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  • Road to Me 2.0: The Benefits and Obstacles of Publishing a Book

    As I near my book launch, which is set for April 7th, I want to reflect back on the process and the perceived benefits and obstacles for publishing a book. Looking back, I laugh because I never used to like reading, writing or presenting, yet that is much of what I do these days.  The reason being is that I found my passion and was inspired to be a contributor to the online community, which I was already accustomed to.  The book idea for Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success, was in response to a need that I saw in the marketplace.  I had college students coming up to me pleading for jobs, begging for advice and a “new solution” for their job search.

    Luckily, I had already written a few hundred posts on personal branding and was the right person, at the right time, to write such a book.  It didn’t hit me to write Me 2.0 until I became the ultimate personal branding case study, almost by accident.  The cool thing was that I never wrote this book to make money or to become an uber celebrity.  It was written to help people and only that.  Today, I want to go over some book publishing benefits that I’ve seen, as well as obstacles I’ve encountered along the way.

    Book publishing benefits

    There are a lot of benefits that authors receive both directly and indirectly.  Like anything else we talk about on this blog, branding is the key here.

    • Expert positioning: Regardless of age, class, gender, or career level, a book positions you as an expert in your field.  People will automatically perceive you as an expert, unless you fumble and don’t come through on that brand promise.
    • Speaking opportunities: Event coordinators, colleges, companies, associations and various communities are always looking for speakers.  Aside from celebrities and industry executives, authors are typically the first on the the list to be booked.  There are various speakers bureau’s that authors can join to offer their speaking services to the masses.
    • Press mentions: Journalists, reporters and producers have to quote or interview experts for their articles, radio and TV shows because they need that level of knowledge in order to have a complete story.  As an author, you become credible and can be quoted alongside your book.  Members of the press use search engines and referrals to locate sources for their articles.  You can also be proactive and get their interest.
    • Consulting gigs: If your book revolves around solving a particular personal or business challenge, then it probably has the steps needed in order to help solve that challenge.  Anyone who is invested enough in your concept, will want to pay you for additional help or guidance.  A book comes to life when the author is there to actually walk you through it.
    • Networking: I wrote a post about how to communicate everything you do a few weeks ago.  When you’re in a networking situation and you’ve published a book, people become more interested in you.  It’s quite hard to get published, so immediately, you become someone worthy of a conversation.
    • The “cool factor”: Getting a book published is considered “cool” by the general public.  I know this because I’ll tell people everything I do and they’ll care most about the book.
    • Proud parents: If nothing else, your parents will be proud of you and you’ll be able to further promote your family name for years to come.

    Book publishing obstacles

    • Your age: The younger you are, the harder it will be for you to get published, unless you’re already famous or the CEO of a decent size company.  If Mark Zuckerberg or Kevin Rose wanted to publish a book, there’s no doubt that Crown Publishing would be on it with a million dollar advance offer, plus signing bonuses and a significantly higher royalty than us other authors get.  Publishers want a sure bet and don’t have much patience for risk taking, especially in this economy.
    • Money: First time authors don’t get paid much, in advances or royalties.  An advance is a sum of money paid to the author in light of book sales.  For instance, if you get $50,000, but only sell 10 books, you have to pay back the rest to the publisher.  Malcolm Gladwell typically gets a few million in advance, while most authors barely break a thousand.  Just like everything else in life, your past performance will either increase or decrease both revenue streams (how many books you sold last time).  The money does come from indirect sources, such as speaking and consulting.
    • Marketing: The publisher doesn’t do marketing for you, so you’re accountable for raising awareness to your potential buyers.  This is why I started marketing this book over two years ago with this blog, even when I didn’t know I was going to have a book.
    • The process: Writing the book isn’t the most challenging part of the book publishing process.  The editing phase can be suicide if you don’t have a lot of self-confidence.  After writing your book, you’ll start to treat it like it’s your baby and when the editor rips it apart (for the better!), you will have to take it and move on, instead of crying.
    • Timing: Luck is extremely important in a book launch because things are always uncertain.  Fortunate for me, the economy is in a massive downturn and my book is all about finding the perfect job or creating your own.  A lot of books won’t sell well right now that are focused on things that people don’t prioritize.  If you are a personal finance genius, you’re sure to make a lot of money right now.
    • Creative control: Depending on your current status (how successful you are), you will have either no control of the final book output or a lot of power.  Seth Godin and Tom Peters, for example, have leverage over the book publishing process because of who they are (publishers trust their work).  A publisher can change as much of the book as they may because they own it.  As the author, you don’t own the book.
    • Self-publish vs big publisher: If you self-publish, your book won’t get in book stores, nor on a bestseller list (NY Times, etc).  Instead, you’ll have to fund the project, but you’ll make more revenue from each book and retain full control.

    Dan Schawbel is the Managing Partner of Millennial Branding, a Gen Y research and consulting firm. He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press) and the #1 international bestselling book, Me 2.0: 4 Steps to Building Your Future (Kaplan Publishing), which combined have been translated into 15 languages.

    Posted in Career Development, Me 2.0, Misc, Personal Branding, Positioning
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