Pop quiz: what do 95% of successful entrepreneurs have in common?
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a Wharton degree, a Shark Tank investment, or even inordinately shiny teeth.
The answer is that almost all of them have written and published a book.
You might be thinking, “Why would a busy entrepreneur invest all the time and effort it takes to become a published author?” But what these shrewd businesspeople recognize is that there’s a whole slew of benefits that come with having written a book — including name recognition, professional prestige, and being able to use it to attract new clients.
What’s more, self-publishing has made it easier than ever for people to get their voices out there. So why not join the ranks of these innovative “authorpreneurs”? Here are four great reasons why every entrepreneur should consider writing a book; if you’re an entrepreneur yourself, I defy you not to be brainstorming titles by the end of this article! Let’s dive right in with #1.
1. Books make excellent lead magnets
Lead magnets are valuable, interesting “perks” that you offer to people in exchange for their contact information. In other words, you give something of yours away for free, and you get a subscriber in return — who will hopefully convert into a paying customer down the line.
And of all the possible lead magnets out there, books are pretty much unbeatable. Your visitors get knowledge and entertainment and you get their email addresses, which means a direct route to their inboxes (and eventually their wallets) in the future.
However, there’s more to it than just that lone bit of incentivization. In the publishing world, offering up your book — or at least a couple chapters of it — to readers for free is a practically foolproof way to ensure people actually read it. And even if they don’t read the entire thing, they’ll be much more likely to remember your name afterward! This in turn will make it all the more likely that they recommend you and your book to their friends, exponentially multiplying your potential clients without any extra effort on your part.
2. Publishing gives you credibility
Plenty of people claim to be experts in their respective fields. But this is a perfect example of the phrase “easier said than done”: it’s simple enough to say that you’re an expert in something, yet much tougher to actually prove it to skeptics.
Imagine what a difference it could make at your next dinner party if you followed up your claim with, “Oh, and by the way, I’ve published a book about it.” Boom! Instant credibility points.
Despite the fuss over the “death of reading,” the book is still a king-maker in the public’s eyes because — unlike other mediums — it’s extremely tough to bluff one’s way through 200+ pages of text. As long as it’s thoroughly researched and well-written, a book can be the X-factor that elevates you into a known expert on your topic.
Just ask Sheryl Sandberg, who became a mega-prominent voice for working women after the publication of Lean In. Or ask Spencer Johnson, whose allegorical business fable Who Moved My Cheese? turned him into an authority on motivational practices in the workplace. You might not reach quite the same levels of superstardom as these authors, but you can certainly achieve greater respect and recognition in your field, which will pave the way for later books, products, and services you want to promote.
3. Increased word-of-mouth about your company
Here’s another adage you’re probably familiar with: there’s no such thing as bad PR. Similarly, there’s always such a thing as good PR, and a book is one of the best ways to generate positive media coverage for you and your company. A forthcoming book is a simple “in” to countless PR opportunities, such as conferences, talk shows, and all the other platforms that you need in order to drum up attention from prospective clients.
As you write your book, try to remember that you’re not just creating word-of-mouth about you: you’re directly raising the profile of your company too. For example, Basecamp cofounders Jason Fried and David Hansson published Rework: Change the Way You Work Forever in 2010. In 2013, they followed it up with another bestseller, Remote: Office Not Required, and in 2018 published a third professional guide, entitled It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.
In the intervening years, all these books have become go-to sources on the essential principles of efficient working, especially remote working… and Basecamp has seen its user base expand from 544,000 to more than 2.8 million. We’re not giving the books all of the credit, of course, but it’s safe to say that they played some part in that growth — after all, the recurrent coverage of these titles must have been a real asset to the word-of-mouth surrounding Basecamp.
4. Your book becomes the top of your sales funnel
That brings up my final point: as an entrepreneur, you shouldn’t write a book about your practices and philosophies because you want to make big bucks off of it. Prepare yourself for the reality that your book probably won’t be a bestseller, because — as much as you might dream — not every businessperson’s book will be the next How to Win Friends and Influence People.
That said, as I touched on before, a book is a great way to build awareness of your brand and guide interested parties to your actual product(s). In this way, it acts as a (very lengthy) business card; ideally, the book that you write will be somewhat related to your business, which means that many of the people who go searching for it will already be your target users! Lead magnets, press, and PR attention — all of this is a part of the bigger goal of potential sales.
Picture your sales funnel as a path that takes prospects from zero to the pot of gold at the very end. This pot of gold is your business, and your book can be the spark that sets clients on that journey.