Guest Post: Build Your Practice With a Book

We would like to thank Emily for contributing her expertise to our readers. We appreciate the help she provides to therapists in private practice. -Kelly + Miranda, ZynnyMe

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It’s pretty amazing that books have continued to be a mainstay since the invention of the printing press in 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg.   What else do we still use that dates back that far? The wheel? The good news is that books still do the same thing for the authors that they did in 1440, establish them as experts in their field.

A prominent attorney told me that the publication of his book did more to build his practice than anything other thing he’d done in 25 years. The boosted credibility with a single book had more power than 25 years in practice. It’s true for any profession. When you have literally “written the book”, you gain instant credibility.

If you’ve seen the movie What About Bob, you’ve seen it firsthand. Bob Whiley has his first appointment with Dr. Leo Marvin and conveys his symptoms in great deail, including fingernail sensitivity. In his fancy New York highrise office with degree covered walls, Dr. Marvin looks around says, “there is a groundbreaking new book that has just come out…. Ah, here it is, Baby Steps.” Bob Wiley spends the rest of the movie clutching the yellow book and baby stepping around Dr. Marvin’s lake house. Admittedly Bob is a nightmare client and Dr. Marvin spend the rest of the movie trying fire him, but you get the idea. Dr. Marvin’s book immediately established him as an expert in Bob’s mind. The same can happen for you, minus relentless stalking.

A book is also a gateway for less direct methods of practice building. A book spreads your ideas, perspective and method of practice among your colleagues. You can send your book and a note to anyone you desire to know. Books also open the door to media coverage and speaking engagements and add to your revenue through back of the room sales. Gutenberg did all professionals a giant favor.

Now you may be saying to yourself, “I agree a book would be fantastic for my professional life, but I don’t know where to start.”   That’s okay, we are all new once and you just need a little guidance navigating the complex world of book writing and publishing.

Your first up determining to whom you want to speak (both literally and figuratively) and what you want to convey. Your book should be designed to support the practice you desire to build. If you want to practice full of couples, write about relationships. If you want more individuals, talk about growth. If you’d like fill your practice with children, write about parenting. Once you know your general direction, it’s time to select your desired publication route. Don’t write the book yet, first figure out who you’d like to publish it.

We are all familiar with the traditional model of publishing. An author receives in advance, the publisher edits prints and distributes the book and the author receives royalties. We also know that model is all but dead. It can be done, it still exists, but much like the yeti, it’s rarely seen. Also, just to make you feel a bit better about it’s death, it never was a very good deal for authors. Most authors never earn their advance and only make about a dollar a book. That takes a long time to add up. There is prestige to this model and if this is your direction, you need a book proposal. The best guide I’ve found is Michael Hyatt’s, Writing a Winning Non-Fiction Book Proposal. He’s the former CEO of Thomas Nelson so it’s like reading Johnny Cash’s thoughts on writing a country song. http://michaelhyatt.com/writing-a-winning-book-proposal

Self-publishing has arisen as a viable option to traditional publishing. It’s main benefit is that you can publish when you’re ready rather than waiting for a traditional publisher to tap you on the shoulder. The issue with self-publishing is it leaves the author at the helm of a project he’s not experienced enough to manage. Not only does the author need to conceptualize and write the book, he needs to engage editors, designers, printers and distributors. As a result, self-published books often look very “loving hands at home” and don’t garner the respect they deserve.

Hybrid publishing is the industries’ attempt to bring together the best of both worlds. A hybrid publisher brings its expertise in editing design printing and distribution so you can focus on the writing. They have the distribution to get your book into brick and mortar bookstores and potentially on the best seller lists. They do have a vetting process like a traditional publisher and they have to believe in you the author and your book. My favorite of the bunch is Morgan James. http://www.morganjamespublishing.com/

If after that bit of reading you’re thinking, “this is all well and good, but the thought of sitting down and write a full-length book gives me hives”, you’re not alone. You’re not the first person to have something important to say, not to have the time and inclination to actually write an entire book. The industry has an answer for that dilemma as well.

Manuscript review and developmental editing are daunting sounding words, but it’s nothing more than having somebody come alongside you during the process and help you complete your book. Developmental editing takes your idea and helps you frame it into a full-fledged book, moving the pieces around and developing flow. With manuscript review, you have some, or all, of your book completed and you want a second set of experienced eyes to go through and give feedback on the content, organization and writing style.

Two other helpers in the world of writing exist, book coaches and ghostwriters. A book coach walks along side of you during the process, keeps you motivated, helps you work through content ideas and gives you writing feedback. In short, she keeps you writing. On the other end of the spectrum, a ghostwriter actually writes the book for you, under your name. She works with you to develop the concept and interviews you and others for the content of the book. She can also incorporate your other material like workshops, speaking outlines and blogs into book content.

Nothing is more satisfying than taking the spark in your mind and bringing a book to life and few things will do as much to build your professional credibility and practice.

Emily Chase Smith, Esq. is a ghostwriter, editor and attorney. She loves help others take the spark of an idea and bring a book to life. She can be found at http://chasesmithpress.com/ and on Twitter at @EmilyChaseSmith.