As the creator of a women-owned business myself, I understand what it takes to launch your platform, see it through, make strategic adjustments along the way, and remain agile into the future. And I really enjoy working with other women entrepreneurs — it’s particularly rewarding to me to assist other women in fulfilling their own career destinies.
I’ve helped women in the conception phase to firm up their strategy and branding, in the launch phase by creating logos, websites, and marketing collateral, and also when they’re ready to level-up and grow their business or add a new service or product, like a book. And while author projects have specific needs and timelines, there’s also lots in common with any entrepreneurial endeavor. This includes an area where I’ve noticed some women lacking confidence… self-promotion.
For any project, asking for, collecting, and sharing your customer’s experiences working with you is invaluable. As is investing in photos that bring your personality and unique brand to your project. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve worked with a woman who asks, “but do I really have to show a photo of myself?” or, “I don’t have any testimonials from my happy customers, do you think they’d mind if I ask for some?” And, of course, this isn’t a problem 100% exclusive to women, it’s just a pattern I’ve noticed among women. We regularly underestimate and undervalue the work that we do. We also face the extra pressure that all women face, which is to look great while doing it.
So what does this mean for entrepreneurial women authors? Well, often when someone gets to the point of creating a book based on their expertise they’ve already been in business for awhile, and they’ve had some degree of success. That means that they’ve spent lots of time selling their expertise as a product or a service already. But when it comes time to sell their book, there are a handful of things to consider that are unique, and often have to do with self-confidence:
- As much as launching a book is about selling a product, it’s also about selling you as an author. There’s a good chance that if you’re good at what you do, and it’s something that you want, you’ll be able to translate that success into book-form to sell to your existing and potential audience. Depending on your expertise, you might have previously focused more on the positive outcome of the product or service you create, rather than why someone should choose you to get them there. When your product is a book, you’re basically asking someone to spend a bunch of time with you hoping that at the end they’ve understood your points and that you’ve perhaps changed their thinking. If your customer is purchasing thousands of dollars of services, you’re likely to personally spend time with them by phone to close the deal, and during that time you’re implicitly (or, perhaps, explicitly) communicating why that person should want to work with you. It’s usually because you’ll not only get the job done and have proof that you’ve done it before, but it’s also because you’ll have solved a problem for them and be fun to work with along the way. By contrast, when you’re selling a book the per-item value is much lower and you don’t get to spend time with each customer ahead of their purchase. This means you’ll need to sell in higher quantities and also quickly communicate why someone should purchase your book over someone else’s. If you’re lucky enough to already be a household name, this isn’t as much of an issue, but if you’re not, the answer is to make sure your customer wants to gamble on spending a bunch of their time with you. If you’re shy about letting people know who you are and what you’re about, that’s much more difficult. And including photos of yourself looking like someone people trust and want to work with is part of that.
- It’s a much slower cycle. It takes a long time to write a book. And then, only once it’s completely finished, can you launch it out into the world. And if you’re running a business at the same time, it can take even longer to pull it off. This means that you need to think about how you’re going to integrate the book’s launch into the other work that you do, both at the beginning, and also over time. Hopefully your book has a relatively long shelf life, and will still be relevant from the time you conceive of it to the time it’s launched (and beyond). This slower cycle also means that it’s easier to give up along the way… it’s easier to get frustrated, and to question yourself, and to give in to those moments of lacking self confidence. So you need to think of your book project launch a little differently. Your book can be a great stand-alone representation of what you do, and also a way to get someone into the pipeline for more 1:1 work in the future if they like what they read. It’s more like adding another leg to the stool of your business rather than yet another product you can sell.
- Your book supports your overall career rather than launches it. If you’re writing about what you know best — what you’ve spent years in the trenches optimizing and polishing for your businesses’ customers — then your book is there to support your existing career over time more than as a one-off item that helps launch you onto the scene. Of course your book needs to be able to stand alone as a successful product in and of itself, but more than that, it needs to be able to do the work of communicating to your existing and potential audience that you have such a wealth of experience and knowledge that you wrote an entire book about it. It needs to communicate that you are an expert. It supports you every time you list the word “Author” among your titles, and every time you reference your book while in communication with someone. Just like the process of working towards and getting your degree helped lead you on the path to your hard-won success, your book leads you to the next step in your career. It might open up doors that were previously closed, encourage you to try something new, and connect you to communities you didn’t even know about. It bolsters your credentials, but only because you’ve already done the hard work of establishing yourself — so don’t be shy about having put that work in.
If you’re lucky enough to have a publisher, their support and guidance (and financial assistance) will help along the way… but if you’re self-publishing I suggest that you build in ways to get feedback along the way so you’re not working in a vacuum. You might test drive some of the book’s ideas as blog posts or podcast discussions. You might start sharing on social media that you’re writing a book, and a little bit about what you’re writing about. And you might look to other women entrepreneurs who have written books to see how they integrate their role as an author into their overall business. This also gives you practice in talking about yourself in the context of your expertise if it doesn’t feel comfortable already.
Then look to how the people you find inspiring talk about themselves, especially in the context of being an author. It’s likely that you don’t think of them as over-egging the pudding promotionally, and there’s no magic formula that lets them pull that off other than confidence.
Of the women I’ve worked with who have written a book as part of their larger career I’ve seen how it moves them to even greater success, and opens up opportunities that didn’t exist previously — both for themselves, and for other women who are looking to follow a similar path. I wish you every success!