Do you like it when people 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 will 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, it educates and informs instead.

In book writing terms, this is called “editorial” rather than “advertorial” information.

Editorial content provides readers with information about a topic or explains something to them. It educates readers and provides them with value. Editorial content, at its core, is about providing value to the reader.

It is through editorial information that you share your expertise with readers and give your valuable information to them. You have given readers information they can put to use, which will earn their trust, and in turn actually drive more sales to you than overt selling. It will do this by making you memorable and trustworthy.

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. It’s the worst way to accomplish your goal, because readers will feel taken advantage of. They will not trust you. 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 the key thing 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 they will trust what you say. Some portion of them 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 the knowledge you have.

2. But even better, giving them what 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 book 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-add creative services).

However, at no point in this book 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 book gives away every “secret” we have. You can follow the instructions in this book and accomplish everything that we do, without us.

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 book is the best possible proof that we are good at our jobs.

2. Credibility: If we were to try and sell you, it would greatly diminish the credibility of the book, 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 book helps to prove), and 2. They want to save time, and this book helps them see how time consuming this process is, and how valuable our services can be. For the type of people who hire us, this book 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 a book that was 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 to your book. 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.