Your idea for a business book has been simmering for years, and you’ve finally committed to writing it. As you explore the process you will probably ask yourself: should I self-publish or go the traditional route and try to find a publisher?
That is a common question, but there is another decision many first time authors overlook (or are unaware of) long before you publish that book. Before we get to what that decision is, there are a few questions you need to consider:
- Who are you writing the book for?
- What is its purpose? Are you giving back, or looking to become more widely known?
- Is this book going to be used to gain speaking gigs, or is there another purpose?
These questions are important because you must decide which comes first, your community or your book? By that I mean, if you write the book who will buy it? Who will write the reviews you need to gain additional sales? Who will evangelize for you? Who and where is your community?
If you haven’t built your community already it will be tough going to garner book sales. However, if you’ve done the work ahead of time, you will have a willing and ready audience lining up to buy your book.
Building Community First
I work with a lot of authors as an editor and content strategist, which has given me valuable insight into how people succeed or fail with publishing a book. The excitement of seeing it in print fades over time, and I’ve seen witnessed boxes of crisp, new, unsold books chucked directly into the rubbish bin without ever being opened. I cannot reinforce how often that happens.
My work has also given me the pleasure of watching books fly off the shelf into the willing hands of people hungry to read them. I know authors who sell tens of thousands of books within the first weeks after publication. The difference between the two is that the latter has done the work and built a community beforehand. How?
Well, let’s look at Anthony Iannarino, the greatest living sales mind and author of the recently published The Only Sales Guide You’ll Ever Need. Anthony did the work ahead of time, writing every single day for over five years. His blog is the foundation of his community; he earned his massive following by turning out excellent writing on sales and the successful mindset day after day, year after year. By doing this he grew his email list to over 80,000, his LinkedIn group to over 20,000, his Facebook page to nearly 16,000, and his Twitter following to 63,000. That’s a lot of followers, and Anthony earned every one of them by giving away his knowledge for years. He also engaged regularly, offered advice, and was a genuinely nice guy all around.
What that meant to his book launch was a guaranteed audience waiting to snap up his book, read it, and give powerful reviews. He could count on a successful book launch because he had already built a strong following.
Build Community with a Book
There is another way to do this, an approach that is more commonly taken by authors, and that is to try to build their community off of their book. Some of them want speaking gigs and the book is merely a platform to acquire them, but relying on corporate book sales at speaking gigs is a tough row to hoe. A new book doesn’t lend you instant credibility, although it will get you many (unpaid) appearances on podcasts and Twitter chats. It will make it easier for you to get speaking appearances, but without a large following, it is likely that they won’t be well paid. I won’t disclose what Anthony earns as a speaker, but I will tell you that he books nearly a year ahead and is paid more to speak than any “Influencer” I know.
What Choice is Right For Your Book
There is no wrong choice in how you build your community and launch your book. Many people will look at Anthony’s method and think “I don’t have five years.” or “I can’t write every day.” Maybe you don’t, and maybe you can’t, that is a choice you must make for yourself. But I will tell you that I’ve watched many authors publish that one book, ride the enthusiasm and adrenaline for a few months only to be disappointed with the end result. I’ve watched many authors never turn that book into a lucrative speaking career, and never build a community. There are some who do, and they have the same qualities that made Anthony successful – hard work and focus. And they have to work really hard to be successful.
No matter the choice you make, I wish you luck and I’m here if you need advice. But if you are considering writing a book “someday,” I suggest you consider Anthony’s method. One foot in front of the other, day after day, because, in the end, your book will have a better chance of real success. If you need my advice, just reach out.
If you’d like to receive updates for new posts please subscribe here: