This is one of the best articles I’ve seen about the phenomenon of the “Book as Business Card” and something I’ve been talking about for years. An article this morning in Fast Company explains how authors of non-fiction titles can finesse their recognition as an author into multiple opportunities, most more remunerative than the book will ever be.
I’ve seen this over and over with our own authors. The legitimate publication of a book on a specific subjects “expertizes” you. If you work at building that brand, that you’re the pro with the insight and answers, be it beekeeping or politics, bartending or organ transplants, you’ll be come the go-to source for interviews and articles, which further build your brand. And the interest in you. Then come the paid gigs for appearances and presentations, lectures in foreign locales, consultations, and more.
Rocky Fino, author of our very popular Will Cook for Sex series, regularly appears on morning shows across the country, and is invited to present cooking demos at some of the biggest foodie events in the country. He’s been invited to personally cook for some big name celebrities and is often the feature of a newspaper or magazine story. Stephen Nasser, author of My Brother’s Voice, a personal memoir of his survival of the Holocaust, has been invited to lecture all over the world. He’s presented his message of tolerance and “Never Again” over 750 times. Wendy Mazaros, the Vegas Rag Doll, parlayed the recognition the publication of her book produced into a number of lucrative ventures, including not one, but two, national television shows. Deb Wall, Basecamp Las Vegas, is invited to lecture and lead hiking trips for special groups. Kevin Janison, author of the Deputy Dorkface series, presents school assemblies to hundreds of schools across the country each year. Fiction writers, when their work centers on a specific subject, can also join the “expert train” as has Kurt Divich, who is sought out to comment on current affairs since the publication of his political thriller, Lords of Las Vegas. And Lander Marks speaks about art theft and forgeries, especially related to Nazi looting of art treasures, since the publication of Artist’s Proof.
According to Ryan Holiday in Fast Company:
Today, authors are in the idea-making business, not the book business. In short, this means that publishing a book is less about sales and much more about creating a brand. The real customers of books are no longer just readers but now include speaking agents, CEOs, investors, and startups.
I was missing a fundamental change that has occurred in the publishing business, particularly for authors. Faced with declining sales and the disappearance of book retailers like Borders, authors have diversified their income streams, and many make substantially more money through new business generated by a book, rather than from it.