Why YOU should write a book

I wrote my first book over the long Christmas weekend of 2011. In terms of generating highly qualified inbound tax resolution leads, it was the best piece of free marketing I’ve ever done. Today I’m going to share with you the benefits of writing your own book, and a strategy to help you actually get it done.

To this day, two and a half years later, an average of two dozen people per month purchase Tax Resolution Secrets. And on average, about 1/3 of those people contact me directly every month in some fashion. Some of them call me, some of them go straight to my web site that’s listed in the book, some sign up for my email list, etc.

Are all of these ideal clients? No, of course not. If I wanted to, I could work with all of them. But I’m quite choosy these days about who I will represent. But every two or three months, a case will come along directly from the book that intrigues me enough to take on, and these are usually cases with higher fees. The rest of them either stay in my lead follow up program with no effort on my part to close the sale, or I refer them out to another practitioner.

My friend Salim Omar experienced something similar after writing his first book. Very different book topic, mind you, but still effective at generating a small, yet steady, trickle of inbound leads. In his case, he’s interested in attracting small business clients for doing their books, write up work, corporate returns, payroll, etc.

Having a book out there is not only a legitimate lead generation strategy in and of itself, but it’s also a tremendous credibility booster. Something very interesting happened when I would meet people locally, and they’d start telling me about their own experience, or the experience of somebody they know, in relation to an IRS problem. Instead of handing them a business card and suggesting they or their friend call me, handing them a book with my name on it generated a very different reaction. At only $2 or $3 per author copy for the book, it was a good investment to always have a few laying around.

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Having a book is also one piece of the overall process for framing yourself as a local celebrity in your area. It can be the gateway to newspaper interviews, your own column, radio and TV appearances, and more.

I hope you can see how valuable of an asset that a book can be for your business. But how do you actually go about writing a book?

This is the part where most people stop and give up. They might like the idea, but the very thought of sitting down and writing a book is too daunting. The thing is, you don’t have to be that great of a writer in order to produce a book. After all, I do it!

Here’s a shortcut strategy to help you get your book written. This isn’t meant to produce a masterpiece. It’s meant to produce something practical — words on paper.

1. Select your overall topic. I suggest writing something with a local focus, the way Salim did it. It will be much easier for your book to rank well in sales lists locally than nationally. Also, you are more likely to create something that attracts local media attention this way. Pretty much any local business or economic issue will work. Any broad tax, finance, or accounting subject matter will also work, and you simply apply a local perspective to it. You may also want to put a particular spin on it relating it to a group of people.

2. Select 10 narrower topics that apply to the overall topic. You’ll notice that many authors do this. Read any business book and you’ll see this as a common trend. Read my book, or Salim’s, and you’ll see it, too. Think about any topic that would be of interest to the audience of your book, bearing in mind that 90% of them will never actually read it (sad fact of publishing). In my example, and this is completely off the top of my head, I might cover such topics as payroll, local sales tax reporting, Washington business and occupation tax, a chapter on IRS reporting requirements, a chapter on entity selection, a chapter about technologies for operating a business while actually out on the water, etc.

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3. For each narrower topic, list the top 5 to 10 questions that somebody would ask about that topic. You can lean heavily on your own experience here, and ask your professional colleagues, also. What are the common questions that clients actually ask? What are the bizarre questions that come up? This is the fun part of the process to me, as it’s where you can get creative, and start to craft something that will be fun to write.

4. Answer each question. That’s it. Type out the answer to each of the questions, and you’ve got your book. Ten topics with ten questions each is 100 questions. If the answer to each question is about 500 words (this article you’re reading right now is almost 1,000 words), then you’ve got 50,000 words. That’s a book.

Even if you write just one answer per day, you’ll have your book done in about four months. Then you just upload it to CreateSpace.com, the self-publishing arm of Amazon, and you’ve got yourself a paperback and a Kindle book. Congratulations, you’re an author!

Entering the ranks of authors is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my tax practice. It’s one of the easiest things you can do to differentiate yourself from your competition, and helps you gain significant credibility and publicity if you use it right.