Looking clever, impressing prospects, and making money with books

How many copywriters do you know who have researched, written, edited, and polished, and written the marketing materials for 100,000+ word books?

“Not many,” you might say, “but why should I care?”

I’m glad you asked.

Better than a business card

Have you ever thought of a book as a tool? You should. From lead generation magnet to supplementary material, from thought leadership to a simple badge of prestige, a book can help you win new customers, retain existing ones, and stand out from your competitors.

Which is exactly what a book did for 3rd Sector Skills.

3rd Sector Skills was a consultancy that worked with charities and other volunteer-led organisations. The company used practical management skills acquired from the private sector to help charities spend less on management and more on the work they wanted to do.

But there were three big challenges stopping 3rd Sector Skills from reaching its full potential:

  1. Awareness: charities weren’t always aware they needed what 3rd Sector Skills was offering.
  2. Geography: some people couldn’t travel to the training centre or couldn’t spare the time.
  3. Training materials: producing them for each course was onerous and time-consuming.

What was the answer? Put it all in a book.

The trick to writing Running Successful Projects in the Voluntary Sector wasn’t just getting the information on the page and organising it into a format that was easy to consume and understand. The book had to demonstrate the expertise of the company’s consultants, serve as training materials for those who did attend a course, and serve too as a replacement for attending the course for those who couldn’t make it.

That’s a tall order. But we managed it.

Running Successful Projects in the Voluntary Sector replaced the coursebook that 3rd Sector Skills had been laboriously printing and assembling before each course. Instead, the company simply ordered copies of its own book before each course, saving time and resources that could be better spent elsewhere.

The book itself was enough to attract new attendees to the course, too, boosting profits and growing the customer base.

And, of course, the book is available online for anyone to buy, generating passive income to this day.

Your business card can’t top that.

Tone of voice

What’s the most important thing you need from a writer? An ability to either adopt your existing tone of voice, or create a comprehensive one for you.

Most copywriters have written for a variety of clients (I myself have written for the UK Government, a toy company, a transit company, a motorcycle insurer, a caravan park, a hospital, and so on and so forth). But a copywriter who writes novels (i.e. me) is a master of tone of voice, because I  hold hundreds of consistent voices in their heads at once.

I’ve created:

  • A con artist that used to be a courtier
  • An extremist freedom fighter
  • A love-sick liar
  • A noble who hides insecurity with arrogance
  • A boy that shares the knowledge and experiences of a host of immortals
  • An explorer striving to overcome gender stereotypes
  • A feckless fop with a secret noble streak
  • A man burned out by magic who cannot remember his past but can see his future

And they all talk to each other in the same scenes. That’s a lot of voices to hold in your head at once and keep them consistent.

So if you’re worried about getting a tone of voice magician? Hire a copywriter who’s also a novelist.

Hint: that’s me.

Research > writing > expert

In 2017, I published the first in a series of books about Branwell Brontë that were unlike anything else in the market. In fact, my books are the first mainstream publications about Branwell Brontë in 50 years. So when I say that I had to do a lot of original research to write these books, I’m talking original research.

It wasn’t a case of reading a book or two and jaunting around the Internet. I was digging into original manuscripts, deep-diving into obscure references, and constructing the truth out of a flotsam of facts.

The truth is that most of what you read online you can read in multiple places. Information is produced and reproduced until every company in a sector has the same blog about Five Ways to Increase Productivity While Standing on One Leg. How do you stand out from that crowd?

Offer something different. Research-led content gives you an edge: if you’ve gathered the data yourself, no-one else can lay claim to it. You’re immediately offering something that the competition isn’t. Even better, it’s evidence that you wield an unrivalled level of expertise: after all, you’ve done the research. You know what you’re talking about.

And that evidence pays dividends: 61% are willing to pay a premium to work with an organisation that has published quality thought leadership content.

So you don’t just want a writer to write a few blogs for you. You need the sort of writer who can do deep, original research that will produce content unlike anything else in your sector.

So let’s start working together already.

Telling untold stories

Everyone has a story in them. This much is true. But how many people can tell their story in an entertaining, informative way?

When I wrote Calling the Makers, I interviewed dozens of game designers. Each of them was, naturally, able to tell me their story. But they did so in wide-ranging interviews, telling me stories with gaps and inconsistencies that needed further prodding and exploration to uncover the juicy meat of the tale.

That’s because, as the author of our own stories, it’s easy to forget what other people don’t know. Perhaps you were the first to do something. But why is that impressive? You know it’s because the thing you did had been impossible due to limitations you helped to remove. But the reader knows nothing of those limitations. So your shining achievement can sound underwhelming without a writer to properly set the scene.

It’s also easy to forget what you don’t know. For example, I spoke to some designers whose company was bought by another. A few years later, the bigger company went through redundancies and the designers found themselves out of a job. They didn’t really know what had prompted the redundancies, leaving a question mark over that part of their story.

I researched the events leading up to the purchase and beyond, which provided context and fleshed out their own story in a way that would make things clearer to the reader. Something they couldn’t have done without a writer.

Everyone has a story inside them. But they don’t always have the skills to tell it. Even if they do, they probably don’t have the time. So they need a writer who knows how to tell a story and knows how to market it.

Why don’t we start telling your story?