There exist countless reports, monologues, and treatises on every subject you can think of - as well as many that we couldn't possibly conceive of. Some are available free of charge at the library; others are for sale.
Your reports need not be this technical. Marketing reports, educational findings, health-care research-anything that comprises a new body of knowledge, or a new approach or slant to an old body of knowledge, is valuable and salable. And look at those prices. They will give you an idea of how much people and organizations are willing to pay for information.
It is assumed that most competent consultants have a specific body of knowledge for sale that no one else has (or that very few have). We must assume further that, as each year passes, this knowledge grows with additional experience. Reports containing information (exclusive of client-privileged information, of course) are highly marketable items-to your clients and beyond.
Well-written informative reports also make excellent magazine articles, for which editors are always on the lookout. Your own trade or professional magazines and journals welcome submissions. It doesn't matter whether or how much you are paid. You are syndicating your advice/information and thereby attracting new clients, while gaining prestige and additional accreditation. Your article can be referred to countless times in the future; you only had to write it once.
The newsletter industry has been a fast-growing, important arena. The financial success of an innovative, specialized, informative newsletter is virtually guaranteed today when specific information is so much in demand.
Producing a newsletter in one's field of expertise is a natural thing for a consultant. Who else but a consultant is so up to date on his or her subject? Who else is so well informed? Herman Holtz, in an excellent book called Successful Newsletter Publishing for the Consultant (unfortunately out of print), says:
A persuasive argument can be made for considering a newsletter to be a logical extension of and even part of basic consulting services. This really ought to be made available to users as one of the means of delivering information and counsel to clients.
In general, the newsletter business has grown at a phenomenal rate, partly because it is relatively simple to start a newsletter enterprise and run it as a spare-time occupation - and partly because the increasing complexity of our society creates ever increasing needs for specialized information in easily digestible form. Most newsletters are specialized, dealing in information, ideas, tips and counsel which are important to a relatively small and specialized population, such as all stockbrokers, all investors interested in only one kind of specialized stock, all IBM personal computer users, department store furniture buyers, microwave designers, or other such narrowly defined fields. And since most consultants also deal in some narrowly defined field by the very nature of consulting as a profession, there would certainly appear to be an excellent reason for the consultant to be interested in newsletter publishing and what it can do for him or her.
The profitability to be gained cannot be overestimated when a consultant's newsletter is done correctly, wisely, and well.
We come now to the most important, prestigious, and credible method for you to syndicate your expertise - the book. A book is also the most time consuming, if you are starting from scratch and if writing comes hard to you. On the other hand, if you are a facile writer and/ or if your book is a well-put-together compilation of your speeches and previous articles, writing it won't take that much time. Keep in mind that we are not talking about a novel, the creation of which is a lonely, excruciating literary exercise. We are dealing with a written embodiment of your expertise, something you "know in your sleep" and have been practicing for years. So you are not so likely to suffer from that common literary ailment called writer's block that plagues novelists and poets.
No matter what your field, your expertise comes from the many clients who have come to you over the years with the same questions. After a while, your answers come to seem almost redundant and robot-like. Yet the client is always grateful. At times it may seem peculiar that these clients can't pick up what is basic information to you on their own. But they can't - any more than you can know how to mass market your advice without reading this article. We all have our individual strengths, and everything is easy to one who knows - but difficult to those who don't know. This specific expertise we have is the very reason for our being successful consultants.
When your book is completed, you have two primary choices as to publishing it. You may submit the book to a professional book publisher, or you may publish it on your own. The first course has less risk; the second involves financial investment on your part, yet it gives you more control and can bring greater financial rewards.
Book publishing today is enjoying most of its profits from the nonfiction, fact-filled, reference type of book. Accurate, hard information is what is selling. The how-to book on any level is the forerunner of the book industry. Akin to this-and also enjoying vast distribution here and abroad-are books that provide background material essential to accomplishing any task or project. The three vital ingredients of such books are comprehensiveness, accuracy, and credibility. Your expertise, your client roster, and your reputation in your profession lend themselves immensely to the credibility of your manuscript, as far as the publisher is concerned.
So, as difficult as it is for the average writer to get a book publishing contract these days, publishers, for the most part, are actually looking for your book!
As for the attendant advantages, they are almost too numerous to mention in this short article. Suffice it to say that, in our society, the person who has written the book on any subject is considered to be the expert. Your practice cannot help but prosper from this kind of positioning.
A word of caution. Consultants often forget the advantages of expert advice. ("The shoemaker goes without shoes.") We sometimes turn a deaf ear to other experts and consultants in other fields. Many of these fields interface with our own. So when you do syndicate and "productize" your expertise, be certain to use other professionals who can help: advertising copywriters, editors, graphic artists, publishing experts, etc. As mentioned before, don't be misled by society's self-help trend into thinking that any of us can do anything from a manual. Outside experts, when they are good, are worth their weight in gold, just as you are in your field.