1: Why publish a book for your business?
In this first episode of The Right Book Project podcast, independent publishing expert Sue Richardson takes a fascinating delve into why entrepreneurs, experts and business owners want to become published authors.
Discover the power of purpose and passion; how the process of writing a book can bring much-needed clarity and focus to your business; and how the the publishing right book can rapidly establish and assert your authority, expertise and the credibility and integrity of your business.
with thanks to Dave Harries of CommunicateTV: www.communicatetv.co.uk
Dave Harries: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Right Book Project, a Right Book Company radio production. My name is Dave Harries and I’m here with my co-presenter Sue Richardson to explore the whys and wherefores of book publishing and how writing a book can enhance your business and personal profile. Sue is a publishing expert who’s been in the book business for many years and has written her own book – The Authority Guide to Publishing Your Business Book. She is the director of SRA Books and The Right Book Company and has helped hundreds of professionals, entrepreneurs, experts and thought leaders boost their businesses and profile with game-changing books. This podcast is all about you and your journey to writing a book. So, please get involved by joining our Facebook group The Right Book Project, or tweet @therightbookco. You’ll find notes, links, recordings and transcripts of these podcasts on therightbookcompany.com. So, on today’s podcast, we’re going to explore a very, very big and fundamental question. Why? Why would you want to write a book? So, Sue over to you:
Sue Richardson: [00:01:04] Yes, why indeed? It’s a very good question and a question I get asked frequently by business owners, entrepreneurs, experts. Why is a book such a great business-building tool? Well, Dave, you and I have talked about this a few times. But the pearls of publishing, I’ve mentioned to you, and are indeed featured in my book, which are some of the reasons why people might think about creating a book that really is going to boost their business and their profile. Reasons like platform, for instance, how a book can help you really widen your platform, reach people who you may not reach in the daily scheme of things. You may be a great networker, you may be a great blogger, you may even get some good mentions in the press every now and then. All of these things can be enhanced if you are established as an expert in your field with credibility; and all of that can be done beautifully by becoming a published author.
Dave Harries: [00:02:20] That sounds very enticing to a business person like me, but also to anybody with a passion really. It doesn’t have to be a business book of course, does it? It’s just about having a passion for something and wanting to get what’s in your head out on paper, I suppose. Is that part of the why?
Sue Richardson: [00:02:42] I think without any doubt. That’s a lovely one, pearl number two. Thank you. Passion, absolutely. I work with all sorts of different people. I work with cooks, I work with people in the well-being industry, health professionals. So yes, passion – great one. The one thing that somebody said to me fairly recently which I really loved, she’s an expert marketer and she said to me: “I wrote my book because I wanted to find out what it was that I was thinking.” And I love that. I think another great why, is for every business owner to explore, re-explore, re-examine what it is that they’re doing in their business, why they’re doing it, what is it that really makes them tick and who they’re doing it for. And one of the things that’s brilliant about writing a book, is it helps you really focus on those things, and get clarity; perhaps where, you know, we can all get a bit sucked into the day-to-day, can’t we? But actually to spend some time reflecting on what it is that we’re really expert at. And writing a book does that like no other thing.
Dave Harries: [00:04:06] Yes, that really resonates with me actually. And because I think you’re absolutely right, it’s so easy to get lost in the minutiae of everyday life and running your business, doing whatever it is you do, and completely losing sight of why you did it in the first place. And I love the idea that sitting down and trying to get it out of your head and get it onto paper and write it down, reminds you, it sort of re-anchors you, perhaps, in the passion, in the belief, in the expertise that you originally brought to the table. And in a way that hopefully will be extremely helpful to other people as well. And of course, establish your credibility and so on and so forth. So that makes a lot of sense as a why, to me as somebody who attempts to run a business myself. So, I absolutely get that one. We’re going to we’re going to talk…oh, there’s a printer going in the background! That’s helpful! I hope it’s important! One of the things that, we are talking primarily in this podcast about the why. But before we come back to that, I just want to look a little bit at an overview of writing because I think for somebody who is only just thinking: Gosh, maybe I could write a book; there’s clearly quite a lot to it. You know, let’s not beat about the bush, you can’t just sit down in a pub for half an hour and write a book. It takes work, it takes endeavour, it takes a lot of things, but it is hard work. So, if you could sum up briefly, and I know we’ll cover them in future podcasts in more detail, but what are stages? What, in summary, do you have to do to get from the idea in your head to a book sitting on the table in front of you?
Sue Richardson: [00:05:57] Great question. Quite a big question, that one, Dave. I think what’s really helpful for everybody who is considering this, is to start with an overall strategy, actually. I really believe that you need to really…we’re starting with ‘why’ today. And I think that’s where it’s a great place for anyone to start. It’s the Simon Sinek thing. How can you build something of value without understanding your why? So, start with your why, create a method, if you like, for understanding what…you need to paint a picture for yourself. Where do you want to be with your business in three years, five years, 10 years, whatever it is? And see how the book is going to help you grow that, go towards that. When you’ve then, and again, we’ll be looking at this in a great deal of detail and hopefully guiding people along the way, but the next piece I guess is to think about who it’s for and what specifically is going to happen for them. When you’ve got those two things it becomes ever so much easier to sit down and know what it is that you’ve got to write. Because unloading a load of stuff from your head may be a great sort of therapeutic thing to do in some ways, but is it going to be the business-building boost that you want it to be? Is it going to really work? Or is it therapy for you? It could be both, you see. My argument, I think, is that there’s nothing wrong with writing whatever’s in your head. But if you combine that with the right strategy for a book, you can do so much more than just offloading, brain dumping, whatever you want to call it. It can be a fabulously, therapeutic thing to do and a great journey of self-discovery and personal development and all of those things. But it can be so much more if you start with the strategic approach; creating a business case for your book before you start to write will help you to write the right book.
Dave Harries: [00:08:23] So I suppose, in a way it has quite a lot in common with starting a business in that sense, you know. I mean a lot of us, I would include myself in this, often stumble into business almost by accident. You have a passion for something, you discover you’re good at something and you think: Oh well, I can do that, I can be my own boss. And you don’t perhaps think about the strategy so much, you don’t think about, you don’t write a business plan, frankly, and there must be a million businesses out there that don’t have business plans; and that isn’t necessarily going to cause the business to fail but it certainly is a disadvantage. I think I would argue, you know, with the benefit of hindsight, that a business plan is a hugely beneficial thing to any business. And I suppose what we’re saying here, is the same applies to writing a book. You know, if you’ve figured out your plan, your strategy, you’re going to, as you just said, get a huge amount more out of it in the long run.
Sue Richardson: [00:09:14] Indeed. It’s a little bit like you’re going on a very, very exciting journey. Now, it may be that you decide to go on the kind of journey where you have no idea where you’re going to end up. But in reality for most of us, we don’t have that luxury these days. We kind of need to have a map. We kind of need to have a destination. You know, in order to get where we want to go, we’ve got to draw the map. we’ve got to understand which is the right path to take. Okay, we may take a little wander here and there, we may have to get help to get pulled back onto the right path, but essentially without drawing the map in the first place, you have no idea where you’re going. And so, for me, writing the right book is about knowing what that means, seeing what is that destination; where do you want to be? And it’s going to be different for everybody. There isn’t a hard and fast rule that applies. With every single person and every single business, it will be slightly different. These pearls that we talk about: like platform, like profile, like passion, like…the wonderful reasons why you might write a book; like PR, like protecting your IP; there’s all sorts of fantastic things that we refer to as our pearls of publishing. If you don’t sit down and work out where you want to go and which of those pearls you need to help you get there, you are possibly in danger of ending up putting a lot of energy, a lot of time, perhaps money, a lot of resource into something that is actually not going to take you anywhere and you end up back in your own backyard without having really moved on. I think your point about it being rather like starting a business is a very good one. I think it is rather like starting a business. The lovely thing about a book for a business owner is that you’ve done that, you’ve got your business, how is the book going to help you grow your business? You can do the two things in tandem. If you see the book as a bit of an extension of yourself, as the business owner or business leader, you see the book doing some work for you once you’ve created it. Because it can be in rooms all over the world which you can’t be. That comes back to the platform thing, it has this great way of positioning you as the expert in your field in a way that has much greater reach than anything else that I’ve ever come across.
Dave Harries: [00:12:05] I’m going to ask you in a minute to give me perhaps some examples of how that’s worked in practice for some of the authors you’ve worked with. But before we do that, I just want to touch on the, again, the process because I think a lot of people might assume, myself included, that the main thing about writing a book is writing the book. Is sitting down and getting the book written. Is that fair? Is it true, once you’ve written the book, is that it, done?
Sue Richardson: [00:12:39] There are three parts actually. The writing is never going to happen if you don’t write it. That’s true. But actually it’s also never going to happen, it’s never going to do anything for you if you don’t think about the other parts. And at The Right Book Company we have a kind of three-cornered philosophy which is you’ve got to write the right book in the first place. You’ve got to publish it in the right way; and that effectively, is finding the correct publishing route, because there’s no point in sticking your manuscript in a drawer and letting it gather dust. You need to publish it, you need to put it out there in the public domain and let people see it, have it, read it, get the benefits of it. And then you have to reach the right readers and for a business that is hugely important. That is about making sure that you not only write a book that is going to have the impact on the people that you need it to have an impact on (so as an expert you are talking directly and engaging directly with your target market, if you like, by creating a book for a specific readership) but also who do you want to influence with your book? How will your business grow purely by you becoming an influential person, which published authors become? There’s no doubt about it, you know, it comes back to the credibility thing. We see people who’ve published a book and, whether we’ve read the book or not, we think more of them because they’ve done it. So, who do you need to reach? So, write the right book, the writing part’s really important; publish in the right way, the publishing part’s really important; reach the right readers, effectively is about marketing the product that results from those two things. So, writing, publishing and marketing are all equally important and if we don’t do all three we’re not likely to succeed.
Dave Harries: [00:14:47] I am very glad it’s three, because that’s nice and easy to remember. OK, writing, publishing, marketing. I think even I can remember that and we’re going to cover all three of those in considerable detail as we go through these podcasts. So, apologies if you feel we’re skimming over them a bit today, but this is a journey and we are going to cover them in a lot of detail in future podcasts. So, you will find out a lot more about all of that because publishing, for example, there are so many different ways you can do that, and so on and so forth, so we will cover all that. But let me return now to the why, if I may, which is the theme of this podcast and I wonder, to illustrate some of the why, [if] you could give us some examples perhaps of people you’ve worked with. You don’t have to mention names, if it might be libellous. But if you could give us an example or two of where somebody has published a book and what it’s done for them and their business.
Sue Richardson: [00:15:41] Absolutely. Gosh, where to start? I suppose one of my favourite stories in a way is, I have absolutely no doubt she won’t mind me mentioning her, a wonderful person called Vikki Wusche, who is a property investor turned mentor, really, of people; so, she helps people to create businesses through investing wisely and well in property. And she’s done an amazing job of publishing some excellent books over a few years now. But the best thing that happened with Vikki was that she was moving in the right direction with her business, all going very well and clearly a great expert in her field, a very accomplished speaker and people were enjoying working with her, but she needed that kind of boost in her visibility. And I think it was her second book, when her second book came out that she got the attention of the press and she was featured in all sorts of broadsheets, Guardian, Telegraph, everywhere really, as well as lots of online things. Within a very short space of time, she actually was named as one of the top 25 biggest experts, if you like, in property by The Daily Telegraph, which was enormous. She told me a fabulous story one day of how she was laying in bed on a Saturday morning, having a nice little lie-in, well-deserved without any doubt, and the phone went and there was a guy calling her, a banker calling her, from Switzerland and he was saying to her: I’ve been reading about you everywhere, in The Guardian, in The Telegraph, all over the place. You and I need to sit down and have a conversation about property. Well, what’s not to love? You know, it’s absolutely that widening of the platform, the PR that she got as a result of becoming a top expert in her field, that could never have happened without her publishing those books. And she’s gone on to write, I think she’s got four of them now and she’s an immensely successful business owner and author.
Dave Harries: [00:18:25] And I suppose she would argue that had she not published the books, she could never have achieved that sort of profile, that sort of fame, if you like, if that’s the right word for it, because the book kind of transported her into almost a different level.
Sue Richardson: [00:18:43] I think that’s right, Dave. Of course it’s always easy to say things like that, one never knows. I think one of the things I would say is that the book is a great door opener; it fast-tracks you, although it’s not the easy thing to do, like you say, you can’t sit for half an hour in a pub and have it happen. It’s not going to happen. It does require a certain amount of energy, a certain amount of resource, a certain amount of time and effort to create it. Once you’ve got it, I don’t know anything that boosts people’s profile and platform more quickly. I really don’t. For Vikki it happened pretty quickly, and I would say that I’ve seen that repeated many, many times over. And maybe she would have always done it, but maybe it would have taken her some more years. Say, she’d become known as being… she is also actually a very good blogger, so maybe her blog might have got picked up. But, a book! Journalists love books, you know? Because well, you’ve written the stories for them, haven’t you? You’ve kind of done their work for them. And also, there’s something about that, the names on a book, it’s like your name in lights, you’re famous, your name’s in print, it’s on a book, it’s on a published book. That kind of says a lot about you: it says a lot, it says that you have passion, it says that you have the tenacity, it says that you’ve got the wherewithal to actually be credible for a journalist. A journalist doesn’t have to go halfway down the path and find out that actually you really don’t know your stuff at all. They know it because they’ve seen your book and probably read quite a bit of your book and they know that you’re the expert. So, it is a fast tracker, it’s a door opener.
Dave Harries: [00:20:41] And isn’t it interesting that in this digital age, where so much is online and so much is around social media and video and podcasts and things like that, that the good old fashion book, the piece of paper in your hand, is still such a powerful thing? I was just thinking about that when you were talking then, and I was thinking: gosh, all these YouTubers and things, they all publish books. I don’t know if they actually write them, but they all certainly use them as credibility-builders and something for their fans to buy and all that sort of stuff. They all do it. So, they’ve kind of done it the other way round and I suppose they’ve got some fame via some online method or whatever, the YouTubers, and stuff my daughter tells me all about. I can’t pretend to follow many of them myself. And then they use a book to perhaps reinforce that and to say: I am credible. Honestly I’m not just…I’m not just an overnight wonder, or something like that. So, that’s fascinating, I think, that this old technology is still such a big part of what makes people who they are and builds their credibility. Absolutely fantastic. So, I suppose that example you just gave, which was an excellent example, thank you for that; I was just looking at the pearls in your book and I suppose that’s an example of profile. Obviously that’s one of the pearls. And PR, there’s certainly PR going on there. I couldn’t help noticing one called Purple Cow. I may be going right off the subject here, but would you mind explaining Purple Cow to me as a pearl? Quickly, if you can or slowly, if you want!
Sue Richardson: [00:22:18] Well, this is completely, I have to say, totally stolen. Purple Cow is Seth Godin, the wonderful Seth Godin, and perhaps some of our listeners will have read his wonderful book, Purple Cow, which has been around for many years now, but was probably one of the books that changed my life as a business owner myself when I read it many years ago. And Purple Cow is that whole thing of standing out from the crowd really, of being remarkable, as Seth Godin calls it. It’s about doing something that’s out of the ordinary, that’s unexpected. That’s…you know, so, in the beginning of Seth’s book, he talks about driving with his family in France and he just sees fields and fields of these beautiful brown cows. And after a while you stop seeing the brown cows. But what if you were to drive past a field, and in the field in the middle of the brown cows was a purple cow? You’d all sit up and notice.
Dave Harries: [00:23:23] And stop taking the drugs!
Sue Richardson: [00:23:26] Had too much delicious Bordeaux with your lunch! But no, it’s that whole thing of what can you do to be a purple cow, what can you do to be remarkable? Well, not everybody writes a book for their business. And one of the things that I think that really does create a pearl for us is that just simply by writing a book and doing it, that you stand out, that you are different and you are known as having done something a little bit remarkable. Hence, the rather naughty thieving from Seth.
Dave Harries: [00:24:01] It’s a brilliant one and I’m sure I would imagine he wouldn’t mind. But it’s great that Purple Cow turns out to be one of the big whys, even if I had to have it explained to me. Can I go back to one of the earlier pearls which was purpose or passion? You put those two together in your book. How important is it, do you think, that a prospective author has real passion, real sort of belief? You know, as opposed to just saying: Ooh! I better write a book, what should I write it about? Well, I know quite a lot about this subject. I think, you know, I can write 50,000 words on that. Or is it not that simple? You got, that passion, that fire needs to be there, do you think? What would you say to that?
Sue Richardson: [00:24:49] I think it’s probably quite hard to write a 50,000-word book, or even a 20,000-word book, on a subject that you don’t care about fairly deeply. And I do think that passion is important. And I think that we, as business owners, need a fair amount of it too. I always think of passion as being kind of like petrol in your tank really. If you haven’t got it, it’s quite likely that you’re not going to go anywhere. It gives you energy, it gets you through the really dark times that we as business owners have. You know, let’s face it, it ain’t a smooth ride, you know, running your own business.
Dave Harries: [00:25:34] And presumably writing a book is similar.
Sue Richardson: [00:25:36] And writing a book is very similar. Exactly. There are going to be highs and lows, there are going to be times where you’re cursing the fact that you decided to do this thing and there are difficult moments. Even the most confident of people that I’ve worked with, have had moments of self-doubt in the process. And you need to come back to the passion and your purpose in doing it. Again, it comes back to being really clear about why you’re doing it in the first place. You need to be clear about that and you need to know why you’re doing it to get through those difficult moments. And if you can do that then… You know, because, let’s face it, people talk about writer’s block. I am not entirely sure that, really that writer’s block exists in the way that people describe it. Yes, we get stuck. We allow ourselves to get stuck, we find reasons. When I’ve been doing a big writing project and I have never, ever found the ironing basket so empty. There is no doubt about it that, you know, we all find ways of distracting ourselves. There are things that absolutely must be done before I start that chapter, or whatever it is. We need to come back to our inner resources. We need to come back to who we really are, what we’re here on this planet for, if you like, and really connect with what’s important to us. And I think that if you decide that you’re going to be frightfully kind of pragmatic and write a book that really is not who you really are, you’re going to come unstuck pretty quick in my experience.
Dave Harries: [00:27:32] So, it’s got to be authentic, it’s got to be you.
Sue Richardson: [00:27:35] Without any doubt.
Dave Harries: [00:27:35] Yeah absolutely. We’re going to, in the coming episodes, we’re going to cover a lot of this stuff that we’ve touched on today. We’re going to talk about strategies for dealing with being stuck and all those sorts of things and getting through those low moments, finding the high moments, all that sort of thing. So we are definitely going to come back to all of this stuff, but I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got time for this week. So, my thanks to my expert co-presenter, Sue Richardson. You can get lots more help on advice on writing and publishing your book by joining our Facebook group, the Right Book Project, where you can also leave a comment, ask Sue your questions or give us your ideas for future shows. We’d be delighted to hear from you. You can also visit our website at therightbookcompany.com, and you can sign up for one of Sue’s popular webinars or read her blog. So, we’ll be back in two weeks with our next episode, so, please join us then. And in the meantime, keep writing.