Several people told me that on Facebook this week.
It brought back memories of talking with a business mentor about his first book.
“Don’t write a book thinking you’re going to get rich from it. I’ve put lots of my own money into writing and publishing my first book. Probably more money than I should.”
Here are some thoughts gleaned from my research over the course of many years.
(yes, I am developing several books of my own)
So why write a book in the first place?
For personal credibility. To encapsulate your thoughts or lessons learned for your team or people in a similar line of work. To start an industry-wide conversation about a subject.
Those are the main reasons given by most network marketing authors I’ve questioned.
Do I need to write a book?
Maybe not. Maybe a video series would be more effective. Perhaps a blog would be better than a book. Blogs are more flexible than printed books and have zero startup costs. You can publish as often as you like, starting immediately, at a schedule you choose.
Remember you can re-purpose the blog posts into other forms of stored communication. Have you ever read someone’s blog posts then bought their book… to discover the chapters look awfully familiar? Did they create an audiobook, too? Or perhaps they published a book and offered a 20-part video series that builds on those themes. All of these are different ways to re-purpose the material.
Re-purposing is not a rip-off because people absorb information in different ways. For me, I need visual cues, because I don’t absorb information well through my ears alone. Plus I prefer printed books because I can write notes in the margins, circle, and underline easily with a ballpoint pen.
Are e-books a good option?
Consider the differences between physical books and their electronic counterparts. A physical book costs more to produce than an electronic version. The e-version can be delivered faster, at a higher profit margin, and revisions are easier to create & distribute.
To make a professional and credible impression, an e-book still needs a professional’s assistance with the graphics, layout, and grammar.
I shy away from reading or purchasing e-books for several reasons.
I’m a visually oriented person, so once the e-book is downloaded, it is “out of sight” and I tend to forget about it. I spend many hours each week in front of a computer screen or smartphone, so a printed book is a welcome change of pace. I dislike dedicating lots of storage space to reading material, especially since “no book shall go untouched”… I mark up and add my own comments to every book I own & read, including romance novels. Additionally I had a bad experience with an e-book I annotated last year; the file got corrupted and all those hours of work were lost.
I recognize those are personal preferences, which won’t stop me from publishing e-books in the first place.
What about self-publishing?
In the past few years the options for self publishing have expanded greatly. There are services that can print physical copies on demand, for example. Of course, you shoulder the cost of preparing the manuscript so it is ready for printing, and the publishing company requires either a percentage or flat fee for each item sold. Do thorough research before jumping into this option.
Where’s my “advance”? Won’t the big publishing houses help me market my book?
Keep waiting. Unless you already have professionally-published reading material, most publishing houses will not consider paying you a lump sum in advance of launch-day sales.
The answer to the second question can be disappointing. If they market your book on your behalf (the fine print will say just how much minimum time they are obligated to do so), the publishing house likely wants you to go on a physical book tour. Will you be willing to spend several weeks or weekends sitting in bookstores, grocery stores, shopping malls, or other venues?
Also consider that every major imprinter has a focus. Some publishing houses focus on cookbooks and lifestyle books, whereas others publish science-theme books for the everyday reader. Others create school textbooks. Make sure you match your submission with the preferred themes of the big house you are approaching.
What are some modern options about marketing my book?
Virtual book tours have become more popular over the past few years, and I’ve heard at least 2 authors say the virtual tour was more productive than an in-person tour. Virtual tours use the power of video and internet, which might fit your needs better.
What topic should I choose?
That’s up to you. And consider that is an incomplete stance.
Does a book about washing dishes sound interesting? What if I told you a Buddhist monk was writing about the task as a meditation practice? How would a 20 year old nomad living in the desert, a television lifestyle guru, and a person living on a sailboat approach the subject?
So your viewpoint matters.
Tell us WHO you are, so we know you have a different viewpoint or approach than the other authors in your subject area.
(I did this when launching this blog. My friend Harry told me, “You’re writing about building a network marketing business from the viewpoint of a former aerospace engineer? I think you have that angle all to yourself!”)
Are you older or younger than the typical person interested in the subject? Different marital status (elderly divorced dad instead of the typical never-married 20 year old woman)? Residing in a different country or member of an unusual culture, compared to the “typical” author? Different scholastic background or business experience, gender, or education level? Married to or a child of a fanatic about the topic?
For inspiration, walk through and browse the magazine section of a major bookstore. The variety of magazines is mind-boggling. In our modern world there is a magazine, newsletter, or online discussion group for ANY viewpoint or subject. And even for a well-established subject such as home decor, publications exist for the status-conscious watch-loving man, college students on a budget, people who want to emulate their favorite lifestyle guru, and many more.
Regardless of your viewpoint, SOMEONE out there wants to hear about it. Just be OK if your audience is not large. (and you might consider blogging about it to discover who is interested in your topic.) If you are fluent in more than one language, consider publishing your blog or e-book in multiple languages. (Online do-it-yourself translating web sites can leave a lot to be desired!)
Where do I get material?
Look in your email outbox, social media messaging apps, or mobile phone text feature. Have you been explaining your topic to your teammates? Did you cover this in posts on other social media platforms? Have you delivered speeches, sermons, or team trainings on your publishing subject? It’s time to re-purpose those messages.
Keep an idea file. When your brain starts brainstorming, handwrite, tap, or type those ideas so you have a list of topics for the days when your creative well seems dry. (You will thank yourself.) Collect interesting viewpoints of your subject that you see in email & social media… of course you will end up expressing your own viewpoint, which can give a refreshing look at a well-worn topic.
You deserve to have your voice heard. Grab a blog, notes app, or word processing document and get started.
–LYnn Selwa, “The Rocket Science Coach” ™
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