I am a HUGE fan of book publishing but not for the reasons you might think.
My interest in books is less about their artistic value or what accolades accompany them. My interest in books is a little more plain than most people.
I love books because they are the most efficient way to capture and transfer ideas from a brand, cause, or nonprofit to their respective support base. And if you are lucky enough to create or capture an experience worth remembering, then others will share your book and story as their own within their personal networks. Your book then becomes souvenir that represents a significant experience as well as a promise to benefit others.
So what is the problem with book publishing for nonprofits?
The problem with publishing for nonprofits is that it has largely not evolved beyond the goal of every other traditional book publisher; it remains tied to selling a physical book that sits on a bookshelf.
The truth is a physical book is merely an introduction—a gateway—to something much more. Books should be built on the premise that connecting with people using a broad variety of tactics that match the native content consumptions habits of each segment of your core audience is essential to advance your mission. The benefit of a book is that it can codify and direct all other critical messaging for your organization.
Books provide a framework of key ideas that become a centrifuge in the new ecosystem of influence.
Books are efficient when it comes to production. And as along as their are bookshelves, there will be physical books. But bookshelf space is shrinking. And the people we want to connect with most are adapting to a variety of content channels:
Interactive Media Experiences
There are so many options, and our options are expanding exponentially. If we limit our efforts to what is efficient for the organization to produce, then we hamstring our opportunity for success from the very beginning.
Books are not the end; they are the means by which we achieve our end.
Does this mean we shouldn’t create books? Absolutely not! They are a vital currency in the communications economy. But books are not—and should not be— the penultimate tactic employed in any engagement or fundraising strategy. They should, however, be a tool we use to advance our ideas and a mechanism we use to empower our support base to share and invite others to join us in our effort to change the world in some specific way.
Ideas shape beliefs. Belief shape action. Action creates change.
Your brand should publish books. But don’t leave it on the bookshelf. If you do, your efficiency will eventually lead to your bankruptcy. Instead, activate your base by capturing and sharing the stories that rarely make it beyond the boardroom, random conversations, and closed-door meetings.
Build your books differently and with a different set of expectations moving forward. Otherwise, you will significantly undervalue the true potential of this medium.
How are you using book publishing to advance the mission of your nonprofit and empower others to evangelize your charity, cause, or nonprofit?
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