How a Book Can Boost Your Profile – and Business
After several years in public relations, I noticed a distinct pattern among my clients: The entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers and business owners who’d written books were hands down far more successful in getting media attention than those who hadn’t.
We were easily able to position them as experts in their fields by mentioning their books in our pitches. Journalists and talk show hosts responded by turning to them as knowledgeable sources for their stories and shows. That implied endorsement of their expertise influenced their audiences.
Our clients’ credentials – their education, experience, successes, etc. – were and are valuable. But having their names on a book that showcased their expertise catapulted them above the crowd of others with similar backgrounds.
Epiphany! I realized anyone can write a book (or co-write or have one ghostwritten), and use it not to generate sales but to increase their visibility and credibility.
I dubbed this the Celebritize Yourself method and I wrote my own book telling readers how they could do the same thing themselves. Now, thanks to changes in the publishing industry, there are tens of thousands of professionals in countless fields touting their books even above their Ivy League degrees and years of CEO experience.
Writing a book has become an important credential in today’s competitive, global marketplace, and if you don’t have one, you should give it some serious thought.
There are generally two types. One identifies a problem or concern people have that you can address based on your expertise. It doesn’t have to be a comprehensive tell-all on the subject – just useful information written in an easy-to-read style. An identity theft specialist could have a field day sharing the tricks criminals use to steal personal information and the strategies with which consumers can fend them off. A real estate expert might write about how to identify good investment properties in this wobbly market.
Remember, you want your book to be approachable, and a 600-page tome generally is not. Longer is not better! Instead, give a lot of thought to how you organize it. Chapters should progress in a logical fashion, or be divided into easily referenced categories of information.
Make sure to give them catchy, relevant titles.
The second option is a book that shares your story and the lessons you’ve learned along the way. Tim Russert did this in Wisdom of Our Fathers, but being an absolute nut for cars (my kids and husband call me Ms. Road & Track), I prefer the example of one Mr. Lee Iacocca. Despite his 8-year reign as president of Ford Motor Co. and his subsequent rescue and turnaround of a nearly bankrupt Chrysler, I would bet the average non-motorhead American knew little of Mr. Iacocca.
In 1984, he published “Iacocca: An Autobiography,” co-written with William Novak, and suddenly everyone knew who he was, what he’d done, and how he’d done it. The book was the best-selling non-fiction hardcover in 1984 and ’85, and Iacocca became an American folk hero.
“The Saturday Evening Post described him as ‘the sex symbol of America’ and Reader’s Digest as ‘the living embodiment of the American dream,’ ” according to the Encyclopedia of World Biography. “Talk of Iacocca-for-president became increasingly widespread.”
Most of us probably won’t get that kind of attention with our books, but the automaker’s tale illustrates just how effectively a book can influence the public’s perception of a businessperson.
A final note: Being too busy to write a book – or having no desire to actually do it yourself – shouldn’t prevent you from publishing one. Lee Iacocca solicited the help of a then-struggling writer, Novak, who earned $45,000 and no royalties for his efforts. (Novak went on to become one of the nation’s most sought-after collaborators and ghostwriters.) There are also professional editors and copywriters for hire.
With book in hand,