That’s the question I encounter most often when it comes to writing a book. It can lie on either side of the process, after the last page is drafted or before it even starts. Sometimes, the author raises the question. Others, I’m the one doing the asking.
For some, writing a book feels like a necessary evil. They want to stand out, build a reputation, attract talent and clients. For others, it’s a passion project, something they’ve been dreaming about since they were a kid or first hung their shingle or spent 20 years deep in the trenches of their industry. Their relationship to the endeavor often determines when that magic question arises and who brings it up.
Both parties tend to imagine their book will hit the big lists and embed themselves in readers’ hearts and minds, allowing them to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.
Don’t get me wrong: a happy ending is definitely possible. Books can serve as a valuable lead funnel for consulting and speaking opportunities, business partnerships, and more. They can be an effective way to share your industry expertise or powerful story or well-honed advice, allowing you to give back in a meaningful way. They can scratch a creative itch and be a kind of therapy—for yourself and for others.
But if you want any real and lasting traction in the world outside your mind, that question—then what?—has to get answered. How will you get it out in the world? Who are the right people to help you spread its message? How does that message fit into everything you’ve done already, and all you will do? Who needs this book? How will they get it? What will they do with it after they read it? How will they interact with you, and vice versa? That means you need to think about your personal brand, ideally at every stage of the game—before, during, and after you write your book.
What Happens When You Build a Book Without a Brand?
If you’re lucky, the book becomes your brand. You beat the drum of that book’s message for months or years and wind up defined by it. Much like founders or CEOs who made their names scaling a single product or service, the book becomes the long and short of it. When you realize you’re more than that single narrative, more than what that book represents, you find yourself stuck—struggling to escape the associations cemented in your audience’s mind.
What if you’re not so lucky? What happens then? Not much at all. You write your book, get it published, and announce on your social media channels that it’s out in the world. The likes roll in. You may even get some good opportunities to promote your work in the media. And then, nothing. Without a bigger-picture brand strategy, there’s no runway for your work. And thus, no real launch.
But when you build a personal brand first—a cohesive identity into which the book fits—the book becomes an extension of who you are, an element of your core message rather than the whole enchilada. And interestingly, that’s when a book becomes more than just a book—with a much longer shelf life.
A Solid Foundation
Imagine erecting a tall building, 60 stories high. It’s a head-turner with a sleek facade and modern interior. While you spent hours upon hours designing every eye-catching feature, you didn’t think much about the foundation. There’s little to ensure the building stands the test of time. When you launch a book without an underlying brand, there’s nothing there to keep it upright—standing tall in the collective consciousness.
On the flipside, imagine a building that has been part of the skyline for decades. It may need new windows and a power wash every once in a while, but it stands the test of time. This is like launching a book with a brand behind you—the infrastructure is there, supporting the narrative and the momentum for years to come. People know what YOU represent. This enables you to surpass the launch, to keep going, to last. You’ve given them value, and in exchange, you get engagement, loyalty, amplification, and inbound opportunities.
A Framework to Build On
With the proper infrastructure, the book you’ve just written becomes a content tower that can be spliced up in thousands of different ways over years on end. That content can serve as fodder for every social channel, become the basis for your TED Talk, the points you touch on when you’re on podcasts, the themes for a podcast of your own—the list goes on. And because you’ve structured the book so thoughtfully from the beginning, with your brand in mind, breaking it all down becomes a much lighter lift—particularly if you bring in a team that knows what they’re doing.
Your Long-Standing Brand
How did they build what they did? And how can you?
Take bestselling author Nir Eyal, whose first book Hooked was published almost 10 years ago. For the past five years we’ve known him, he’s been deploying thoughtful content across all channels straight from the source material of that first book. He’s been able to do that because his book reflects his personal brand. At the core, Nir is about influencing human behavior and psychology in a very meaningful way. Hooked was his first effort to share that, helping tech companies create stickier products. His next book, Indistractable, aligns with that core identity too—it’s a guide to living a more meaningful life by avoiding distractions and focusing on what matters.
He’s influenced countless people with his work—from the hundreds of thousands of readers who have bought his books to the millions they have reached by adopting his principles, whether by designing great products or showing up in their own lives and others’. Today, Nir speaks, consults, invests, and writes about the things he cares about most, solving problems for himself, and using his work to influence humanity at scale.
Or take Jeff Gothelf, author of Lean UX, Sense and Respond, and Forever Employable,and a forthcoming book titled Who Does What By How Much. Jeff’s books also align with his brand, and as a result, they continue to serve it, acting as material for social posts, newsletters, speaking engagements, and more.
Both Nir and Jeff are playing the long game. The weren’t flash-in-the pan successes. They’ve built a strong foundation, invested long term, and their books continue to pay dividends as part of their brands, rather than being the be-all, end-all of who they are. The ROI speaks for itself.
To drive sustainable ROI yourself, you need a handful of things in place before you should think about launching a book:
1. 50 million followers on LinkedIn and the mass appeal of Taylor Swift
But for real:
- A brand identity that aligns with your past innovations and future inventions. This should include a visual identity that’s consistent across platforms.
- A scalable content system to communicate your vision, mission, and core values to your audience.
- A community outreach strategy to land PR placements, partnerships, and followers who will champion your message and extend your reach exponentially.
- Other offerings—a tried-and-true keynote, consulting services, newsletter, or products/services tied to your growing business.
These elements serve as that crucial foundation, one that allows for not only growth, but also for durability. It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it over the long haul. That’s why we have designed Arcbound the way we have—not to be a short-term marketing sprint, but a long-term solution to very pressing needs throughout this journey. If you’re ready, we can help.