Writing a business book is a way to build a reputation and explore a topic of your expertise – and you can make money with your book when you put it to use to promote your larger business offerings.
As we mentioned in Part 1 of this post, there are a lot of resources available to help with how to write your book, and a ton of writing advice about how to get publishing deals. But finding information about what to do with your book once it’s published is a little harder to come by, which is why we’ve written these posts. Part 1 outlined seven ways to use your book as a promotional vehicle to further other business endeavors and make money with your book (not though book sales).
Here are seven more ways you can leverage your book to make money.
8. Get freelance clients
If you’re a freelancer, publishing a book is a no brainer. In fact, a potential problem is that as soon as you produce a book, you can get so slammed with work you can’t keep up. At least, that’s what happened to David Kadavy. He wrote a book called Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty. He wrote it for a very niche audience, and it ended up crushing him. He was flooded with design work and had to create an agency and pawn everything off by hiring someone to run it for him (and he produced a course which does very well too).
If you’re a great freelancer with a specific skill you can market, writing a book that explains how you do what you do can create a completely new channel for clients to find you. Think about it – if I’m looking for a freelancer, I have no idea how to pick one versus the other. Why not pick the one who wrote the book?
9. Sell a workshop
Often this goes along with speaking (#3 from the first post), but it is not always the same thing. Many consultants and speakers do what are called “group workshops,” during which a business will bring you in to teach your method or philosophy to their employees over a day or a series of days. It’s not terribly difficult to get larger businesses to pay you to come in to teach a one-day workshop to their employees about what you know. Why? Because so few people take the time to read all the way through a book. But if they get the person who wrote the book to come in and give a presentation and answer questions for a day, they can really teach the principles of the book.
A great example is Mona Patel, a client of ours who wrote the book Reframe. She now does workshops focused on applying the ideas in the book, which routinely sell out, and each reinforces the other. The book leads people to the workshop, and she sells copies of her book to people who attend.
10. Recruit employees to work for your company
This is underappreciated, but for entrepreneurs and C-level executives, one great way to get great people to work with you is to lay your vision for your company out in a book. The best example of this is, of course, Zappos. Not only did Tony Hsieh write his own book, but Zappos produced another book about its culture that it gives away on its site as a means of recruiting people to come work for the company.
11. Change or advance your career
This is something that not a lot of people think about, but the fact is, even if you have no business of your own or entrepreneurial aspirations, a book can help you substantially advance your career; either within your industry, or in helping you switch careers entirely. Simon Dudley is a prime example. He wrote a book called The End of Certainty.
Dudley was a big influencer in the video teleconferencing space, but because of various technological changes, he didn’t believe in the field anymore. He thought it was going to be disrupted, and he didn’t think the industry would change. He wanted to move totally out of video teleconferencing, so he wrote a book that spelled out his theories on technological change and how to adapt to it, never mentioning teleconferencing at all. That way he was able to go to other businesses and pitch them: “Listen, I know exactly how you’re being disrupted. I can help you.”
He created a firm called Excession Events, and now he’s earning a living as a consultant on technological change. He essentially created a new career, and the supreme irony: No one listened to him in the teleconferencing business before he wrote the book. After he wrote the book, half of his consulting business is made up of the firms who wouldn’t hire him in the teleconferencing business.
12. Taxes and write-offs
This is a fantastic way to make money that way too few business owners use. If you are using your book as a legitimate marketing tool to promote a business, the costs of production are 100% deductible. That means everything you spend money on that is part of creating the book can be deducted. For example:
- The book cover
- The layout
- The printing costs
- The proofreading
- Any professional services you use to create it
- The books you buy to teach you how to write your book
- The software you buy to help you write the book
It’s all 100% deductible as a business marketing expense. Just like you can deduct what you spend on Facebook ads and website designers, a book falls into the same category.
Here’s the rub with that: Your time is not deductible. If you spend 500 hours at a computer typing away, you are totally out of luck. You cannot deduct the opportunity cost of your time from your taxes, even though that 500 hours is stopping you from making money doing other things. So if you are a coach and people pay you $200 an hour for coaching, spending 500 hours writing a book (instead of charging for coaching) costs you $100,000 in forgone income. You absolutely cannot deduct that, even though it is a very real cost to you. But if you hire someone to help you write your book, then you absolutely can deduct that cost.
This is another reason why so many people use our service, even if they can write the book themselves. If they pay us $20,000 to help them author their book, not only is that cost fully deductible, they save hundreds (or oftentimes thousands) of hours and can spend that time working in their business, doing what they do best. And that is before they get any of the attention and ROI from the book.
13. Promote a conference
Books are a very underexploited marketing avenue for conferences. We’ve been working with a conference called the LDV Summit, which pairs venture capitalists in the vision technology space with inventors and thought leaders. What we do is record the entire conference and turn it into a book. Then the conference host:
1. Sends copies of the book to his LPs, potential entrepreneurs, and others, and he gets all the benefits of producing a book without having to be the one who actually writes it.
2. Includes a copy of the book when he mails out the physical applications for each year’s conference. This practice has tripled his re-up rate.
By spending $5 to mail a nice book to past participants, he gets them to spend $500+ on a conference that is more than six months away. Pretty good deal. Not to mention, TED does this. It even has its own publishing imprint.
14. Book Sales
While book sales are not the best way to monetize a business book on their own, they can be a nice supplementary revenue stream to go with whatever strategy you pick to monetize your book. I say book sales aren’t the ideal way to monetize books because focusing on sales can prompt bad decisions and make authors try to position a book in such a way that they don’t know how to write it. If you can’t write it well, it won’t drive the best results. That said, once you have a book that appeals to specific crowd, there are lots of ways to help spur book sales:
- Facebook ads, which often convert into book sales.
- Bundled promotions, where you give free things away to incentivize people to buy books.
- Sales at live at events, where you are a speaker, for instance.
- Guest blog posts that feature key lessons from the book.
How to do all these things well is a topic for another post.
How To Make Money With Your Business Book – Part 1
Your Business Book Is A Marketing Tool
Disappointed In Your Business Book Sales? These Tweaks Can Help.
Choosing The One Brilliant Idea For Your Business Book
Identify Your Book’s Audience (And Write For Readers Interested In What You Have To Say)
You’re Turning Off 25% Of Your Readers