Writing a book is a way to expose your ideas and innovations to the world – but you can make money with your business book when you realize it’s really a promotional vehicle for your larger offerings.
Writing a book is one of those things that seems very accessible – you have a laptop, right? – that everyone tries. That’s why the majority of manuscripts are 10 pages long and live in a forgotten folder on your hard drive.
You can find a lot of advice about how to write your book, and that’s good for people who have trouble committing to and finishing their manuscript. There’s also a lot of resources focused on how to get publishing deals, and that’s good for people who want to distribute their book. But it’s harder to find anything written about what to do with your book once it’s published. I’ve written this post to fix that.
Here are seven ways you can leverage your book to make money. (We’ve got another seven coming in Part 2.)
1. Become a consultant or coach
There is a reason why every major thought leader writes a book and then becomes a consultant. In fact, most “thought leaders” are actually just consultants who have written good books that people really like – take John Hagel III (Deloitte) and Clayton Christensen (Harvard Business School) for example.
At Book In A Box, our largest client base are consultants. Once they reach a certain level of success, enough to afford us, they can’t really go much higher without a book.
You might be thinking, “But if I write a book teaching other people what I know, why will they hire me?”
Our first client, Melissa Gonzalez, runs a consulting business where she helps major retailers set up pop-up retail operations. Her book, The Pop-Up Paradigm, was the first authoritative work on the subject. Guess how many copies she sold? Fewer than 1,000. Guess how much money those 1,000 sales generated for her? Millions of dollars.
Major retailers wanted to work with the expert on pop-up retail, and she literally wrote the book on the subject. And that’s the point: people who hire consultants and coaches are hiring them to teach them and their teams, they’re not just hiring the knowledge in the book. The book is how you show them they should hire you – it’s your proof of product.
2. Sell an entirely different product
Another very profitable way to monetize a book is by using it to promote a physical product. Go search on Amazon under books for “lose weight” or “eat paleo.” You’ll see thousands of books, and a lot of them are essentially buyer’s guides for physical products, like supplements, food companies, or one-off products.
Take Mark Sisson for example, who started Primal Blueprint. He’s published nearly a dozen books about his version of the paleo diet. They’re great books. He sells them on Amazon, and even gives many of them away on his site. Not only do they help people eat better, but Mark also has a complete line of Primal Blueprint supplements and food that people can buy. They don’t have to buy these products, but they’re available, it’s easy to do, and the books and product dovetail perfectly.
Think about it: would you respond to an ad about supplements? Probably not. But what about a book that teaches you what supplements to take, when, and why? If you read the book, like the book, and trust the book, you’ll trust the supplement recommendations. Because Mark has great books on diet people trust, it automatically gives his supplement recommendations credibility.
3. Build a speaking career
One of the major ways to make money from a book is using it to become a speaker (or raise the rate you charge for your speaking gigs). It’s very hard to be a professional paid speaker without a book. People have started speaking careers without books of course, but almost all eventually write a book, and when they do, the amount they charge goes up. This is because a book is a business card for a speaker. It is the way people know for sure you are qualified to speak to their group on your topic.
Chris Dessi is an amazing example of this. He’s the CEO of the social media marketing company Silverback Social, where he consults for Fortune 500 companies regarding their digital marketing. A big part of his outreach is speaking. His speaking career generates clients for his company, but also revenue for him personally. Since writing a best-selling book, he’s been able to increase all of his fees.
On top of that, writing a book on social media has given him the authority to command a room full of executives on the subject. In his words: “After six months consulting with [a large technology company], I was giving a presentation to the board, and the founders were only half paying attention to me. It pissed me off because one of the founders had asked me a question and then wasn’t paying attention, so I called him out. The whole room froze. But the founder apologized and said ‘I should probably listen to you, after all, you wrote the book on this stuff.’”
4. Sell a course
Using your book as the marketing tool and lead generation for a video course is such a good way to make money from a book. Basically, if your book teaches something for which there is a high ROI for the reader, you can create what amounts to an advanced version that is delivered as a video course, and charge much more money for it.
One of the main benefits is that while people will not pay more than about $25 for a book, they will often pay hundreds of dollars for a video course of the exact same material. This is rational, it’s akin to having a teacher use a textbook as the lesson plan rather than you just reading the textbook on your own.
But whether it’s rational or not doesn’t matter: the reality is producing a book and using it to sell associated material, such as a video course, is a great way to make money. An example of this is Josh Turner. He is a client who did a book with us called Connect, about how to use LinkedIn to drive sales in your company. The book, while very good, ends up driving many people to his advanced video course.
5. Sell software
A book is a great way for a company to sell software, especially software as a service (SaaS). The best example is HubSpot. That company invented inbound marketing, so what did they do to promote it? Among other things, they wrote a book called Inbound Marketing.
The book doesn’t even pitch HubSpot very much. The book is essentially a massive advertisement for their method of marketing, and guess what? Using their software is the easiest way to actually do inbound marketing, so not only does the book provide real value to the reader, it ends up converting a lot of readers to customers.
6. Promote a “done for you” service
Allow me to use Book In A Box as an example. We developed a new and innovative way to turn someone’s ideas into a book, something no one else was doing, and then we proceeded to write a book that explained our entire process. I mean, literally the whole process, including the templates we use with authors. Everything.
Why the hell would we do that? It’s similar to the consultant/coach method: Our book shows potential authors our process so they can understand it and see how great it is. Saying our process is great is totally different than proving it in detail. We’ve had so many clients who were skeptical of us, read the book, and were like, “This is genius, I’m going to do it myself.” Then, even though they loved the process, many realized that their time was too valuable, so they just came back to us as full clients.
The people who can’t afford us, no problem. Go do it yourself. We’re not losing a client by telling someone how do it. In fact, the more people who use our method, the better: they’ll talk about us and our process, creating word of mouth.
7. Promote paid communities
There are so many people who have paid Masterminds, and so many of their clients find out about them and want to join their group because they’ve written books that show everyone how much they know.
A great example is Joe Polish. He has this group called Genius Network, which costs $25,000 a year to join. He’s doing a book with us that explains exactly how he built and runs his mastermind group, and how he is such a successful networker and connector, which in turn will end up driving a lot of sign-ups for his group. Another example is James Maskell. He runs the Evolution of Medicine Summit and mastermind group, where tens of thousands of health professionals meet and discuss topics, and is also doing a book with us that will end up creating many new members.
While not every one of these approaches are accessible or right for you, hopefully you’re starting to understand how leveraging a book can help promote or expand your range of services and offerings. We have seven more tips in Part 2 of this post (coming soon).