Would you want a snooker player to perform brain surgery on you? Probably not, even though they both involve, skill, nerve, strategy – and a steady pair of hands. With new internet based ‘experts’ popping up every day, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the real experts from those who have just read a book and created a website. Customers want to be confident that they are employing the services of an expert. The 140 characters of Twitter or an infographic on Facebook are not enough anymore to reassure potential clients of your credibility. This means that those who would consider themselves to be expert in their particular area need to think seriously about how to communicate that fact. Writing a book should be high on their list of options.
Words Have More Weight When They’re On Paper
The idea of “getting something in writing” has become ingrained in modern culture – and with good reason. The written word is much more permanent and, more importantly, verifiable. When an author puts their name to a book, they are not only protecting their work against plagiarism, but also signaling that they are prepared to stand by the words which are on the page. In short, they are putting their reputation on the line. Of course this can be done by writing a blog or producing an ebook, but psychologically actual words on a page do hold more credibility.
Verifiability Builds Trust
People who are genuinely experts in their field do not need to hide behind the anonymity of the internet or take any other measures to conceal their identity. In an age of Social media, disposable e-mail addresses and prepaid mobile phone numbers, being able to make a clear and solid connection between a person and their work is hugely reassuring for potential customers. This is another reason why being able to offer paper copies of a book is still preferable to ebook-only publishing. While there are many excellent ebooks and many talented writers who publish them for reasons of affordability, the very fact that it is so cheap to produce an ebook means that there is also a huge volume of low-quality work in the digital world. These days paper books have increasingly become the domain of established fiction writers and non-fiction writers who are acknowledged as experts in their field. By being counted amongst this increasingly select group, you will increase your own credibility. You will also cater to the people who still prefer paper books to their digital counterparts. That is not to say that an ebook does not have merit, but they still only occupy 20% of the market.
Books Build Sales
One of the best points of writing a book is that although its main goal may simply be to establish your credentials as an expert in your field, the end result can also be financially rewarding. Many people instinctively understand that, generally speaking, “you get what you pay for” and are prepared to pay for quality content from an expert in preference to anonymous internet “how-to guides”. There is no need to give away quality content for free, unless, of course, there is a compelling reason to do so. For example, you may wish to give away copies of your book to key (potential) customers as an upselling tool. In other words, although they get the book for free, for actual access to the expert, with all that implies, they have to pay. A quality book is an excellent way to show them that you are worth every penny.
Writing a book may sound like a daunting prospect but you have probably already written most of the content. If you regularly write a blog or guest posts for other blogs a great deal of what you want to say is already available to you. The next stage is to put it all together and add to where necessary. A well designed cover is also essential as the old adage about not judging books by their covers does not always apply and your potential readers will almost certainly judge your book by its cover. There are many options for the next step; you may be lucky enough to attract the attention of a mainstream publisher, but in the most part Self Publishing and Print on Demand services are the only viable options. It is worth noting that even if your book is picked up by a traditional publisher, the bulk of marketing will still fall to you. It is also now very rare for publishers to offer publishing advances, you would only be paid a small fraction of the royalties.
Setting up your own publishing company to market your books, will give you a professional platform, but be prepared to outsource marketing if this is not something that you are comfortable with. Using a Print on Demand publisher, who offers author support is probably the best option.
Which ever way you choose to do it, holding your own book in your hand is a huge buzz and standing your business on the printed word is a valuable marketing tool.
Margaret Bloom is Director of Publishing at FCM Publishing and owner of FCM Media (multi media marketing). FCM Publishing supports authors, by providing services that span both traditional publishing and self publishing. Margaret is also an author, journalist and speaker.