When Brisbane mortgage broker Samantha Bright heard somebody say ‘self-publishing a book is a business card on steroids,’ she knew she had to write a book of her own.
“In the Red Sea of mortgage brokers, I had to find a way to stand out from the crowd and my book is my big point of difference,” Bright said.
The digital age has shaken up the traditional book publishing market in many ways but these days there’s an increasing push for small business people to self-publish their own book as a unique marketing tool.
According to statistics compiled by Amazon, the major traditional publishers now account for only 16 per cent of the e-books on Amazon’s bestseller lists. Self-published books now represent 31 per cent of e-book sales on Amazon’s Kindle Store.
One major advantage for small business people authoring a book is that it gives you an extra layer of credibility as an expert in your industry. It also shows commitment because, after all, not everybody can start and finish writing a book.
One publisher leading the charge in providing a one-stop shop publishing model for small business owners is Michael Hanrahan Publishing. Hanrahan, who came out of the big traditional, publishing houses such as Wrightbooks, John Wiley & Sons and Random House told Huffington Post Australia that now authors can have complete control of their books.
“That’s a major difference from traditional publishing; that an author can control the cover, the whole look and the printing. The author makes all the decisions, not the publisher. They also get expert advice but they’re still in charge. The other advantage is the time frame. Often a traditional publisher takes as long as 18 months to publish a book. But, when you self-publish, you’re in control of when it is published.”
“Self-publishing a book is a huge advantage for small business people as it gives them credibility and allows them to send their book to others in the industry or to journalists. Many of our authors get great lead generation. So, if somebody makes an enquiry of their business, they’re sent a copy of a book which can work in ways that a press release can’t.”
Bright has written ‘How To Choose A Mortgage Broker'.
“It was all about finding a subject that I thought consumers would find valuable without it being a load of technical information. We all think we know what our customers want, but until you work out what they need, that’s the difficult part. So once I knew what I was writing, I bashed it out in a weekend.”
“My book gives me credibility because it says that I know enough about the topic to write a book about it. I get a lot of referral customers so it’s important for that too. My book also lets people know that I’m committed enough to my job that I can put my name on my book and it adds another layer of professionalism.”
“Australians don’t tend to walk around telling people how great we are. But writing a book is like having a third party say you’re great.”
Adelaide author and small business owner Vanessa Jones self-published her book Promote Your Spiritual Business, which gives marketing advice for business owners, as well as marketing advice for authors to promote themselves on social media.
“Self publishing my book has a lot of intrinsic value. Now I can refer to myself as an author, instead of just a writer. It’s also been a wonderful learning experience and has given me an insight into the publishing and bookselling industry that I might not have seen if I went with a traditional publisher," Jones said.
“It’s more than just promoting your own services, but to be able to offer your existing or potential clients so much more and bring them up to speed with what you offer and how you can help them. Once everyone is on the same page, it’s easier and more effective to deliver to meet (and exceed) their expectations.
"Particularly in marketing, there can be a lot of time spent educating clients to develop a relationship of trust – by being able to offer them a book, it saves so much time and enables me to get straight to delivering the core service.”
Michael Hanrahan said the self publishing process cost anywhere between $6,000 and $12,000.
“Once you’ve written your manuscript, we get it as a word file. The first step is editing.
"We have in-house and freelance editors working with us. It takes around two weeks for the first edit, then the manuscript is sent back to the author for approval. The next step is designing the book cover and the layout -- we hold the authors’ hand throughout the process and the author has final say on every step before it’s sent to the printer.
“But first you need to write your book. That sounds simple but it’s not.
"Don’t just talk about it, just sit down and do it. It doesn’t need to be perfect the first time, just get 30,000 words down. Also, you need to overcome the mindset, ‘Who am I? I’m a nobody’ because writing the book will give you the credibility you’re after.”