But if you run your own business, you’ve probably got a lot of ideas and knowledge that you want to share more widely. That was certainly our motivation when we wrote the Valuable Content Marketing book.
There’s no doubt that it is challenging — but what are the benefits of writing a business book?
We asked three successful business authors — Ben Sherwood, Simon Brown and Richard Stott — about their experiences.
A bit of background: A few years ago, a group of four investment advisers got together as part of a study group. Quickly finding a common bond, they decided to collaborate on writing a book, with project and editorial assistance from our very own Sonja Jefferson. And in 2011, Simon Brown, Ben Sherwood, Richard Stott and Bruce Wilson self-published The 7 Secrets of Money: The Insider’s Guide to Personal Investment Success.
What were you hoping to get from writing a book?
Ben: “What I was hoping for was some marketing value and some credibility. We also wanted to do something we were proud of.”
Simon: “One of the reasons we wrote the book was because we felt we had knowledge to share. We wanted to tell the truth about investment as we saw it — we had an educational message to send out. It was also about increasing our profile.”
And did it help you raise your profile?
Simon: “Yes! We wanted the book to be a big fat business card, a PR device. Often, the first thing we do after we meet someone at a networking event is to send them a copy of the book. It’s very powerful. People see you in a different way — they think that guy must know what he is talking about! The book has definitely given us gravitas and made us more believeable.”
Richard: “The book certainly gave us additional credibility, particularly as we run small investment advice firms. Writing a book demonstrates your expertise to people. It has given us this thick business card.”
What sort of reaction did you get to the book’s content?
Richard: “The interesting thing is that even people with significant industry experience read the book and said they never thought about things that way. It changed some people’s perceptions. And it reinforced that we knew what we were talking about.”
Has the book had a positive effect on your bottom line?
Richard: “There’s no doubt that it has given us a real advantage. A book immediately lifts people’s perception and makes them more comfortable with you. It has opened doors in terms of getting new business, which we may not have got without it.”
Ben: “It has given us a competitive advantage. We all run relatively small businesses and we are competing with large private banks — so we need to impress. And being able to show people the book makes a very good first impression. We can draw direct links from the book to increases in business. It was well worth the work.”
Simon: “The book has helped us win clients — it gets you a warmer reception. And it has helped us keep our clients too — we haven’t lost a client that has read our book. Also, clients are more inclined to refer us because of the book.”
Are there any other benefits?
Simon: “The book gave us the opportunity to clarify our own thinking and get to the essence of what we were about and what we believed in.”
Richard: “It also led to me getting a regular column in Norway’s biggest circulation personal finance magazine. (Richard is based in Oslo.)”
How was the collaboration process?
Richard: “The book is much stronger for having four authors. Between us we have over 100 years of experience in the business. But writing the book forced us to articulate our thoughts in a manner that was accessible to everyone. We love our jargon in the finance sector and that can put people off. Sonja was great at helping us to create a clear and consistent voice.”
Ben: “I learned an awful lot from the guys I was working with. It was a great thing to have done and I was very lucky to have done it with this group of people.”
Valuable tips for writing a book from the authors:
- Write as if you were writing for someone with very little previous knowledge of your business.
- Get a non-industry insider to review the book.
- Ask a client to review drafts and give frank feedback.
- Lose the jargon.
- Allow enough time to write the book.
- Get professional help!
Richard says: “Allocate twice as much time as you think you’ll need.”
Ben says: “Work out how many hours you think you will have to spend on the project. Add your shoe size to that number. Multiply that number by 5. You now have the correct number of hours.”