In August 2008, Julie Murphy Casserly, president of JMC Wealth Management
in Chicago, published her first book, The Emotion Behind Money: Building Wealth from the Inside Out. “I needed
to bring my message to a larger audience,” she explains. “I can’t work with everyone one-on-one, but the
book could help the masses.”
Well, maybe not the masses. But the number of copies actually sold wasn’t
really the point. Like a growing number of nontraditional authors, Casserly soon found another, surprising result: The book
“brought unbelievable credibility,” she says. “My average new client has well over a million dollars in
investable assets.” It used to be more like $275,000. “I’m hired by more and more corporations for speaking,”
adds Casserly, which in turn generates even more clients. “I’m now hiring two new financial planners in my office
to handle all the referrals.”
The Publishing Trend
Casserly is part of a wave. In 2009 alone, more
than 764,000 titles by nontraditional authors were published in the U.S., as measured by the book industry data tracker Bowker.
That’s more than twice the number the year before and a sixfold increase from 2007.
To be sure, this jump is
at least partly due to the Internet, which makes self-publishing and promotion easier and cheaper than ever. But for many
financial advisors, the benefits of publication cannot be ignored. On the other hand, the costs can be considerable, too.
Basically, there are two ways to get published. The traditional method involves a literary agent who woos
publishers. Self-publishing, though more expensive, is a surer and quicker option.
Through the likes of Lulu.com, iUniverse.com,
CreateSpace.com and others companies, anyone can self-publish these days. Typically, the online companies offer print-on-demand
for a share of profits but little initial investment. Simply upload your manuscript and choose from a menu of book styles—paperback
or hardcover, color or black and white—fonts and cover designs. Additional editorial services are available for several
hundred to several thousand dollars. You retain creative control, but if you want to keep a supply of books on hand to give
to clients, you have to buy them yourself.
If you’re not literarily inclined, however,
or don’t have the time to bone up, consider consulting a specialist with expertise on everything from book design to
landing reviews, media appearances and book signings. “Having a book is a leveraging and positioning tool on multiple
levels,” asserts Brooke White, senior editor and publicity manager at Advantage Media Group in Charleston, S.C. White’s
company offers a range of services to shepherd you through publication and even spin off newsletters, podcasts, training kits
and so forth. Packages run from $15,000 to $75,000, White says.
Another media consultant is Impact Communications,
a Leawood, Kan.-based PR and marketing agency specifically for independent financial advisors and allied institutions. “My
firm can help with everything, including book cover design and interior layout,” says Marie Swift, Impact’s president
and CEO. She also offers advice on logos, letterheads, Web sites and related ways of rebranding.
Swift works with a
variety of publishers. One of her clients, Thomas Hine, managing member of Glastonbury, Conn.-based Capital Wealth Management,
was lucky enough to land a deal with a traditional publisher, John Wiley & Sons, for a book he co-authored called NASD
Arbitration Solution: Five Black Belt Principles to Protect and Grow Your Financial Services Practice.
early on that although I had the idea … I had no real skills in how to structure, package, write or market a book proposal,”
Hine says. So he collaborated with John Brubaker, a published business author. Brubaker’s agent quickly secured a publishing
deal. “It worked extremely well.”
A Big Initial Investment
For many fledgling authors, the writing
itself can be grueling. “I’ve tried to put it behind me,” says Donald Patrick, managing director of the
Atlanta-based Integrated Financial Group, referring to the two years he spent working on his book, Keep Your Nest Egg From
Cracking. “Writing is not my strength,” he chuckles.
For most of those two years, Patrick devoted one
hour a day to book work. For Casserly, it was every Friday—a practice she’s kept up even after publication, to
work on book promotion.
Most books require a big financial investment, too. Be prepared to spend at least $10,000 for
editing and manuscript preparation and another $10,000 or more for marketing and promotion.
financial professionals, regulatory compliance is another important consideration. Do not publish without securing approval
from your firm’s legal department and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (finra). Patrick, of Integrated Financial,
spent the better part of a year and $10 per page to pass muster.
The more general your advice or personal your story,
however, the easier the time you’re likely to have.
Maintaining Creative Control
take a different route to publishing. Nicholas Newsad, a senior analyst at Health Inventures, a Broomfield, Colo.-based operator
of surgical facilities, set up his own publishing company for his book, The Medical Bill Survival Guide: Easy, Effective
Strategies for People Experiencing Financial Hardship. Why? To maintain creative control and “underwrite production
costs and marketing activities,” he says.
Newsad had to set up a legal entity with a tax ID and a business license,
but it was worth it. “As the publisher, you are at risk for the costs of the editor, typesetter, cover artist, printing
production and marketing,” he says. “You have to contact the distributors and submit a proposal to see if they
will distribute your book and get it stocked in bookstores and libraries. [But] you are also entitled to a larger percentage
of the sales revenue.”
Newsad figures his per-book royalties amount to four to ten times those of a traditional
author. Because he wanted a substantial quantity of books on hand, he rejected the print-on-demand option and instead “chose
to do a large offset print run for less than $1 per book,” he says.
Building A Promotion And Marketing Plan
the book is done and published, publicity is the final push. Newsad hired separate publicity and distribution consultants,
which cost him an extra $10,000 to $20,000 in the first year alone, he estimates. Besides launching an online presence that
includes Facebook, Twitter and a discussion forum, these experts helped ensure what’s called search engine optimization,
meaning his Web sites would receive maximum exposure from Internet searches. “I get more than a thousand new visitors
each month,” says Newsad.
As a result, he and his book have been quoted and/or reviewed by NBC’s Today
show, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, the Health Radio Network, SmartMoney.com and many other
But financial professionals must be extra careful about their promotional messages, especially in the tight
confines of Twitter. “You can’t exactly put a B-D disclosure in 140 characters or less!” says Andrew Oster,
president and CEO of Triton Wealth Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oster Financial Group, in Edmond, Okla., and co-author
of Plan of Action: Strategies to Help You Build and Preserve Wealth, referring to the standard regulatory documentation
required of broker-dealers.
Indeed, the road to publication success is littered with frustrations.
“Don’t think the deadlines you set will be met, or that every time you edit will be the final edit,” says
Karen Lee, a certified financial planner at Karen Lee and Associates in Atlanta who spent nearly two years completing her
book, It’s Just Money, So Why Does It Cause So Many Problems?
If you’re not up for the long haul,
consider contributing to an anthology. Kristopher Flammang, co-founder of LPF Financial Advisors in Sarasota, Fla., wrote
a chapter of his firm’s book, Plan of Action: Strategies to Help You Build and Preserve Wealth. Even so, it wasn’t
always easy going. “Definitely have someone who holds you accountable to deadlines,” Flammang suggests. “Write
when you feel motivated, in an environment that’s good for you. For me, that was late at night when my family was asleep.”
find it easier to write longhand than at a computer, or even to dictate to a tape recorder. The only rule of thumb is that
there is no rule of thumb. Whatever gets the job done is what’s best. “If you know the main points but have trouble
filling in the details, a ghost writer can be helpful,” adds Flammang.
When In Doubt, Delegate
Some would say essential. Gordon Bernhardt, president and CEO of Bernhardt Wealth Management in McLean, Va., credits his crew
of experts with making possible his book Profiles in Success: Inspiration from Executive Leaders in the Washington
D.C. Area. “I believe in delegating as much as you can to people who know what they are doing so I can focus on the
things that I am good at,” he says.
There’s little question that every writer needs a good editor. Michael
Kay, the president of Financial Focus, a financial planning firm in Livingston, N.J., and author of The Business of Life:
An “Inside-Out” Approach to Building a More Successful Financial Planning Practice, recalls the independent
editor he found through a friend “worked with me on book structure [and] coached me through each chapter. She did the
edits for grammar and flow, sending me her recommendations or pointing out areas that needed to be rewritten because of lack
of clarity or grammatical issues. But I did all the actual writing,” he says.
Clearly, finding the right help
is crucial. “Work with the best you can find and get out of the way,” advises Kay.
The rewards may speak
for themselves. Lee, the financial planner in Atlanta, says her finished book gave her a “sense of immense achievement.”
That it also promoted her business was “a wonderful added value,” she says.