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Build Your Career Get Ahead

Writing a Book? How to Self-Publish and Build Your Brand

Writing a Book? How to Self-Publish and Build Your Brand
Credit: stockphoto mania/Shutterstock

Publishing a book is an excellent branding strategy for business owners and experts in their field. It not only reinforces your capabilities and proficiency but also gives you credibility, experts say.

"A book is a substantial business card," said Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning series. "When you hand someone your book, you're an expert by default. It's a long-term investment both in royalties and a steady increase in income."

"Writing my first book allowed me to raise my rates," added Honoree Corder, author of multiple books, including "The Divorced Phoenix: Rising from the Ashes of a Broken Marriage" (2016). "Having a book is a really great tool."

Although you might be concerned about finding a publisher, there are plenty of companies — including Amazon (no fee), Balboa Press and Archway Publishing — that allow you to self-publish your book for a fee. Business News Daily recently attended a New York City roundtable event featuring self-published business authors who have used Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing platform. If you're thinking about pursuing this path, read on for advice from these authors on how to make your new book a success.

Writing a book is no easy feat: You're expected to fill those pages with interesting information that will keep readers engaged and ultimately teach them something based on your business-related knowledge.

This project can be overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you know if the information you want to convey is actually useful?

To start, you need to know your message and believe in it, Elrod said.

"I focus on the message from beginning to end and how I can tell stories so personal that people won't believe I wrote that," added James Altucher, co-author of "The Power of No: Because One Little Word Can Bring Health, Abundance, and Happiness" (2014).

Once you get the messaging in order, you should work out a way to appeal to readers. Pat Flynn, author of "Will It Fly? How to Test Your Next Business Idea So You Don't Waste Your Time and Money" (2016), worked with other people, specifically the following he built when composing his latest book.

What information do you have to offer, and what is its value? Gauging readers' interest can help fine-tune your writing.

"There's no one better to work with than your future readers," Flynn said. "Get people invested in the process by sharing every step along the way. [The book] partly feels like their own."

Putting words on a page may be the toughest part of the process, and with so many distractions, the task can feel even bigger. Because writing a book is work and a contributing factor to your income, it should be treated as such, Flynn noted.

"Saying yes to the book means saying no to something else," Flynn said, noting that this is a tough choice. "[My] team and I worked hard to get ahead to have complete focus."

Flynn, a successful podcaster, recorded up to six months of episodes in advance of writing his book. He hired a coach to ensure he would be accountable for creating this book, and set strict boundaries similar to office hours in any other job. Once the door was closed at his home office, he was fully immersed in the work he needed to complete.

Planning is also helpful; Elrod said he and his team worked to make enough revenue to take time off to write the book.

He added that you need to hold yourself accountable to complete the project. You can do so by making the process public and sharing it on social media with followers who would be interested in the progress, Elrod said.

Working with an established publisher means you have access to the company's in-house editorial staff. When you self-publish, you're on your own for copy editing, so you may want to consider outsourcing this task to a professional to make your book as polished and credible as possible, Corder said.

Guy Kawasaki, co-author of "The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users" (2014), sent copies of manuscripts for corrections to anyone who wanted to review the book.

"Feedback contributes to improvement," Kawasaki said.

He noted that he asked anyone who received an advance copy of the book to add an Amazon review in the first 48 hours of the release of the book, which also contributed to his success.

Now that your book has been written and edited to be published (or has been published), you must market the material, especially because you don't have the support of a publishing house pushing the book.

Flynn got his audience involved early in the publishing process.

"Using all of my channels, I shared my process of creating the book all along the way, even allowing people to get access to first drafts and such before it went live, to collect feedback and make my audience feel like they were very much a part of the process," he said. "This would be more difficult to do with a traditional publisher, who may be a little more reserved in just handing out the book before it's published."

In addition to sharing his process, he built a launch team made up of a couple hundred people who were selected to get early access to content.

They also formed this launch team so they "would have reviews from people who have already read the book, and a lot more social proof right off the bat after it launched," Flynn said.

His marketing program also unlocked various levels of purchasing and interacting with the book, including a postcard to say thanks. For people who showed higher levels of engagement, he matched the cost of the books and donated that amount to Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit that builds schools, trains teachers and funds scholarships.

All investments, including writing a book, include some form of risk. As a self-published author, however, the lead time for return on investment is extended.

"Everything takes longer than you think," Elrod said.

The money won't all come from just the book itself, either. Your brand will be better because of it, said Elrod, who has since increased bookings and fees as a result of his books. "It's a long-term investment both in royalties and a steady increase in income," he said.

If you're ready to work on a book, make sure it's something you're passionate about and believe in, Elrod advised. "If you have genuine love, passion and belief in what you do, it manifests success," he said.

Shannon Gausepohl

Shannon Gausepohl graduated from Rowan University in 2012 with a degree in journalism. She has worked at a newspaper and in the public relations field, and is currently a staff writer at Business News Daily. Shannon is a zealous bookworm, has her blue belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, and loves her Blue Heeler mix, Tucker.