Today’s self-publishing industry is a force to be reckoned with. In a recent report issued by Bowker, the U.S. ISBN agency, ISBN registrations by self-publishers have risen 375 percent since 2010. Even booksellers and libraries are seeking to incorporate self-published works into their offerings. If you’re thinking about writing and publishing a book, don’t get hung up on the idea of publishing through a traditional publisher. You may be unpleasantly surprised to hear that not all book ideas pass muster. Maybe it’s timing. Maybe your writing style simply doesn’t suit the publisher’s audience. Maybe your name doesn’t carry enough cachet. No matter the problem, there is a flourishing self-publishing industry out there waiting for you to join. For attorneys, writing is a great way to raise public awareness of your practice and build your brand.
A Success Story
Being a published author carries a certain amount of prestige. Publishing a practice guide, manual, or how-to book for laypeople or fellow attorneys can lead to public-speaking engagements, conference panel participation, and even additional clientele.
Case in point: An attorney client of mine has been authoring or coauthoring manuals and practice guides for decades under the auspices of a well-known legal publishing house. With a thriving practice, prodigious social media presence, and well-respected blog, my client has managed to attract and retain high-end corporate clientele. Two years ago, he decided he wanted to stay ahead of the game by adding self-published books to his repertoire. Knowing how economic downturns and shifts in policy can change a thriving practice into a struggling one in a flash, my client set aside a substantial marketing and production budget to ensure his success. He sought and received buy-in from his partner and associates who eventually would be needed to help write or review his writing. He and his partner agreed that through the use of this book, the firm would eventually benefit—not necessarily from revenue derived from book sales but from attracting additional high-end clientele. Through experience, my client understood the power behind the written word—in essence, writing is one of the best marketing tools used by attorneys today.
Because my client is a prolific writer, he had no problem knocking out more than 20 chapters. After his partners and associates reviewed the pages, he still required professional help to transform his raw manuscript into a publishable book. That’s where I entered the picture. First, we collaborated on the page composition, including styles for fonts, text boxes, pull quotes, and footnotes. Once we had the overall presentation set, I spent the bulk of my time editing the text, which, among other things, involved looking for holes in context and organization, readability and comprehensiveness, consistency and voice—not to mention, grammar and sentence structure. My familiarity with the subject matter allowed me to clarify any statements that were unclear and to suggest to my client different ways of presenting the information given. My experience in publishing also helped my client save money along the way and enlightened him on the production process, including the art of cover design and book format choice.
Following an agreed-upon schedule for deliverables, we published the book in print and eBook through the three major e-tailers: Amazon (and CreateSpace), Barnes & Noble, and Apple’s iBooks. With marketing materials designed and printed, we implemented a marketing strategy using various approaches: direct mail, e-mail, press releases, social media, trade shows, and the mailing of hundreds of complimentary copies to decision-makers at some of America’s top enterprises. By purchasing various targeted lists for mail and e-mail promotion, we were able to track the sales of his book using different discount codes and landing pages. We also could tailor the marketing copy to the specific audience being targeted, as the marketing plan allowed us to remain flexible and dynamic in our approach.
For my client, writing and publishing a book only solidified his already-existing status as a thought leader in his chosen field of practice. And within six months, his firm was negotiating contracts with members of the book’s targeted audience and had reconnected with past clients looking to retain his firm for additional work. Results like these don’t always happen so quickly; my client focused on what was working and what wasn’t and made adjustments along the way.
Know Your Purpose
Is writing and publishing a book a substantial investment? Yes, it can be. But if you know the purpose behind why you’re doing it and then plan accordingly, you, too, can reach your goals and save money in the process. My client’s desired goal was met, and now he and his firm are looking forward to providing legal services to new corporate clients on a long-term basis. With ongoing marketing efforts in place, the book should prove lucrative well into the future. And landing the perfect client made my client’s investment in the book worthwhile.
If you’re looking to write a book, be clear about the purpose: Is it to establish yourself as a thought leader? Attract new clientele? Move into a new and growing market? Raise your public persona? Make some residual income? All of the above? Sometimes it’s not always about the bottom line, i.e., income from book sales, because being an author is rarely lucrative. For an attorney, it’s more about the reach the book might have and the opportunities that could present themselves to you and your firm.
Tatia L. Gordon-Troy, Esq., owner of RAMSES HOUSE Publishing LLC, offers publications management, content marketing, and editorial services to attorneys. Relying on her 20 years of legal publishing experience, Tatia has succeeded at helping attorneys self-publish as a way to market their practices. Tatia is also the publisher of Attorney At Law Magazine, Washington, D.C., Suburbs edition. Copyright ©2016. RAMSES HOUSE Publishing LLC.