Books and Your Professional Career

This is an excerpt from Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. You can get a copy here.

In this article, let us look at another approach to publishing books: in this case, it is not the book, but a service you provide, that is the actual product. Making the book itself a marketing tool can be achieved in the following ways:

  • Referencing your book. Having written a book about a subject means you have spent a significant amount of time studying the matter. So, be it in your CV or résumé, having one or several books can help you to get the edge over your competitor. I recommend taking a copy to your next job interview. A printed book offers your interviewer physical proof of your abilities. Another place to “namedrop” your book is in speeches at conferences. A published book establishes you as an authority on a subject.
  • Recommending your book. When you are dealing with many customers, you can simply recommend that they read your book. Depending on the nature of your work, the topic of your book could revolve around extending your teaching (if you are, for example, a professor), or around explaining your unique approach. Some people are more receptive to the written word than to other forms of learning, so this can help them to better learn from you. Others might want to add your book to their collection to share with friends or as a way of personally connecting with you.
  • Using your book as a resource. Even if only a few people buy and read your book, you can still reuse all the notes and the edited content for speeches at conferences, and (properly cited) in future books. This way, you can see any book you release as a stepping stone to you becoming a master in the topic about which you are writing. Even if it is a work of fiction, the research you have invested in the book is valuable. Another option is to expand your audience by moving your content to a different medium and creating, for example, YouTube clips based on it.
  • Making the book part of your offer. This can be done as a free bonus on top of your services, as part of a premium offer, or as an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter. If your services are more physical with direct customer contact, you might think about giving away printed copies. If your services are primarily on the Internet, you can simply give your book out as a PDF e-book.
  • Releasing your book for free. If the goal of your book is to serve as a marketing tool, ignore any income you are possibly making by selling the book and focus on having it read by as many people as possible. Set the price on Amazon and Google to a minimum, and either use free book promotion services (KDP select) or split your book into individual blog articles to attract people to your website. In this case, you do not need to be afraid of the possibility that your book gets “stolen.” Because you are already giving articles away for free, nobody wants to make the effort to assemble the blog articles into a book and release it themselves. Still, if you are worried about people pirating (copying) your work, a later article will discuss strategies for how to protect your work or make the person copying it work for you. Feel free to add yourself to the newsletter or get the copy of the book. Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way here.

If you want to use books to not only help you with your career but also provide additional income, you need to focus a significant portion of your time on marketing. With that goal in mind, your book itself becomes the product and you have to invest (indirectly with advertisement or directly with valuable content) in engaging potential customers for them to spend time learning about it.

This is an excerpt from Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. You can get a copy here.

Agile Publishing

Dealing with Expectations When Writing a Book

This is an excerpt from Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. You can get a copy here.

The best advice I ever got was, “Nobody is coming.” Well, at least without a reason they will not.

Your inner voice may argue that if only every 1,000th person in the country bought your book, you would be a millionaire. If that is the case, then it is time to challenge your inner statistician. Imagine you spent the day in New York City. If only every 1,000th person you met on the street stopped you for a quick chat, your whole day would be busy. But that clearly does not happen. We spend more time on people with whom we have an emotional connection than on those with whom we do not. The same applies to books.

As harsh as it sounds, nobody will take an interest in your book just because it exists. If you do nothing but write and then release your book, expect exactly zero sales.

Even if you look up your favorite books, you will discover that they might rank only around #100,000—on Amazon, this translates into roughly one copy sold per day. Even at the #10,000 rank, only around 10 books per day are sold. How can your book compete with these numbers if even your favorite book sells only a few books per day?

First, in fact, 10 books per day is a very respectable achievement. Over a year, that might add up to $20,000 depending on your book price. While you might have heard of book authors making millions, those are the exception. In addition, many book authors are also more focused on using their books as a device for marketing their professional services than on earning money with book sales.

But you might ask, “What about all those services promising to boost your sales or even make your book the next bestseller?” In that regard, it is best to think and act on evidence: learn what exactly those services entail and how they will impact your sales. It is better to invest in services only when you know that doing so will reduce your costs or increase your sales—not because you think an offer sounds attractive.

Instead of trying to look like a successful author, find your own niche and become a successful author with that audience. In the end, you will enjoy your work a lot more, as you can work creatively in your own style. Ask yourself: what is the unique selling point of your book? Ask yourself how you select the books you are reading. A recommendation from a friend? A positive review on your favorite blog? A random Facebook ad with a questionable cover and unclear title? What emotional reaction will your readers have when seeing or reading your book?

The success of your book depends on finding that niche of readers who want to read exactly what you are writing. You need to be able to explain in detail how and why a reader would take an interest in your book. If not even you know exactly how an ad will engage your readers in reading about or buying your book, your audience certainly will not.

With that in mind, spend money only when you see a clear need for something. And seeing a clear need for something implies that you have empirical evidence. To get empirical evidence, you first have to have an initial product you can show others and gather their feedback. Start with your own network, give out free copies of your book, and hope your friends and associates will find the time to review your work within a few months. For creating and advertising your book, rely on freely available resources. For example, instead of setting up an author website (because it appears that every successful author has a website), focus on free alternatives like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Google Business, YouTube, or simply your Amazon Author page. Once you get sufficient traffic on those sites, you can proceed with planning the next step based on that data, and so on.

It is also important to note that simply asking is sometimes the best course of action. Let us say you have found an infographic that would work well in your book. The person who created that infographic may be delighted to share it with you, at no cost, just for the exposure. As the saying goes, the best things in life are free; if you find a way where you both profit from the exchange, all the better. The mention of the creator and a link to his or her website or published work might be worth more than he or she could get by selling the material.

Writing the Agile Way means choosing as your next step whatever comes most quickly and with the least expense. Getting better at your work in small increments is the secret and Agile project management techniques can help you to establish a process of continuous improvement.

This is an excerpt from Better Books with LaTeX the Agile Way. You can get a copy here.