My friend Candace Duff is a litigator, mediator and author. Between the two of us we have self-published 10 books. You can say, “we know the ropes.” And most importantly what a book can do for your practice. We have collaborated here to inspire you to consider what a book could do for you.
When a lawyer can say… “I’ve written a book on the subject.” it’s impressive.
Here’s what a book could do for you?
- It’s a big audacious business card. When you speak to prospective clients give them a copy to encourage them to hire you.
- It differentiates you from your competition. When it is on your website people doing research will find you and your book.
- It helps you get speaking gigs. It is always an advantage for event organizers to be able to promote you as a lawyer and an author in your area of expertise.
- It can be a tool to instruct your clients. Some practice areas could benefit from having a guide for their clients.
What it shouldn’t do.
- It shouldn’t be a guide to help other lawyers do what you do. This is not the purpose.
- It shouldn’t be riddled with legal ease. Define your market and speak to them in a language they readily understand.
- You shouldn’t expect to get rich selling your book. It will serve you best by generously giving it away. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t sell and promote it, you should.
Selling and Promoting
- List it on Amazon, with an authors page and be mindful of the categories you select. There are many other sites but it must be on Amazon to gain credibility, fast.
- Promote it on all your social media by announcing the launch, every month pull quotes from chapters and find ways to talk about it.
- Find publications that will run excepts from the book.
Now that you know how writing a book can help you establish your expertise, gain exposure, and grow your practice, the next question is how to actually write the book itself. The obvious answer is to acquire what one bestselling English writer refers to as “bum glue,” paste yourself into your chair every day, bang out a draft manuscript, and refine it until it’s ready to be sent to an editor. If the thought of sitting down and typing out a book gives you hives, there are other ways to get the job done.
Seven ways to write your book—FAST!
- Dictate the Book
If you are a prolific speaker but a terrible typist, you could dictate the book and then have the recording transcribed either by a human being through a service like Rev.com or by someone you hire on Fiverr.com* or Upwork. Alternatively, you could run the recording through transcription software like Dragon Naturally Speaking or Dragon Professional. The software is not cheap, but it boasts a 99%accuracy rate and you’ll have it available for all your transcription needs.
If you use this method, it’s best to outline the book first so you know where you’re going and stay on track when you dictate it. You can speak much faster than you can type. With this method, you can achieve speeds of up to 5000 words an hour and get the first draft of your book done in a week if not a weekend.
- Use PowerPoint Presentations
Take the PowerPoint presentations you’ve given in the past, use them to help you outline and structure your content, then dictate your book. This option allows you to test your material with live audiences prior to writing the book to see if it is well received.
- Hire a Ghostwriter
You don’t have to write the book yourself. Instead, you can hire a professional writer (a/k/a a ghostwriter) to write your book for you. You can find ghostwriters on Upwork, through writers associations, word of mouth, referrals, etc. You and the ghostwriter agree upon a fee. They usually ask for a down payment and then receive final payment upon completion. You enter into an agreement that allows you to put your name as the author of the book, keep all the rights of the book, and keep all future book royalties.
This arrangement relieves you of the responsibility of writing the book yourself; however, it still requires an investment of time spent in meetings or interviews with the ghostwriter, in reading and revising or suggesting revisions, in getting the book edited, formatted and getting a book cover.
If you decide to hire a ghostwriter, be sure to get samples of their work and ask for references. You may also want to test them first by having them write articles or blog posts for you prior to writing the book.
- Organize an Anthology
Another option for writing a book is to organize an anthology – in other words a collection of short stories or articles or chapters from various authors. If you decide to take this route, you could find other experts in your area of expertise to participate and submit chapters or articles. Then, you would only need to write an introduction, the conclusion, and one or more of the chapters or stories.
You will have to enter into an agreement regarding what happens with respect to the rights to the articles and/or stories contained in the book, any proceeds or book royalties derived from the sale of it, and any expenses incurred in connection with the book.
You would also need to establish a deadline for author submissions and a theme or topic for the book, and recruit authors who would be a good fit for the work.
- Hire an editor to create your book
Under this option, you would outline and dictate the book, and then hire an editor to transform the transcript into a viable tome.
This is different than option #2 in that, under this arrangement, the editor takes on the responsibility for revising and editing the book, getting information from you to fill in any gaps, and putting it into final form for publication. You would be asked to review the draft and provide any comments or suggestions prior to publication and to pay a fee for the service. If you decide to take this route, be sure to negotiate a contract that clearly states who owns the rights to the book, the book royalties, etc. You want to make sure that it’s you.
- Coauthor the book
In this case, you and another author would agree to collaborate on the book and divide the responsibility for writing it in any way you see fit. I’ve seen arrangements were each author writes different parts of the book, or one author writes the first draft and the second author revises the book, or one author creates an elaborate outline, character profiles, and fiction beats for the project and the other writes it, or any mix of these arrangements. There are a myriad of possibilities.
- Create a book comprised of interview transcripts
You could have a colleague interview you or hire someone to do it, then have the interview transcribed, add some additional content, and create both an e-book and an audiobook out of that. Alternatively, you could interview a number of industry experts or thought leaders around a specific topic, get the interviews transcribed, and create a nonfiction book out of that. Or, you could interview someone who has a compelling story and a great hook and create a book out of that.
In this arrangement, you would be responsible for getting the book edited and otherwise finalized for publication. You also want to be sure to get releases and have contracts in place outlining everyone’s rights concerning the book and any royalties derived therefrom.
With all these options, you’ll still have to revise and organize the book, and find a copy editor, cover designer, and book formatter to finish it, but the most painful part of the process – writing the first draft of the book, will be done quickly.
If you’re serious about wanting to get more clients and increase your credibility, consider what a book could do for you and your practice.