If you don’t already have programs that support the theories in your book, perhaps you should. Whether you ask them to or not, readers will call, write, and send emails inquiring about how to implement the strategies in your book. Consider developing coaching programs, training packages, consulting services, and other services that complement your subject matter.

Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

We all face competition, and if you want to crush yours, a book can get the job done quickly. Think about it from the consumer point of view. Let’s say that you want to hire a personal trainer. You interview a trainer with the typical credentials. He’s friendly, says the right things, and his pricing is about average.

Then you interview a second trainer. He is also friendly and says the right things. At the end of your meeting, he hands you a copy of his book, The Healthy, Wealthy, and Happy Life Program. It has an appealing cover design, and he even autographs it for you while you watch.

Who are you most likely going to hire?

There is nothing like a book to impress prospects and close deals. Give away books like you hand out business cards and your business is sure to grow. Often, simply adding the cover of your book to your business card can be effective.

Earn Higher Fees

If you are a service provider, such as a consultant, coach, graphic artist, doctor, therapist, financial advisor, or other business professional, your book gives you a license to charge higher rates. It all comes back to that credibility factor. You are not just an average expert in your field, you are a published authority. Of course your rates are higher than your competitors’.

The idea of raising rates makes some people uncomfortable. The reality is that as an author, most people are going to expect your rates to be higher than the rest. If you’ve written a book and yet you remain the low-price leader in your industry, it doesn’t quite add up. You are an authority in your field! If you wanted to hire Tony Robbins to coach you on success, would you expect to pay him $50 per hour? Heck no! You would pay a premium rate because he’s an expert who must be in high demand.

Another challenge in raising prices is the fear that you will lose business. And the truth is that you may lose some clients (though if you’re truly demonstrating value, this becomes less of an issue). But keep in mind that with higher rates it takes fewer clients to earn the same income. And sometimes raising your rates can also improve the quality of the clients you attract because there is a perception of value. If something costs more, it must be better, right?

The bottom line is that your income should increase as your author status drives up demand for your services.

Capture Hard-to-Get Appointments

Want to speak with the CEO, head of Human Resources, a political leader, or some other hard-to-reach contact? Send a copy of your book along with a personal note. Odds are much better that your next call will go through. “This is Annie Author calling . . .”

We’ve all heard of gimmicks in the sales world. One of my favorite examples that I heard several years ago was when a salesperson sent his prospect a VCR with a video inside (the VCR is a good indicator of how old this trick is). He stuck a note on top that said, “Play me.” The package was bulky, which made it far more likely to get opened than a sales letter shoved in an envelope. Even the most guarded administrative assistant with strict gatekeeping orders is bound to inform her boss that a VCR arrived in the mail.

Though it was a creative idea that actually worked for that particular salesperson, it was also an expensive gamble to send a package like that. (And today if you sent a large electronic device to a prospect, the recipient’s mailroom might call in the bomb squad, so we don’t recommend going this route.)

With a book, your hard costs are the book itself, which you should be able to purchase at wholesale for just a few dollars, and postage. So, even if it costs a grand total of $10 to send a package, ask yourself how much this kind of marketing is worth to you. If you reel in the business of a prestigious client that you wouldn’t otherwise have had, the return on investment is HUGE.

When sending out copies to cold prospects (people you don’t know), it is wise to follow up with the recipient. Send a short email asking if he/she received your package. We have both personally received a lot of unsolicited books, primarily from authors seeking endorsements of some kind. The ones that get our attention have several qualities in common:

  • The book arrives with a personal note from the author. The author gets bonus points if the note indicates that he/she has read or benefited from my books, blog, website, etc. That instantly creates a bond between us and inspires me to want to help.
  • The book is somehow related to my industry. Children’s books and pizza cookbooks are nice, but they have nothing to do with either of our businesses or expertise. It would make no sense for us to endorse them. However, if an author wants to pitch us on her personal chef services and sends along her cookbook, now she’s got our attention!
  • The book is professionally produced. Every self-published book should look like it came from a big New York publishing house. It should be professionally edited with an impressive cover design and quality binding. Someone once sent me a “book” bound like a booklet from Kinkos. I love booklets; they can be great promotional tools. But I’m sorry to say that you can’t call it a book. Aside from that, the production quality was beyond poor. Images were hand-drawn by someone who clearly wasn’t an artist. She would have been better served to use some basic clip art—and called it what it was: a booklet!
  • The author sends a follow-up email within a couple of weeks of the package arriving. Again, here the author is attempting to make a personal connection with me (not sending some form letter that is clearly going out to tons of people). Receiving a brief, friendly email is a gentle nudge that inspires a desire to respond.

Generate Referrals

Word of mouth is arguably one of the best kinds of marketing on the planet. When someone recommends a product, restaurant, book, or service, we buy. Whether that recommendation comes from a friend, a business associate, a magazine article, or a television show, consumers are influenced by the opinions of others.

A good book is going to naturally generate recommendations from readers. Think about the last book that you read and loved. How many people did you tell about it? If your book is doing its job and leading people back to your website, it can create a referral pipeline for your business.

Another way to generate referrals with your book is to introduce it to people who are influential in your industry. Several years ago, a family law attorney sent copies of her parenting book to marriage therapists all over town. Since therapists were often talking to her potential clients—people headed for divorce—she took a chance that the book might make an impression. Her law practice quickly became the largest of its kind in her city.

A side note here is that her book had nothing to do with the legal system or her law practice. It was a parenting guide—a topic that was indirectly related to her business. Regardless, she found a way to generate referrals by sharing her book with influential people who could send referral business her way.

For some businesses, it takes just a few good referral sources to grow a company quickly. A book gives you the opportunity to multiply those referral sources in a big way.

Stand Out at Trade Shows

If you host a booth at trade shows, your booth won’t be ordinary once you showcase your book and your work as an author. Prospects and potential alliance partners will be eager to meet the author.

To increase exposure, have a sign that reads “Author Book Signing” and offer to autograph any books that you sell (or give away). Even if book sales aren’t your primary goal, it is highly likely that you will capture attention. Attendees will ask questions about your book and also about your business. You can also use copies of your book as prizes for a drawing that you host.

By the way, corporations may also want to buy your book as a giveaway for their own trade show events. Mugs, pens, and squishy balls are boring trade show swag. But if you’ve authored a book on healthy living, a vitamin supplement company or an athletic shoe maker might love to buy hundreds or even thousands of copies and give your book away at events. (Hint: Upsell them on the opportunity to place their logo on your cover. It’s incredibly easy to produce a special edition print run of a self-published book.)

Generate Passive Income from Information Products

As you build a following of loyal readers, selling information products can become a lucrative passive income stream. Information products include ebooks, special reports, workbooks, audio recordings, whitepapers, teleseminar recordings, spreadsheets, templates, and virtually any way that you can compile and deliver information. Information products are often quicker and easier to produce than a book, and they can perfectly complement your efforts as an author.

Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of information products is that once they are created and the distribution process is automated, they can sell around the clock with minimal effort, provided you are driving traffic to your online store.

Giveaways are another fantastic use for info products. For example, you can reward new subscribers to your email list by giving away an ebook, a few sample chapters from your book, or a short video tutorial. Or you could send your ebook to other business owners and allow them to distribute it for free to their audience, provided all of your contact information is included. This strategy will ultimately bring you new customers and that all-important exposure to your audience.

Pro Tips: Develop information product ideas.

  • Conduct a survey with your readers and ask them what information they need or would like to know. Use the results to form new product ideas.
  • Make a list of the most common questions your readers and target audience have asked you, and then consider what kinds of products you could create to address those questions.
  • Teach people how to do what you do.
  • Create a directory or database. Do you have a list of 50 or more resources that people in your industry need? Sell that list!
  • Develop a companion workbook that complements your book.
  • Offer training via a teleseminar or webinar series.
  • Develop checklists, templates, worksheets, and other handy tools your audience can use.
  • Produce a video of a demonstration, speech, or technique.

Build a Certification Program

You can use your book as the foundation to develop your own certification program and recruit agents who deliver services under your brand, while they also promote your book and generate revenue for your business.

Jim Horan is a small-business consultant who wrote a book about a proprietary process he used with his clients. He self-published The One Page Business Plan for the Creative Entrepreneur, and soon fellow consultants were asking him if they could teach his processes to their own clients. In response, Jim built a consultant certification program through his website: OnePageBusinessPlan.com. Consultants pay around $3,500 for a week-long webinar-based training program, and once they pass the certification exam, they go out in the world and teach Jim’s processes—while promoting his brand and selling his books. He’s certified hundreds of One Page Business Plan consultants to date.

Simply brilliant, don’t you think? You can read an interview with Jim at the end of this chapter.

Schedule Speaking Engagements

If you want to grow your author-business and reach a lot of people quickly, consider developing your skills as a professional speaker. There are dozens of trade organizations in every major city that need speakers for their weekly or monthly meetings, as well as their annual conferences. You can leverage the instant credibility that comes with being an author and use your book as a door-opener for speaking opportunities.

Start by offering to speak for free to gain experience (and sell books at the back of the room), and then work your way up to earning a fee. Professional speakers can earn fees ranging from $1,500 to $10,000 and up. Even if you never charge a speaking fee, when done right, these engagements can generate plenty of revenue opportunities from back-of-the-room sales.

You might be surprised by how quickly your business can grow as a result of your speaking engagements and that you can sell thousands of books along the way. Soon, you may find that you don’t have to go looking for speaking opportunities. As you build a reputation and your platform, speaking invitations will come to you.

Become an Instructor

Authors are welcomed as instructors at adult learning programs, community centers, and many colleges. These organizations will promote your classes through their catalogs and direct mail campaigns, and that publicity can bring great exposure and new business opportunities. Even if your class only has ten or twenty students, being seen in the program catalog by thousands of readers can impact your business and your book sales.

Hold Your Own Events

Authors like Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, Brené Brown, and countless others leverage their notoriety and experience to host their own revenue-generating events and workshops. Events can range from half-day meetings in a rented office space to week-long events at a hotel or even on a cruise ship. For some, holding annual events can be the biggest revenue-generator of the year, surpassing revenues from book sales and all other business activities.

Sell Large Quantities

Identify the target audience for your book and look for opportunities to land bulk sales agreements. For example, a trade association could purchase and give away copies of your book to new members. A corporation could use your book as training material or as a giveaway at its annual conference. A nonprofit group might use your book as a promotional tool or even a revenue-generator by purchasing quantities from you at a discount and selling individual copies at full price. A bank might want to offer your book as a bonus for those opening new business accounts or applying for a home loan.

Consider the types of organizations that could benefit from your book. Offer deep discounts on bulk orders and create a win-win situation.

Uncover Opportunities You Didn’t Even Know About

Over the years, Karl and Stephanie have each launched a variety of services, including their own publishing companies, as a result of listening to their readers. We pay attention to what kinds of questions readers ask us and how we can solve their problems. The answers to their questions can become blog content, book content, new products, new services, and much more.

There is a good chance that writing a book is going to help you uncover revenue opportunities. That may mean that you develop new consulting programs, workshops, workbooks, ebooks, or even a series of future books. Welcome feedback from your readers because it reflects their needs and gives you an opportunity to address them.

The Secret to a Profitable Author-Business

Success with book sales is relative. You may consider yourself a success if you sell 1,000 copies in five years. And if you do, you’ll be ahead of the self-publishing sales curve. Or perhaps your goal is to sell 3,000 or 10,000 or even 100,000 books. Good for you! Aim high and then do the work needed to get there.

The same is true when you’re building a business around your book. You’ll need to do the work, but your efforts can absolutely pay off if you’re committed to doing what it takes to be successful.

Build a Revenue Plan for Your Book:
Questions to Ask Yourself

  • How much will my book sell for?
  • What are other books in my space selling for?
  • Who is my ideal buyer?
  • How will I market the book? Online, through speaking, direct mail campaigns, catalogs, trade associations, etc.?
  • What formats will I offer my book in? Paperback, hardcover, Kindle, e-reader, PDF, audio?
  • Can I reach my audience in other countries?
  • Should my book be translated into any other languages?
  • What annual sales goal do I want to set for my book?
  • How much can I realistically earn from the book each year?
  • Will my book be part of a series?
  • Where can I sell copies my book? Retail stores, restaurants, pet supply, libraries, schools, corporations?
  • Where could I sell my book in bulk?
  • What companies would be interested in my book for their internal staff?
  • What companies would be interested in my book for their own customers/clients?

Build a Revenue Plan for Your Author-Business: Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What problems can I solve for my audience with products and services that I create? In other words, what are their needs and challenges and how I can serve them?
  • Do I want to offer consulting or coaching services?
  • What would my services look like?
  • How much should I charge?
  • How much do my competitors charge?
  • Do I want to become a speaker?
  • Will I speak for free, charge a fee, or both?
  • Realistically, how often would I want to travel for speaking opportunities?
  • Who would likely hire me to speak? (Companies, trade associations, nonprofits, hospitals, schools, churches, etc.)
  • What kinds of information products could I create for my audience? (Reports, white papers, databases, audio recordings, training videos, workbooks, templates, checklists, etc.)
  • Should I offer online or in-person courses?
  • What similar courses are currently available?
  • What course topics are missing in the marketplace?
  • What topics should my courses cover?
  • Could I develop a process that would work as a certification program?
  • Who would participate in my certification program and how would I reach them?
  • What is missing in my industry that I can offer?

This article is an excerpt from The Nonfiction Book Publishing Plan, available on Amazon and other retailers.