The business impact of writing a book
In today’s episode, Anna explores how writing a book can boost your business.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve dreamed of *being a writer*.
It was a vague and idealistic dream of sitting in a cabin somewhere, looking out at the ocean, and writing what would surely be my next bestselling novel.
As I took a closer look at that dream over the last few years, I recognised that the dream wasn’t about the traditional success that you’d associate with being ‘a bestselling author’, but about something much more meaningful, and realistic: I wanted to write. I wanted people to read what I was writing. And I wanted to experience the sense of pride and fulfilment that came with holding a physical copy of a book that I had written in my hand.
Why do you want to ‘be a writer’?
What purpose would publishing a book serve for you?
Explore the reasons why you want to write a book and how you can hone in on a specific objective to write a book that will actually drive your business forwards on this week’s podcast!
*Resources mentioned during the episode*
The One Step Outside Facebook group– Join us over in the Facebook group to meet like-minded people who are working on reimagining success in their life and business and to get access to direct support and free training sessions from Anna. www.facebook.com/groups/onestepoutside
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5– After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
My name is Anna Lundberg. I’m the founder of One Step Outside, author of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5, and host of the Reimagining Success podcast. Now, that is my little introduction that I’ve been using the last few weeks or even months, and the section of the intro I want to draw your attention to, apart from the podcast of course, which you’re very well aware of since you’re listening to me on the podcast. But it’s that I said I’m the author of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5.
Now, I have to be fully honest with you. It’s taken me some time to think of myself and to put myself forward as an author. I’ve always thought of myself as a writer and being a writer I think is sort of easier to get your head around because writing means that you’re writing. So, that’s easier to say and to accept, to own. Saying that you’re an author does feel a bit contrived and arrogant, which is a bit strange because we don’t find ourselves feeling boastful when we say that I’m an accountant or I’m a marketing director or whatever it is. I don’t know why an author should be any different.
And supportive people will tell me, will tell you that, “You know what? You’ve published a book. So yes, you are an author.” Boom, done, simple as that. But I have begun to say that, and I have published in fact two books, so I am an author. And wouldn’t it be nice for you to do the same? To be able to say in the context of your business, “I am the author of this book on my topic of expertise. Ta-da, boom.” Imagine where that puts you in terms of credibility and authority and it’s credibility, building an audience, establishing your authority in a new field that we were talking about over the last few weeks. So do check out those couple of episodes, if you haven’t listened to those yet.
But as I said last week, writing a book, publishing a book, and in fact self publishing a book, and I’ll talk about that in a moment, is a fantastic way to boost your business and specifically of course boost your credibility and so on. But just to take a step back for a moment, I think a lot of us want to be a best-selling author. No, just me? I think I grew up thinking, wanting to be a writer, some kind of writer, so I would make up fake journalism pieces. I did a very controversial fake news interview with my dad. He was CEO of a company and I wrote some pretty scandalous answers to the questions I asked without actually having spoken to him. So shh, not very ethical, but that was one of the things I did. I I used whatever it was, pre-Windows, the publisher software or whatever that was to create little magazines and newsletters at university. Even my friends and I created a little magazine I think called Fortnight or something. Didn’t really take off. I joined the Cherwell newspaper at Oxford and so on and so on.
So I’ve always sort of wanted to be a writer.
Oh and I wrote awful teen fiction along the lines of Sweet Valley High and so on, if you know those books, but very ridiculous romantic teen high school fiction, very much dreaming of that kind of American dream. The version where the blonde twins, like at Sweet Valley High get the quarterback, ask him out for prom, all that silly stuff. So, I did watch a lot of those American films and series, but as I said, I’ve always wanted to be an author, and I imagine you may have had the same, maybe not because we’re all different. Some people may have dreamed of being an artist, a musician, a cricket player. Who knows what your background is, right? We all have those big dreams. Why not a superhero or all sorts of other things, astronauts. I’ve talked about that before too.
But being an author, a lot of us feel like we have a book in us as it were. And I think we have some kind of vision as anyone. I had a vision of sitting in a cabin in the woods somewhere or ideally with an ocean view, writing beautifully handwritten in these beautifully leather bound books, publishing, being on the bestseller list, having piles of books around you, author readings, signings, literary prizes, best seller lists and all these things, right? And that is sort of a shiny, perfect image of what we think success looks like as an author.
And I think that’s something first of all to break down before you even get to writing a book specifically for your business, which I will get to. But I really think it’s important to break that dream, that so-called goal apart. Take it off from the shelf up there, this beautiful and perfect goal of being a bestselling author and really examine it, to really break it apart. Understand what is it about writing a book that appeals to you? What is your objective? Right? Because for most of us, maybe it’s not realistic to be, and the people who always come to mind are J.K Rowling, Stephen King. I mean there are so many other authors and famous authors who are doing incredibly well in business and in fiction, right? So nonfiction, fiction and not to say that you can’t be that person, but for most of us, our first book is not going to be the best seller.
And also, even if it is, realistically we’re not making necessarily millions.
J.K Rowling has done pretty well for herself and I really admire how she wrote those first books when she had a newborn baby. So who knows how she managed that, she obviously had a very strong vision. This little boy, Harry Potter came in her vision, her mind very creatively, but very impressively as well how she was able to write that. But what is it about writing a book that appeals to you? Is it really, again, that shiny, superficial, “I’m a bestselling author.” Is that what appeals? I think for most of us it’s not. So, if I think about why I wanted to be a writer and still now a core part of that is because I wanted to write.
So, if your goal is to write, if that’s why you want to be an author, then for goodness sake, start writing.
And that’s something I did, for years I did a writing… I can’t remember what it was called, a journalistic programme, two year course in writing for magazine journalism or something like that with the NCTJ here in the UK. I did lots of creative writing courses and then between those courses I actually didn’t really write. So, if you think of yourself as a writer, if you want to be a writer, you need to look at your calendar, your day-to-day agenda and you need to write.
So, it’s very easy to say, “I want want to be an author. I want to be a best selling author.” But if you’re not actually writing anything, that’s never going to happen. So, look at your diary first of all and see, “Am I actually spending any time? How much time am I spending on writing?” First of all, if your goal is simply you love writing, start writing. Nobody even needs to see that stuff. However, maybe another goal, a secondary goal could be that you want people to read your writing. And in that case again you can do what I did years ago. I started a blog, 2013, again very few people reading it initially and I felt very shy about putting that out there. But over time I got positive feedback and I got more and more confident and now it’s second nature.
I was publishing up until recently, new blog post every week and so on. So, if it’s important for people to be reading your material then start a blog post, it’s pretty much free. People will start reading it and you can start sharing on social and so on. The good news is because hardly anyone reads it at the beginning you can play around with it. You can build your confidence before hundreds and thousands of people start reading your blog. So, that’s a great thing to do, right? Start writing and start publishing.
Maybe you dream of as I did, again having a physical book in your hand, “I’ve written this book. I’ve published this book.” And again, the magic now is that you can actually self publish. You don’t have to wait for that incredible, formal publishing contract. Self-publishing even just, I don’t know, 5, 10 years ago used to be called vanity publishing and I remember a couple of people I know who shall remain nameless and who did self publish their books and they were so badly written and it was really their very self-indulgent philosophy on life or very sort of polemic piece. And that’s fine if that’s what you want to do.
But the point is you can absolutely self publish and there are so-called indie authors and all sorts of other names for those of us who publish ourselves, that’s completely feasible. Even within the indie author, self-publishing world, you can absolutely be professional. You can make a lot of money. You can have a very credible platform. Of course you can use professional editors, proofreaders, designers, all sorts. So, don’t think that self-publishing is in any way not as powerful, not as impressive as having a publishing contract.
Having a publishing contract still is incredibly appealing and I would love to have that for at least one of my books in the future and I think it’d be an interesting experience to have. However, the reality is again, financially a publisher and agent and all these other people involved will take a big chunk of your money. They’ll have control of your book. I know one of my friends, his very first book, he wanted to bring that out again and, and sell more copies and because it hadn’t sold as well. Perhaps the publishing house didn’t want to do that and they had the rights to it and so on. So, that’s a horrible situation to be in that you no longer own creative work.
What else? Most publishers, if not in fact all of them really now rely on you and expect you to have your own social media following, do your own marketing and so on, right? So, that’s the same for publishing yourself or having a publisher. So, not to say that it’s not an incredible feat to have a publisher, and hello, if you’re listening, I would love to have my book formally published, but don’t worry if that’s… That’s not your only goal, I think. And then the final one that I want to really dive into now in the last few minutes is driving your business. So, maybe you feel that actually writing a book, as I said earlier, could potentially establish your credibility and give you a platform and so on.
So, let’s dig into that a little bit deeper,
so if your goal is to really boost your business, to bolster your business with this book, there’s a couple of different ways in which I can do that, right? So let’s take the first most obvious one, making money. So yes, selling books online can be a revenue stream in itself, it’s this famous passive income. You write it. You edit it. You design it and so so on. You put it out there and then ta-da, you magically get money coming into your account every month. And yes, that does happen. My friend Serena and I wrote a book, How To Succeed In Your First Job several years ago and that’s still bringing in both via people reading the Kindle version and people buying paper back around the world. That brings in a nice little sum of money every month, so that’s… if we actually pushed it then perhaps it would get even more.
Ironically for me, I have the Leaving The Corporate 9 to 5. So I already have bracketed the whole experience of starting your first job and then leaving your job. And the both of those books are yes, bringing a little bit of money. However, again, you’re unlikely to be a bestseller with that first book if… Lots of people do call themselves a bestseller, but usually it’s because they’ve within Amazon been number one for a day on that particular category. And so, and that doesn’t mean they’re making millions from that book, right? So let’s be honest about that.
So, be realistic,
you’ll have small monthly sales, but you know what? That does add up, it’s a great place to start. And if you write more books, again, whether you’re writing novels or these business books, for example, if you have three books, five books, that adds up and it really has a positive echo I suppose. And the more books you write, the more people you reach and so on, and that will potentially become more substantial. So yes, it can absolutely be a revenue stream in itself.
Secondly, of course,
a book can be a platform for launching a public speaking career or being featured in the media and other ways, coming on TV or being in a magazine online, offline or again, speaking at events and so on. If you are the author of this book on this topic of expertise that you have, of course that sounds much more credible than just being, “Hey, I’m Anna Lundberg. I want to talk about this topic because it’s a bit fun and I feel like I know stuff about it.” That doesn’t sound as credible. So if you can say, especially during the launch period, “I’ve just published this, it’s hot off the press and tying that to a really important hook.” Maybe it’s really relevant, it’s to do with mental health, which is a big trend or climate change or who knows what else, right?
If it’s something that you can really hook on to something that’s happening right now, that’s really key. And again, it doesn’t have to be a massive topic for everybody. It could be a very niche topic for your specific industry, but your book can absolutely be a platform for launching that public speaking media features and so on. But of course if that’s the case, you want to be making sure that throughout the book you’re really asserting and inserting in fact to your credibility, your authority. So, for example, my book, I was sharing interviews with 50 people who’ve left their jobs. And of course if I just left it as that, people wonder, “Okay, thanks for giving us those stories.” And forget all about me.
However, it was important for me to of course assert my authority,
share my own story of leaving the corporate 9 to 5, make it clear that I offer coaching in this area that I have this group programme and so on and really give my guidance and specific support for aiming those stories. And while establishing myself as an expert in that area. And in fact, I mentioned my programme there, that would be a third option for driving your business. So, your book can actually funnel people into a specific programme. So again, my book is Leaving The Corporate 9 to 5, Stories From People Who’ve Done It And How You Can Too. So, it serves a number of roles in my business actually.
So, specifically it does then feed into my programme. I have a group coaching programme called One Step Outside the 9 to 5. It is absolutely the best thing for somebody who’s read the book. They’re feeling inspired, bit of reassurance. They’re like, “Yes, this is absolutely what I want to do.” They’ve read a little bit about… Other people have similar fears about failure and all the hard work that’s going to go into it, but everyone in the book says, “Go for it. This is incredible. You’ll never regret it.” And I feel, “Yes, I want to do it, but how on earth do I get started?” So then those readers, it’s ideal for them to then join my Facebook group, sign up so I have a video series they can join and then potentially then invest in my group coaching programme.
So, that’s a really specific next step. That also means that it’s sort of part of my product and service package and pyramid if you will. So, I have free content, of course. You can listen to my podcast. You can sign up to my email letter, email newsletter. You can join my Facebook group and so on, so that’s the base of my pyramid. Then there’s quite a low price point, you can for less than 10 pounds, whatever it is. Sometimes cheaper when we do offers and so on. But Kindle, paperback, 7 pounds, 9 pounds, whatever it is, you can get the book and that’s a specific piece of expertise that you can then consume without having to invest hundreds of pounds in coaching. And then you have the group programme, the individual coaching and so on. So, the book really plays a specific role in that pyramid of services.
So again, just to recap as we wrap up, if the objective for you is to drive your business, then you have a few different specific objectives within that. So, it can be a revenue stream in itself, in which case, again, be realistic about that and make sure you’re getting the reach. Make sure you’re getting lots of reviews on the book and so on. This is a whole other topic, but really be super clear that that’s the objective and probably you’ll need to write many books in order to really scale that up. But there’s all sorts of guidance around, just Google and I’m sure there are book writing coaches and someone who can really help you to make this a revenue stream.
In fact, I want to just give a shout out to The Creative Penn. So, Joanna Penn is one of the most successful indie authors. She has a fantastic podcast that I’ve been following and lots of free unpaid for resources, and lots of books as well. So, Joanna Penn of The Creative Pen. Then a book can be a platform for launching a public speaking career, being featured in the media and so on. And you want to make sure then that you’re really asserting your credibility, authority throughout the book. And finally it can be a piece of the puzzle of that programme, product pyramid and driving specifically to a paid service such as an online course or a programme and so on.
So those are just a few of the ways in which you can write a book that will actually drive your business. Again, what I’d really love to emphasise is for you to take a step back, explore why is it you want to write that book and in this context, of course we’re talking about publishing a book that’s going to drive your business. If you just want to write something because you have this really lovely story that you want to tell or you want to write something about your family history or something of that that’s going to be more… A fun thing for you, an idea you have or something that will be really lovely for your family to have, then absolutely you can do that and really just enjoy that process and have that book for your family, for your loved ones and for your own pride I suppose. And and your own fulfilment.
That’s absolutely a very worthy cause, but it’s a separate different kind of objective to have than writing a book to help your business. If you want your book to play an important part in your business, you have to be super clear on what precisely you want to do with that. And then make sure you actually design the book. You structure it with that audience, that objective, that core message, and that really clear next step in mind. So, hopefully that was useful, and I’d love to talk more about this as a topic as you can tell that I’m really passionate about. As ever if you have any questions, get in touch. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to seeing you here next week. Bye for now.
Connect with Anna:
If you’re ready to start to reimagine what success could look like for you, here are some of the ways in which Anna can support you:
Get private mentoring for your business – Partnering with a business coach can help you see those blind spots and get both external accountability and expert guidance to take your business to where you want it to be. www.onestepoutside.com/freeconsultation
Get private career coaching – Individual coaching is fully tailored to your specific goals and desires so we can create the programme that works best for you, with the support that you need to move forwards. www.onestepoutside.com/claritycall
Grab a copy of Leaving the Corporate 9 to 5 – After interviewing 50 people who have left the corporate 9 to 5 to forge their own path, Anna has collected their stories in a book that will inspire you with the possibilities that are out there and reassure you that you’re not alone in looking for an alternative. www.leavingthecorporate9to5.com
Join the One Step Outside the 9 to 5 Business Incubator – This is your roadmap to transitioning from a corporate job into setting up a meaningful business that will bring you more freedom, flexibility and fulfilment outside of the corporate 9 to 5. www.onestepoutside.com/9to5
Level up with The Outsiders Business Accelerator – This is a mastermind for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners who want to create a long-term sustainable brand and business. www.onestepoutside.com/accelerate