By Jerry Payne
February 1, 2015
Here’s something interesting I’ve noticed over the past few years: more and more people are writing books for the purpose of P.R. It used to be that if a client wanted to write his or her memoirs, it was to simply make a record for posterity, or perhaps just to reflect back on a life well lived. Other types of books, like how-to books, were written for the single-minded purpose of selling the book. In other words, the book was pretty much the goal. But today, books seem to be written for a larger purpose. A book is often part of a bigger plan: to promote and publicize oneself or one’s business. And for that, a book can be invaluable.
Maybe it’s the economy these days, but every business executive or entrepreneur seems to be furiously looking for an edge. I remember that in the early days of the Internet, you could rise above the rest simply by having a website. But soon enough, every business had a website. So then you had to be better than the other guy at promoting yours. Soon came social media. You could gain followers on Twitter or publicize yourself through Facebook. Through all of this, the whole idea was, and is, to get people to feel as if they know you. Really know you. They become not just customers or clients, but fans who feel a connection to you and your business, much more so than what they feel for your competition.
Now, I’m finding a lot of business people are taking that idea and ratcheting it up even further. What better way to get somebody to know you or your business than with a book? Nothing says “expert” more profoundly than an author credit. You can be John Smith, or you can be John Smith, “Author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Gardening Equipment.” If you’re in the gardening equipment business, you just got yourself a huge edge on the competition.
I see it in all lines of work and I see it with people all over the career spectrum. Some are CEOs, some are small business owners, and some are between careers looking for a way to brand themselves. Face it; a book is more impressive than a C.V. any day of the week.
Some of the books are prescriptive-type books (like the gardening equipment book), but some are more personal, memoir-type books. Done properly, a good memoir can reveal to the world how you got to where you are. It can speak of your dedication, your courage, your tenacity, your honesty, your knowledge, or whatever other attributes you might have, in a way that no other medium can do. But of course it’s got to be compelling. It’s got to be an interesting story. Nobody wants to read two-hundred pages of bragging.
With how easy it is these days to self-publish a book and get it on Amazon, I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of this trend. And why not? Why direct people to your Facebook or LinkedIn page when you can send them a book instead? It’s one thing to be an expert. It’s another thing to be an author.