Have you ever thought that one day you might want to write a book? Perhaps you even wrote it down on your bucket list – write a book, become an author
But is that still a good idea? And should you do it right now? In this post, I’ll help you choose.
I’ll share nine reasons why you should write a book right now to grow your business and boost your career.
While my focus is on writing business books to grow your reputation, a lot of the reasons here apply to anyone writing any type of book.
Plus, in the end, I’ll share the best reason to write a book. You must stick around to read this – it might make the difference between success or failure in writing your book.
The Three Things Every Thought Leader Needs to Build
In an earlier post, I talked about Thought Leadership Strategy and the three things that every Thought Leader needs to build. (This also applies to Content Creators, Business Experts and Professional Service Firms.)
And that’s one good reason to write a book – to be seen as a thought leader.
The three things that every thought leader needs to build are all forms of capital – any resource that generates wealth.
And this is an excellent lens through which to consider whether you should write a book.
The Secret to Making Money from Writing a Book
A thought leader needs to build a business and to do this you need to earn money or financial capital.
How can writing a book earn you money?
The obvious way is to directly sell the book. While most people think about selling the book as the way to make money, it’s not the only way and may not even be the best way.
Even though I’ve published ten books, I’ve sold less than 1000 copies of all my books. And my best-selling book is this one – The Cuckoo – It’s a story for children. On the surface that looks like a massive failure. But instead of selling my books directly, I use my books as my business cards.
As a result, I’ve mostly given them away instead of sold them because I believe I can make more money from selling my more highly valued products and services than my books.
There are lots of different ways to earn money from books. You can sell them directly, use them to sell something else or do a mix of both. How you make money from your book comes down to your business model.
The big question to ask yourself here is: How will you use your book to earn money?
How to Attract Your Ideal Clients by Writing a Book
The second thing a thought leader needs to build is an audience or social capital. Social capital is the benefit you gain from the people you know and from people knowing you.
For instance, writing a book is a way to boost your reputation. When you write a book you demonstrate your expertise on a topic plus you show people that you can stick at a task for a long time – because writing a book usually takes six to 12 months.
Also, by selling or giving away your book you can attract an audience of like-minded people.
Best of all, if some of the people who buy your book read it, you might grow some raving fans and attract your ideal clients.
And this is a crucial point. When I write my books, I presume that no one will read them. This sounds like a futile exercise doesn’t it – you spend months and years slaving away at your keyboard to produce something that nobody may read. But it’s not quite what it seems.
When I wrote my first book, A Home Office You Love, I found that people were impressed that I’d written a book even though they hadn’t read it or even seen a copy of the book. This is the halo effect for authors. You gain a lot of credibility from simply becoming an author. Sure, it’s better if people read your work, but that’s not essential.
Your book can build social capital by establishing your credibility, building your reputation, and attracting an audience.
The big question to ask yourself here is: How will you use your book to build your social capital?
Why Writing a Book can be its Own Reward
And this brings us to the third thing a thought leader needs to build – and the third big reason – for writing a book.
Ideas or intellectual capital is the value you gain from the knowledge, wisdom, and content you create.
This is perhaps the purest reason to write a book – you write because you must write. It’s part of your self-expression and your identity. This is tied to the buzz you gain from learning, creating, and exploring new ideas. And it’s an important part of staying relevant in an ever-changing world.
Writing your book is your chance to update and refine your thinking. You could pay thousands to do an MBA mid-career, or you could sit down and write your own philosophy of how to win in business in your book.
Writing a book is your chance to:
- Create new ideas
- To learn and grow your own thinking
- And to build your skills in creating and sharing your messages.
These are all valuable career skills that you can build from writing your book.
The big question to ask yourself here is: How will you use your book to create new ideas and new intellectual property?
The Big Mistake Authors Make
The big thing you must weigh up to decide if you should decide to write a book – or not – is the return on investment. This is the balance of what it will take to create and what you’ll get in return.
The obvious investment here is your time and energy. It will take you months or even a year to write a book.
The less obvious investment is the opportunity cost – what other projects are you going to say ‘no’ to while you are writing your book? And you might even include things like family time. Is writing a book a good use of your time when you could be spending it playing football with your daughter?
When assessing the return on investment, the big mistake authors make is that they focus on only one of these forms of capital. For instance, I’ve written a few books where I was happy just to write the book because I wanted to learn about my topic. But because I didn’t focus on making money and building an audience as well, all that time and effort did very little to grow my business or boost my reputation.
Three Essential Things to include in your Book Writing Strategy
You will get better results if you consider all three areas of capital at the same time in your book-writing strategy.
For example, you could write a book to create new content that forms the basis for a new keynote presentation. (Ideas)
Then by having the book you can send it to speaker agencies or conference organisers to show that you are an expert in what you talk about. (Social)
They might then pay you to deliver a presentation at their event while you give away a free ebook version of your book to every participant. Or they may pay you for the presentation and you can still sell your book. (Money)
Plus, inside your book or ebook, you can add the juicy details of what your readers can gain by joining your community where they pay you a monthly subscription. This can help you build a loyal audience and earn you money at the same time. (Social and Money)
This is one of the great things about writing a book – you can earn money in multiple ways.
For instance, I’m selling my current book project through a monthly subscription. I bet that’s something you hadn’t considered.
The Best Time to Write A Book
Hopefully, by now you’re starting to identify your best reason for writing a book.
One part of this is to answer the all-important question: Is now the right time to be writing my book?
There’s an old Chinese proverb that says ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is now’.
But you do have to check in with what’s happening in your life and career right now. For one person, having a baby might be the best time to write a book and for another person, it might be the worst time. You decide.
If you have been thinking about writing a book for a long time, and have been putting it off, then I’d ask yourself the question: What are you waiting for?
Unless you have a specific event eg speaking at TED, that puts a specific deadline in your schedule, then there is no one best time to write a book. And it’s more likely to feel like the opposite – there is no good time to write a book because you are probably already busy.
The Best Reason NOT to Write a Book
Also, I think you need to look at both sides of the equation here.
There are a lot of successful people, including thought leaders, who have never written a book.
Do you really need to write a book? Just wanting to write a book might be enough – and it might not.
You might want to ask yourself the contrary question: What’s your best reason for NOT writing a book?
The Single Best Reason to Write a Book
And now for my final thought and the single best reason to write a book.
It comes from disgraced cyclist, Lance Armstrong. While you might not like him personally, there’s an important piece of wisdom here for you to consider.
You might know Lance Armstrong’s story. An emerging cycling champion is diagnosed with testicular cancer. He almost dies. He recovers and goes on to win seven Tour De France wins – the most by any rider in the history of the event – only to have all those titles stripped away because he was found to be a drug cheat.
I was one of the millions of people who stayed up late at night in Australia to watch him win those races. I lost a lot of sleep watching Lance race.
Before he tackled the Tour De France and when Lance was recovering from cancer, the most common question he was asked was ‘Will you ever ride again?’
As the title of the first book he wrote with co-author Sally Jenkins, Armstrong said, ‘It’s not about the bike’. For Armstrong, the bike was simply his chosen challenge, his self-expression, and his way to tackle and explore life.
And I’ll leave you with that final thought. What’s the best reason for you to write a book? It’s not about the book.
When you can find out what it’s truly about for you, then you’ll find your best reason to write a book, or not.
In the next post, I’ll share why I write books. And as I just suggested, it’s not about the book. (And when I discovered the real reason why I wrote books I wrote five books in four years.)
More on How to Write a Book
If you want more on how to write a book here are three related posts that you like:
- Thought Leadership Strategy – Three Things Every Thought Leader needs to build
- 18 different ways to write a book
- Book Writing Template – Make Your Book Great in 6 Steps
If you’ve written a book or are thinking about writing one, what is your primary motivation? What are your reasons for writing your book? Add a comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.