I see lots of consultants have written books and this alone seems to give them instant credibility. Is it worth the trouble?
Thirty years ago, when the barriers to publishing were substantially higher, being the author of a book did bring substantial credibility. Not so much these days, although it depends what you want the book to do for you.
First, do you have anything compelling to say? Having only the desire to write a book, much less to write it for notoriety alone, is insufficient reason to sit down at the keyboard and start typing. Look at the compelling and timeless business or consulting books around – there are not a lot of them. Now look at the business books that Amazon lists of $0.01 and have hundreds of used copies for sale. A book about consulting may look good in your marketing materials, but assume that people may check out how good your book it is. Instead of a reputation booster, it may well be the opposite, and once it is published, you can't take it back.
One good way to know if you have a book in you is to see how you feel when you read other books about consulting or listed to "experts" in your industry or discipline. If you are well versed in the industry or discipline and strongly disagree with many of these people, or you think the ways they explain processes or trends are off the mark, or you have something innovative in your work that clients have repeatedly found valuable and for which you are getting a good reputation, then you have the kernel of a book. Given this potential value, however, your vehicle may not be a book, but workshops, speeches, articles, ezines, blog or case studies. If you are not generating solid and useful services in high demand as a consultant, a book will not create that demand. Better to spend your time developing your business than struggling with a book.Tip:
Don’t take this as arguing against books entirely. A book may be an OK vehicle, but consider where it fits in your overall business plan. Books are good to launch a speaking career but it is hard to compile speeches into a book. Blogs are best if you have a steady stream of ideas about emerging trends, for which a book is the wrong vehicle. Yet, a collection of blogs may make a good compilation, ezine or book. There are so many books (almost 1,000 books are published each day in the US, plus an unknown number of self published books) that you will be fighting an uphill battle for recognition. The business of publishing is changing rapidly (e.g., print on demand) and, as great a consultant as you are, take advantage of the expertise of agents. They know the market, the process and the scenario your book idea will take.© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA