Why is Everyone Publishing a Book These Days?

If you haven't noticed that the "publish-or-perish" phenomenon has moved from academia to the general population, you haven't been paying attention.

My chiropractor is writing a book on nutrition. So is Don, a former HP sales consultant, just booted out the door of his organization. His topic: cloud computing. My friend Rexanne is writing a romance novel during her off-duty hours as a nurse. Bev, a former social marketing assistant, is writing a book on gardening. Steve, an engineer and inventory/supply manager and former contract trainer for our organization, is working on a spy thriller. Rick, a three-star general I met at a mixer this week, has published a book on leadership principles.

Anybody with a computer and a printer can become a published author. Several apps (from free to $4.99) let writers upload their manuscript written in a Word document into a "book format" template. They can be selling their book in the Apple store and on Amazon within hours.

But should they? That depends on purpose and platform. Certainly, technology has made the process to become a "published" author fast and painless -- if no one asks or cares "published by whom."

The challenge now is NOT just to publish -- not just to toss anything out the door to join the deluge in the marketplace.

The real challenge is to write a quality book that major publishers will offer you a good advance for and that people are willing to pay money to read for years to come.

Why are more and more people working toward that bigger goal?

  • A well-published book provides credibility. "Of course, he's an expert on the topic; he practically 'wrote the book' on the subject" became a cliché for good reason.

  • Businesses and their owners need a bigger platform than a pitch when everyone else has a website as their bully-pulpit. The published book is a step-up.
  • The "noise" of websites and ads rises to the level of competing noise. The book is louder than an article or blog, yet classier.
  • The book can tell as well as sell for you. And that telling builds relationships and trust.
  • You have space to build your case. Communicating through a book doesn't have to happen in real time. Readers can reflect on your message over time.
  • Authoring a book released by a major publishing house builds reputation by association. Almost all substantive arguments and concepts down through history have been presented in written form to have staying power.
  • So my point: A book with a major publisher definitely puts you on the path to success as a branded author. Presidential candidates publish their philosophies on social issues. Professional athletes publish their memoirs of personal struggles. Celebrity CEOs publish their management challenges.

    Do you have an idea or expertise worth putting into the world? Go for it!