Dear Aspiring Industry Expert: Have you written that book yet? If not, why not? Each time we reach December, you may well think to yourself: I wish I had written my book this year. If I had, next year might be different. I would be more prosperous; I'd have more clients approaching me; my life would be lived on a grander scale.
And your suppositions are correct. So, will you let another December flit by without it? In a bigger sense, do you have sufficient years left in your career trajectory to sustain not writing it this year?
In my book 50 Ways to Become a Better Speaker, I included a chapter on how to become a professional speaker on your local circuit. It referenced a true story about a time when I was just getting into the industry, and asked my agent what I could do to boost my own speaking career. The question I posed was, "What is the number one thing speakers can do to get ahead?"
Look, I have a book
My agent explained that the same principle applied in any industry. To quote her exact words, "When you have written a book, people regard you as one step down from God."
Nothing increases your credibility, or visibility, quite like having a book in print. And it's not critical that your book should be a Dostoyevskian masterpiece and a New York Times bestseller. It's the simple fact of the thing that counts. People take you more seriously when you have been published. You are regarded as an authority.
Of course, I'd like to encourage you to write a really good book, rather than just churning out rubbish. Being the author of a genuine bestseller, or of the definitive title on a topic, certainly will not hurt your reputation. Plus, why would you want to put your name to something slapdash?
Using a book as a publicity tool
The second and obvious advantage to publishing a book is you can use it to gain publicity. There's the launch, the media coverage, the potential for interviews on radio and television and more. In fact, it's even conceivable that the people who find and buy your book in the bookstores might hire you to do what you write about, turning your book into a sales tool too. It even helps in business meetings with potential clients. Handing over a free copy of your book is impressive. You have clearly been involved in this industry for a while, and you clearly know your stuff.
And the third advantage is that it becomes a part of your title...
"This is Joanne. She is the author of Sound Principles for Cooking Overweight Guppies."
That carries some weight.
A worthy investment
Some speakers' agents urge their clients to consider self-publishing instead of submitting their manuscript to a publisher. Their rationale is that you can potentially make more money by selling your own books at events than by having them on the shelves in bookstores, where your profit is significantly less.
The counter-argument is that a publisher can achieve greater reach for you by retailing your books and you'll gain more publicity. And there is an element of authenticity and satisfaction to having your book "accepted" rather than simply paying for its publication yourself.
It's your choice. But writing a book is certainly a worthy investment of your time.
I can't force you into your writing room, and I can do no more than urge you to sit in that chair. But let me ask you: Will another December arrive and catch you bookless? Or will you take the initiative and radically change your place in your industry?
Douglas Kruger has won the SA Championships in both a sporting pursuit and an intellectual one. He is a three-time winner of the SA National Skateboarding Championships, and a five-time winner of the Southern African Championships for Public Speaking. He is also the author of three books. See him in action, or review his books and articles, at www.douglaskruger.co.za. Follow @DouglasKruger; email .
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And for anyone who has written a book, or is busy writing a book, and doesn't know what to do next, they can attend the seminar being run in Feb 2013 - 'The Suitcase Under the Bed - Practical Advice about Publishing'. Details available here: http://www.ilovebooks.co.za/aspiring-authors-seminars/