If you've ever considered writing a book historically two options existed. You can self-publish, meaning you retain creative control and a large piece of royalties but pay for production and somehow figure out distribution. Or, a traditional publisher pays you upfront for your brilliant material, which you meld according to the desires of a company which can get your book into stores, although you keep far less in royalties on the backend.
Today another model exists. Tanya Hall, CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, says her company--which has published about two dozen New York Times bestsellers--is a hybrid of the two wherein authors contribute to production costs but have the final say in creative control. They also keep 7-9 times more in royalties and get a book to market faster than they would with traditional publishers. Here's what she says you need to know about writing a book.
1. It's a great way to build your brand.
Two-thirds of Greenleaf's authors--who tend to be consultants, executives and speakers--are people writing about business topics and looking to get a book on an airport newsstand shelf. Ideally, a reader who consumes a book during a flight is so impressed with the author's advice and expertise that he or she initiates some kind of relationship, whether it's hiring the person to speak or consult or even just following the author on social media. "The book is really serving as a tool to reinforce their credibility, and to enhance their visibility," she says.
2. A popular book can lure talent to your company.
"[Some authors] have either a culture they're particularly proud of, or a methodology, or just basically want to get the word out about how they do business and want to attract the best to be around them," she says.
3. Regular people can write a book, too.
While executives and public figures tend to have the experience that lends itself to giving advice, anyone with good insight can write a book. "Especially since the economic downturn in '08 we saw a number of people got a little tired of depending on big, corporate America for stability in their lives," she says. "[They] decided to use a book as a way to start building a personal brand so that they could start having the visibility they needed to chart that path on their own," she says.
4. You can get help with the wordsmithing.
Maybe you have sound advice but are too busy or lack the writing chops to lay out a book on your own. You can always hire a ghostwriter, although they're not cheap and will run anywhere from $15,000 to six figures (and at the high end are booked years in advance). A more accessible option for many would-be authors: A writing coach, someone who charges a few thousand dollars to help an author structure a book's framework using a fill-in-the-blank format. "Typically they are an editor by trade, but it's somebody who has some specialized training to be able to coach--to be able to come alongside and identify where the client's getting stuck, and talk them through where to go next without doing the work for them," she says.
5. Business people want a physical book.
While uploading an e-book to Amazon is an easy thing for anyone to do, if you're serious about building a brand with business readers you'll give them a bound paper book. "People like to have them on their shelves to show their intelligence and what they stand for," she says. Plus, it's easier for a manager to simply buy several dozen paper books and give them to employees, versus distributing e-books and having to mess around with the tech support that may be needed for people to actually access the content on their various devices.
6. Gifting a book is good PR.
Even if your book sits around on someone's desk for a period of time, gifting it to the press and potential clients increases the chance people will open it at some point and eventually request a media interview or hire you as a consultant or speaker.
7. A well-done book shows you do quality work.
It's difficult to do anything well if you're operating in an environment you don't fully understand, such as publishing. So, get help and don't put something out into the world that you can't take back. In other words, don't gunshot publish a book. "Think it out and make sure that it's consistent with your audience's needs, your company's messaging, and that it looks good and is well-packaged," she says. "It is a definite direct reflection on the quality of what you do as a business person."