Business Models & Marketing for Books

6 min

Business Models & Marketing for Books

A Deep Dive into Business Models and Marketing Strategies for Authors

Writing a book is a monumental achievement, but the journey doesn’t stop there. For most authors, the next crucial step is to figure out how to turn their intellectual property into a viable income stream. While the traditional approach of selling books still holds merit, the digital age has spawned a variety of creative business models for authors to explore. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into six different business models tailored for authors and discuss their pros, cons, and marketing implications.  

Wide Distribution Book Sales: Just the Book

The most conventional business model for authors involves selling your book through various distribution channels. Whether it's brick-and-mortar bookstores, online platforms like Amazon, or even direct sales from your website, this approach focuses on maximizing the reach of your book.

The beauty of this model lies in its broad exposure. A wider distribution network maximizes reach, giving you access to diverse audiences. On the flip side, however, is the ever-present issue of competition. A wide distribution approach often requires heavy marketing investments to make your book stand out among the plethora of options available to readers. Furthermore, this approach might require you to compromise on the profit margins, especially if third-party distributors take a significant cut.

Marketing Implications

When it comes to marketing a widely distributed book, the focus often shifts towards mass appeal. Advertising campaigns, both online and offline, would aim to reach a general readership. Influencer partnerships could be valuable, but you may find more success through broader channels like television ads or podcasts with a wide listener base. 

However, your marketing strategy would need to be tailored depending on the audience segment you're targeting. For instance, if your book is a specialized technical guide, broad-based marketing might be less effective than targeted ads or partnerships with relevant industry publications.

This model pairs incredibly well with public speaking or consultation engagements. Having a widely distributed book can lend credibility when you're trying to get booked for a $15,000 speaking gig or a $50,000 consultation project. 

Travel & Speeches: The Book as a Launchpad for Public Speaking

For authors who are comfortable with public speaking, leveraging your book as a springboard to give paid speeches can be lucrative. Here, your book acts almost like an extended business card—a proof of concept that you know what you’re talking about.

The biggest advantage is the high revenue potential per engagement. Each speaking gig can net you anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000, and you get the chance to connect directly with audience members who might turn into clients or customers down the line. However, this model is incredibly time-consuming and worse, the performance of the book sales will impact the booking (or not booking) of speaking engagements.

Marketing Implications

Marketing in this scenario needs to be laser-focused. Your audience is often industry-specific, and your marketing efforts must mirror that. Whether leveraging LinkedIn to connect with industry leaders or publishing articles in industry journals, the idea is to establish yourself as a thought leader in the domain your book addresses. 

It is also worth noting that the effectiveness of your marketing will depend largely on the segment of the audience you're trying to reach. If your book and speaking topics are aimed at C-level executives, your marketing strategy will be decidedly different than if you’re targeting entry-level professionals.

This model synergizes exceptionally well with the wide distribution of your book. Having a widely recognized book can make it easier to secure high-profile speaking engagements, creating a virtuous circle where each enhances the appeal of the other. 

Consultation Engagements: Leveraging Expertise at a Premium

Some authors take their expertise directly to companies, offering consultation services that can fetch upwards of $50,000 per engagement. The book, in this case, serves as a portfolio that proves your expertise.

The revenue potential is sky-high. However, these engagements often require a tailored approach, which means investing significant amounts of time both before and after the actual consultation, thus limiting scalability.

Marketing Implications

Much like public speaking engagements, consultations require specialized marketing. The ideal clients for this kind of service are businesses looking for in-depth expertise, and therefore, networking and building professional relationships become key marketing activities. 

The consulting model pairs well with running group programs or online courses. You can offer these as a less-intensive alternative for companies that find the consultation fees steep.

Online Courses and Programs: Teaching What You Preach

In an era of digital learning, online courses and group programs present a golden opportunity for authors to further disseminate their knowledge. These platforms allow for a structured and comprehensive exploration of the book's content, offering readers an immersive experience that goes beyond the written word.

Online courses and group programs provide a structured way to impart knowledge. While a book might give readers an overview or introduction to a subject, a course allows for in-depth exploration, using multimedia resources such as videos, quizzes, and interactive forums.

The unique resources to this environment allows learners can interact with one another, discuss topics, share insights, and even network. This community aspect can add immense value, turning a solitary learning experience into a collective journey.

Marketing Implications

Your book can serve as an ideal lead magnet for your online course or group program. Readers who found value in the book and wish to delve deeper will naturally be inclined towards a more comprehensive learning solution. Offering a free webinar or a mini-course can act as an intermediate step in this funnel, guiding potential students from the book towards the paid course.

Given the experiential nature of courses and group programs, testimonials become a powerful marketing tool. Real-life success stories, feedback, and endorsements from past students can drastically enhance credibility and attract new enrollments.

It's crucial to understand that not all readers of your book will be interested in a course. Hence, audience segmentation becomes essential. Marketing campaigns should be tailored to target those who display a keen interest in deeper learning – this could be gauged through metrics like engagement rates on related content, participation in webinars, or even direct surveys.

Coaching in Various Forms: From Life Transformation to Executive Mastery

In today's fast-paced world, coaching has emerged as a sought-after service, bridging the gap between potential and performance. While your book might cater to a specific audience, the knowledge and expertise you showcase can be harnessed to offer coaching in multiple forms. From life coaching, akin to the transformative sessions offered by Tony Robbins, to executive coaching, reminiscent of the masterclasses by Alan Eagle, there's a vast spectrum to explore.

The biggest draw of coaching, regardless of its form, is the depth of impact you can have on an individual or a team. The sessions can be transformative, leading to tangible results in personal or professional life, allowing you to charge a premium. However, the challenge lies in scalability. Each coaching engagement demands attention, preparation, and follow-up, making it hard to manage multiple clients simultaneously.

Marketing Implications

The marketing strategy for coaching hinges heavily on testimonials and word of mouth. Success stories become your strongest selling points. Additionally, given the personalized nature of coaching, offering free initial consultations or webinars can be an excellent way to demonstrate value and attract potential clients.

Audience segmentation is critical. For instance, if you're venturing into life coaching, your marketing materials should resonate with personal growth, transformation, and holistic well-being. On the other hand, executive coaching will require a more corporate tone, emphasizing leadership, strategy, and organizational growth.

Coaching, due to its personalized nature, complements consultation engagements. While both are advisory in nature, coaching often dives deeper, making it a logical next step for individuals or businesses who've already benefited from your general advice.

However, it's worth noting that coaching is often harder to market than some of the other models. It's not just about selling a service, but about selling a transformation, a journey. Potential clients need to be convinced of the value, often necessitating multiple touchpoints before they commit.

Paywalled Content: From Newsletters to Exclusive Insights

In an age of information overload, discerning readers are increasingly willing to pay for high-quality, curated content. Paywalled content, which encompasses newsletters, exclusive articles and more, capitalizes on this trend offering audiences value that’s often absent in freely available content.

The very nature of paywalled content creates an aura of exclusivity. When users pay for content, it often elevates the perceived value of the information, leading to higher engagement rates and a more committed audience base.

One of the core strengths of paywalled content, especially newsletters, is the potential for regular engagement. Weekly or monthly editions ensure that your audience is continually reminded of the value you offer, leading to higher retention rates.

Marketing Implications

To entice potential subscribers, it's beneficial to offer teasers or samples of your paywalled content. This gives readers a taste of what's behind the paywall and can trigger curiosity and the desire for more in-depth exploration. Even better if it’s personalized. By segmenting your audience based on their interests, past engagement, or other metrics, you can tailor your promotional content to resonate more deeply, increasing the likelihood of conversions.

One of the hidden strengths of paywalled content is the potential to build a community. Platforms that allow comments, discussions, or even user-generated content can foster a sense of belonging among subscribers, making them more likely to remain loyal and engaged.

Your book offers more than just pages of content; it's a starting point for various business opportunities. Each economic model, from book sales to executive coaching, requires a distinct marketing approach. Navigating these differences can be challenging. If you need guidance on maximizing your book's potential or tailoring your marketing strategy, Deksia’s strategists are here to help. Interested in a conversation? Fill out our contact form and mention this blog.