By Joe Gillespie

Writing an inbound marketing book—and as we said in the first part of this series, you are using existing content to create a book, not starting from scratch—is about more than copywriting and the actual words. The steps after you finish writing are just as important for turning the prose into a book that people can read from cover to cover and maximizing your marketing strategy.


Prepare for Publication

After all the compiling, writing, revising, and revamping, you’ll be ready to design your book. First, edit the heck out of the copy. This will be in print, forever etched in history, so any typos or grammar mistakes will also be permanent. If no one on your team is a good copy editor, consider contracting someone for the job.

After you’re satisfied with your edit, design your book. If you have designers on staff or under contract, this may be a unique challenge that they will enjoy. Important design considerations include:

  • The intended audience: Knowing your audience drove the copy you wrote, and it should also drive the design. A book aimed at seniors might benefit from larger print. Millennials will appreciate bullets and chunky text. A highly technical or academic audience may not mind if the design is a little boring.
  • Page size: Do you want larger pages and a potentially thinner book, or smaller pages and something that might weigh more? Your interior design will factor into this decision as well. Trade paperback is a generally good size for your book—6 inches wide by 9 inches long—but you could go smaller for something that resembles paperback novel. Also, you need to design the book with an even number of pages.
  • Photos: Although stock picture sites might let you use their photos for your book, you run the risk that someone else is using the same photos for their content. Choosing in-house photos avoids this problem and keeps you clear of any legal issues with pictures for which you aren’t sure has the copyright.
  • Binding: Don’t forget to design a binding, which includes the cover and back cover.

The last pre-printing step is to secure an ISBN (short for International Standard Book Number) for your book. An ISBN officially registers your book among the millions of books that have been published and, for an extra cost, provides a bar code to add to your back cover. The cost for an ISBN and barcode is $150, but the price is worth it to properly register your book and protect your intellectual property. Add the number to your credits/copyright page.

Looking for quick tips and what to avoid in your writing? Watch "How to Write  (and Edit Yourself) Like a Rock Star".    

Hire a Printer

Unless you are the chief marketer for a print operation (convenient!), you will need to hire a printer to turn your work into a real book. Expect to pay about $5-$15 per copy, depending on how big your book is. How many copies you print depends on how you plan to distribute the book, though your printer may charge less per copy if you order more.

(One more thing: Give the book another edit after design and before you send it to the printer. This is your last chance to avoid immortalizing grammar error …)

Get on Amazon

Realistically, selling your books directly to the public shouldn’t be the goal for a book you intend to be marketing collateral. However, having a price on the book (and the bar code) exudes value, particularly when you are giving it away for free—recipients turn it over, see the cost, and think they are coming out ahead. Set a price, probably $5-$10 more than what it cost to print.

Next, make your printed book available on Amazon via the Amazon Advantage program, which is cheaper and generally less hassle than using Amazon Marketplace, and caters to selling creative works and handling most of the finer details, including inventory and billing. The program does cost $99 to join, and Amazon takes a big chunk of every sale, but turning a profit isn’t the point—you want the exposure and authority that being on Amazon provides.

Add It to Your Website

This may seem counterintuitive, but after your book is successfully printed, you should turn all of its copy into an enormous pillar page on your website. Again, because you aren’t looking to directly profit from the book, there’s no reason to withhold its valuable information from the world—especially after all the work you’ve put into it. You can even offer a PDF version of the book for website visitors to download, as well as add the Amazon link if they want to order a physical copy for themselves.

Oh, the Possibilities!

The books are printed, and they are stacked up in your office. Aside from the copies you sent to Amazon (which probably won’t be many, maybe 10 or 20), how do your team and sales use the new epic to fuel your marketing strategy. The possibilities are endless:

  • Hand out copies at trade shows, recruiting fairs, local business events, and anywhere else potential prospects might attend.
  • Send copies to your existing clients.
  • Send copies to branch offices.
  • If someone downloads the PDF from your website, follow up by offering to send the lead a physical copy of the book.
  • Leave some in the lobby of your offices. If the receptionist notices someone reading the book, he or she can tell visitors that they can take it home with them.
  • Distribute it with welcome packages you give to new customers or clients.
  • Ask if you can leave a few copies of the book at local businesses, particularly any that attract your personas. For example, if you handle marketing for a professional gardening services company, drop off some copies by the front door of an arboretum or nature center.
  • Encourage the sales team and, really, anyone in your company to keep a couple copies with them to hand out as they see fit.
  • Work with PR to send copies to trade publications, neighborhood newspapers, industry websites, and anywhere else that could be interested in writing a review or article of your book.
  • Work with HR to send job candidates a copy of your book before they interview.

What you should avoid is mass mailing your book to the neighborhood. Your creation is still inbound marketing; firing out hundreds of copies meanders into outbound marketing and ups the chances your book will end up in the garbage of recipients who aren’t interested and feel you are intruding their mailboxes with your gift. That’s not only expensive and ineffective, but also possibly reputation-damaging.

When your book is finally published and in your hands, you will discover something surprising: a sense of pride. Many people long to publish a book and never get the chance; you created one and are using it to market your company. Enjoy the accomplishment—you’ve earned it … and start thinking about your next book!

How-to-Write-(and-Edit-Yourself)-Like-a-Rock-Star-cover

Enhance your writing and editing in digital marketing immediately with quick tips from:

How to Write (and Edit Yourself) Like a Rock Star

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Joe Gillespie

About the author

Joe Gillespie is a Senior Brand Journalist for SmartBug Media. He graduated from Marquette University with a B.A. in journalism and is a two-decade veteran of the newspaper industry. As a Senior Brand Journalist, Joe writes and edits inbound marketing content for SmartBug's clients. Read more articles by Joe Gillespie.

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