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Books Are the New Business Card

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The other day, a thought came to my mind: "How many different are there in the world?" I searched , and to my surprise found this number: 129,864,880 total books, according to Leonid Taycher, a Google software engineer who works on the Google Books project. Mind you, this stat was from 2010.

Death to the Stock Photo

I published my first book at the end of 2013. I wrote every day for two years straight. It was a painstaking process. I wrote it by hand, due to my circumstances, and had to digitize the entire manuscript when done. I started in 2011, and by December 2013, I had my first book. It's on Amazon, and I can now boast of being a published author.

The sheer volume of books being published every year has grown exponentially over the past few years.

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According to the Bowker Report, more than 400,000 books were self-published in the U.S. in 2013, an increase of more than 400 percent from 2007. Non-self-published books issued annually has also jumped to more than 300,000 in 2013. "The net effect is that the number of new books published each year in the U.S. has exploded by more than 400,000 since 2007, to approximately 700,000 annually," according to the report.

So what has contributed to this explosion in published books? The ease of self-publishing and low costs.

For one, the self-publishing route has become much easier and more efficient. When I self-published, I paid a service, which took my document and pretty much handled everything, including editing, book cover design (upon my approval, of course) and even posted and got it approved through Amazon. With a simple for "self-publishing services" you can see all of the different services and products available, with some for less than $1,000.

There are tons of different resources, including how-to posts that outline the exact process of and promoting your book. Take, for instance, Ryan Holiday's breakdown that shows how he's written three books in three years. Or Tim Ferriss's detailed insight on how to write a bestseller. There are countless posts of this nature, with rich detailed outlines and strategies to help anyone write a book. Additionally, platforms such as Quora and provide additional strategies and insights, not to mention simple Google searches related to "how to write a book."

More than just blog posts though, there are tons of free events, such as Author Conf that runs online from Dec. 6 through 14. This event alone could help provide some serious insight and give you the tools and resources to get started.

Now, you may say, "That all sounds great Andrew, but I'm still unsure as to why I actually need to write a book?"

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Your book can be used as a high-quality tool and potentially earn you additional side income from new customers (or users), speaking gigs and consulting jobs, along with these benefits:

1. It establishs expertise.

For one, you're probably already an expert in whatever topic you'd want to write about. So you have access to tons of content. The book can help establish your industry expertise and perceived value. It's much better than a card.

2. It sets you apart.

A book can help set you apart from other people in your space. Not everyone is a published author within the space you do business, and this can help be a differentiating factor. Would you rather go with someone who's a published author or not? Exactly.

3. It can open doors.

You can use your book to open doors that may have previously been hard to get into. For example, my book and "published author" moniker has helped me land contributor roles at various outlets.

4. It can bring new business.

Your book can help establish your expertise, which in turn can help generate you new business.

5. It's a marketing tool.

Your book can become a strong marketing tool. You can give copies to contacts when you meet with them, send copies to potential clients and mail them to other influencers you're hoping to connect with.

I'm in the process of writing my next book (or two -- I'm trying to nail down the strategy), and will utilize it in all of the ways I listed above. I love writing and have reaped the benefits firsthand. I guess the old adage remains true, "we are the authors of our own life stories."

Related: The Recipe for the Perfect Business Book

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