In a recent post I suggested you boost your credentials by taking several of the free online courses now available through elite institutions like Harvard, MIT and Stanford. Sites like Coursera.com offer huge catalogues of such classes. They’re heavy-hitter programs by heavy-hitter universities and they’ll give you a potent edge in hiring and promotional opportunities. Some readers reported back to me that they’d snagged some great new jobs after expanding the “Education & Training” sections of their resumes and applications with these courses.
That kind of credential is inward-facing. By that I mean it strengthens your credentials more with employers than clients.
This post is about a 360-degree turbocharge to your credentials: book authorship. There is almost nothing more powerful to clients, customers and employers than being a published author on a specialized or niche topic in your line of work. I’m not talking about a 500-page treatise. I’m speaking of something in the 100-page range, on a topic specific to your field.
The Ease and Benefits of Pro-Level Self-Publishing
It has never been easier to publish and the benefits are endless.
- You become a legitimate published author in your field
- The book is distinctly your work. It erases doubt about who the expert is
- You own the content, or “IP” (intellectual property) in lawyer-speak
- Once you publish it on Amazon and elsewhere, it can generate a hands-free income stream for years, if not decades. (Multiple books = multiple hands-off royalty streams)
- It’s a portable credential. It’s a badge of expertise people associate with you, not your employer
Contrast this with other paths for publishing your work:
- Speaking at a seminar. I did this for years. But the seminar companies own the IP – the materials you contributed – not you. They’re profiting off your work. And once the seminar is over, your content isn’t used again.
- Internal employer website or publications. Same problem, except worse. First, your employer owns the IP. You can’t take it with you. Second, it’s your employer’s reputation, not your own, that you’re polishing. And you don’t create any revenue stream. And your article appears alongside that of fifty others so you don’t stand out. And – shall I continue?
- LinkedIn (and similar online) profiles and articles. LinkedIn is a piece of your reputational puzzle. No doubt. But ponder this. Your LinkedIn profile looks like every other LinkedIn profile in existence. (There are 500 million of them, according to one published report.) There’s no way these profiles alone distinguish you. And again, there’s no income stream from IP you publish to LinkedIn. It’s just there.
- Professional or trade journals. Lawyers often write articles for law-review publications. These have very low readership, sometimes in the low thousands, and they generate no revenue for the author at all. They tend to be arcane and very technical, which means that they have limited readership even among those who receive them.
Book Publishing is Simple, Fast and Profitable
Book publishing is no longer an “event.” You don’t need a publisher. You don’t need an agent. You don’t need to pay a publisher to print a thousand copies and deliver it to your door for you to do who knows what with them. (By the way, Amazon prints on demand, which is fantastic. It prints copies only when an order is placed and ships within 24 hours.) Now you can publish the book to any of the major online sellers (Amazon, most notably) and your book appears just as any other. It’s the ultimate demonstration of expertise. The tools now exist to write and publish a book on par with the quality of any of the five major publishing houses. I’ve been writing for 20 years, and have been incorporating technological changes into everything I do.
My last three published books are all in the top 15 in their categories on Amazon, and they often spend time in the top 5 best-selling books of their genre. One has hit the #1 spot twice. All three generate monthly revenue, and they’re completely hands-off. The only thing I do is peek at sales figures a few times a week and check for the month-end royalty deposits.
I’ve Included Everything You Need To Publish for Under $500
Some of you that I’ve urged to publish your own books asked me to write down the important stuff to make it easy. And I’ve done that. My newest book, Publish a Book in 28 Days: The Easy, Authoritative Guide to the Ultimate Career Credential, is an A-Z guide for self-publishing. (You can find the book by clicking here.) I walk you through each step:
- How to choose a topic
- The first and most important thing to do before writing the content
- How to set up an account and work with Amazon’s incredible publishing unit
- How to choose a cover designer and what to pay, and the best websites to find them
- Sites to design your own cover, although I don’t recommend it
- How to find editors if you want them and how to edit yourself if you don’t
- How to create a Kindle version, and an audio version, both of which generate separate income streams
- Sites where you can hire people to design logos for you for under $50
- Some mildly-techie stuff like choosing where to get your ISBN barcode, and why that matters
- The exact software and devices I use, as well as the websites I’ve used to create content and covers
The total cost of publishing the book out the door should be less than $500.00.
Marketing? Piece of Cake
I also explain how to market your book(s) inexpensively. To illustrate, here’s a screenshot from a marketing spreadsheet showing the cost of one ad for a book I published about a year ago. This particular “micro-ad,” as of today (May 6, 2017), has cost me just $67.63 but generated $815.84 in sales. That ad costs me .19 cents each time someone clicks on it, so the return on investment is eye-popping. I have hundreds of these micro ads running. I write some books under a pen name, so if you’re ever shopped for books on Amazon you might have seen one of my ads and not even realized it was yours truly behind it.
And your book(s) can be sold to buyers in many countries. Here’s another screen shot, taken at 8:55 AM ET today (May 6, 2017), showing Kindle sales for one of my books in the last 30 days. (Sales are reported by that seller on a rolling 30-day period, with each daily update showing sales for the immediately-preceding thirty day period.) This does not include print sales. But as you can see the buyers in just the last 30 days include not only customers from the US but also the European Union, India, Australia, Brazil, Canada and Mexico, among others.
The Critical Importance Now of Portable Credentials
It’s a fact that competition for clients and customers is fiercer than ever. And it now comes from across town and around the globe, and from traditional organizations, skilled freelancers and gig workers online. The freelancers know best that the only real proof of expertise is their work product.
So how do you stand out? How do you prove your expertise? If you haven’t done it yet, there’s just one answer – by authoring a commercially-marketable book in your niche or field. Book authorship remains the undisputed gold standard for gaining expert status.
Think of it another way. Who do you know and compete against that has a legitimate, commercially-published book in your specialty on Amazon? The answer, likely, is no one. So authoring a book is a superior way for you to now add a critical credential. And here’s another thought: If clients (or employers) need to choose between you and someone else offering the same services, skill sets or products, what do you think your odds of success are if your competitor is a bona fide published author on the topics that matter most – and you’re not?
Competing now depends on your ability to show what know and how you can help. In the past you could point to a diploma, degree or certificate. Or you could rely on the reputation of the organization you worked for. In other words you outsourced proof of your expertise using the reputation and achievements of your school or employer instead of your own. Not now.
You Can Do It. Easily.
I’ve worked through the kinks of publishing, and made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to. I’m reminded of what a 19th-century statesman once said: “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. A wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Amen to that. As self-publishing has changed I’ve adapted and documented the changes so I didn’t make the same mistake twice. And because it’s newly-published – the print version appeared April 17, 2017 and the Kindle version is set for release May 17, 2017 – my information about the publishing process and pertinent websites and services is 100% current. That’s critical. A book on self-publishing even three years ago is likely to be outdated. Amazon just implemented major changes I’ve included in the book and I’ll be updating the book regularly as time passes. I’ve also created a Facebook page and, within it, a private/closed Facebook group, for purchasers of the book. There buyers can post questions that I and others can answer but that, due to the closed nature of the group, non-members cannot see.
That’s It. You Don’t Have Excuses Now.
I hope this motivates you to write your own book. I guarantee you will be shocked when you see how easy it is. Everyone has many topics they could write about and, for whatever reason, they don’t. I’ve talked to many clients and friends and heard the same refrain – “I always wanted to write a book, but….” And they have absolutely great ideas that would both boost their career AND sell commercially.
Technology has made book-authorship a process that anyone can handle. And now, I’ve eliminated your last excuse. A year from now you’ll wish you’d started today. Nike has it right. Just do it.