Not every pitch from a publisher for a major piece of content marketing begins with, “When are you going to write a book, you fool?”
Mine did. Here’s what I would do differently the next time I write a book.
This is hardly the way I imagined the process of writing a book to begin. It was the weirdest kind of reverse pitch, from a publisher who works exclusively with creative firm principals.
The publisher’s challenge was a call to take content marketing to a new level, with timeless content for smart readers, published in book form. Resisting the allure of publishing about trending themes is a long tail approach, but he assured me, “[When you publish] the whole world looks at you differently.”
With that, the gauntlet was thrown, the challenge made, and the publisher finished his pitch to me with this comment: “You’ll be a fool until it’s published.” It was an unusual way to begin a relationship with a publisher and to begin the journey of writing my first book.
Personal opinions of my character aside— five years later—there are several things I would not do when I publish my next book.
While “Begin at the beginning” is excellent advice, when it comes to content creation and publishing a book, it’s the worst advice ever.
Had I been more familiar with Stephen Covey at that point, I would have understood his principle, “Begin with the end in mind.” My take on this is, “The heart may inspire you to start a journey, but you must begin with the end in mind.”
The end I would have started with was my market and audience: If I wrote a book, who would read it?
Professional book marketing firms can help you do this, but it only works if their expertise aligns with your content, a lesson I learned at great expense. Nobody knows your content or your audience as well as you do.
Here are the relational things I would do differently when I do it again:
Seth Godin rightly claims, “If you don’t promote it, no one will.”
I essentially self-published my first book with RockBench Publishing Corp., an established well-respected niche publisher. In this case, I paid for design, editing, printing, and promotion… the publisher distributes the book through Amazon.com.
While the book has not been a commercial success in the same way the publishing industry measures success, it is an influential work that sells consistently and opens doors for client engagements and speaking opportunities.
While I haven’t asked If the publisher still considers me a “fool,” it is gratifying to know he references me and my book “Raise Your Voice: A Cause Manifesto,” in his new book “The Business of Expertise: How Entrepreneurial Experts Convert Insight to Impact + Wealth.”
In retrospect, I would not allow myself to let the perceived expectations of others be the measure of my success, or the arbitrary rules of outdated publishing models to determine the marketing path I follow. I would define what success looks like at the beginning, manage my expectations, and plan accordingly to achieve it.