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Behind the Scenes of Writing a Business Book – Part 5: Marketing

Behind the Scenes of Writing a Business Book – Part 5: Marketing

In this fifth and final article in our series about the process of writing a business book, we present some suggestions and tips for how to make the most of your book once it’s complete. If you’ve just found this series now, you can catch up by taking a look at Part 1 (an introduction to the series and how to plan for writing a book), Part 2 (the writing process itself), Part 3 (editing and layout), and Part 4 (cover design).

Now, you may be thinking, “But I haven’t even started writing a book yet! I don’t want to get ahead of myself by worrying about to do with it when it’s done!” That’s a natural thought to have. Even the idea of writing a book can seem overwhelming and intimidating, so it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to be concerning yourself with any post-publishing activities yet.

I encourage you to continue reading, anyway, because having a plan for getting your book out into the world can help you at every stage of the process, even as early as the pre-writing stage, where you may not even have your book’s topic and direction set in stone yet. My hope is that this article gets you thinking about your book’s audience and purpose right from the beginning, and that it ultimately gets you excited to finish it so you can get out there and share it!

Book Marketing At A Glance

As business owners, we all know that marketing is a large key to success. After all, customers cannot possibly know about your products or services unless you are able to reach them and tell them about your business. Writing a book is no different. Readers will not know it exists unless you tell them.

On one hand, it seems like reaching readers is more difficult than ever because of the sheer volume of books that are out there. According to the September 2016 report from Bowker (the organization that issues International Standard Book Numbers), over one million unique titles were published in 2015. That doesn’t even include titles that were published without an ISBN (another topic for another day). To say the market is saturated would be an understatement.

On the other hand, readers now have so many more methods for finding books than they used to. In that sense, the advent of digital publishing has been great for readers and authors alike. Plus, now readers can use keywords in order to find only the books that fit their exact needs. Gone are the days of aimlessly browsing an entire wall of “business books,” only to realize that 95% of them don’t cover the exact topic you are looking for. Amazon and other online retailers have been game changers in this way.

So, What’s the Best Way to Share Your Business Book?

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to marketing your business book. It’s not that simple. But—you can find the best way to share your particular business book fairly easily if you go back to the beginning, and think about the purpose of your book. Why did you decide to write a business book in the first place? Who do you hope reads it? Clients? Prospective clients? Colleagues?

Once you figure out whom the book is intended for, then you can think about how best to get it in their hands. You’ll have to figure out what works best for you, your business, and your specific book, but here are some ideas to try, all of which we’ve seen work well in different situations:

  1. Get comfortable bringing your book up in conversation

This is something you can do right from the beginning, before you’ve even written a word. First, you say to people, “I’m going to be writing a book.” Once you start writing, you can say, “I’m writing a book,” and when it’s done, “I wrote a book.” People are often impressed by someone writing a book, and if you can relate specific parts of it to the conversation, they’ll be interested and likely to ask more about it. It takes a little bit of practice to do this without feeling overly “promote-y,” but stick with it. These kinds of conversations almost always turn into powerful connections.

  1. Make sure you have copies of your book on you at all times

You never know when you’ll come across an opportunity to share your book with someone. Next time you have a meeting with a current or prospective client, or even a colleague, hand them a copy at some point during the meeting. If you don’t meet with clients or colleagues in person, send out links to it, or send copies in PDF form. Make it easy. As humans, we tend to take the path of least resistance, so don’t expect them to find it on their own. Again, this may take some practice, but once you do it a few times, you will get very good at making it a natural part of meeting with people.

I was recently on the receiving end of this, and I am so impressed with how this particular business owner, whom I’d never met before, shared her book with me. I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop, and one of the other customers struck up a conversation. When she found out I was in publishing, she said, “Oh my gosh! I just wrote an e-book for my company! I’d love for you to take a look at it.”

She emailed me a PDF right there on the spot. It facilitated a great conversation about her book, which was about DIY energy-efficient home improvements, and then a conversation about e-books and publishing in general. Then, even better, I ended up sharing it later that week with a friend of mine who was planning on making some energy-efficient renovations to his home and wasn’t sure where to begin. I don’t know if my friend ended up doing business with her company, but just by talking with me in the coffee shop, she introduced her company to two brand new people

  1. Leverage your inner circle

I don’t think it’s wise to make book sales the measure of success for your business book, but I also cannot deny that sales are a nice bonus. Furthermore, on retail sites like Amazon, both the number of downloads and the number of reviews your book has will determine how visible it is in its category and in keyword searches.

It’s a little bit of a Catch-22. People won’t be able to find your book as easily if it doesn’t have enough downloads and reviews to show up in the rankings, and yet it can’t get the number of downloads or reviews it needs in order to be seen if no one can see it in the first place. How do you solve this problem?

There is no foolproof solution, but one thing that many business owners do that works, is they leverage the people closest to them. A few weeks before the book is released to the public, they give it to a handful (between 5-10) of people they trust and ask them to leave honest reviews for the book when it comes out. There’s no way to guarantee that all, or even any, of them will do it, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Obviously, you cannot force people to buy your book, but most people are happy to support people they love and respect. This goes back to point #1 and being comfortable talking about your book. We are all busy and distracted with so many things in our lives; it’s easy to forget that a good friend or family member has a book coming out. Talk about it. Remind people. You don’t have to be annoying—just speak with the same passion you had while writing your book, and you should find support among those closest to you.

It’s Not About Sales

Sales are great. But in the world of business books, sales are not the be-all-end-all measures of success. As a business owner, becoming a published author offers you a much bigger benefit. One of the biggest compliments we receive as publishers (and this has happened multiple times) is when a business-owner-turned-author says, “A client read my book and was so impressed with my company’s passion and dedication to customer service, he doubled his contract with us.” Similarly, we’ve heard from business owners who have said that their book helped a prospective client choose their company after being on the fence for a while.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t care at all about sales, but think about it this way: Would you rather sell one copy of your book (which will almost certainly be less than $10), or give a copy of your book to a client for free, which then inspires them to increase their business with you (which could mean hundreds or even thousands of dollars for your company)?

We consult with business owners all the time about how to make the most of their books. Sometimes, advertising services and large marketing efforts are worth the cost. Sometimes, individual connections (like I’ve described above) are a better fit for your book’s purpose. If you’re wondering what would be the best plan for your book, contact Maven today! We’d love to talk to you about what you can do to get your book out into the world, and how we can help!

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by Jessica Dawson // Editor-in-Chief of Founder Nonfiction, a boutique publishing house of non-fiction, making published authors of entrepreneurs, business people, and professionals.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.