This is great for publishers. Business leaders are in the trenches, at the top of their field, and full of bright ideas and wisdom to share. When they can make the time to write a book, it’s almost always valuable to readers.
From the CEO’s perspective, however, books can be hit-or-miss.
Some leaders get phenomenal results, leveraging their book into attention, business growth, authority, and influence. Others get a flurry of excitement when their book is published, but don’t see any long-term results from all their work.
In most cases, the difference is simple: The first group understands that the book isn’t an end in itself, it’s a multi-purpose tool that must be used effectively to drive results.
If you look at the book as the product itself, then you’re launching a new venture selling a $10-20 product that people only buy once, and that 50% of Americans don’t buy at all. That’s the book marketing business, and it’s not the business you want to be in.
But if you see the book as a tool to advance your career and business by building credibility and establishing yourself as the expert in your field, the possibilities being much more appealing.
Here are four ways the most successful CEOs use their books:
1) Increased Credibility
Whether we like to believe it or not, we’re being judged in every business interaction. Everyone we meet is looking to understand who we are, what we’ve done, and if we really know what we’re talking about.
And what’s the number one signal that someone is truly an expert? They literally wrote the book on the topic.
Beyond the sales and other opportunities we’ll discuss below, the smartest executives we work with make sure to promote the fact that they have written the definitive book in their field. They include it in their bio, in their email signature, and on their social media profiles.
Once these credibility markers are made public, new folks they communicate with come into interactions with an added level of respect.
2) Personal Media Opportunities
In addition to the credibility that’s gained from being a published author with a high-quality product, books open the door to media opportunities.
For most CEOs, the majority of publicity they get is directly tied to their company. There isn’t much interest from the press in covering them as an individual.
What a book allows you to do is give the media a compelling way to talk about you as a person, outside of your specific role. When journalists see you as an author as well as an executive, they become more interested in sharing your story, and press quickly follows.
3) Network At Scale:
If you could spend one-on-one time with thousands of people in your industry, how would that impact your business? What opportunities would you discover?
For most CEOs, hundreds of doors would open leading to new clients and partnerships.
The challenge, of course, is that spending quality time with thousands of people is exhausting and time-consuming, if not impossible.
A book allows you to, in effect, replicate yourself. Once it is written, it can be consumed by thousands of people without any additional effort from you. And that, at the very least, starts the process of building a relationship with these thousands of readers.
Everyone who reads your book will understand your ideas and see you as an expert in the field. But, even better, the ones who see real potential to work together will reach out to you with these opportunities.
Our most successful authors think of their book like a business development rep on their team — going out 24 hours a day, forging relationships, and bringing opportunities back to them.
4) Mentor Others
In a 2016 survey, Deloitte found that the biggest factor in whether millennials would stay in an organization was the level of mentorship they received.
But, with so many things competing for your attention, it can be challenging to make time to pass on your wisdom to up-and-comers in your organization. Mentoring is rewarding and an incredible way to give back and retain employees, but it can quickly become a time-suck.
Writing a book is a way to scale the time you spend on mentorship. By recording your wisdom in the form of a book, you can share it with mentees to help them get even more out of your relationship, without adding more meetings to your schedule.
And, even more beautifully, your book can continue to provide leadership and mentorship for decades. Even after you’ve retired, your book will be working hard to pass on the valuable lessons you’ve learned.
In a world where anyone can give a speech, write an article, or call themselves a CEO, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to set yourself apart.
For a leader with wisdom to share, a book is a way to do it.
When you write a book, you aren’t just promoting yourself or your company. You’re opening up the kimono and sharing your thoughts, beliefs, and ideas with the world.
This can be scary, but it’s also the thing that makes books different. Marketers can fake every imaginable status symbol, but one of the few things that can’t be faked is great ideas.
The value of a book isn’t just in the fact that society sees books as high status. That’s a bonus. The real value comes from the fact that a book is a window into your mind.
And, in the end, that’s why writing a book is worth it: It’s a way to show the world the great ideas that you already have, the ones that truly set you apart, and to pass those ideas on.