Philly Creative Guide

Guest Columnist

Erin Flynn Jay

Want to be a Noted Expert in Your Field? Write a Book!
by Erin Flynn Jay, 1 Apr 2007

Erin Flynn Jay, a Philadelphia-based writer, founded Flynn Media. Erin has extensive editorial and publicity experience. Her articles have appeared in leading business, career, human resources, marketing, management, medical and sales publications.


One of the best ways to become an expert in your field is to write a book. Adding the accomplishment of author to your resume will enhance your credibility and boost your fees. The benefit is immeasurable—colleagues will regard you as an industry leader.

A real estate sales expert I spoke to recently said he would never have been able to speak at a prestigious real estate expo if he had no product. Think of your book as a marketing expense. Instead of a brochure, you can use the book to market your services. The book will serve as the main advertisement of your business.

The cost of self-publishing will be at least several thousand dollars for the book design, printing, and distribution. Don't forget to add the cost of your time when you set a budget. A good resource is www.printindustry.com--you submit what you want and vendors from around the country will bid on the project.

So...what's stopping you from creating your own product?

If you have no writing credentials, don't despair. You can hire people to help (more on this later). But the first step is to decide what you want to write about—what advice can you offer others in your industry? Write about what you know. For example, if you're a chef, write about your favorite dishes and their health benefits.

Flynn Media

Give yourself a writing deadline and stick with it. The task won't seem as daunting if you break it into measurable chunks—for example: in 15 days, have 30 pages written, in 30 days, have 60 pages completed, etc. If you're having trouble getting words on the screen, consider dictating your ideas into a recorder and getting them transcribed. Then hire an editor to spruce up the content.

Another option is to hire a ghostwriter to write the entire book. You can find a good writer or editor by looking at the classified advertising sections of writer magazines like Writer's Digest. Check out Mediabistro.com's freelance marketplace for talent. Or post help wanted ads on web sites that specialize in matching independent contractors with businesses in need of talent. Monster.com, elance.com and guru.com are worth looking into.

Writing fees vary widely, and you can negotiate on an hourly or project basis. According to Writers Market guidelines, a ghostwriter may charge anywhere from $15,000 (low) to $50,000+ (high) to write a book of about 240 pages.

Evaluate writers' backgrounds and samples before choosing someone to work with. Strive to work with someone who has had nonfiction books published by traditional publishers and who is passionate about your industry.

"One great way of starting is to write a book, make it in electronic format and try to sell it to people through your newsletter, through your website," says TJ Walker, president of Media Training Worldwide. "Create a website for it. There are a lot of things you can do, short of actually printing it." For example, you could offer a sample chapter in your newsletter to entice readers.

A popular option is to create the book in PDF form and then set up a shopping cart on your web site. When customers pay for your book via credit card, they will receive an automated response with instructions on downloading the PDF. There are no expenses if you sell it from your web site—each month, sales revenue will go directly into your checking account.

According to Walker, if you plan to self-publish the book, you should be extremely detail oriented or have a person on your staff whom you trust to be extremely detail oriented. You'll need an ISBN number from R.R. Bowker before printing the book.

Selling the finished product on amazon.com is a smart idea. You'll have to apply to their Advantage Program online and submit a title for consideration. If your application is approved, you list the book in amazon's catalog, provide descriptive content, and ship units to their warehouse for amazon.com to process.

Margie Fisher of Margie Fisher Public Relations decided to write her book before she gave birth to her daughter. She worked on it during non-business hours—a few pages at a time—in order to meet her deadline. Fisher's finished product, a public relations "kit" of about 150 pages, has been a good revenue stream for her.

More importantly, she thinks the book has built up her reputation, which is crucial if you're in a professional service business—an attorney or accountant, for example—where people are buying your reputation.

Once the book is completed, think of a unique way to market it. Fisher pitched her local newspapers in Florida the idea she was birthing a book and a baby simultaneously—this quirky idea secured her numerous placements.

Finally, pursue speaking engagements at local chambers of commerce or associations and sell the book after the event. I've booked authors at events nationwide and have seen how speaking opportunities can spike book sales.

After the book is complete, you can move on to your next product—perhaps an audio book.

Print Article Brought to you by: Erin Flynn Jay | Philadelphia-based writer, Founder of Flynn Media

Do you have a story to tell? Email us your idea and you could be the next Philly Creative Guide Guest Columnist.

View the Guest Columnist Archive.