If you follow the self-publishing industry at all, or if you’re considering writing a business book and do a bit of research on why it might help you, you’ve probably run into some common Reasons To Write A Book. For example:
- A book positions you as a go-to expert in your industry
- A book is the new business card
- Writing a book can give you a leg up on your competition
- Every business needs a book
- Writing a book is easier than ever these days — anyone can do it now, so why not you?
These are some of the most popular and quotable reasons to write a book, at least according to some of the loudest and most SEO-optimized voices in the industry. But while none of these reasons is exactly inaccurate, they’re all pretty big blanket statements…and they’ve all got a few holes in them.
Sure, a book can position you as a go-to expert…if it’s a high-quality book that clearly demonstrates your expertise. Books may be the next business cards, but we’ve all got drawers full of business cards we got at networking events years ago and haven’t looked at since. Writing a book can be easy these days, but just because anyone can write one doesn’t mean everyone should (or should do it right now).
I’ve gotten more than a little tired of these impersonal, overhyped marketing messages. And I bet you have, too.
So today I’m going to give you ten individualized, specific and realistic reasons writing a business book this year might be a good idea for you, so you can actually make an informed decision about it.
Reason #1: Your audience is asking you to write it
I want to be clear up front: this is not the same as random people telling you “hey, you should write a book!” As author Scott Berkun said to fellow author Austin Kleon a couple years back, that statement is a compliment, but it completely overlooks the amount of work you’d need to put in. The rando saying it may be a fan of your business or your message, but they aren’t thinking about whether writing a book is a good move for you or even truly valuable for them.
No, what I mean here is that your actual audience, people who have chosen to spend time in your curated space, are letting you know that a book will really help them.
Sometimes this does come in the form of them straight-up asking you to write a book. But more often it shows up in more subtle ways, sometimes so subtle they may not even be aware of them. For instance:
- If audience members (particularly new members) are consistently asking you the same questions and bringing up the same problems over time…
- If audience members tend to get stuck on the same places in your system or process, or struggle to implement that system or process in the same ways…
- If audience members want to get to know you better before they start working with you (especially if you’re a premium service provider)…
- If audience members tell you about books other people in your industry have written (either in a positive or negative way)…
…they’re asking you to write a book.
Because a book is the answer to all of those situations. It puts all your important teachings and messages in one place for easy reference. It provides specific answers to common questions and problems your readers will encounter. It gives people access to you before they decide whether to work with you (and pre-frames those people to work with you once they’ve read it). And it positions you as more credible than other authors in your field, as you can write your book to cover the holes those other books missed.
Whether they mean to or not, if your audience is saying any of those things to you, they’re asking you to write a book — and telling you that when you do, they’ll read it. A pre-sold audience of dedicated readers is a pretty damn good reason to write a book (in fact, it’s one of the only factors traditional publishing houses consider anymore when they think about handing out book deals). So if this reason is present in your business, definitely consider writing a book this year.
Reason #2: You want to be an authority
“Authority” tends to be one of those words that slick self-publishing gurus like to throw around to convince you to buy their book-in-a-weekend program. So why am I using it here?
Because there’s a difference between an expert, a guru, and an authority. An expert is someone who knows a lot about a topic. A guru is someone who teaches others about that topic. But an authority is someone who has the power to influence behavior and inspire change around that topic. (Hat tip to Jim Howard of Morgan James Publishing for coming up with those definitions.)
As a potential authorpreneur, you’re probably already an expert. You may also already be a guru — especially if you run a coaching, consulting, or training business. But you probably haven’t yet made the leap to having an authority-level impact on your industry, where you can actually help shape the future of your field and influence those who work in and around it.
If that’s a goal for you, writing a book can help you get there.
It’s not a coincidence that the word “authority” also contains the word “author.”
Okay, fine, it is kind of a coincidence. But the point is still a good one. A book positions you as a true authority better than anything else. It’s like how Bernie Sanders can always claim to be an authority on Medicare For All, because he’s the one who wrote the bill introducing it to Congress.
Note: if you want to hit a big bestseller list (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today), that counts as wanting to be an authority. While there’s a good deal of confusion and some controversy around the bestseller label in general, hitting one of those lists is still very much a marker of authority these days.
Reason #3: You want more leads — or you’ve got more leads than you can handle
Wait, what? Can a book really help equally well with two opposite scenarios?
Yep. Books are versatile like that.
On the one hand, a book is great for lead generation. You can give it away as your main opt-in, you can give it away or sell it with other opt-ins inside it, you can include it in sponsorship packages for conferences or speaking gigs, you can set it up as the first step in a marketing or sales funnel…there are literally dozens of ways you can use a book to get more people onto your email list.
On the other hand, when you have a waiting list or a bigger email list than you can easily work with, a book makes a great sales tool. Here’s how that works: if you give a copy of your book to everyone on your list, they’ll all feel like you’ve done something special for them, which both preframes them to want to work with you even more AND makes them feel better about potentially having to wait a while to do so — even if they never read the book. It’s kind of like putting really good magazines in a doctor’s waiting room (instead of just Star, Golf Digest and/or Highlights For Children).
Plus, the people on your list who DO read the book will either (1) realize that the info in the book was what they really wanted to begin with or (2) realize that they don’t just want to work with you, they NEED to. Either option will lead to fewer wasted sales calls and more successful client bookings.
Reason #4: You’re ready for a new challenge
This is my favorite reason on the list. (No big surprise there — hero’s journeys and all that. 😉 )
There’s a reason that a lot of books get written by business owners who make between $100,000 and $250,000 a year. Below $100K, most business owners are still getting their feet under them and getting out of survival mode. Once they hit six figures, they’re usually stable and strategic enough that growing to $250K or so will happen more or less automatically over the next few years. But somewhere between $100K and $250K, many biz owners tend to reach a sort of pause moment. Not exactly a plateau (at least not right away), but a sort of checkpoint or benchmark. You may even feel like you’ve completed a level and can save your progress before continuing to the next one.
At this point, you have a decision to make. Do you stay where you are and keep doing what you’ve been doing? Or do you look higher and try to grow further?
The answer to that question, of course, is up to you. Neither option is right or wrong unless it’s right or wrong for you and your biz.
But if you do decide you want to grow to higher multiple-six figures or to seven figures and beyond, there’s usually an element of being ready for a new adventure.
You feel a calling to do something bigger than you’ve done before. You’re poised to move forward but not in a hurry to. And you relish the idea of taking on something that will stretch you, grow you, and strengthen you (and do those same things for your business).
A book is the logical next step from that decision. It’s quite literally a new hero’s journey for you. Writing and publishing the book will absolutely be a challenge, but it will be one you can rise to meet and find a lot of pride and satisfaction in completing. Not to mention that it will be a huge help in growing your business revenue into the higher end of multiple-six figures and beyond. That’s why so many biz owners write their first books once they hit that revenue level, and it’s why you might want to write yours then, too.
Which brings me to…
Reason #5: You want to build a foundation for long-term growth
Going from six figures to multiple-six, seven, eight, or even more than that isn’t going to happen the week your book comes out. It probably isn’t even going to happen the YEAR your book comes out!
This is why trying to write your book in a weekend and make it an Amazon bestseller is so unworkable and ineffective. It only looks at the short-term. If short-term success is your top priority, don’t write a book. Focus on getting your next client instead. Nothing wrong with that.
But if you’re thinking in terms of the next 3, 5, 10, even 20 years, that kind of revenue growth is very viable. So if you’re like Alexander Hamilton and for the first time you’re thinking past tomorrow, writing a book is a fantastic move for you.
A book is a business asset, which means it’s a concrete, physical item that can be leveraged to create value over time. It’s like a piece of real estate. Yes, it requires a certain amount of up-front capital investment and some time to set up and optimize, but once that’s all done, the asset will pay you for years to come — and you can use it in various ways to make even more money over that time.
If that’s what you want for your business, then you’ve got a great reason to write a book. You’ve also got some built-in insurance that the book will be a good book, because chances are if you’re thinking about the long-term already, you’re willing to spend a year of your best efforts making the book the best it can be, so as to maximize your biz growth in the next 5–10 years.
Reason #6: You want to speak professionally (or do it more, if you already do)
This is a fairly well-known reason, but it’s definitely still worth mentioning here, because speaking and authorship go together like Frodo and Samwise.
Many biz owners and entrepreneurs want to make money speaking. Some of them already do, either as keynote speakers, corporate trainers, coaches who sell their programs from stage, or some combination of those three. But whether you’re a seasoned speaker or new to the stage, a book can improve and grow your speaking career.
For one thing, having a book skyrockets your credibility as a speaker. Speaker bureaus and event planners LOVE to book authors to speak, and companies love to host trainings by authors in their industries. The book lets these people know that you know WTF you’re talking about. It also provides an easy training guide and/or resource for the company to give all their employees or the event to give all their attendees. Most of all, your credibility as an author reflects really well on THEM and makes THEM look good, which makes their jobs easier and more lucrative.
Not only that, but having a book also allows you to make more money as a speaker. You can do that directly by selling the book at the back of the room, including book sales in your speaker fee (or getting some instead if there’s no fee), or using it as an opt-in to build your list from other people’s audiences. You can also do it indirectly by commanding higher rates for keynotes because you’re an author, getting entry to more prestigious events and bigger stages because you’re an author, being able to pitch bigger companies for training because you’re an author, and/or using your authority to partner with other high-profile speakers for high-ticket events.
So if you want to speak or speak more, you’ve got a good reason to write a book. The only caveat I’d add is to make sure that your business (whether it’s primarily a speaking biz or not) is stable and profitable before embarking on your book journey.
Reason #7: Your message, system, or approach changes lives
This is a more altruistic reason to write a book: you know that what you have to say has immense value for the world, so you want to get that message out to a much wider audience ASAP. And a book is a fantastic way to do that.
- It encapsulates your system or process in a bite-size, easily accessible resource
- It lends credibility to that system, since people tend to trust what they read in books — and things that have books written about them
- It’s easily to distribute and disseminate widely
- It’s a great gateway to other forms of visibility such as podcast interviews and media appearances
- And even if you don’t have a large audience or a broad reach at the moment, a book can help you grow that audience and reach over time
If you run a business that helps people heal, live better lives, save time or money, and/or be happier, this reason probably resonates with you! And even if it isn’t the first or strongest reason on this list for you, I’m guessing you’ll appreciate it nonetheless — and I hope it will be a solid backup for some of your bigger reasons.
(Side note: there are some people who will tell you that wanting to change the world is a dumb reason to write a book, because books that want to change the world don’t make money. I think those people are idiots. Great books change the world AND make money. If it can’t do both, it’s not a great book.)
Reason #8: You like the written word more than video, audio, or other forms of media
This is the most personal and individual of personal, individual reasons.
Because some people? Really, really enjoy writing. Those people write. A lot.
And other people? Really, really don’t. Those people do other things. They start podcasts or run YouTube channels or create infographics or do Facebook Lives.
(Not sure which you are? Check out the free Content Personality Quiz, created by my friend and mentor M. Shannon Hernandez. You’ll get a clear answer in about 3 minutes.)
If your primary content personality is written content, then you’ve got a pretty good reason to write a book (at least as opposed to starting a podcast, say). In fact, if you love writing, chances are you already do a good bit of it, so a book might be a logical next move for you.
What if writing isn’t your content personality? Well, then I’d suggest considering the other reasons you may have for wanting a book. If there are a lot of them and they feel really solid and aligned for you, then you may have a good reason to write the book anyway — and get help with the actual writing part. (You may also want to look into “speaking your book,” but be careful — it’s nowhere near as easy or simple as it sounds.)
If you aren’t finding many other reasons on this list resonate with you, though, AND you don’t enjoy writing…then I’d suggest simply not writing a book. Find your real content personality, and do more of that instead. I promise you’ll be a lot happier and your business will do a lot better.
Reason #9: Your business is ready for a book
A book is like Spiderman’s suit. If you’re nothing without it, you shouldn’t have it.
If your business is doing well without a book, it will do even better with one — but if it isn’t, a book won’t save it.
This is one of the biggest and most disappointing trends I see in self-publishing today: excited first-time authors who’ve been in business less than a year joining overhyped book programs thinking that a quick, cheap book will get them from zero to seven figures in six months. It honestly depresses me a bit to think about how many of them shell out money they don’t have to create a low-quality product that doesn’t help their business — and may sink it entirely — when if they’d only waited a year or two and built up their businesses to stable, profitable levels, a book might have been a fantastic growth play for them.
You’ve seen me write about this before, and you’ll see me write about it again. If you want to write a business book, you must have a business that can support both making that book awesome and using it to leverage growth going forward. This means having an active, engaged audience, a clear and specific growth strategy, enough money to invest in high-quality help, and sufficient bandwidth to give the book your focused attention without letting your business go down the drain. If you have those things in place, then you’ve got a great reason to write a book, because you’re READY to write one. If not, you don’t, because you aren’t. It’s that simple.
Reason #10: You WANT to write it
Okay, sure, James. File this one under D for “duh,” right?
Well, yes and no.
Obviously you should write a book if you want to, and not write one if you don’t. But you’d be surprised how good a lot of these slick marketers have gotten at convincing people to write books who actually have no interest whatsoever in doing it. Don’t fall into that trap. If you really don’t want to write a book, you don’t have to. Don’t force yourself to do something that feels off for you — that’s a great way to write a crappy book.
But the flip side of that is if you’re going to write a book, make sure you really want to! Ask yourself if a book is a nice-to-have or something you can’t not do. Ask yourself if, of all the different growth paths your business could take, writing a book feels like the best one. Ask yourself if you’d wanted to write the book before some slick guru started telling you that you needed to write it. And ask yourself if you want to write this book enough to put 110% effort into making it the best it can be. If the answers to all of those questions are “yes,” then congrats — you really want to write the book!
Now the next question is: is simply wanting to write the book enough of a reason to write it? Clearly it’s a reason to consider writing the book, and maybe make plans to write it, and certainly put it on your business bucket list…but is just wanting to be an author a good enough reason to invest months of time and thousands of dollars in a project that takes attention away from running your business?
In the tradition of improv comedy classes everywhere, I’ll answer with the following statement: “Yes, and.”
Yes, wanting to write a book is a good enough reason to write it, AND it makes for a much better and more successful book if wanting to write it isn’t the only reason.
Which is why I listed the other nine reasons first. 😉 If just wanting to be a published author is the only reason you’ve got in your back pocket, that probably won’t be enough. But if you can couple the desire to write a business book with a few of the other reasons listed above, then a book will be a great move for you.
So there you have ten reasons writing a book might be a good idea for you! If a few of them (or a lot of them!) resonate with you, then here’s a great next step: spend an hour talking with a master wordsmith about your goals for the book, how it will grow your business, and what you’ll write about in it! I call this a Six-Figure Book Strategy Session, and it’s 100% free. If that conversation sounds good to you, I invite you to book that session right here.
Check out my book Don’t Write A Crappy Book!, a comprehensive guide to writing and publishing mistakes business authors don’t know they’re making — and how to avoid them!