How to use a new book for start-up marketing


I am seeking best practices on the use of a book as part of launching a consulting practice.

One option in the business plan that has been identified is the writing of a small book -- about 30K words -- and either self or boutique publishing it.

I am interested in best practices for how a vanity book can be leveraged to support a new consulting start-up.

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asked Aug 31 '11 at 04:07
Joseph Barisonzi
12,141 points
  • What is a Vanity Book? – A. Garcia 12 years ago
  • @A. Garcia -- probably not the right word in this context -- I will edit the word. It is a small book that is usually seen to be written by the person motivated by a desire for self promotion. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • When I was reading the title to your question, I couldn't help but think "Well, you usually start by reading it." Zing? – Alex 12 years ago
  • @Alex Ba-da-bing. Now help me put together a best practice list. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • @Joseph I wouldn't call them best practices, but I threw some ideas out there. I've been wondering how best to use a blog or newsletter to support a startup myself, so I'd be curious to know how this works out for you as they're not completely unrelated. – Alex 12 years ago
  • Yeah, I don't like best practices either. It sounds too academic and formal. I like "white papers" and "how to" books better. – A. Garcia 12 years ago

4 Answers


Having launched a consulting practice before (successfully), I don't think writing a vanity book will be particularly helpful. Consulting is an extremely easy business to get into. You can even work with recruiters to get some of your consultants off the ground and into clients, since recruiters are always willing to talk to people. You can go directly to clients and offer your services, and very often they are desperately searching for someone to fill a particular role (I assume you are consulting using a tangible skill?).

All said and done, while I think writing a vanity book is a cool marketing idea for some kinds of businesses, your marketing problems aren't sever enough to require such an outlandish investment of time and energy. There are much more productive things you can do to get into/in front of clients.

answered Sep 2 '11 at 23:44
279 points
  • While I appreciate your personal assessment and evaluation of the proposed marketing strategy -- the question is what are best practices for the use of a book in the launch of a consulting practice. The question is not how to market the launch of a consulting practice. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • Maybe more info on what kind of consulting you're doing would help? The answer would be very different for a tech consultant than a management consultant... – Jason 12 years ago
  • My client is doing financial service consulting. And I am not sure how different the best practices for the use of the book would be for a tech consultant versus a management consultant. It would be good to see the proposed distinctions. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • Ah I see, you're an author, whose client is starting a consulting business. So obviously don't write a book isn't an option. ;) – Jason 12 years ago
  • With financial services consulting, there's a ton of stuff you could write about in such a book. I would write about the core competency of the consulting firm -- specifically getting into what their viewpoint is that makes them different and how that viewpoint would have fared historically. People in the markets love to read about hypotheses that explain the past, regardless of whether they have any relevance to the future. Going through a blow by blow, here's what we would've given you in '87, here's what we'd have done in '07, could be cool. – Jason 12 years ago
  • I am the business development consultant who is working with the client. He has identified as one of his personal and professional development goals the writing of a book. I will be working with him to ensure that happens within the context of his business launch. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago


I'd say keep it simple and also make use of the ideas Tim provided. 37 Signals provides a great example: they identified actual problems people had and then wrote simple ebooks with the solutions, all of which I imagine leverage their products in some way.

You should seek to do the same: identify common problems in your area of expertise, and then provide solutions using examples of how you or your firm have helped others implement them in the past. Solutions offered in the book should be synergistic with the services you offer personally.

The book itself should be short and sweet, and easy to consume. The cover blurb should be clear and provide immediate insight into the value that it can provide and to whom it is targeted. Depending on the field, case studies (involving you or your firm, naturally) would be a plus, I'd imagine.

As far as promoting it, I would treat it much the same as a business card; every time you hand out your card, you should also try and hand out the book. Not only will it help you stand out, but it'll also provide you with some leverage to take the initiative and reach out to them. I don't think there'd be any harm in giving them a call or email to ask what they thought in regards to the book, hopefully providing an opening for further discussion.

You may also benefit from following marketing tips for more traditional books as well:

answered Sep 3 '11 at 05:06
1,156 points


Your book would be part of your 'shock and awe' package. Book, DVD , cd, whitepapers , other short publications you have written, and testimonials. As you meet with prospectives you leave that with them.

I've got mine written, currently getting edited and I'll publish with lulu or createspace probably.

37 signals Rework is 23k words and with pictures is pretty hefty. So you would have something pretty substantial.

The book will help with your personal brand, you may want to read 'crush it' for some more personal branding ideas

answered Sep 3 '11 at 14:42
Ryan Doom
5,472 points

0 And of course are the 37 signals books

But in the end the time has to be worth it. If the book has no value then it is a waste of time (to read and to write).

Are there better ways you can spend your time than on writing and publishing a book? Will that time be better spent/more effective doing other stuff/promotion/marketing?

answered Sep 1 '11 at 06:51
Tim J
8,346 points
  • I am sorry, I am missing it- how does this answer my question? – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • I suppose it doesn't - it just provides examples of people who used books to promote their business. The relevance to your situation is left as an exercise for the reader... – Tim J 12 years ago
  • Creative- I am sure the reader left to his own devices made a call to post a question with a desire that people would answer it without restating the obvious or offering basic aphroism. – Joseph Barisonzi 12 years ago
  • So you were aware of the Smart Bear book and the 37 signals books? Those examples don't give you any helpful information? In that case, you know more than they did then when they published the books and you should be able to answer the question yourself. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • thanks @user2757 - not sure why Joseph does not find it relevant. – Tim J 12 years ago
  • @Joseph, sometimes when someone says "I want to do X" it is more useful to question the reasoning behind wanting to do X - rather than just going along with it. Sometimes it is useful to suggest a better way to do something that achieves the desired goal. From my experience and observation writing a book is very very time and labor intensive and is generally not the most efficient way to market or assist a consulting business. If you refuse to understand that, fine. Note also I provided reasonable examples of books that DID do a good job for the respective businesses and people. Good luck. – Tim J 12 years ago

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