You know that I am a full-time patent attorney, inventor and entrepreneur who runs an international firm.
I also run the popular IP law community, ip-lawyer-tools.com. And last year, I published my first professional book, The 4×4 Innovation Strategy, a distillation of years of insights at the intersection of innovation, entrepreneurship and intellectual property. It is found on Amazon (click here).
Writing that book changed my life. Before it, I was only known to my clients, who would individually ask for advice in my areas of expertise. At one point in time I found myself repeating the same matter over and over again: “How to innovate and not go bankrupt”. I have seen that pattern often over my professional career of 25 years as a patent attorney, so I have real war stories to tell.
I wanted to have a tool that I could give to interested people so that I do not need to tell the same stories over and over again. Something like an extended leaflet that would tell the story on my behalf. So I decided to write a book. This helped me a lot. And if it helps me it may also help you.
Benefits of writing a book
This is how writing a book about “Innovation Strategy” helped me.
- Consolidate and clarify my expert ideas. I am an expert in my field, and I have solved many problems for my clients and customers. I also give lectures about Intellectual Property at the technical universities in Singapore. Writing a book allows me to put a large part of my knowledge in one place. It actually saves me a lot of time in the long run.
- Stand out from the crowd as a content thought leader. Customer acquisition is difficult because I need to market my services to a wider audience. Writing my book has risen my profile in a crowded field.
- Attract other opportunities beneficial to my business. Writing a book transformed me from just a ‘product person’ (a specialist in the one field of patents) into a communicator (an interdisciplinary generalist between R&D, Intellectual Property, and Innovation Marketing). People from other related fields get interested in me. For example, I have been invited to speak to business associations and journalists, and I have started an innovation and investment podcast where I interview experts in my field and in other fields.
- Learn new things. By talking with others I learned many new things. People highlighted similar useful books to me, and I was even told that my method of promoting innovation follows a so-called “Agile Thinking” management method, which is quite a modern concept. I found sources that validated my practical findings over a period of almost 3 decades.
How I wrote, published and marketed The 4×4 Innovation Strategy
My book writing process was unconventional, because
- my end goal is to make my own job easier, and
- I already have raw material from various recorded talks I gave over the years.
The Covid-19 pandemic actually triggered my own book-writing project.
Here are the actual project phases and durations:
Planning (Jan – Feb 2020)
- Gather raw material: transcribe my many talks, collect slides and articles.
- Engaged an editor to review and organise the material by themes or concepts.
The idea is to work with what you already have. Often, a second pair of eyes will help you identify linking patterns and clarify your thinking.
Outline/Draft part 1 of 2 (March 2020)
- Insert the organised material into a book outline, and identify the narrative gaps.
- Verify the outline: check the outline against potential reader interest. Adapt based on their feedback. This is part of marketing validation, to speak in “4×4 Innovation” language: you must write what your readers are interested in, and you can only find out what this is if you start “selling” even before you write. I did not actually do this for my own book, but I’m putting it here because this is now part of my book writing process going forward.
Writing/Draft part 2 of 2 (April – May 2020)
- Write a clean draft: fill in the gaps, clarify the links between chapters, add or delete content so that the book is cohesive.
- Fact-check the source material, and pay attention to references, images etc
The bulk of the work is here, requiring significant time and concentration. The first version of my draft had over 400 pages length, and I thought that nobody would read such a long book about innovation. This is why I condensed the book to only 150+ pages. That step made the book much better.
Editing/Draft 3 (June – July 2020)
- Structural editing: make sure that the ideas flow naturally through sections and chapters
- Line editing: make sure sentences and word choice are easy to read and understand
Readability is important, i.e. the language use is direct and simple enough for a non-specialist reader, and the ideas are connected to the main themes.
Abridged Version (July – Aug 2020)
- Took extracts from the full-length book to create an abridged pdf version.
This abridged version was used for marketing: I sent it to the media, industry players, and my email list. I also put it on my website, where visitors can download it in exchange for giving me their emails.
Design and Proofing (Aug 2020)
- Engaged a designer to layout the book for print format and digital format, insert images, design a cover.
- Proofread the design files to catch last minute errors and make layout changes.
- Test the book with beta readers: get trusted people to review and give feedback.
Design is important to make the book attractive to readers. Also, test the content by getting others who were not involved to give you a fresh perspective.
Publishing (Sept – Oct 2020)
- I published multiple versions on multiple channels. Versions included: Amazon Kindle abridged, PDF for digital download, Amazon print-on-demand, Lulu print-on-demand, and traditional hard cover printing.
Each version required different formatting, and each platform has different uploading requirements.
Marketing (July 2020 onwards)
- Actually, I did some early marketing by verifying the outline in March 2020.
- I then started intensive pre-launch marketing when the book content was mostly completed in July 2020. I did this simultaneously with the designing stage.
- I created a free Abridged Version, to whet reader appetite for the full version. This was widely distributed to influential people like media and industry.
- After the various versions were published, I gave talks and attended business and industry events to promote the book, as well as to share my expertise.
The key is to start marketing as early as possible, tie it to every stage of the book production, and be consistent with it. A book is a marketing asset, so you must maximize its utility.
Editor, corrector, and reviser ~ EUR 17,000
This sum does not only cover the actual work time for the published book, but also other work, such as:
– preparing unused material for future books
– multiple published versions
– managing the designer and typesetter
– uploading and formatting for various publishing platforms
– chasing me for input
Designer and typesetting: EUR 3,000
- Amazon 100 paperback issues EUR 1,500
- Amazon Kindle EUR 300
- Amazon Kindle Print 100 paperback issues EUR 400
- Hardcover 100 issues EUR 3,500
- Lulu.com EUR 300
And then there is my own time as an author, coordinator, and marketeer, which is several hundred hours of work until today.
The total costs are EUR 26,000, plus my own worktime.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways
- It took me 9-10 months to complete this project, but I did not work on this project full-time and I had no deadlines. The bulk of the time commitment was in a 3-month period from April-June. Even part-time, it is very possible to publish a new book within in 5-6 months.
- Engaging help is important. I run a business and cannot be a full-time writer. Also, editing, designing and publishing are not my specialties. My value-add is in creating the expert content and writing it in precise language.
- Marketing is essential. I cannot stress this enough. There is no point writing a book if you do not have a marketing plan for it. Also, marketing (and market response testing) must start from the beginning and continue throughout.
Over the past year, I have collected and analyzed feedback from my readers. I have used this to refine my book writing process, to streamline it for what readers actually want. In fact, I have more books in the pipeline.
Please email me at email@example.com if you want me to help you with creating your own expert book.