Should Advisors Write a Book?

Beverly FlaxingtonBeverly Flaxington is a practice management consultant. She answers questions from advisors facing human resource issues. To submit yours, email us here.

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Dear Bev,

After working with clients for over 20 years, I believe I have insights and information I could share more broadly and am considering writing a book. I know you have written a few and wonder if you could give me some direction?

I am a good writer but I have asked a couple of clients to read what I’ve written and they say it “needs more” – nothing more specific than that. My impression is that they don’t believe the material is powerful enough. I imagine any writer is close to their material and may have a hard time knowing how much is too little or too much.

Have you dealt with this issue? What should I be considering before getting the book finished and published? I don’t know if you have had this experience, but I’m a bit tired of the book. I think about it as something that has been in the works for the better part of 20 years and I either want to throw it out or get it done.

Scott F.

Dear Scott,

Why are you writing this book? You say you have insights you could share more broadly but to whom, and for what reason? One of the things most authors miss is the why – why does the book matter? What will it do for someone? What will it solve for them? Or is it just interesting and should give the reader a “feel good” once they are done?

I’m assuming from your note that your book is a non-fiction work and most likely about some aspect of the financial business. I’ve worked with many advisors who have published books and all have been non-fiction. I’m not an expert in the fiction genre so if that’s your direction you’ll want to consult with someone else.

On the non-fiction side, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Define the purpose of the book. What do you want the book to do for your readers? What should they feel or think about once they’ve read it? Do you want it to be actionable or simply information they might be able to use at some point?
  1. Who is the intended audience? If the book is financially oriented, is it for people who already have money? Or, is it for people trying to accumulate wealth? Is it for those who are close to retirement? Or is it for those just starting their careers? Is it for anyone who might have financial concerns or interests of some sort?
  1. You mention clients suggesting you need “more” – have you used an editor for the book? One of the most valuable things I found with all of my books, and with advisors I have helped get their own books done, is the value of the editor. An outside view can help you with the flow and with amount of data – what’s too much and what’s too little and with the general organization of your ideas.
  1. Have you thought about what you want the book to do for you? Is this to raise your profile as an advisor or planner and you would like to have it to hand out to clients and centers-of-influence (COIs) so that they recognize your knowledge – or they are able to hand it off to referrals and other interested parties? Do you want to chart a new career as a public speaker and use the book to create opportunities and inroads for this? Do you want to create a new stream of revenue and hope to sell hundreds of thousands of books? In addition to knowing why you are writing it, you want to establish what you hope the book will do for you and how you want to use it.