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How to Write a Best Selling Book for Lawyers

Alone in a cramped, musky motel room in Virginia, I get a phone call from a trusted referral partner. My referral partner gets right to the point by saying, “I’ve got a new case for you.”  The new case has everything: clear liability and massive damages; there is only one problem: I am in Virginia and the clients are in Albany, New York. I tell our referral partner that I will try to get back to New York ASAP.

This wasn’t good enough.  1 hour later, I get the call that all lawyers dread.  Our referral partner explains that our clients are lawyer shopping and they might retain other counsel. I manage to arrange a meeting with the new clients.  A couple of days later, I spend an hour with the clients in the hospital and as I leave, give them a copy of my book, The Power of a System. As I hand my book to them, the clients glance at me with a strange look and seem perplexed.

A couple of days later, I receive a phone call from our clients with the news, “We’re hiring you.”  Out of curiosity, I ask why they chose our firm. The clients respond that they had no idea who to hire, but they spent the last 2 days reading the reviews/testimonials in my book and reached the conclusion that I must be the perfect lawyer for their case.

That, my friend, is the power of a book. Even when you’re not there, the book does the selling for you. And the end result is a multi-million $ case…and there’s no reason you can’t do the same.

How to Get Started Writing Your Book

A common misconception is that a book should be written from scratch.  Au contraire, my friend. If you write high quality blog posts, there’s no reason you can’t combine the blog posts into a book.  Gary Vaynerchuk’s best seller, “#AskGary Vee”, is simply a collection of his blog posts.

What are you more passionate about than anything? Once you identify your biggest passion, you know what you’re book should be about. If your passion is law firm management, write the definitive book about running a law firm. You won’t have to do research because you already know the content.

 “Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” --Howard Thurman

Don’t write a chapter or even a sub-chapter.  Write 2 paragraphs at a time—that’s all. Once you get in the rhythm of writing, it will be hard to stop and before long, you’ve written a new chapter for your book.

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Made by Lawyer Authors

98% of lawyers should not write a book.  Most lawyers don’t appreciate the time, effort and money involved in a writing a high quality book.  But if you’re ready to go all-in, writing a book could be the best thing you’ve ever done for your career.

Mistake #1:  Failing to Give Actionable Advice

Most lawyer books are full of rah-rah motivational tips, e.g., work hard, persevere…blah, blah, blah.  Seriously, you don’t need motivational tips--you need practical advice that you can implement. This is where 95% of lawyer books go wrong.

Albany, New York plaintiffs’ lawyer, Patrick J. Higgins, Esq.’s, book, The Plaintiffs’ Personal Injury Action in New York State, has forms for pleadings, discovery, subpoenas and jury charges and verdict sheet.  Why does our paralegal keep Patrick’s book on her desk? Our paralegal relies on Patrick’s book almost every day for drafting discovery demands and responses.

Fill your book with forms and checklists, such as:

  • Release authorizations for electronic medical records under the HITECH Act,
  • Stipulations of settlement with the conditions for liens, disclosure of the settlement and deadlines for payment,
  • Stipulations regarding the client’s decision to decline a structured settlement annuity

Lawyers want content that is quick and easy to use.  If lawyers can copy and paste the content into their case management program, your book will never leave their desk.

 Mistake #2:  Using the Book as a Sales Pitch

Most lawyer books are nothing more than a glorified sales pitch for a product or service. If you sell anything in your book, your readers will be instantly turned off.  Avoid selling and instead, give away your best tips and advice. If you give a ton of value and ask for nothing in return, your readers will love you.

Mistake #3:  Creating a Mini-Guide

Self-publishers promise to make book publishing easy for you.  With only a few hours of your time, the publisher will put together a mini-guide/book and turn you into a book author. Sounds good?  Not so fast.

Mini-guides are a waste of time and money. Don’t be seduced by the easy, low cost approach of many self-publishers.  Writing a book is damn hard and can take years. Instead, write the definitive book for your ideal referral partners.  A hard cover book that will be a #1 top seller on Amazon for years and turn you into a virtual celebrity.

Mistake #4:  Charging Too Much for Your Book

Many authors think they will make money from book sales. Au contraire, my friend. At best, you’ll make $4k per year from book sales and you won’t even recoup the cost of making the book. Make your book affordable, e.g., $19.99 for soft cover and $26.99 for hard cover, or even better, give it away, e.g., The PowerofaSystem.com.

Every business-to-business book should be hard cover. There is a perception of value and authority that comes with a hard cover book and for the minimal extra cost, this is an easy decision.

Mistake #5:  Sending Book Purchasers to Amazon.com

Amazon.com will not share the name or contact information of book purchasers.  When someone buys your book from Amazon.com, you’ll have no information about them and hence, no ability to follow up. You want to avoid this.

Create a special website for book sales and sell them through e-commerce. Your local bank can create a merchant bank account for internet sales. With every purchase on your website, you will have the contact information for every purchaser and the ability to follow up with your fans.

5 Tips for Promoting Your Book

You won’t have a lot of success at first, but the promotion of your book is a marathon, not a sprint. A book is a long-term asset of your law firm, but it can’t be published and ignored.  You have to continually promote your book.

Tip #1:  Give Your Book Away…to Everyone

Give your book away to as many of your ideal referral partners as possible.  Create a display case and get permission from law schools and bar associations to display your books throughout your state.  You don’t want to make money from the book; you want to become a celebrity among your prospective referral partners.

Send a jumbo-style postcard with a free offer of your book to EVERY lawyer in your state (ExactData.com can provide the contact information for the lawyers in your county, state or region). In return for their contact information, provide the lawyers with a free e-book or if they qualify as a potential referral partner, send a free signed copy of your book.

Tip #2:  Turn the Book into Holiday Gift

Don’t just send a generic holiday card.  Send a holiday card in early December with an offer to send your book as a gift on behalf of your referral partners.

Is there a better gift that the gift of knowledge?  Let us know gift giving easy for you this holiday season.  

We will send 5 signed books to your referral partners as a special gift from you.  Just tell us where you want to send the books and we’ll take care of this for you.

Your referral partners will appreciate this special gesture to make gift giving easier for them.

Tip #3:  Get Speaking Gigs with Your Book

Send your book to event organizers for national and regional lawyer organizations as part of your request to speak at their events. A book will give you instant credibility.

When you book a speaking gig, ask the organizer to read your book and use the book in the introduction to your speech, e.g., “John is the author of The Power of a System, a book that everyone should read.”

When you speak at a seminar, bring 100 copies of your book and have a book signing after your speech.  The audience will rush to the stage after you speak.

Tip #4:  Build Your List of Email Subscribers with an Irresistible Offer

Offer your e-book as a free gift to those who subscribe to your email newsletter. Watch your list of email subscribers grow steadily with this irresistible offer.

Tip #5:  Feature the Best Practices of Your Referral Partners

Featuring the best practices of other lawyers (and giving appropriate credit) is an advanced tactic for expanding your referral relationships.

In their book, How Small Law Firms Can Obtain More Referrals, Kara Prior and Jim Pawell (President and Founder of James Publishing), spend 11 pages featuring our law firm’s best practices for lawyer-to-lawyer referral based marketing.  Truth is, I didn’t know the authors were doing this, but they sent me a copy of their book with a jumbo-style postcard, “Done-for-you Legal Referral System”. Flattered, I contacted the authors and we agreed to work together on a joint marketing project.  

The Best Publisher (For My Two Cents)

Self-publishing gets a bad rap.  With a self-publisher, you retain control over fees and marketing (no one can tell you what to do).  But there’s a downside—you must do all the work. Few lawyers know how to promote a book and most have no desire to learn.

My books, The Power of a System and The Law Firm of Your Dreams, are published by Advantage Media Group (AdvantageFamily.com), a hybrid between a self-publisher and traditional publisher, e.g., Harper Collins.  Your manuscript must be accepted, but once approved, Advantage Media Group will do all of the work, including graphic design, copy editing and proof editing and distribution to both print and online channels.  Advantage Media Group will help promote your book and create an audio book to compliment the physical copy.

Advantage Media Group is a strategic partner for book authors. Advantage Media Group costs much more than a self-publisher, but if you want to write a book that will last for the rest of your career, they are an excellent choice.

Books that Every Lawyer Should Read

Don’t recreate the wheel when writing a book. Find authors who have written authoritative books and model their best practices.  

Lloyd on Jury Selection, Kurt Lloyd, Esq.

Kurt Lloyd, Esq., a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer, wrote the authoritative book about jury selection in Illinois, “Lloyd on Jury Selection”.  Kurt will tell you it wasn’t easy.  Writing a book took a lot of time and money, but today, Kurt uses the book as his ticket to speak at seminars about jury selection throughout Illinois. Young and experienced lawyers alike call Kurt when they need advice about jury selection.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media, by Mitch Jackson, Esq.

Mitch Jackson, Esq., Southern California injury lawyer, wrote the bible for social media for lawyers, “The Ultimate Guide to Social Media”.  The book is filled with actionable advice about cutting edge social media tactics, including chatbots for the conversion of new leads and the best practices for each social media platform, e.g., Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

Brilliantly, Mitch features the best practices of other lawyers in every aspect of social media marketing. And the end result: a book that will be referred to as the authority for social media marketing for lawyers for years to come.

Tiger Tactics, by William Umansky, Esq., Ryan McKeen, Jay Ruane, Esq., Billie Tarascio, Esq. and Theresa DeGray, Esq.

Most book authors show you their success stories, but won’t tell how hard it was or the mistakes they made. Not so with the authors of Tiger Tactics. The authors of Tiger Tactics are brutally honest about their best practices and biggest mistakes and the beneficiaries?  You and I.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.