I’ve said it before: American culture is all about celebrity, and how famous you are in any group on any level. How do you get famous? That’s a good question, and the answers vary depending on what your area of expertise is and what you are doing.
Let me qualify all of this first by saying this is not a road map to getting famous like George Clooney. That’s the entertainment business, which is a whole other story (trust me, I’ve been in it most of my life).
But if you want to share your knowledge or idea, and you want the opportunity to join the greater conversation and ultimately find your audience, then you might want to think about writing your own book.
It’s daunting, I know. I mean, didn’t Tolstoy write a big book? Didn’t J.K. Rowling live for years as an underling before she got the big prize and the success that came with her brain child, Harry Potter?
I’m no Hillary or Bill or Obama, could I really do it? These (and other) questions may be roiling around in your mind. Just tell those voices to quiet down, and take a second to consider why people are coming out of the woodwork with their own books.
Hillary Clinton launched a memoir of herself when she first ran for president. This was a purposeful way to use the book as a marketing tool so she could get herself out there to a mass audience in a non-partisan way; at first. Dr. Oz, king of daytime television started with the “YOU” series of books (e.g. YOU: The Owner’s Manual). Malcolm Gladwell of The Tipping Point wrote for The New Yorker magazine with lots of ideas about how people think. Fast forward to the present, and Gladwell’s series of catchy-titled books has made him rich and sought after internationally to speak to thousands. Imagine being paid for the way you think!
These are major examples of people using books as marketing tools, and I could point to many more including celebrities like: Snooki, Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres…all who have put their stories on paper to grow their personal brands (and make money for themselves and their publishers along the way). But the real concern is do YOU really need to write your own book? Ask yourself these questions:
- Have I been building my expertise in a field or industry where I am respected for my ideas and what I have to say?
- Am I an academic, teaching at a university?
- Am I an innovative entrepreneur or CEO who has achieved success with my methods?
- Am I a doctor who has research to share in an important area that could help a mass audience, if the information appeared outside of a medical journal or health facility?
- Would I like to be paid and/or invited to speak to audiences?
- Do I have a product or service to sell?
- Am I a writer who wants to take an idea and expand on it in a broader medium?
If you relate to any of the above then it might be time for you to consider taking a big step forward and think about writing a book. A book can help you reach a wider audience, and it can get you a bigger stage on which to present yourself and your positions. Call it a conversation opener, a calling card, a foundation.
Will your book make you an overnight sensation? Not necessarily. Will you have to publish it on your own? Possibly, but that’s what e-books are for. Will the book limit the rest of what you have to say or share? No, that’s why you write more books.
I’ll admit I’m considering taking the leap myself. My reasons are business-oriented on the one hand, and on the other I see a need for information I have that could help a larger audience and sharing feels like the right thing to do.
I’ll keep you posted on that.