From Advisor to Author:
Your Book is More than a Client Handout –
Cliff Notes to Book Publishing & Promotion for Financial Professionals
There’s a growing trend in the financial services industry of accomplished advisors becoming book authors. It is the pinnacle of credibility and a calling card to prospects who needed that added assurance that you are the expert you claim to be! Often an advisor’s plan consists of writing the book (or working with a copywriter), self-publishing the book and then simply handing out copies of their masterpiece to prospects, clients and centers of influence. That’s a lot of work for that limited of distribution. So maybe you get it listed on Amazon too, but beyond that, there are little to no other promotional activities factored into a book rollout plan. What a missed opportunity! Your book is more than a fancy business card. Unless you intend to be the next David Bach or Dave Ramsey, this is one of those rare, once (maybe twice) in your career, opportunities to make some well-deserved noise! Get noticed, get heard, get book sales and get hired! Before you consider writing a book to serve in the capacity of an oversized company brochure, consider the possibilities. The following five tips will help you to get started.
1. Dream Big! You’ve made it this far in your business and career because you didn’t adhere to boundaries or accept that there are limitations to what you can do. The same is true for your book. So imagine it – what is the ideal outcome of you authoring a book? Is it for bragging rights, book sales, prospecting give away, calling card, a second career, solidify your expertise, qualify you for a speaking circuit, make your mom proud, become a best seller… what is it? Some view authoring a book as a marketing expense where others consider it diversifying their revenue. Be clear on what your goals are up front, so the rest of your decisions can be made with this objective in mind.
2. Content is Key. If you want to be a best-selling author, you have to write like a best-selling author. If you want to attract new clients, you need to weave that you’re accepting new clients and the benefits of working with you directly into your message. If you want this to be the first of many books, then don’t give away all you got in this first book. Once you’re clear on the objective, the content can be structured to match. Then… it’s writing time. I’ve heard advisors approach book authoring in a number of different ways – some more effective than others. Here are the most common:
- Transcribe it. Some have their workshops and/or mock appointments transcribed, and then use that as the basis for their books. Good approach to get it out of your head and onto paper, but unless you’ve spent a lot of time creating and perfecting your own new business process, these types of books could come across as “me too.” This is not ideal if your goals are big, but can work fine if you’re only interested in the calling card outcome.
- The 10/2500 approach. If you are strongly considering writing a book, then you likely have 10 unique ideas you would want to talk about. Compartmentalize your book into 10 topics (chapters) and write 2500 words on each topic (roughly 5 pages each in Microsoft Word). You don’t have to write these in the order you want them in the book on your first pass. Just get your ideas out of your head and onto paper. Bonus: These stand-alone chapters may make great blogs or white papers to really leverage your original content! Once you have the rough chapters laid out, write the opening and the closing drafts, and proceed to edit the book so it flows from one idea (chapter) to the next. This approach makes it bite-sized, and you can always work with an editor to help pull it all together.
- Hire a book author. There is no shame in working with a pro to help you put your perfect masterpiece together. This approach involves A LOT of interviewing up front, but from there the research and writing can be done without your day-to-day involvement. Typically, this process includes:
- Determining the perfect angle. You may have to do a little research of similar books out there to make sure you’re taking a unique approach, but a pro can help with this too.
- Creating a very detailed outline of every chapter and every point you want to make. This goes in phases. Like above, it starts with 10 ideas, and then each of those are broken down into the specific points you want to make. When this part is all said and done, you could have half of your book done in outline form. And
- The copywriter builds the story to meet the angle and outline you helped to create. They do the heavy lifting and typically circle back once a chapter or two have been flushed through to get your input. Yes, this is the most expensive approach… but then again, what do you value your time?
None of these ways are wrong and there are many other ways you can approach book authoring too. The key is to find the approach that works best for you, your ability, your timeframe and your budget.
3. Publish Wisely. Self-publish vs. traditional publisher vs. hybrid publish? What’s right for you?
- Self Publishing. For many advisors, the status quo has been self-publishing. It’s no wonder that advisors don’t have more of a rollout plan when publishing under this scenario—every detail falls squarely on you. The benefits to self-publishing include content control and ownership, and the ability to print small runs of the book as needed. However, the distribution of the book may be limited. If you have an ISBN, you can be on Amazon, but being picked up by other outlets will require a process. Advisors often choose to self-publish when wanting a book for credibility purposes, to hand out to clients, prospects and centers of influence or use as a call-to-action deliverable.
- Traditional Publisher. For those aspiring to create a second career in book authoring, this could be an option for you. A traditional publisher comes with big credibility; if on your book it said published by “Penguin Random House” or even “Career Press”—you’re big time! Traditional publishers have retail distribution across all platforms, online and bricks and mortar. And often, they have a marketing team in-house to assist with promotional aspects of your book. You don’t pay for these services. In fact, some publishers actually pay you an advance for your book when you hire them as your publisher. One of the drawbacks to traditional publishing to consider—you are one of many books being published at any given time; unless you’re already a career author, you may not get a lot of attention leading up to your publishing date. And, perhaps the biggest drawback of all, they own the copyright to your book, not you, and have final say to what’s included and how it’s said. They want your book to make them money and will ask you to make edits that may further their objectives with the book, and not your own.
- Hybrid Publisher. Hybrid publishing provides the best of both without as many drawbacks. You own the content of the book outright as with self-publishing, and you can get wide retail distribution support as you would with a traditional publisher. It’s published by a credible third party, and the royalties you receive for each book purchased are higher than a traditional publisher, but of course lower than if you were self-published. The biggest drawback with hybrid publishing though is you pay for all of it. Hybrid publishers profit from the work they do on your behalf because you pay them to do it. So, if you want support in publishing the book, printing, sales, marketing and distribution, you will need to have your checkbook ready for each and every service.
Bonus Tip: Regardless of which publishing option you choose, keep in mind we do judge books by their covers! If this decision is up to you, be sure to work with someone experienced in designing catchy book covers that compel you to pick it up, click on a thumbnail image to buy online or stop to read more when it is seen on your marketing materials. Spending some time in Hudson’s book stores next time you travel could be an eye-opening experience. You can see all best-selling books side by side for a quick comparison.
4. Rollout with Purpose. Quite often, authors with new books take part in media interviews. Many things play into the types and quantity of media interviews including distribution or accessibility, marketing of the book and the status of the publisher. Typically, a self-published book with limited retail distribution will not warrant media opportunities on its own. If there is nowhere to drive a viewer, listener or reader to purchase a book, the media can be a little skeptical in featuring it on their program or in their editorial coverage. However, it can be used as credibility enhancer if you were to be interviewed as an editorial resource. For example, “Bob Smith is on our program today to discuss recent market activity. He’s the president of Smith Financial Services and author of the book Retire Now.” This still works if credibility is what you were after, but won’t drive people to purchase your book.
With a traditional or hybrid publisher, because marketing and distribution is in place, opportunities for the book AND the author exist in the forms of local and national TV and radio interviews, book reviews and other editorial coverage in media outlets and guest contributions from authors on traditional and digital media sites, among others; many of which will tell viewers, listeners and readers where to get a copy of the book for themselves.
If you’re releasing a book, a media strategy needs to be part of your rollout plan. It’s not every day you release a book, and this type of exposure will help you generate awareness with people who wouldn’t hear about you or your valuable book otherwise! For other digital marketing strategies to consider as part of your rollout plan, click here.
5. Own it! Publishing a book isn’t the end of a process, it’s the beginning of your career as an author. With that added layer of credibility and accomplishment comes additional opportunities, as long as you continue to leverage it.
- Add “author” to your list of credentials and bio. Think of every place some form of your personal biography is used on your marketing collateral, event invitations and signage (an evening with the author), introductions at events, your website, overviews with affiliated membership groups, and similar. You will forever be an author so be sure to include that accomplishment in everything you have or do, past, present and future.
- Leverage publicity and accomplishments. Were you interviewed on local or national TV? Add that to your website. Did you reach best-seller status? Add that to the cover of future runs of your book. Did you receive any notable endorsements about the book? Add those to your website and even future runs of the book. And be sure to update your book profiles on retail sites to include any book-related accomplishments as well.
- Incorporate it into your business. You likely had a book with a catchy title; incorporate that method and message into your new business and onboarding processes. Consistency is key when building a brand and, as I like to say, if you stick to your messages your messages will stick. Make the book part of the fabric of your business.
A book is more than a calling card…The options for creating opportunities for your book are vast. If you’re interested in writing, publishing or promoting your financial book, and are in search of a trusted partner, search no more. Let’s talk. Your future fame awaits!
Alana Kohl, founder and president of AdvisorPR, is an accomplished publicist, published author, brand strategist and trusted marketing consultant. Alana’s decade plus of experience in the financial services industry has led to the creation of AdvisorPR’s innovative and all-inclusive marketing communications programs, helping financial professionals and organizations define, support and promote unique brands. Established in 2005, AdvisorPR is a branding, marketing and public relations firm dedicated to providing custom and turnkey marketing communications solutions exclusively to financial professionals and the corporate companies that serve them.