Although marketing approaches have varied widely over the years, traditional publishing has remained relevant for business leaders. Part of the key to success in publishing is to ensure the topic is structured in a way that lands with the CEO’s message and aligns with their business objectives.

As head of a CEO branding firm, I’m always looking for memorable ways to craft a CEO’s personal brand. I have found that a client’s overall message should portray what they want to be associated with and what they want customers to remember when they hear about their brand.

Since I work with experts in the publishing sector, I’ve seen clients’ books gain popularity through traditional publishing. Even with the rise of self-publishing, traditional publishing is still a great tool for several reasons.

Positive Recognition

Being published demonstrates that a recognized publisher decided you have valuable content. It is a clear indication that someone has taken the time to read your content and found it useful to an audience. Such recognition can benefit your reputation as a CEO and reflect positively on your company as a whole.

Traditional publishing also provides the benefit of distribution options to further that positive recognition. I like to help our clients spread the word and see the added value by creating online courses, live seminars and conferences based on the themes of the books.

Authority And Authenticity

In my experience, media outlets often have concerns about self-published books because they can’t verify the quality of the content or editing, creating a ceiling on the type of coverage you receive. The self-publishing approach is still largely stigmatized; even with the do-it-yourself option becoming more popular, readers and media are concerned about the authority of the writer and the authenticity of the content. A common assumption is that traditional publishers rejected their content, when that may not have been the case at all.

However, by working with a traditional publisher, the issue of credibility ceases to exist. The publisher invests their goodwill and reputation to demonstrate that the author can be trusted. They ensure that the content meets the expectations of the audience.

Support From The Publisher

A publisher has various resources and teams at its disposal to invest in making your book the best it can be. When you send your manuscript to a traditional publisher, it is assigned to a team of professional proofreaders, editors, formatters, cover designers, distributors and marketers. When it comes to the editing, cover design and distribution, you can be assured that your book is in safe hands.

Publishers also have teams of salespeople who will help market and distribute your book. This assistance translates into more books in bookstores and more orders by online retailers such as Amazon. They also negotiate for subsidiary contracts, book deals, features on news outlets and other marketing matters.

Drawback Of Traditional Publishing

CEOs are among the busiest people in the world; as a result, some enjoy handing off the publishing aspect of their business to an agent or publisher. However, giving up creative control can be difficult for some CEOs.

Additionally, many publishers will not even look at a book proposal unless the client has an agent. One of the main reasons for this “rule” is that publishing houses see tens of thousands of proposals in a given year. Agents have connections to publishers and know what topics will sell, making it challenging for a CEO to present their proposal to publishing houses without one.

Those who choose the self-publishing route generally see higher royalties because a publisher isn’t taking a hefty cut. However, those figures need to be balanced with the additional expenses of marketing, distribution and book signings, without a traditional publishing house offsetting those costs.

So, when does self-publishing make sense?

For the CEO who wants to maintain creative control, self-publishing might be the way to go. If they already have an established platform and an avenue to sell their books (for example, through regular speaking engagements), then self-publishing could render higher profits.

Editors and print copy would still need to be hired out, generally speaking, but self-publishing is a great avenue for someone with a unique message that may not sell to traditional publishers.

Next Steps For Those Seeking Traditional Publishing

I have been working in the book industry for the last 12 years with New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling authors and I’ve found that timely, well-written topics always find an audience. The rule of thumb is to write what you know, and that is especially important when it comes to creating a book to complement your brand.

The publishing process itself varies. For those CEOs seeking traditional publishing but with limited time, the first step is to find a solid team of publishing experts who know the rules and are experienced in helping executives get published. The team’s track record should speak for itself. In my experience, a good agency has a percentage of signing 40% of the proposals they pitch, with some as high as 80%.

The more detailed the book material, the more time it takes to develop a solid proposal. You do not want to skimp on the proposal process; a solid proposal reaps huge dividends in exposure and branding. So, for those choosing traditional publishing, patience is key. There is a lot of “hurry up and wait” in the process, but it’s all worth it when signing on the dotted line.

Traditional publishing remains a great branding tool for CEOs, whether they are looking for increased authority and authenticity for their book, global recognition or furthered marketing means.