“This hasn’t been a great year for speakers.”
If ever there was an understatement, this was it. I blinked as my prospective author’s gaze slipped down to his coffee cup and then back up to meet mine. I felt his pain. In fact, I rather wished I could reach through the cold screen and give him a big hug. It had been the worse year EVER for speakers.
Many of my clients over the years have made a substantial percentage of their income from speaking – if not from speaking fees, then from the introductions and business that has been generated from their speaking. In fact, in our publishing business, a huge percentage of our clients come to us having heard me speak at live events. So if you are one of the many missing out on these live opportunities, I really do feel your pain. I have been there too. To be able to stand on stage and deliver really valuable and inspiring content to a roomful of eager and engaged people – well there’s nothing quite like it. And I miss it too.
And it’s not just speakers for whom this year has been a really tough one. At risk of stating the obvious there are many businesses struggling right now. Whether you are a trainer, a coach, a speaker, a professional, an expert, an entrepreneur or all of the above, Covid19 will have had an effect. So how can we pick up the pieces as we move on out of the crisis and into what many of us hope will resemble some kind of ‘normal’?
It may seem a little drastic to suggest writing a book is a way out of this. Please bear with me. Because in order to save your business, no matter what it is that you do, things will need to change. Everything has already changed. As purses get smaller, funds get tighter, buyers are going to be looking for the special, the stand-out-from-the-crowd, the best, the most trustworthy… and those with the knowledge and expertise to write a book will be the winners.
So here are five suggestions for ways a book might save your business post-pandemic.
There are thousands of people all over the world that need you and your services. Yet, while you may know they exist you don’t know exactly who they are or how to reach them with your message. And they certainly don’t know about you. Yet. When you write a book that is available and being read and talked about, your message has a chance of reaching those you need to reach – even when you aren’t able to go and deliver your brilliant keynote at conferences or shake hands with people at networking events. Your book can be the cornerstone of your brand, allowing other people enough access to your knowledge to convince them to buy from you.
Each and every one of us is unique, it’s true. And as a professional you have your own specific slant, your own special way of doing things that will chime with some and not with others. What is hard is showing people your uniqueness. Because on the surface we all look the same, roughly. I am a book publisher. I sell book publishing services and books. I am similar to any other book publisher out there. And yet, in reality there are people who choose to work with me because of my particular approach.
That’s true of you too. And there is no better place to stamp your personality and strut your stuff than in your book. Your book is absolutely your chance to dance your dance, to show the world what is special about you. Writing is a great way to discover your authentic voice, and express your own unique ideas and thoughts. That’s why all thought leaders write books, all the time.
You don’t have to be a thought leader though for a book to be a great idea for your business. As long as your book has personality and entertains as well as educates, it will do you a huge service in helping you stand out from the crowd like Seth Godin’s Purple Cow, (which, if you’ve not read, although published many moons ago, remains a great read and I recommend it).
This world has had its stuffing knocked out of it since January 2020. Covid has hit us hard. There are some who believe that this was a necessary evil – that our cocky, brash, self-centred, egocentric, white, machoistic world-view needed a bit of a come-uppance. And they have a point. Yet, it has been the most vulnerable who have been the most damaged. Covid has affected us all deeply. We have been isolated, we have been traumatised, we have been bereaved, we have been damaged irreversibly.
Recovery will be slow but human beings are enormously resourceful. We will build back up and hopefully there will have been lessons learned along the way that will help us to build back better. In the meantime, all we have is our own resources to fall back on. As individuals it has never been more important to nurture our creativity, to express ourselves and to be truly ourselves. Anyone setting out in business now, or perhaps regenerating a business that has been badly affected by the virus will benefit by focusing on this. And if things remain on the quiet side, what better chance will you have to find the time to write your book.
One of the things I did during lockdown was listen to Liz Gilbert’s podcast series from 2015 and 2016, ‘Magic Lessons’. In the podcast, Liz interviews several creative folks who are what you might call serious amateurs, ie they are not working as professional artists at the time. She coaches these folks, who are all stuck in some way, to get them moving back on their creative paths, bringing in an ‘expert’ in the same field to discuss the case of and support the amateur. In each and every case, the artist grows during the period they are working with Liz – building their confidence to just get started on their creative path and move past the blocks that are stopping them. It’s a wonderful listen. One of the common themes through both series is that creativity is not a selfish activity.
While it may feel somewhat self-indulgent to bury yourself in the writing of a book, in fact it is the opposite. It is a gift to the world. There is nothing more generous you can do than spending time with yourself to focus on the gifts you have to offer the world. This is so important right now. If you hide your light now, just when the world needs it you will be losing out and so will we.
When I moved to Bristol five I needed to find a new dentist. I had been with my dentist in the Midlands for nearly 30 years and was really nervous about moving, so much so that I drove a four-hour round trip to Leamington Spa for the first four years that I lived in Bristol. Eventually I decided enough was enough. Did I pick a dentist from the Yellow Pages or a Google search? Did I heck! I rang a couple of friends and asked them if they had a good dentist. I got a referral - to someone who makes me feel safe and confident she will do a great job.
People are much more likely to listen to other people talking about how great you are than they are to listen to you doing it. They are also much more likely to believe it. We buy or don’t buy a brand for the first time because of its reputation, not because of its advertising.
A book is perhaps one of the most effective vehicles I know for you to actually talk about yourself. Because you’re not really talking about yourself but about the thing that you do that is so great.
And it gives other people an easy way to talk about you. Referring becomes a doddle. If I am asked to recommend a speaker to someone for example, it becomes so much easier to do when they have a book.
And the incredible thing is that people will respect you whether they read your book or not. Because simply by writing and publishing it you’ve proved that you know your stuff.
This is my final reason why writing a book could rescue you and your business from the ravages of the Covid pandemic. It may be last but it is by no means the least important or valid. Put simply, when we write we discover what we know.
During the past year I have run a group for people going through the process of writing and publishing a book for their business called the Right Book Buddies. There is nothing more exciting than watching and engaging with authors as they discover what is going on inside their heads and hearts. The process can be life-changing, literally. And the book that comes out at the other end will not only change the lives of the author but of course also the lives of many of those who read it.
By making the commitment to write and publish a book, you give yourself a chance like no other to learn and grow. Reflecting on your own thinking and experience is like digging for treasure. You may not know exactly what you’re going to find but for sure you won’t find it if you don’t dig. And once you’ve raised it from its hiding place you will have something of huge value to add to your personal and business assets.
So I wish you happy and rewarding treasure hunting! Please tell me what you unearth by emailing me at: [email protected]
If you would like to join Sue on her final webinar of the spring please sign up here: https://www.therightbookcompany.com/registration-page
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