want you to know is that you don’t become an expert to write a book; you write a book to become an expert.
You don't become an expert to write a book; you write a book to become an expert. Click To TweetLet me explain that. Cast your mind back to university days. How did you earn your degree? You did some years of course work and wrapped it all up with a dissertation — your thesis. You didn’t become a graduate to write your dissertation; you wrote your dissertation to become a graduate. The same principle applies to writing a book.
‘I don’t have time’
One of the lessons I learnt early in life came from a quote I picked up in my high school library almost two decades ago: “You will never have time for anything. If you want time you must make it.” When I think of this quote in relation to writing, John Grisham readily comes to mind.
John Grisham was a new father and a very busy lawyer when he started writing his first book, A Time to Kill. He would wake up at 5:00am every morning, get to his office by 5:30am and write for three hours. His goal was to write a page per day for 365 days. It took him three years and he didn’t even know the book was going to succeed. From the 5000 copies produced by the publisher he bought 1000 copies that he was going to sell to his friends. He still has about 50 of them ‘buried in his backyard’.
Eventually Grisham went on to become a bestselling author with A Time to Kill opening up an entirely new genre — the legal thriller. But his success did not come overnight; it came over time as he consciously and consistently committed himself to the discipline of writing. See how he puts it in a 2011 interview with The Guardian: “My name became a brand, and I’d love to say that was the plan from the start. But the only plan was to keep writing books.”
Organising your thoughts
I should warn you against marathon writing and linear writing. They are usually not effective for most practical purposes. Marathon writing is trying to block out a long stretch of time to execute your writing project. Don’t do it. You’ll be better off writing for one hour every day than planning a two-week vacation to work on your book. Another mistake to avoid is linear writing — trying to write everything in sequence. Don’t try to write your book sequentially. It’s OK to write chapter five before chapter two and chapter one after chapter eight. Just write as it comes. You have only one goal at the initial stage — finish the manuscript. You’ll do the sorting and editing later.
In light of this, it is important that you have a system for ‘harvesting’ and organising your thoughts. I use Evernote for that because it allows me to organise my thoughts into searchable notes and folders which I can easily access across all my devices through mobile and desktop apps or via a web browser. Apart from using Evernote to capture my thoughts whenever inspiration strikes I also use it to automatically back up my Facebook posts. If you put together all your Facebook posts over the past one year, you could very well have a book from it. That’s especially true if you’ve been very deliberate about your posts. And guess what? You don’t have to duplicate efforts or do it manually. You can simply use an app like IFTTT to save your Facebook posts into Evernote or Google Drive. You can do the same for your tweets.
If we have been connected on Facebook for some time you would realise that I often use hashtags in my posts. The essence of the hashtags is to make it easier to sort my posts archive into categories. For instance, three of my most frequently used hashtags are #ThinkingwithPhilip #ParablesOfPhilip and #PhilipOnBusiness. When I’m ready to put my business insights in book form, what do you think I will do? I’ll simply go to my post archives (automatically created by connecting my Facebook profile to Evernote through IFTTT), sieve out the posts with the relevant hashtags and produce the rough draft of my manuscript. With that, I don’t have to start on a blank page, which is a big challenge that most writers are faced with. Even the most seasoned writers often find it difficult to get started. But once you have some ‘raw material’ to start with, the process becomes a lot easier. Check out this article on the Evernote blog to learn more about how to use IFTTT with Evernote.
A book is essentially a vehicle to transfer knowledge or convey information, opinion, insights and ideas. That’s something we do every day as we talk to friends and family, address a gathering or simply rhapsodise about something we’re passionate about. You can ‘write’ your book the same way. Once you have determined the essence and purpose of your book, draw up an outline, get someone to interview you (or ‘interview’ yourself) based on the outline and simply record the conversation. Then get someone to transcribe the audio and hire an editor to finish it up.
If you want to test out your ideas before putting them in a book form consider starting a blog and turning the blog to a book. Platform by Michael Hyatt and Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim are great examples of successful books that began as a blog. If you choose to follow this path you must be mindful of the fact that blog writing and book writing are different art forms and each of them has its distinctive qualities.
Blog writing & book writing are different art forms with distinctive qualities. Click To Tweet For example a print book tends to provide a more immersive experience than a blog especially in light of the distractions and short attention span that characterise the online environment. So be prepared to edit and revise your blog content before proceeding to the book publishing stage.
After writing, what next?
Once you’re done developing, revising and editing your manuscript you can proceed to approach a publisher. Better still you can self-publish through platforms like Createspace (for print books) or Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing (for eBooks). Now it’s time to start getting the word out. Promote your book on your website, put it in front of influencers, fellow authors and members of your target audience. All through the process, remember that your book is not an end in itself but a means to an end.
Your focus is not so much on how much you make from sales as it is on the opportunities that the book will create for you especially in terms of enhancing your visibility, conferring expert status on you and raising your perceived value. Your perceived value is the bridge between your real/intrinsic value and your market value. As a young professional or independent consultant people will usually not pay you what you’re worth; they will pay you what they think you’re worth. Having a value-packed book to your name is a certain way to bridge this gap.
Question: What’s your biggest challenge with leveraging a book to grow your business or personal brand? Share with us in the comments.