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Could a Book About Your Company be Worth $1.7 Billion? Building Value Through Publishing

"Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) to purchase Clayton Homes for $12.50 in cash per share. Deal worth $1.7 Billion."

From an article in the Knoxville News Sentinel -- a University of Tennessee professor sent Warren Buffett the self-published autobiography of James Clayton as a gift. Less than 14 days after receiving the self-published book, Buffett contacted CEO Kevin Clayton, (James's son). After only three conversations, Buffett was expressing his interest in purchasing Clayton Homes. Another short two weeks later, the deal was in place.

--- The Ultimate Calling Card ---

How do you get the word out about your company -- in a way that someone will listen? How do you let your clients and investors know that you and your company are truly experts at what you do? Believe me when I say the correct answer has nothing to do with traditional sales and marketing techniques. The real answer? Self-publish a book showing off your greatest skill sets, distribute it for free your core clients and trade associations, use it as a sales tool in all your prospecting efforts, and sell it anywhere you can -- and in the process, hopefully, create an awareness that you and your company are truly the experts to contact when information is needed about a topic in your industry.

Your book becomes the ultimate calling card for you and your sales staff. A self published book cuts through all the clutter that your clients receive from dozens of companies just like yours. Cold calls are are a timeless way of creating sales - but wouldn't they be much more effective if you could have created a lasting impression of your credibility and value before your salesperson ever picked up the phone? Maybe you'd rather keep sending that "full-color flyer" or tired logo coffee mug.

Your book is far more than just a basic marketing tool or replacement for other marketing strategies -- but you might find it easier to focus on getting it done if you schedule and budget it in as part of your existing campaigns. The ultimate cost of producing your book can vary widely, but it will typically be based on the number of pages in the book, its trim size and format (for example paperback or hardcover) and how much assistance you need in publishing a book.

Most often the cost for publishing a book breaks down into two categories -- Publishing Services and Printing Services.

Publishing Services are the services involved in creating the files that go to the printer -- including the design of your interior and cover, any editing or proofreading, the actual composition of the pages, and more. Costs are almost always regardless of page count and depend heavily on the level of editorial assistance needed and the degree of "retail" marketing support you want for your book. Most self-publishing companies include some number of books in their packages.

Printing Services involve the costs you assume when printing additional copies of your book. These costs are completely based upon page count and book format (paperback, hardcover, trim size, and whether or not you have color pages -- most every book comes with a color cover) -- and they can vary considerably from publisher to publisher. Printing Services for a typical 150 page paperback book can cost from approximately $3.98 per unit at one company to as high as $13.10 at another. Other companies will charge $12,000 to $30,000 to produce your book traditionally (meaning you need to purchase thousands of books from them upfront).

Thousands of successful self-published authors have proven that a strong case can be built for deciding to self publish a book. The argument can be made that publishing should be a cornerstone of your campaign to build your company's credibility in the market (and thereby increase overall revenues or revenue-per-sale) or, it might just be that you'd like to add a high-return product to your overall marketing strategy.

An example of this process at work is cited in an issue of FastCompany -- a New Jersey market research firm spends its time developing all the data it can regarding the purchasing habits of those folks who buy at the ultra high end of the market. These consumers inhabit the most wealthy zip codes, send their children to the ultimate in private schools, and spend $50,000-plus on their cars. You would be quite right in thinking that the market for a book on how to successfully conduct focus group for these people and identify their purchasing habits is extraordinarily narrow. But, what if your company provided these types of services to the companies who needed it? Tiffany's, other high end retailers, and ad agencies that cater to these retail establishments. The customers who can profit from the sort of information in this book are willing to spend quite a bit to get to it... The owner of this research firm self-published a 150 page book that sold primarily through their Web site -- at $275 per book! Average sales were reported to be less than 250 copies a year -- yet that's around $70,000 in book sales - what piece of marketing material do you have that actually more than pays for itself?

There are of course no guarantees that your book will work (as with any marketing piece -- but you'll have a great book on your bookshelf that separates your and your company from the competition.

Ray Robinson is a partner in Dog Ear Publishing http://www.dogearpublishing.net a self publishing company specializing in delivering "high touch" services to the author community. His company provides a full range of services to authors, from editorial to page layout to marketing and fulfillment.

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