The benefits of writing a book to build your brand by promoting your career and your expertise are well known.
Books like Mitchell Levy’s anthology of author case studies, 42 Rules for Driving Success with Books, and the Wellesley Hill Group’s Business Book Series, an exhaustively-detailed 2-part research report, document the benefits of writing a book for branding-oriented individuals and firms.
Less well known, however, are the steps you can take to write your book as quickly and efficiently as possible. Information about efficient writing techniques has never been more important than it is now.
The faster you write your book and get it into your reader’s hands, the sooner you’ll begin to profit from the awareness and credibility your book can generate for you and your firm.
How to save time building your brand with a book
Here are some of the ways you can get your book written as efficiently as possible:
- Work with a co-author. Although many authors avoid co-author arrangements, this is still a popular way to save time writing a book. Working with a co-author can bring new experience and perspective to your book, as well as new readers, while reducing the work you have to do. Co-author arrangements extend from full partnership, and participation in profits, to hiring a co-author on a work-for-hire basis.
- Hire a ghost writer. A ghost writer offers offers you the most “hands off” alternative of all. Instead of actively participating in the writing of your book, you are more like the captain of a ship, setting goals and objectives, and supervising progress. Many well-known books by subject area experts are actually written by ghost writers whose names may, or may not, appear on the cover.
- Consider crowd-sourcing. Crowd-sourcing can take several forms. You can view your role as an editor, and solicit contributions from experts in your field. In this case, your book becomes an anthology of expert contributions, plus 1 or 2 of your own. Your book can also take the form of case studies and lessons learned by a a team of researchers working under your direction. You can solicit input by conducting surveys and interviews with those who have had first-hand experience relevant to your topic.
- Harvest existing content. Many fine professional books originated as previously-written articles, newsletters, reports, stories, and speeches. An example is Al Ries and Jack Trout’s The Positioning Era that began as a speech, was expanded into an Advertising Age article, then expanded into a book that recently celebrated its 29th year in print. If you’ve been active in your field for a long time, you might want to review the contents of your had drive and scrapbook, to see what’s already been written.
- Co-ordinate writing and marketing. Today’s savvy brand-oriented firms and individuals recognize the value of incremental writing; writing a book as a series of articles, blog posts, or newsletters. When marketing content and book writing are coordinated, each word does double duty–first as a marketing tool, second as part of a brand-building book.
- Write a shorter book. Efficiency is rewarded everywhere in today’s time-starved world where authors don’t have as much time to write as they desire, and readers don’t have as much time to read as they desire. As a result, the market welcomes short, concise, focused, and actionable books. These books are not abridged or compromised, they are written to pragmatic advice to busy people. Examples are series like … for Dummies and 42 Rules series books.
Short, focused 100 to 140-page books with actionable information are perfect for today’s time-starved world. Today’s authors don’t have as much time to write as they’d like, and readers don’t have as much time to read as they’d like.
Rethinking what it takes to write a book to build your brand
If you’re considering writing a book to build your brand, begin with a clean slate. Avoid the knee jerk temptation to automatically think that you have to personally write every word in your book.
In addition, avoid the temptation to write a textbook or encyclopedia-like approach that contains everything you know about the area of your expertise.
Write a “minimum” book
Instead of writing for yesterday’s more leisurely readers, focus on writing the “minimum” book that will build your brand. Save your “kitchen sink” approach for later, when you can afford the assistance you may need to do full justice to the knowledge and experiences you’ve mastered along the way.
There are no rewards for martyrdom, and “complete, but late” books rarely reward their authors. Efficiency and practicality, however, generate high opportunity costs.