Writing and Publishing for Entrepreneurs: The Why and the How

By Melissa Lewis Grimm | Articles | Reading Time: 9 minutes

Nov 27
publishing

Has anyone ever told you that you could write a book? A lot of famous entrepreneurs have answered “yes” to that question and chosen to go through with writing one.

Think of Timothy Ferriss, who wrote The 4-Hour Work Week. His book challenged the idea of a traditional workweek by explaining how people could be more productive in fewer hours per week instead of working grueling hours year after year.

Oprah Winfrey overcame an extremely difficult childhood to become one of the biggest success stories of all time. She has used multiple media platforms to build an empire, and among her many achievements is authoring a number of books.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, Inc., changed the world of technology by pioneering the personal computer revolution. He, too, is an author.

Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, invented a new kind of digital medium and has one of the most well-known blogs in the world. She has written a ton of books, on topics ranging from redefining what it means to be successful to corporate greed.

Entrepreneurs often write blog posts about their business and services, but they may not think of themselves as authors.

Publishing a book can change that and set them apart from the crowd.

How would writing a book prove you’re a stand-out entrepreneur?

What would it mean for your business?

An entrepreneur has a knack for seeing opportunities and turning them into successful businesses.

So why not share your business expertise with the world in the form of a book?

There’s a lot to consider if you’re going to write a book, especially whether you should self-publish or not, but following certain steps will help make your book a success.

Why Entrepreneurs Should Write a Book

If you can write about specific needs for your customers, and you’d like to move beyond simply writing blog posts, you should write a book.

Entrepreneurs write books to establish themselves as the authority in their field. Authors are well-respected, and a published author is considered different from a writer. A lot of entrepreneurs are writers, but few are successful authors.

Entrepreneurs become authors because they might believe their ideas will stay around longer if they are published in print, rather than blog form, and will continue to make an impact even after they are finished running their business. According to Guy Kawasaki, “An entrepreneur should write a book after succeeding to help the next generation learn what to do.”

Although it seems like traditional print publishing is at death’s door, there are many different types of books, such as online material, PDFs, eBook downloads, and even audiobooks. So, don’t be afraid to write a book, as there are a number of nontraditional ways for readers to access your content!

Here are some reasons why every entrepreneur should write a book:

  1. Get more attention and visibility. If you already have a strong following, it’ll be easy to get those people to be interested in your book. If someone is unfamiliar with your business, but they do a search for books on your subject matter and find yours on Amazon, you’ll gain exposure for your business or blog in a new marketplace.
  2. Come across as more authoritative. People tend to think that entrepreneurs who write books are more authoritative and experts in their field. They are more trusting of the opinions of a published author. The process of writing a book is similar to taking a business idea from mind to market; it takes a long time to write a book well, including putting it through a rigorous editorial and review process. This is why a book author has so much credibility.“She wrote a book, so she must really know her sh*t!” A book allows you to share the story of how your business succeeded and what makes your company different or better than others in the same niche.
  3. Gain new customers. If people who don’t currently know about your business read your book, you’re more likely to gain them as customers. Having your book on retail sites will generate new sales leads. On your website, you can tease your current viewer base about your upcoming publication by saying, “See my book _____ to learn more about this exciting new approach to _____.” That way, you’re leaving potential customers wanting to learn more about your business.
  4. Increase your fees for service or consulting. If you’re already successful in providing consulting or other services to a number of clients, you will be even more sought-after as a published author, and can, in turn, demand more money for your services. Since you’ll reach a larger audience by publishing a book, more people will become familiar with your expertise and consider you a hot commodity.
  5. Get hired for speaking engagements. Since publishing a book makes you seem more authoritative, people will want to hire you to speak at conferences or do seminars for their company.Just think of how much more confident you’ll feel when you hear your intro as a published author. “I’d like to introduce Jane Smith, inventor of the best-selling potholder in the world and author of the book Use Potholders: Don’t Get Burned.”
  6. Learn more from your customers through their thoughts on your book. Future book ideas can be generated by reviewing your readers’ feedback. It’s a way to test out your business ideas, since your niche audience is reading your book.
  7. Writing a book helps you develop new habits. In order to write a book, you need to set aside a certain amount of time every day or week to complete it. You’re likely to develop some healthy habits that help you with focus, preparation, and planning — habits that can also be used outside of writing.

Now that you know the “why,” let’s get into the “how.”

How Do I Get My Book Published?

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If you’re serious about writing a book, you need to decide which publication route you’d like to take. You can go through a traditional publishing house or you can self-publish, which is becoming more and more common.

For traditional publishing, it’s a good idea to find an agent that deals with books in your genre to submit your work to publishers. Although you can send a book proposal directly to the publishing house, you might have more success using an agent because publishers trust that the proposals will be vetted. If an agent agrees to take you on as a client, you’ll have to send them sample chapters or, in some cases, a full manuscript. Then, the agent will work with you to make revisions and get the manuscript to the point where it is ready to try for approval from the publisher. If you sign with a publishing house, you’ll work with one of their editors to continue revising the book until it is ready for publication.

In order for a publisher to accept your book directly instead of enlisting the help of an agent, you’ll have to provide them with part or all of your manuscript. If they like what they read, they’ll offer you a contract, and you’ll then work with an editor to prepare your book for publication.

You’ll have to prepare your manuscript so that it’s formatted according to the agent’s or publisher’s requirements. If the publisher accepts your manuscript, you will need to sign a contract that allows them to publish your material. The publisher’s staff will handle everything regarding the publication of your book, including developmental editing, designing, illustrating, copy-editing, production management, distribution, marketing, promotions, and sales.

If you choose to self-publish, you won’t have as many constraints, as all decisions are up to you. However, you may have financial constraints as to how much you can allot to marketing, design, editing, etc.

Here are some of the drawbacks and benefits of self-publishing:

Drawbacks of Self-Publishing

  • You have to do all the work yourself. That’s a lot of work, if you consider that it includes the whole shebang — writing, editing, proofreading, layout, marketing, and advertising.
  • Since you won’t be working with a publishing house, you’ll need to find a way to get industry reviewers to review your book, and it can be expensive. Positive professional reviews can appear on the back cover of your book as well as booksellers’ websites.
  • It is difficult to get bookstores to pay attention to a self-published book, particularly from an unknown author.
  • The book might not be taken seriously if it wasn’t published by a well-known and respected publishing house. Some potential customers might incorrectly assume that publishing your own book is easy and not understand how much work goes into the process.

Benefits of Self-Publishing

  • Your book will be available much more quickly. Since you will be in charge of publication, you don’t have to wait to go through all the stages of a traditional publisher’s process, which can sometimes take between one and two years.
  • It’s easier to implement changes if you are self-publishing. If you’re getting your book published through a large publishing house, you will have to go through many channels to get edits incorporated and approved, like their staff of editors and proofreaders. If you self-publish, you have more creative control over that entire process. You can either choose to make all your own edits and proofreading changes, or you can work with a company to do content editing and proofreading for you. Even if you work with outside editorial staff, you will still be able to accept changes more quickly than in a traditional publishing process.
  • The royalties will be a lot higher with self-publishing than the traditional route, as publishers keep a large percentage of the profit.
  • You don’t have to worry about a publisher not being reputable. There are a lot of companies out there that might try to take advantage of someone who is new to publishing.

If you’re sold on the idea of self-publishing, here’s what you can do to get that fabulous book published and into people’s hands.

It’s a Team Effort

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After hearing about all the benefits and methods of publishing, you may have decided that you definitely want to write a book. So now what?

You should spend some time identifying the main message you’d like to deliver. Then, think about who your ideal reader is and what major takeaways you want to provide for them.

Filling out this nonfiction voice and vision questionnaire can help you answer questions that will enable you to identify these aspects, and more, about your book. You should spend some time really thinking about the questions. If you have a great deal of difficulty filling out the answers or really pinning down your ideas, it’s a good idea to work with professionals to either help you write the book or polish your content.

Ghostwriters

If you want to write a book, but don’t even know where to start, hire a ghostwriter.

If you are not confident in your writing ability yet, a ghostwriter can interview you to gather all the information you want to include in the book. A good ghostwriter will be able to write the way you speak, so the text will sound like it’s coming from you instead of a different writer.

Don’t worry: You will be able to review everything along the way and make edits throughout the process.

If it’s important for you to physically write the book yourself, consider working with a writing coach instead.

Writing Coaches

A writing coach is someone who guides you through the writing process. This person helps the writer organize their project and set a completion date. They help with determining not only your writing voice but the right tone for your intended audience.

They can help you achieve your vision, in your own words, while also helping to instill effective writing habits. Writing coaches provide valuable feedback throughout the process, so you can continue to develop and improve upon your writing.

A writing coach can help you prioritize your goals, set weekly writing objectives, and improve your writing through constructive criticism. Once you determine if you need one, there are many ways to find a writing coach.

You can look for writing coaches in your milieu to make sure they’ll understand your subject matter and provide appropriate feedback.

Editors and Proofreaders

Do you feel confident enough in your writing skills to work without a writing coach? Even so, it’s difficult to write a book as well as do all the editing and proofreading yourself.

Behind every great author is a great editor and proofreader. Even the most prolific authors have put their work through an editing process of some sort.

Using other professionals to help you flesh out and improve upon your content will get your book in tip-top shape before publication.

Structural/Developmental Editors

Structural, or developmental, editors take a big-picture view of your book. They review your manuscript as a whole to make sure the book works. This is a very time-consuming process, so it can also be expensive to hire someone to work on this for you.

These editors look at your book from a different perspective and let you know how the material can flow better. A structural editor’s work is broad, so they generally do not incorporate copy edits along the way. They are supposed to concentrate on the document as a whole instead of getting down to the nitty-gritty of grammatical errors, punctuation problems, and so on.

These editors work great once you have your very first draft.

Content Editors

Content editors check for style and voice consistency and make sure the verb tenses are correct.

They provide suggestions for how to make your content flow well and to better organize the sections. Content editors look at the entire piece as a whole to ensure that the order of the sections makes sense. These are the people you want to go to if you’re really looking for someone who can make sure your ideas sound great.

Writers and editors should ideally mesh well to have a healthy give and take, so try to find the best editor for your content and personality.

Proofreaders

Proofreading is the final step in the process before preparation for publication. Proofreaders look for errors in grammar and punctuation, typographical errors, and style inconsistencies. They verify facts and sources. They check for the correct spelling of proper nouns, like the names of cities or products.

Proofreading is a last line of defense to make sure your book is as close to perfect as possible before releasing it to the masses.

Get Started

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As an entrepreneur, you know how to make your business succeed, and writing a book can be the perfect way to share your knowledge with eager readers and fellow entrepreneurs — and stand out from the crowd!

If you’re considering writing a book, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I want to be seen as more of an authority in my industry?
  2. Do I want to grow my audience?
  3. Do I want to publish the book myself or go through a publishing house?
  4. Am I going to work with others or do everything myself?

By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to figure out if publishing a book is right for you. But hey, even if you’re not entirely sure yet, what’s the harm in brainstorming some book ideas?

And if you’re ready to write a book, quit stalling and get crackin’! Your book isn’t going to write itself.

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About the Author

Melissa Lewis Grimm, ELS, graduated from Millersville University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She has worked as an editor and a marketing manager for a laboratory standards–developing organization, a proofreader for a nursing continuing education provider, and a journal manager for a scientific and medical publishing company. Despite Melissa’s work history, one of her lofty goals is to become a world-famous voiceover talent. Yes, you read that correctly! She loves spending time with her wonderful husband and adorable toddler.