Allegra BennettWhen trying to build your brand, publishing a book is a great way to not only spread your name but also to establish yourself as an industry expert. And you don’t need to sign onto a major publishing house; you can self-publish and be just as successful.

“Self-publishing their own work gives a business owner control over content, context and message. A book is a big step toward making yourself known, establishing yourself as an expert in your category, and extending your brand,” explains Allegra Bennett, author of “12 Steps to Self-Publishing Success: Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Work.” “Done well, a self-published book elevates the owner/author’s status and can be the best calling card a business owner can have.”

Most business owners have a story to tell. “Often, we know enough to put in a book and one of the tip offs is people seeking us out for what we know. No need to keep great information to yourself,” Bennett points out.

You can pass on your experiences as a small business owner or give advice on the lessons you learned being in business for yourself. “Entrepreneurs who really work to make their businesses sustainable and profitable enterprises cannot help but have a great story to tell that will provide hope and help to someone. That someone could be a veteran business owner who may be struggling or a startup or a newbie thinking about starting their own business. A business owner’s self-published book done well and genuinely written to help others, speaks volumes for their brand,” says Bennett.

But with between 600,000 and 1,000,000 books published annually in the U.S., it is important to do everything you can to make your book stand out. The key as in the planning and not falling into some common self-publishing pitfalls.

“Four big misconceptions about self-publishing are: the book will sell itself; everyone will be interested in your book; having your best friend read your manuscript is a substitute for a professional editor; authors can edit their own work,” notes Bennett.  

Of course, what you write about is important, but almost equally important is the look of the book. “Many self-publishers don’t recognize the critical importance of the book cover as a selling tool. A well-designed cover needs an experienced designer of book covers. Self-publishing authors get caught up in the emotion of creating a book and fail to notice that publishing is a business whether you do it yourself or you have someone else do it for you,” says Bennett.

There are several steps to take to be a successful self-published author. “First, examine your motive for writing the book,” says Bennett. Have a clear vision on the not only what you want to write, but your purpose in writing.  What is the overcome you want to achieve with your book. Also you are you writing for. Identify your target audience. Finalize a budget—you will have to pay for printing, book design, for editing, and marketing/advertising.

Don’t write about things you don’t know or understand. “Write what you know,” says Bennett.   Next prepare to write. Bennett suggests, creating a chapter-by-chapter outline.

Then write away.