In conversation with David Coe

This is the first in a series of discussions I am conducting with successful business book self-publishers. In this series business people who are thinking about writing, producing and publishing their own business book can get some terrific insights from those who have already done this, some through The Book Adviser, others on their own.

My first conversation is with David Coe, the author of two books, 1,101 Words2watch and Elevate Your Success. He is also Australia’s authority on investor social media and a rare talent – a communications strategist who has the ability to write for the head and the heart

1. Why did you decided to write and self-publish your books?

David: To rise above the pack and to be a legitimate, published author.

I am in the business of communications with a strong background in writing so it was a logical thing to do.

I trained as both a reporter and a sub-editor, and at different times was a writer, editor and production manager so I had a deep background in most parts of the writing and producing of a book.

My first book, 1,101 Words2watch, which is a wordsmith’s guide to misused and confusing words, started out as an eBook and stayed that way for three years. Then I turned it into a printed book.

2. What were the benefits to this approach?

David: Creating the eBook first meant that I was able to get endorsements for the content from well-known and respected people such as Alan Koehler and the MD of Anglo American among others.

3. Are books worth it?

David: Yes, they’re great as a presentation to potential and existing clients. Most people’s eyes light up when they receive it, and it changes the tone of the conversation. We often end up having a conversation about words. There’s a surprising number of word nerds out there and everyone has words that they like, dislike or mix up.

Words2watch even sits on my desk and I refer to it for the words I regularly mix up.

4. How about the self-publishing process? What was it like?

David: As I got into it I realised I could do it. It’s a bit daunting to start with and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to sort it out. The next one was much easier.

It was interesting to see what I knew written down. I realised just how much I did know and that self-knowledge changes the way you present yourself and your ideas.

5. Brand You is now becoming important for professionals and consultants. How has your book helped you in your business?

David: Books give you an extra degree of authority. The book itself becomes your business card and it should have links back to your website, to your LinkedIn profile and other your social media accounts. It also helps you create a number of different touch points for potential and existing customers.

As well as helping you get exposure across social media and other channels, it’s also a great point of differentiation for positioning yourself. It helps other people describe you more clearly and remember you.

It also forces you to focus on your own website and ensure that you promote your book.

6. Was the time and money spent worth it?

David: Yes, and it didn’t take as much time or money as I thought. That said, I am using print on demand so I don’t handle any of the processing of book orders for book stores, pay for storage, or print thousands of copies.

It actually took time to work out the right structure for the book but once I had that it didn’t take too long.

My aim in undertaking the books was to showcase in a useful way my abilities as a communicator rather than to sell lots of books. Sure, I was interested in selling my book but rather than individual sales I focused on some bulk sales to firms whose clients would value my book. The print on demand option also meant I could customise the book for each firm with different text and covers about those firms.

7. Do you think writing a book would be worthwhile for executives and consultants?

David: Yes. A book is a must, almost compulsory, for any executive or consultant that wants to be regarded with authority.

CEOs, board directors and C-suite executives of ASX-listed companies have a great deal of knowledge about their specific fields. They are experts, which means they have insights that are of real interest to others in their company and in their sector.

Many take for granted the publicly available knowledge they have acquired and insights they have access to.

By capturing these and putting them into a book, they rise above their peers. By sharing their knowledge, they can create a better understanding of their particular area, use their knowledge more broadly, and take the education of their team, colleagues and others in their field further.

8. How long did it take you to think about and then write your books?

David: When I was developing my business, I got to the point where I realised I had knowledge that I could and wanted to share. It took me a while to get it from an eBook to a printed book but that was a matter of taking up the challenging of working that process out – and working with a mentor to keep me on track.

9. Was the second book easier?

David: It was much easier as I was a contributor along with some other professionals to Elevate Your Success, which is collection of inspiration stories about changing our thinking to change our results.

Now I am collecting words for the next edition of 1,101 Words2watch, which I will call 1,202 Words2watch. The edition after that will be 1,303 Words2watch.

10. How did you choose the title?

David: I was very aware that it needed to work across social media channels so the book needed a short title that would clearly inform the viewer what it was about. I thought 1,000 words was a cliché, and so too was 1,001 words. So I played around with it until I settled on 1,101 Words2watch and then I had to find them all. But that was easy because by that stage I was in the mindset that kept finding more misused and confusing words.

Also, I had written newspaper and magazine headlines for more than 4 decades so I had quite a bit of practice in creating short, clear and meaningful headings.

It’s also important to read the title aloud to get a sense of how it sounds.

11. What about the cover design as the visual images must work with and reinforce the title?

David: We went through several variations of the cover design. I was clear that I wanted to use a photograph rather than an illustration so it was a matter of thinking through a range of options and ideas.

I used a specialist book-cover designer and that gave the finished product a really professional look.

12. What about your choice of printing, in your case print on demand?

David: I chose this as I didn’t want to have a garage full of books. I print only as many as I need. POD is easy and it means there’s no stock overhang.

13. How have you marketed your book?

David: I’ve used extracts from it on my own website and I email an extract to new LinkedIn connections as a ‘welcome to my network’ gesture. I give copies of the printed books to potential clients and referrers when I meet them, and I send it to clients and my team members as a ‘thank you’.

As I mentioned, I’ve also sold bulk, customised copies for clients who have presented it to their clients as corporate gifts.

14. What’s next?

David: I have revamped my website to better reflect the profile I’ve been building, partly through the book, and to help with the promotion of the next books I write and publish.

I’m not that interested in Kindle – although I have a Kindle version on Amazon – as my main purposes were to edify the business, to increase my recognition as an expert in words, and bolster my reputation as an authority in how to use words in business communications.

Through the books and their circulation and exposure, this is happening. And it keeps happening as the eBook and the printed book have links back to the website and my social channels.

That’s the good thing about them. Even when people give my books to their friends, the links go too.

To learn more about David click on this link