Writing a Book to Grow Your Thought Leadership? Here's What You Shouldn't Waste Your Time Worrying About.
When it comes to launching their first book, many entrepreneurs sweat the small stuff while ignoring what really matters.
You’ve heard it said 101 times: If you’re a successful entrepreneur who wants to grow your thought leadership, you need to write a book.
The problem is that you may not know much about publishing beyond the fact that you have favorite books, and you’d like yours to be like them. Without knowing what to prioritize when it comes to publishing, you can end up caring about small aspects that don’t matter while ignoring the most important aspect of all: producing an excellent book.
Having been in the publishing industry for over two decades — first writing six books for traditional Big Five publishers, even making the New York Times bestseller list on one of them, and then moving into the indie world where I publish books for entrepreneurs — I’ve both made a number of incorrect assumptions and seen many others do the same.
Don't bother with a foreword
It can be fun to fantasize about getting that big-name person you know or have met once or are sure would love your book if only he or she could see it to write your foreword.
Forewords also don’t matter.
Have you ever bought a book because of the foreword writer? I haven’t either.
The only reason forewords matter today is that the foreword author can be listed alongside you on the book’s Amazon page. It’s undeniably impressive to have a celebrity as your “co-author.”
But does it really matter? See above.
Forewords are simply credibility enhancers — proof that you know someone impressive. So, if you are friends with a bold-faced name and are comfortable asking, by all means, ask that person to write your foreword.
Otherwise, forget it. Your book doesn’t need it.
Blurbs from famous people aren't essential
Blurbs (otherwise known as endorsements) from famous people are equally unimportant. In other words, it’s fantastic if Elon Musk or Tony Robbins or Marie Forleo wants to blurb your book, but it’s not worth pulling your proverbial hair out trying to make that happen.
I’ve watched authors put off release dates, take books back from the printer and even hold off entirely on writing a book because they were so obsessed with getting a certain person (who inevitably doesn’t come through) to blurb. For years, I judged that behavior — until, on my last book, I was guilty of it myself. I told myself I was in a different situation — I was waiting to hear back from a famous person I had once known well to find out if I could use something very nice she’d once said about my book as a blurb — but I was falling for the same old glass house.
I almost changed my release date for something that did not matter! My point is, it’s easy to fall for that.
I’m not saying don’t gather endorsements from impressive folks. I recommend gathering as many as you want. (We had a client who gathered so many the blurbs took up the first third of the book!)
But remember that someone with a credibility enhancer (say, New York Times bestselling author, TEDx speaker or even just a professor in your field) may provide just as much if not more credibility for your book than a household name.
I say if you know terribly important people and want to call in a favor, wait until the book is launched and ask them to post about it — or, even better, have you on their podcast or send out a newsletter about you and your book.
And you don't need bookstores to place mass orders
It’s absolutely wonderful to have your book available in stores; there’s nothing like going to “visit” your book at your local bookstore. And I know how much first-time authors care about this — it’s the number one reason people give me for seeking a traditional publisher (a notoriously difficult process).
But having an order for 1,000 books placed through the bookstore’s main distributor isn’t necessary. If you’re going the self- or indie-publishing route (which, increasingly, more and more experts are recommending) making that happen can be challenging. So my advice is, don’t worry about it.
Instead, try walking into your local bookstore and introducing yourself to someone who works there. Explain that you’re a local author and ask if they’d be open to selling your book. If your book is listed in Ingram and it is returnable (meaning that the bookstore can return the book if no one buys it), many salespeople will not only be open to doing this, but also excited about meeting a local author.
Once your book is in stock, come in, sign copies, take photos and show them off. What does it matter if that store had 200 or two copies of your book?
In short, when you launch a book, there are a lot of moving parts, so it’s important not to sweat the small stuff. But before you can ignore it, you have to know what it is.
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