Do you like when authors blatantly try to sell you something? Especially when that’s not what you want to hear about?
Of course not. Everyone hates that.
Yet, when it’s time to write their book, so many authors forget this universal truth and instead use their book to pitch their product or service.
This is obnoxious, annoying, and worst of all, it’s ineffective.
No matter what your book is asking readers to do next—especially if you’d like them to buy your products or services—it’s critical that the content of your book not only doesn’t sell, but educates and informs instead.
In book writing terms, this is called “editorial” rather than “advertorial” information.
Editorial content, at its core, is about providing value to the reader. It gives information and explanation about a topic in a way that is clear, concise, and makes readers feel you have their best interests at heart.
It is through editorial content that you share your expertise. As you give readers information they can put to use, you and your book become trustworthy and memorable. What creates added benefit for you is that these effects will drive more sales than overt selling, all because the reader believes in the value you’ve given them.
Contrast this to advertorial content, which is an overt sales pitch. Rather than providing readers with the information they bought your book to acquire, you are telling them to buy more. It’s the worst way to accomplish your goal because readers will feel taken advantage of. You will lose their trust. They will be pissed off, and you will look bad. Your readers will sniff out authenticity, just like you do when you read.
This is key to remember: readers buy your book under the implicit contract that you will respect their decision and give them value for their investment of money and time. When you push something on them, they feel as though you’ve betrayed their trust.
If you do a great job in your book and provide knowledge and information that benefits the reader, you’ve accomplished your most important goal: they’ll respect you and trust what you say. Some portion of your readers may come to you at some point in the future, whether it’s to book you as a speaker, hire you as a consultant, or purchase your next book. They are also likely to recommend your book to other readers who will also be interested in your ideas.
The best way to accomplish this is by making your value clear to readers by providing information they can immediately put to use.
How Much Do You “Give Away” in Your Book?
This is simple: put as much of your knowledge as you can in your book.
I say this again, without reservation: put as much of your knowledge as you can in your book.
The reasons for this are twofold:
1. If you actually care about serving your readers, this should be obvious. You are writing the book for them, and to serve them, you must actually give them all the knowledge you have.
2. But even better, giving them everything you have usually helps you reach your goals.
Just like the “advertorial vs. editorial” conversation, your book is about building trust with your reader. How can you do that if you don’t show them what you know and how it can help them?
This blog that you’re reading right now is a great example of what I’m talking about:
Scribe is a company that sells several different services to help people write books (in addition to other value-added creative services). However, at no point in this blog have I pushed those services on you, or even implied that you should buy them. In fact, I only even mention them in passing to set up stories that give example to my teachings (like I am now).
To go even further, this blog gives away every “secret” we have. You can follow the instructions in this blog and accomplish everything that we do.
Why would we do that as a company? Why would we “give away” the process that we sell?
For several reasons:
1. Authority: If we are not willing to fully explain what we do, if we cannot show a reader what we know—why would anyone trust or hire us? This blog is the best possible proof that we are good at our jobs.
2. Credibility: If we were to try and sell to you, it would greatly diminish the credibility of the blog, the information in it, and ourselves. If you believe we’re writing this only for our benefit, then you won’t pay attention and you won’t find us or the information credible—nor should you.
3. Reputation: If we do in fact provide great information, then readers will respect us and speak highly of us. That is the type of word-of-mouth marketing that is incredibly effective and cannot be bought—it must be earned.
4. Client Vetting: Our services are expensive. Most people cannot afford them. Why sell to people who can’t afford us? The type of people who hire us do so for two reasons: (1) we are experts who provide high level book guidance (which this blog helps to prove), and (2) they want to save time, and this blog helps them see how time consuming this process is and how valuable our services can be. For the types of people who hire us, this blog sells us without ever trying to.
5. Self Respect: We believe that everyone with knowledge to share should write a book. The mission of our company is to “unlock the world’s wisdom.” If we actually believe that, then how could we write anything less than everything someone needed to write a good book? To do that would be intellectually dishonest and we could not live with ourselves if we did that.
I cannot tell you what to do with your book, but I will invite you to take a similar approach. Put your best knowledge in your book and do not try to sell people—let them come to you because your knowledge is that useful to them.
Not only because it’s the ethical thing to do, but it’s also the most effective.