If you’re an author who has written a book to build your personal brand, one of the best ways to sell more books is to offer bonus content that helps readers implement your ideas and encourages others to recommend your book.

Bonus content is one of the easiest and most practical ways you can set your book apart from the competition. It’s more important today than ever before.

It’s not enough just to deliver on the promise expressed in your book title. Today, you have to over-deliver if you want to build a lasting personal brand and continue to sell more books in the years to come.

Content marketing with a study guide

You’ll find several excellent examples of bonus content on Charles Duhigg’s Additional Resources page. Resources include videos, a concise Q&A, a 13-page Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas, and–most important–a 37-page Study Guide for Teachers.

Charles Duhigg is the author of the best-selling Power of Habits: Why We Do What We Do in Life and In Business. (For more information, see Habits, Blogging, and Personal Branding Success.)

The Study Guide is a content marketing masterstroke. It helps readers learn more from the book plus ensures widespread and continuing adaptation of the book as a textbook in college classrooms, providing years of residual income.

It also encourages psychologists and social workers to refer The Power of Focus to their patients, another important source of book sales.

Lessons from the Power of Focus Study Guide

Here are some of the lessons the Power of Focus Study Guide teaches:

  1. Branding. As you can see from the graphic, above, the colors used in the Study Guide are consistent with the colors on Charles Duhigg’s website and the front cover of The Power of Focus. Note the yellow circle with orange chapter number, shown on the second page. The chapter opening graphics continue the color scheme from the book’s front cover.
  2. Efficiency. Although it builds on the book’s brand, the design is simple and straightforward. Shaded backgrounds are used to organize contents associated with each chapter. The Study Guide projects a practical image, rather than “over-designed,” image.
  3. Easy updating. There’s another benefit to the Study Guide’s simple, practical design. The design permits easy updating as new research and online resources appear and new editions of the book are published.
  4. Length. At 37-pages, the Study Guide is long enough to be taken seriously, without adding to the burden of “more things to read.”
  5. Organization. The contents of each chapter of the Study Guide are consistently organized into the following sections, Chapter Summary, Discussion Questions, and Activities. Activities include exercises, questions, and resources for further study.
  6. Sections & Expanded Activity. In addition to the resources associated with the 9 individual chapters, the Study Guide also includes Expanded Activities which help readers review the important lessons of the 3 sections in the Power of Habit. The Expanded Activities sections help readers better understand the context of each chapter and helps them apply the lessons to their own lives. For clarity, the layout of section content differs slightly from the layout of the individual chapters.
  7. Easy access. Readers and others can download the Study Guide without cost or registration.

Takeaways for brand-conscious authors

If you’re currently writing and publishing a book to build your personal brand, consider preparing a Study Guide to help readers apply your ideas and encourage referrals from experts in your field. The Study Guide is a win-win strategy for both you and your readers. Plus, if you’re pressed for time, you can contract others to prepare the Study Guide, as Charles Duhigg did.

On the other hand, if you’ve already already written a book, and you’re considering writing another book,  or an updated edition of your older book, perhaps all you really need to do to strengthen your brand and sell more copies is to create a Study Guide for your existing book. The Study Guide can provide a shot in the arm of promotion opportunities to revive book sales and strengthen your brand. Which of these strategies would work best for you? Share your thoughts.


Roger C. Parker is an author, book coach, designer, consultant who works with authors, marketers, & business professionals to achieve success with brand-building books & practical marketing strategy. He helps create successful marketing materials that look great & get results, and can turn any complex marketing or writing task into baby steps. Visit his blog to learn more or ask a question.