It's practically become cliche to think of a book as a "business card." But there's no denying the impact a book can have in elevating an author's brand to a new level. Books can be powerful tools to support your larger business goals, but authors often struggle to understand how the book reflects their larger brand.
For instance, when working with a cover designer, should the cover match your personal or company branding guidelines? Should it stand alone? And how much of your valuable insight should you really share? Some authors fear that if they share too much they may cannibalize business by empowering readers to do it themselves.
To understand how a book can support your brand, we'll break it into two categories: the visual and the rhetorical.
If your expertise warrants writing a book, you've probably also spent many hours thinking about and refining your visual brand. Everything from logos and color choices to fonts and spacing come together to create a cohesive visual identity.
When it comes to branding, maintaining consistent visuals is key. If someone signs up for your newsletter, it shouldn't look drastically different from your website or your social media images. The point is to inspire your audience to feel a certain way immediately.
When it comes to a book though, the same rules don't always apply. A book that closely adheres to a brand's guidelines will inevitably end up looking more like a brochure than a book. There are certain spaces, like blogs or newsletters, where consumers expect to be pitched, but a book is a product where consumers expect to get a great deal from the author.
Arguably, the most important element of a book design is that the book looks appropriate for the genre. What are books with similar content doing? What emotions do those covers evoke? Evaluating comparable titles within your desired genre will help ensure that your own book will look the part.
The sweet spot for designing a book that supports your brand lies between a focus on 1) designing a quality cover that fits the genre, and 2) ensuring that the chosen cover does not directly conflict with your existing brand. What is the emotion you want your audience to feel when they go to your website? Does that line up with what they'll feel looking at the book cover?
Another important consideration when developing a book is to ensure that the content you share can stand alone. If your website gives them a glimpse into what you do, the book should give them a bird's-eye-view.
Many authors fear that others may steal their ideas, or that they may lose clients by giving their insights away in a book. However, reading a book is a big investment in terms of time. If the average adult reads at 300 words per minute, the average business book will take them at least a few hours to read. In reality, most of us stop and start the books we read and will probably take a few weeks to finish one.
Attention spans are shorter than ever and there's more competition for content to fill our time, so readers naturally want to feel like their time was well spent. Don't leave out valuable content if it could help your target reader.
For would-be authors who fear that others may steal their methodologies, the one thing no one can copy or steal is you and what you bring to the table. It all goes back to the brand, which is about much more than your ideas. It's about using your unique value proposition to help your target audience and make them feel a certain way. If your message is authentic and resonates with your audience, copycats won't be able to mimic your brand in its entirety. And the person who spends $20 on your book and tries to implement your methodologies themselves was probably never going to hire you in the first place.
When developing a book, keep these key ideas in mind to help strategize where your book will fit in your brand so you will end up with a quality end-product that your audience will be excited to read.