I love books. I love reading them, and I love writing them. But the value of a book is not in the book itself but rather how the ideas contained in that book can inspire other people to action.
When this happens, a book becomes much more than a book. It is transformed into an experience that inspires the reader to do something to change their world in some specific way.
Books should help readers reconcile the dissonance between their greatest hopes, desires, and dreams and real life.
This is especially true for nonprofits who have an exceptional bias toward storytelling—the currency of humanity. Oral tradition isn’t enough. And depending on in-person events to share your stories isn’t enough. You must get the word out efficiently and in a way that can spread quickly. This is where a book can help you if you approach it in a productive way.
The secret to a book is in its structure which provides two important things:
- An organization of ideas
- A format that is widely accepted and can be easily transfered from one person to the next
We can’t underestimate the power of those two characteristics of books. However, they must be in concert with one another. One presents a new perspective to consider. The other empowers your biggest fans to evangelize on your behalf by sharing your book within their spheres of influence.
Books become vehicles for change when the ideas within them become fuel for social action.
Books that only contain great ideas are simply forgettable. Books that move me to make a change in my life become navigational tools that help me make the change I want to see in my life or in the world around me. Those are the books I will share with others at my own expense.
The process of creating books helps leaders and organizations recognize and harness their abilities to create a movement through the discipline of purpose, function, and substance. In other words, books force the conversation around three important questions:
- Who will benefit from your book? (Do you really know to whom you are writing to or are you just operating from a set of general assumptions?)
- What are the intended outcomes for the reader? (What do you want them to do next?)
- How will what you write help the reader to overcome an obstacle, solve a problem, or answer a pressing question? (How will what you write impact the life of the reader in practical, specific ways?)
Your answers to these three questions are essential to creating a book that is more than just a collection of pages with printed words that sit on a bookshelf screaming for your attention. But to do so requires content orchestration on every level—development, organization, and composition.
Books are not an end but a beginning.
Books are an appropriate introduction to a much larger, dynamic relationship with your reader that must be stoked through a variety of channels. Consider these 17 ways leaders and repurpose book content.
When all of the elements described above come together, you have the potential to achieve and actualize a true multi-channel engagement strategy that will not only maintain a long-term connection with your base, but also give them what they need to become raving evangelists for the work you are doing in and around the world.
Maybe it’s time to consider a book as part of your ever-evolving engagement strategy.