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Does writing a book really add credibility to your company or product?

I'm considering writing a book that explains my product / company philosophy and practices. The content of the book directly relates to our product and would be valuable on its own or as a companion to our product. I'm wondering if you have any thoughts on the following:
(1) Does having written a book add credibility to the business / product / founder?
(2) As a B-2-B software company targeting managers and business people, does the publisher of the book matter?
(3) Is a book better / worse / different (in terms of credibility or thought leadership) compared to having a blog?

17 Replies

Vijay Goel, MD
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Vijay Goel, MD Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder Chefalytics, Co-owner Bite Catering Couture, Independent consultant (ex-McKinsey)
I'm doing the same. I've heard from others that it's not necessarily that useful in getting leads, but that it's a terrific tool to be able to close deals and then have something that becomes a reference for the project team (ie you pass the book out and can point them to a few pages in the middle).

If you're selling in a way that credibility as an author helps, I've heard this can really help in the sales process in framing you as an expert.

Book is better than a blog in that it pulls together thoughts into one consistent narrative. People I've talked to have in some cases used an editor to pull the book together from the blog (not mutually exclusive).

I haven't heard that anyone cares about the publisher...I have heard that free is perceived differently than putting a price tag on it. Doing an experiment personally using softcover to write the book (free online) and then selling via amazon with workbooks and other add-ons.
Mike Moyer
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Mike Moyer Entrepreneur • Advisor
Managing Director at Lake Shark Ventures, LLC
I think content, no matter what the format, matters. Books, blogs, videos, infographics, spreadsheets, whitepapers, etc.

In my case I've written a number of books. Slicing Pie is a book about equity splits. It has given me a global platform for software sales, legal contract sales and speaking events. Pitch Ninja is a book about presentation skills and Trade Show Samurai is a book about capturing leads at trade shows. These books don't sell as well, but they give me credibility and are a nice complement to speaking events. I've written other books too for different purposes.

Most of my books are self-published, but I have traditional publishing deals too. Traditional publishers can help you get into bookstores, if that matters. But traditional publishers take much longer to get to market and offer much lower royalties. The biggest drawback is that you can't change the book later on. I often do updates and revisions to my books. I can only do this for self-published titles. Sometimes I create special versions of the book. I'm in Australia now and I did a special Australian cover.

I've never had anyone let me know that the publisher matters.

-Mike
Ben Yennie
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Ben Yennie Entrepreneur
Co-Founder/VP Biz-Dev ProductionNext, Founder of Producer Foundry, Author, Speaker, and Producer's Rep
I wrote a book on the American Film Market to help boost my Producer's Representation business, and not only was it a credibility boost, but it's also improved my relationship with distributors, and increased my the quantity and caliber of my clients in a very significant way. I self published, and marketed the hell out of the book. it's in more than 100 bookstores (including some Barnes and Nobles) and it's being used as a text book in 10 film schools. Writing the book was a fairly major time sink, but it's paid dividends in a really significant way. That said, mine was a very specialized book that didn't really exist even though it needed to, so that might be different than your book on B2B software. A LOT more credibility comes from writing a book than a blog, but the blog is generally better for viral engagement and engaging with your customers via social media. Personally, I do a weekly blog, bi weekly podcast, and I'm about to release my second book which will be given away for free as a mailing list incentive. The second book is just a collection of blogs though, so it wasn't that taxing to create. Having a good publisher will help, but you'll still have to do a lot of the marketing yourself, and they'll take 90% of all sales. So it really depends on your goals. The simple act of having written a book increases your credibility in a tangible way, even if it is self published. Most people know it's easy to get your book on amazon, but getting it in Barnes and Nobles is another story and people view that differently. Although that too is surprisingly easy. If you decide to go the self publishing route, there are some ways to streamline the process I could advise on. Hope that helps
Robb Vaules
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Robb Vaules Entrepreneur
Western Region Marketing Director

Yes, I believe writing a book can help. I do believe how it is published does have some bearing on its legitimacy overall. If your book is through a major publisher, it is going to hold more weight then something that might be self-published. That's not to say that is self-published book doesn't contain excellent information, but you have to realize the majority of people aren't going to read more than the first chapter of your book, and its cachet with them lies in how it was brought to market.

In 1999, I was working for a software development consultancy in Minnesota. The president of that group was asked by Oracle Corporation to write one of their books, specifically on web-enabled databases. This was a big thing at the time, in very few companies have the competency level that we did. Any time that we went out to pitch business, we dropped off a copy of our book on the desk of the CEO for CIO of the company. We had no expectations that the book was going to be read, but it was a lot better than dropping off a few sheets of sales lit in a folder. We didn't win every pitch, but for the Midwest we would consistently put in shootouts with companies much larger than ourselves, including some of the big accounting firms.

Assess the situation, see what your publishing options are, and then make that decision.

Wayne Carrigan
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Wayne Carrigan Advisor
Marketing Alchemist and Business Leader
While the short answer is yes, this is not the reason to write a book.

And, don't write a book., write THE BOOK - one that people want (or need) to read. Share insights or methods that are unique and move your industry forward. This kind of book not only adds credibility, but opens the doors to an abundance of opportunities.

A great example of this is Chris Goward's book on Conversion Optimization called You Should Test That! http://www.youshouldtestthat.com/
Michael Barnathan
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Michael Barnathan Entrepreneur • Advisor
Co-Founder of The Mountaintop Program, Google Alum
I can't say whether it's "better", but a book certainly does take a lot more time and effort to get out than a blog.
Tatsuya Nakagawa
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0
VP at Castagra Products (Industrial Coatings)
From my experience, if the book is related to a scalable business, then it's totally worth it. A book generally has more credibility than a blog and a good publisher that "gets' your concept will greatly improve the final product and distribution.


Karl Schulmeisters
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Karl Schulmeisters Entrepreneur
CTO ClearRoadmap

I think it depends on a variety of factors.

Since you are selling B2B and are targeting managers and business people the question is whether you need to convince them of the value add your product brings. If you do, a book might help. But only really if it becomes well known enough so that your target customer thinks s/he should have read it....


I say "thinks they should have read it" because most will not have read it. And most don't have the time to read it. So what you really are using the book for is as a way of creating FUD in their minds that they might need your product, thus opening a selling opportunity.


While a book has more credibility than a blog, it also gets a lot less readership. Another approach that Ive found has traction - is to find a company that wants your expertise to write some white papers for them. White Papers that you can reference carry more credibility than blogs and will get more readership than a book

In10city i Nation
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In10city i Nation Entrepreneur
Owner, In10city Pte Ltd
Firstly, we have to understand that we write a book not for others, but ourselves. While writing a book is one, publishing a book is another. The book writing exercise offers us an opportunity to introspect ourselves as it helps in bringing ourselves out. As we start writing the book, is when we start conflicting with ourselves and also resolve them. Many questions arise from within and that is when we Justify and streamline our activity. At the end of the book, we are completely stitched in and out. In short, your business is now ready as a book. That is when you can say " I am CONVERSANT with my business" as you have authored your business.

But on the other side, it is a world of "Book Spamming" due to numerous newbies entering the self-publishing scenario. People criticize a book, even without reading a page or will ask you whether you have read 1000 other books, before you wrote yours. So you need to first decide whether you wish to monetize using your business or your book. If you go with your business, then you have some terrific content and FAQ all ready. Most business struggle here whereas you are just miles ahead. You will just know how your website should look and work... You will have content ready to impress your prospects. They know that you know what you are talking about. None have time to read a book or going to respect you just because you have written a book. Instead you can instantly attract them with your podcast/ slides, where you can nail it. After a few struck deals on your hand, is when you start rewriting your book and plug-in your real life experience and go for publishing it. You will have some experts vouching for you who are your own clients/ customers and your book will be an instant hit.. and you can rake in your millions.
Axel Schultze
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Axel Schultze Entrepreneur
Founder Society3 Accelerator & Fundraising market place
I wrote a book about the core competency of my startup. I put the basic content framework together when I started the company in 2001. I finally published the book the year I sold it in 2007 - LOL

In retrospect I still think it's a great idea to augment thought leadership with a book, yet I would be really worried about the company if you find the time it really takes to write that book. I also found that thought leadership comes with experience and past successes.

My recommendation: Put any available second you have in the company and make it really successful and write that book after three year - knowing you will have no time to do that :)

A long way to say - NO not a good idea.

You may enjoy my answer on Cora regarding use of time as a founder :


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