By Jeff Beals
“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.” – Sir Winston Churchill
Not only was Prime Minister Winston Churchill a great wartime leader who led Britain through “its finest hour” during its darkest time, he was a prolific author. He wrote countless books and even won the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature.
While Churchill had a gift for writing, even he would tell you that creating a book was a heavy endeavor, a major undertaking.
I would concur.
As an author who has completed two volumes, I can relate to his quote above. It makes me smile knowingly and nod accordingly. Writing a book is like running a marathon that goes on for months. It’s more rigorous than any of the courses I took in college. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it’s kind of like raising a child. It can become all-consuming and almost gut-wrenching when you’re struggling with a certain chapter or trying to develop a string of thought that just doesn’t seem to want to string together.
Yet, despite the “blood, toil, tears and sweat” that go into writing a book, if Churchill were alive, he’d surely say it was all worth it.
Again, I concur with the Prime Minister.
Writing a book assures your thoughts and beliefs are spelled out for all to see and made a part of humanity’s permanent record. But perhaps more importantly, it’s one of the most powerful marketing tools ever invented.
A book is your credibility establisher, credential creator and reputation cementer. Publish a book and you are an instant authority, a recognized expert.
In short, a book is kind of like an expensive business card.
In this day and age, where so much communication “noise” clutters the marketplace, a book can help you and/or your company stand out among the crowd.
There’s a common author-recruiting question that people in the publishing industry like ask accomplished people they meet at cocktail parties: “Is there a book inside you?” In fact, this question was also the title of a 1999 book about writing and publishing books.
So, is there a book inside YOU?
I suspect there probably is. Most professionals have accumulated enough stories and experiences to write at least one good book.
And the good news is that writing and publishing a book is much more doable nowadays than it traditionally was.
Publishing has become democratized. In the not-too-distant olden days, publishing was tightly controlled by a “cartel” of New York-based publishing companies that kept a choke hold on the industry. That was before the publishing rebellion. Those venerable old publishing houses no longer wield the fearsome power they once did.
Many smaller, specialty publishers have sprung up and they’re looking for authors and manuscripts. Furthermore, technological advances and the rise of publishing consultants have made it quite feasible to create books on your own and retain ownership of all rights.
No doubt there’s power in writing a book. But what do you need to know? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. The book must stand on its own merit. While you may be writing it to serve essentially as a marketing piece, it must be interesting and compelling while covering a salient topic. Otherwise, nobody will want to read it.
2. Picture your ideal reader in your head as you write the manuscript. That will help you keep the message focused and applicable to the audience.
3. Shoot for awards. A poorly written or sloppily edited book can actually hurt your cause. Try to write a volume that you think would be worthy of an award. If you hold yourself to that standard, you’re probably going to have a pretty darned good book.
4. Be disciplined but patient. You need discipline to make sure you work on it at least a little bit every night but the patience to know that this thing is not going to be finished overnight – or maybe not even this year. As the old saying goes, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time.” Writing a book is like eating an elephant.
5. Talk to other authors about their experiences and figure out their mistakes so you don’t repeat them.
6. If you want to use a traditional publisher, you’re most likely going to need a literary agent. There are quite a few of them and they can be found through simple Google searches. To be honest with you, it’s hard to get a literary agent if you’re not already a successful author, are famous or have a personal connection to an agent. If you strike out trying to get one, talk to a publishing consultant – some people call them “book shepherds” – who you can hire to help you through the self-publishing process.
7. Get your salesperson uniform on! Whether you publish traditionally or decide to write through your own micro-publishing company, the burden to market the book almost always falls on the author. Think in advance about how you will promote the book, what channels you will use and who you will target.
Writing a book is not easy, but it is incredibly powerful. That’s why so many people are doing it and why many companies/organizations are commissioning books.
Think about it…What’s going to make a bigger impression on a prospective client, donor, employee or anyone else you’re trying to win over – a business card or an autographed book?
Your book may not be as elegantly written as those penned by Sir Winston Churchill. You may not win the Nobel Prize for Literature, but you’ll surely enjoy standing out among your competitors.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps professionals enjoy greater success through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide. To discuss booking a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (402) 637-9300.
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