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I am in the process of working with a client on the development of a business book to support the development of a consulting business. The book will be comprised of multiple sections -- each which could stand on their own -- and together will be a nice size manual.

The subject is personal investing in today's market.

My question is best practices for building an audience for the book -- prior to the publishing -- and how much that process needs to affect both the content and production of the actual book.

For example: If we distribute initial chapters to existing clients, do we actively solicit feedback and potentially change the direction of the book?
If we post on blogs as a guest host, to what degree do we integrate comments and questions from visitors?

What are other ways we could build the audience by sharing the content before publication?

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One great way to promote your ideas is to turn one or two chapters into a 60- or 90-minute talk and present it at professional associations or conferences. Local chapters of professional associations are typically starved for good presenters.

Similar: Post a few short podcasts or (better) videos in which you hit the highlights. Take a look at some of Peter Block's videos:

In addition to posting on blogs as a guest host, create a blog for the book and post to that. You might also create a forum where people can discuss the ideas (though this is risky if there's not enough buzz yet).

If your highest priority is feedback, you might post an offer: "I'll send you a free chapter if you'll give me feedback." Then people can tell you which chapter they want, and give you their email address. Asking people to make this small commitment (even if they never give the feedback) can increase their interest in it.

Find online forums where your ideas are relevant, and help people there. I don't know whether it's a good idea to post about your book there. Anything that seems like an advertisement can turn off as many people as it attracts. But your signature can mention your book and a link to the book's web site. If you're helping people, they'll want more.

Whenever you have new content (chapter, blog post, video) post the link to Twitter and Facebook. It's also a good idea to post your thoughts there, so that your stream is more about offering ideas than advertising.

If we distribute initial chapters to existing clients, do we actively solicit feedback and potentially change the direction of the book?

Yes, but only if you're open to the idea of changing the direction of the book... which, of course, you are. ;-)

If we post on blogs as a guest host, to what degree to we integrate comments and questions from visitors?

To the degree that their comments and questions fit your intentions. Of course, the comments and questions may shift your intentions. You're the expert on what you're trying to say. Readers are the experts on how they react to your words. So keep listening, keep probing your intentions, and trust yourself.

One of my mentors, Jerry Weinberg, often includes ideas from reviewers and other contributors. If the contribution is a sentence, Jerry quotes the contributor inline, within a paragraph of his own. For a longer contribution (usually a paragraph, but sometimes two or three), he uses a block quote. And in either case, he names the contributor.

In many of Jerry's books, each chapter ends with exercises or ideas for further study. Many of those come from reviewers' questions.

If you're going to quote reviewers' comments, it's probably a good idea to let them know that before soliciting their feedback. Depending on the length of your quotations, it's probably a good idea to ask whether its okay to use their words. If people take the time to read your chapters and give feedback, make sure to list them in your acknowledgments, whether you used their comments or not.

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Your question is on the cusp of all the changes in publishing that are occurring. You are asking, if I may rephrase, what strategies can we employ that will translate to a larger buying audience for a future publication.

Many important dependencies: Current audience/following. Obviously, if your client is Steven Covey, you're done already. If not, then ask: what strategies build the reputation of the authors?

Publisher. If the publisher is Random House and this is their number one book of the season, you're already done. Show up for the interviews and signings. If not, what strategies will increase awareness of the upcoming/published book among our target audience?

These are old world methodologies and strategies. Offer seminars, become go-to pundits for television and radio shows, advertise, send out press releases targeted for the types of media where you want to be noticed, schedule talks and signings to coincide with the publication, get yourselves into Money Magazine and the WSJ as top investors, etc.

But you've asked specifically about a set of more permeable, social media driven strategies.

I offer the following 'model' as a way to proceed, but more as a way to see what's at stake:

Establish your credentials separate from any publication

In a subject like investing, people are going to be more likely to check you out and check out your other content if you provide timely, approachable, and useful information in something like a blog or podcast. But you don't want to give it all up there. Refer them back to your deeper, context-rich publications.

Publications are long-term content

People want context and tools when they read a longer non-fiction piece. They are making an investment in time and want a return that should show up in their investing results.

Listen to your audience, but don't jump

The audiences' perception of an expert is closely related to how that expert responds to the audience. Your message, your tools, your expertise should be a lens through which you understand and respond to your audience and their concerns. Their successes will be nice testimonials, but how will you respond to their failures?

Make your audience jump

If you have a means to help people invest successfully, push them to do it. Be confident. People overcoming a fear and succeeding will promote you.

In short, have something to offer that you have absolute confidence in, and then expect people to jump on board. An audience will follow. (And if not, one can only assume you'll have a kick-ass portfolio.)

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