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Friday, June 14, 2013

The mercenary use of books: pros and cons

Writing stars, this blog began with the idea that I would share some of the tips and strategies I've used to help public speakers brand themselves and establish their reputations with books. The idea was to leverage books into lucrative speaking gigs. In fact, I believe all entrepreneurs should think about using books as a marketing tool (although I will always have a soft spot in my heart for public speakers.)

Granted, this is a mercenary use of books, and many purists will not have the stomach for it. As much as I love literary books for the sheer joy of reading, I have come to respect the fact that books can serve more commercial purposes—especially given the marriage between self-publishing and entrepreneurism. One company that sells information products even calls books "The Ultimate Business Card." 

So it's in that spirit that I suggest you run, not walk, to FastCompany.com to read, "Why Books Are The Ultimate New Business Card" by Ryan Holiday. Now Ryan likes to exploit his bad boy marketing ways, but he makes a good case for using books as a marketing tool. 

Yes, this is a self-serving, self-promoting use of books.

Yes, this approach bastardizes the original purpose of books, which has been to entertain, to teach, to persuade. 

Where I part company
On the other hand, there's no reason the "books as marketing tool" approach cannot encompass the best of what books have to offer: quality information, a good argument, entertainment, and strategies to make readers' lives better than they were before page 1. 

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurial self-publishers view the writing process as a necessary nuisance, so they seek to outsource this labor for cheap (don't get me started on that one), recycle "private label rights" books, and other schemes. In the rush to upload as many books as possible to Amazon, quality is sacrificed. Readers don't get what they expected, hoped for, and needed. And that's a crime.

So bottom line, I get that we writers need to make money, and as long as I have breath in this middle-aged body I will draw on my own experiences with clients, and I'll scour the net high and low, near and far to inform you. But I will never sign on to schemes that sacrifice quality. In that, at least, I'm a book purist.

Donna Marie

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