Has the Time Come to Publish Your Book?

Has the Time Come to Publish Your Book?

By Ken Lizotte

The pinnacle of what I call "the expert's edge," i.e., that dreamy competitive advantage when your competition seems to have all but melted away, may well be reached when the time has come for you to write and publish a book. Though such an endeavor can seem overwhelming and near–impossible, there's no denying the impact of pulling it off. By writing a book, you make all the pieces of your expertise fall neatly into place. Your insights and lessons learned will all combine to fill your book's pages and make a record of your life's work. While the same can also be said about writing articles, a book allows you to truly strut your stuff and delve deep into your knowledge and market value.

Another impact will be your book's positive effect on getting you invited to do speaking engagements before audiences composed of your target market. Authors of books tend to be at the top of the list of desirable speakers for planners of business events, so a new avenue for meeting prospects in a way that affords you much credibility will have been attained.

Both your book and your speaking gigs in turn can lead to business media breaking down your door (or at least beginning to look for you). Reporters and editors and even bloggers are all eager to publicize credible business experts, meaning that by writing and publishing a book, you may end up traversing other prominent media (and Internet) channels as well.

If any or all of this appeals to you, and it should since significant competitive advantages can be hard to come by these days, should you then just sit down and start writing? Not quite. First you need to address a critical initial question: What's your actual book idea and will it advance your business goals?

To answer this question, consider these other questions:

  • What do you want to be known for?
  • What high value do you currently bring to your clients?
  • What is it about you and your firm that currently attracts prospective customers?
  • What do you want to be known for in the future (in addition to what you are currently known for or what you want to be known for now)?

These questions have to do with the "thoughtleading" image that would best suit your business development strategy. To identify this correct image, zero in on what currently defines you as most valuable to your target market. What do you typically say at a networking event when asked what you do? What would you write down if you had to bang out a quick e–mail on the subject to a hot prospect? How do you articulate the benefits of hiring you when delivering a presentation or pitch to a prospect?

Your book should reinforce answers to these questions. Thus, your value proposition must be reinforced and made clear to your readers, any of which is a potential new customer for you or at least a potentially strong word–of–mouth referral source. Maybe you have: a new way of analyzing data that you employ again and again as you service your clients? Or 10 common mistakes you notice your competitors repeatedly make? Perhaps there are issues looming on the horizon that you have been advising your clients to watch out for? Topics such as these are the kinds of things your book idea can develop and bring to life.

Are You Ready to Take the Plunge?

If I've convinced you by now that writing and publishing a book might be worth your while, well then—are you ready? To be ready means to be prepared to set aside a large amount of time and emotional energy, coupled with the will to see the project through, come what may, and to get it done.

For many would–be authors, my questions are tough ones. Writing and publishing a book is not for the faint of heart, a commitment that not everyone is ready to make. It's akin to every other major life commitment: getting married, having a baby, raising a family, buying a house, studying for a Ph.D. or starting a business. It will take a lot of your time, persistence, reflection, research, organization and writing. Yes, and writing: writing, writing, writing—and rewriting!

So if you're not ready to tackle a book, that's fine. Recognize that and move on. But if you do want to tackle this formidable, yet invaluable challenge, start laying the groundwork. Flesh out your idea, start writing in depth and start thinking about appropriate publishers to whom to submit a book proposal or your finished manuscript. In any case, get started! Once book authorship becomes a new item on your resume, you will be joining a very elite club which will automatically lift your stature as a professional a few rungs higher. Use this newfound expert's edge wisely and serious competitors will indeed begin fading away.

Ken Lizotte CMC (Certified Management Consultant) is chief imaginative officer (CIO) of emerson consulting group inc. in Concord, Mass, which transforms consultants and consulting firms into "thoughtleaders." This article is excerpted from his new book "The Expert's Edge: Become the Go–To Authority People Turn to Every Time" (McGraw Hill). He can be reached by visiting ThoughtLeading.com.