Executives who are ready to jump on the authority-marketing bandwagon by writing a book must know their trip is going to cost an investment. Senior leaders who want to leave a literary legacy, educate professionals by best practices and stake their ground in their respective industry will have to pay up one way or another. On the surface the concept seems simple but underlying this professional project an investment of hundreds of hours and big bucks.
Anyway you slice it, writing a book takes a lot of time, even if you hire a ghostwriter. Only you know what you want to say, so putting your ideas down on paper, then drilling down to develop supporting facts takes focus time. Starting is the most difficult part because the thought of churning out a 100, 250 or 500 page book is daunting. The key is to start small, establishing deadlines and getting into a consistent writing rhythm. Begin with one 90-minute session a week. Once you get into a grove, then increase those sessions to two or three times a week. The key is remove yourself from possible distractions at a time when your mind is fresh and you’re in a quiet zone.
Hiring companies who ghostwrite or hiring a freelance ghostwriter to develop your book will also take time. Again, you have to relay to a ghostwriter what’s on your mind, hence you need prep time. The process entails a series of phone interview, typically 1-2 hours, that are scheduled in advance. When it’s go time, you must be ready to speak. There is no supplementary interviews or backtracks. In addition, the entire production depends on the interviews being completed by an established deadline, so the ghostwriting company or freelancer has enough time to produce content according to a production schedule. In short, hired help takes deadlines very seriously.
A reasonable goal is to complete a book in six months, but be warned motivation and drive will begin diminishing after 3 months. By that point, it might not be fun anymore and it’ll seem like took much work. That is why planning and bolstering an outline is critical because you’re capturing all the good stuff while your mind is fresh and full of ideas. In short, the longer you take, the more likelihood of you not finishing.
There are three categories to consider when budgeting: writing and editing, print costs and marketing costs. The best approach for senior leaders and executives is pay for services. This is not a project to do yourself because you don’t want your book to look DIY. Yes, authoring a book is an outstanding credential, but remember, you’re an expert in your field, so your book must reflect million-dollar ideas and advice.
If you write the manuscript yourself, have an experienced editor review it for clarity, consistency of message and grammatical errors. Having another set of eyes on the manuscript is critical because an editor has a fresh perspective and can spot errors. In addition, consider having colleagues who fit into your target audience read the manuscript to give you honest feedback. The point here is to ensure your book resonates with readers and clearly communicates, and does not confuse readers. Most editors charge according to a word count versus a page count.
A ghostwriting company will gladly write your outline and manuscript and then some. Prices start at $25,000 and the average cost is $50,000 for a 300 page 6”x9” book. Know the cost includes printing and publishing the book as well, so these companies are a great one-stop-shop. They have a team working on your project to ensure it stays on task and is completed by deadline. Most of the time the fee does not include marketing, so you’d have to handle or hire out.
For those who aspire to write the book yourself, budget for graphic design costs, printing costs, fees to sell online and on Amazon, and promotional costs. The interior and exterior of the book requires some graphic design treatment. Printing costs will depend on size, color palette and number of copies. I don’t recommend you only create an ebook because you’ll want a hardcopy in your personal library, your company library and to gift VIPs now and in the future. Besides, you can’t sign an ebook. Lastly, to share your masterpiece with the world, you will need to budget marketing costs, including an online sales component.
An important piece is an “About the Author” brief that typically goes on the back of the book or on the inside front panel. This is typically your picture with one to two paragraphs about your accomplishments as the subject matter expert, and your motivation for writing the book. That is an element you can begin writing now.
“About the Book” is another piece you can begin developing now. You don’t have to have a manuscript to describe in paragraph form what readers are going to get out of the book. Think: Who cares? How will it improve their life? What do I want them to feel about the material? What is the single most important message I want them to get from the book?
I’ve been compelled to assist executives by ghostwriting their manuscript because of their burning desire to share knowledge. Numerous senior leaders have told me they have a book idea burning a hole in their belly and don’t have the resources to carry it forward. Being that I’ve developed a manuscript (intended to sell privately to an international company), they’ve trusted me to take them on this journey. Some I’m guiding through the process as a writing coach, others I’m conducting the interviews and writing the manuscript. What’s great is that they feel called to write numerous books but know to focus on their first – now. Their goal of working together is to go through and completing the process with minimum expectations for becoming a best seller. ■