With Adwords burning cash faster than a crack habit, and Facebook promising far more than it ever delivers, smart freelancers are increasingly turning to Amazon as a relatively untapped source of qualified business web traffic.

This summer I’ve been working with a group of Public Speakers, all of who have a story to tell, and all of who have clearly understood the impact on their business of ‘having a book’. Publishing a book on your specialist subject elevates your credibilitywhen you’re pitching to new clients, and provides a long-lasting point of reference for existing customers, once your job is done. So why isn’t everyone doing it already?

Historically, there were only two ways to get published. You either got lucky and found a Publisher who would take it on,
after which, unless your name was Malcolm Gladwell or Dale Carnegie, inertia was the most likely outcome. Alternately, you could go the ‘vanity publishing’ route, and spend a small fortune on printing a few boxes of books that would probably rattle around your trunk, until you reached the inevitable conclusion that without a substantial marketing effort, you’d published a turkey. The business bookshelves were stagged by the big publishers and their celebrity authors like Tim Ferris and Richard Branson. If you wrote it, they didn’t necessarily come.

But in this age of User Generated Content, all the tools for an impactful book launch and marketing campaign are there at your fingertips. The Amazon self-publishing platform is open to everybody, and the power of SEO and social networks facilitates sophisticated direct marketing that can put you on the top of search in multiple categories, if your book is halfway decent. Online (particularly e-book) business buyers are well known for bingeing on multiple titles about a subject that interests them. And when they find something useful, they recommend it to their own social networks. Your message radiates organically, and the links you can put in your e-books drive eager readers to your websites, blogs, YouTube videos, and even upsell products such as subscription reports.

And if you feel daunted by the scale of writing a book, you shouldn’t. A quality business book needn’t be any longer than thirty thousand words. You probably write at least that number in e-mails every month! There are plenty of great books and online resources that can coach and guide you through the writing process, helping you organize your material and manage your writing time so it doesn’t impact on your real life. And when you’re ready to publish, the story’s the same. Amazon has perfected the self-publishing process, both for Kindle e-books and print-on-demand Paperbacks. It’s completely free to the point of sale, and once again there are some great resources that can flatten the learning curve.

The secret weapon that independent business people possess is their database, be it a black book or a full scale CRM system. The ability to launch a salient book to a known, qualified market, however modest, is the key to gaining early visibility and attracting Amazon’s interest. They look for winners, and your book doesn’t have to sell huge numbers before Amazon’s machinery starts to take an interest, and puts some traction beneath it.

If you have a clear message and the skills to communicate it, you should be considering ‘doing a book’ as a central part of your near-term business development strategy. But don’t take too long to decide, because for sure your competition is already moving, and the sooner you commit, the sooner you start to differentiate yourself.

So the next time someone asks, “What do you do?” just send them a copy of your book!