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The Commercial Opportunities in Writing a book on Where Ideas Launch - Sustainable Innovation Podcast with Katherine Ann Byam

083 The Commercial Opportunity in Writing a Book


Is writing and publishing a book a good strategy for business and professional growth?

Conclusion – do it, with clarity on your strategy. Tune in to this episode for some key insights for your book writing journey.

Katherine Ann Byam is an author, sustainability activist, coach and consultant for business resilience and sustainable change, partnering with leaders committed to a shared future.”  

A professional with 20+years change leadership experience in the FTSE Top 10, she started her consulting firm in 2019 to support sustainable development within SMEs. Katherine holds an MBA with distinction, specialising in Innovation Management as well as certificates in ESG, digital strategy, and sustainability management from established universities. She’s also a Fellow of the Association of Certified Chartered Accountants.  

She’s the host of the internationally acclaimed Where Ideas Launch – Sustainable Innovation Podcast, ranked among the top 5% globally, achieving the top spot in 5 countries, and the top 10 in 19 separate charts.  

As a sought-after leadership and career transition coach and keynote speaker, she facilitates workshops and learning sessions for communities within global brands such as Amazon, Women Tech Global, ACCA, Stryker, Speak Up, Mind Channel and more. 



Best Selling Author – Do What Matters – The Purpose Driven Career Transition Guide

@katherineannbyam | Linktree

Podcast Host – Where Ideas Launch – The Sustainable Innovation Podcast

Podcast Host – Do What Matters – Career & Leadership on Purpose Podcast

Founder of Dieple Consulting & Training Limited



Is writing and publishing a book a good strategy for business and professional growth?

Do What Matters – The Purpose Driven Career Transition Guide has now been live on Amazon for about 2 months and is moving into a new phase of global availability, and resources to go alongside it, workshops, corporate speaking events, book clubs inside organisations, and in November on Audio.

A book can create an entire industry, as many internationally acclaimed authors can attest. James Clear – Atomic Habits is an inspiration for me, not just for the brilliant content of his book, but through the absolute simplicity and elegance of his business model.

Michael Watkins – The First 90 days has also been a source of inspiration from the sheer longevity of his work, I first read it 2006, and he is still updating versions today.

Do What Matters is here to stay. I infused significant amounts of knowledge and insight from practice, and will continue to leverage its incredible value across my business, and any other ventures I may move on to.

In this article, I’ve put together a few ideas to encourage others who may want to explore book authorship as part of their business strategy. Here’s what I’ll be covering:

  • Perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s mind is – is it worth it?
  • What does it actually mean to be a number 1 best seller, and what am I going to do with that now?
  • Why are you writing a book, and what does that even mean to your intended audience?
  • Will a book that captures your knowledge in 200 plus pages cannibalise your main business?
  • Commercial rights – how much can you integrate the work of others in your book?
  • How do you go about promoting a book as a first time author with an average size audience?
  • How do you sustain your product’s relevance over time?
  • Conclusion – do it, with clarity on your strategy.

You can find the book in print or kindle versions on Amazon

Perhaps the biggest question on everyone’s mind is – is it worth it?

For 2 solid weeks at the end of July and early August 2022, I had the joy of being an Amazon Bestseller briefly, and a Hot New Release across various categories internationally for a sustained period. What an honour to have, after the six months of my life that it took to produce it, including 2 months where I hardly had the mental capacity to work on anything else.

Although the euphoria is somewhat wearing off, and I’m only just recovering from the post launch depression – (Yes, giving birth to this project, has many psychological similarities to child bearing – or at least so I’m told) it’s time to account for whether or not it was all worth it.

What does it actually mean to be a number 1 best seller, and what am I going to do with that now?

I know that most will never undertake the painstaking process of writing a book, and even if they do, they may never publish it. This was my story over the last 15 years with the first book I ever wrote, and I remember my dad doing the same for years after he took early retirement for health reasons. Book writing takes time, determination, and sacrifice, and book marketing takes all of those ingredients and more.

Having gone through it, I’ve narrowed it down to 5 fundamental questions that need clarity and strategy before you can produce and sell a winner on the book shelves, particularly as a first time writer; when I work on my second book, I will let you know the journey to repeat the success. When you are clear on these 5 things, and build strategy around it, your authoring process should yield some results for you.

The 5 questions you must answer are these:

  1. Why are you writing a book, and what does that even mean to your intended audience?
  2. Will a book that captures your knowledge in 200 plus pages cannibalise your main business?
  3. Commercial rights – how much can you integrate the work of others in your book?
  4. How do you go about promoting a book as a first time author with an average size audience?
  5. How do you sustain your product’s relevance over time?

Tune in, this will be valuable for anyone considering this process.

Why are you writing a book, and what does that even mean to your intended audience?

In today’s age of video shorts, micro learning, and bytes and bytes of free content, writing a book is not a decision to be taken lightly, but the marketplace continues to have relevance for you, if you get some key ingredients right.

Here’s what you need to ask yourself.

Is there a ready market for my broad topic?

The Answer, do your research. How much does anyone care about what you have to say? 

Let’s use my book as an example, because there are 2 important points to be made about the numbers you’ll find.  

My book, Do What Matters, The Purpose Driven Career Transition Guide has definite broad topic appeal, possibly too much. You type in the word Job in google search, adn you get 12 billion results. You type in the word career, you get in excess of 11 billion results. This is something that has a lot of appeal, and a lot of answers. Of course it does. According to the ILO, the world has a 59.3 % labour participation rate; people of working age who are employed, ignoring the dark/ invisible economy of employment. At some point in a year, each one of those people is contemplating a career change, and consuming content about it, whether they take action or not.

There’s a great case here for content in the space, but a niche that says career and or job will see you and your book lost at sea. 

Once you’ve established broad appeal, it’s time to find your niche. The key things you need to ask about niche are these:

What’s changed in this space that you want to write about recently? And how is it likely to evolve in the future? This is the futuristic perspective on your topic. Applying this to the topic above, when I search for the future of jobs, I get 1.8bn results. When I search for the future of careers I get 2.6 bn results. If I looked backward – history of jobs/ careers, I get 2.8bn and 4.9bn respectively. 

Once you’ve decided your orientation about the topic, what specifically in there do you want to explore? If I added sustainability and or purpose to my search, the results keep niching down. 

Once you understand that your area is still interesting to pursue, of course, validate that you are competent and credible to talk about it, and are willing to do any required research to allow your topic to add value. 

What does it mean to your audience? 

Why are you reading this article? My guess is that authoring a book has been on your mind, or you are curious to assess how this may fit with what you want to do in the future. Anyone can write a book that’s relevant to a given audience.The main questions for you to answer is who is in your audience today, and what are their needs?  Are they relevant to the book you want to write? If not, you have a problem that will require deep pockets if this is your first book.

Here are some general audience considerations, and then more specific ones.

I discussed in my previous article about all the different aspects of this process, which you can find here. There is one bit that you need to get clear on early, as it relates to your audience, which is how personally invested are they in your journey, versus their own? 

What I’m about to say is more opinion than fact, but for most of us, when it comes to writing true accounts, guides, and self help, we have a vanilla story. Sure we’ve overcome some challenges that felt monumental to us, but for the majority of us, there’s ultimately little to differentiate our journey from anyone else. Therefore, I’m recommending that the central character of your book, be the reader, and your role, is to be the supporting guide. It’s storytelling 101. 

There are exceptions. Some people have really exceptional stories of both success and hardships they had to overcome that readers want to know about, because they want to be you, or they love your drama 🙂 if your story has the type of drama and intrigue that draws people in and you feel ready to share it, then by all means do. Otherwise, step aside in your writing, and allow the reader to explore their own drama, which is actually really rewarding for them.

How specific should you get when focussing on your reader?

This depends on the parameters you set when niching, and how easy it is to build an audience around that niche. 

For Do What Matters, my niche is broad. The aim was to capture people from age 27 to 45, who have worked within a big corporate setting, either as an employee, freelancer or contractor, and are finding it challenging to bring about the changes they would like to see. I think this is a pretty big group of people. Of all the niche parameters though, age is probably less important; the book only requires that the reader has experienced some of the examples I’ve used. 

How do your readers articulate their own challenges and struggles?

Answer; research. There are many ways to conduct research – as a desktop exercise using popular search platforms like youtube, google, tiktok, quora, answer the public, reddit, and others. Or surveying people in your audience who fit the change context. I used all of these.

Let’s wrap this up.

Anyone with something original to say and or a unique perspective on a topic that’s trending and relevant should give book authoring a go, once they’ve done the required research to flesh out the potential. 

Key lessons learnt for me were:

  • Set up the story. Use your assumptions and research about the reader to craft the context upfront, to help set up the book and keep the reader intrigued until the end.
  • Blending facts with anecdotes. People aren’t robots. Books too fact based aren’t relatable to humans. That statement isn’t based on fact. But it feels true doesn’t it? We want to read provocative and opinionated stuff. We also want the facts unless it is a work of fiction. Take the best of fiction (opinion and perspectives) and the best of true accounts (facts, shared experiences), and you have a relatable story.


Will a book that captures your knowledge in 200 plus pages cannibalise your main business?

The short answer is yes and no. The key is in how you set up your business, and where this book fits in the overall scheme of what you are trying to accomplish.

What do you want to achieve for your brand, business or message with this book?

If you want to amplify brand awareness, credibility, and reach, a book could be a fantastic vehicle. Your promotional cycles will have much more reach in terms of impressions, engagements, than the book will have purchasers. True. Not because you’ve put your wisdom into the format of a book, means that everyone will consume it that way. 

I want to tell you a story about an author I really love. Her name is Ash Ambirge. I listened to her audiobook, The middle finger project in Feb 2020, while I was still in the early stages of my business, and I related so much to her perspective on life, although I shared nothing in common in terms of the specifics of her journey. What I loved is the way she audited her life and experiences, a skill I knew I’d also developed.

Her insights from her experiences also struck chords with me, by the end of the book I had an entire symphony orchestra playing in my head, about all the ways I could embrace her gift and stringing words and ideas together, to produce something that moves people. 

I signed up for her email list, and I’ve bought and consumed almost everything she has ever produced. That’s the power of the written/ spoken word, when you consume it with intensity and voracity to the point of impact, and behavioural change. 

The book should fit neatly within an overall business model and/ or brand strategy for you. Central to that is reaching the audience that is crucial to your brand strategy.

Some examples. 

Your book could give methods, examples, steps. This can then lead to  a course that provides accountability and guidance to the participants, or a set of workbooks sold separately with useful content to support the reader’s journey. Or a set of speaking opportunities at companies, who can compensate you for speaking by purchasing copies of the book for staff. Or you can win the SEO on your niche, and sell thousands of copies. Or it can help you build an audience for subsequent books. Or it can become a podcast you can monetise, or a youtube channel. Or it can become a character on Tiktok that develops into an influencer you can monetise. Or you could be featured in PR campaigns globally. I could go on.

Your book must form a considered path of your business plan, and then you need to execute the strategy you set, and or adapt if compelling evidence suggests another path is better. 

Documenting that you are knowledgeable about a topic, doesn’t cannibalise future business, if facilitates it, if you are clear on strategy. That’s therefore where the work and the money is in authoring books. 

To have a view of the free resources I currently have accompanying my book, have a look here. Paid resources will be available in early September, alongside a workshop.

Commercial rights – how much can you integrate the work of others in your book?

Banana skin. Big and slippery one. And something self publishers can run foul of quickly.

If you are used to producing content for public consumption, please be aware that the rules change when it is used for commercial purposes. A book that is sold internationally, can be exposed to copyright issues across various jurisdictions, depending on the laws in different countries. 

If you want to use a substantial quote of another’s work in your book, my recommendation is to first check what rights they have passed on, as some works may be covered by a creative common clause. If there is no creative common attribution, then write to the person or organisation you would like to quote to seek permission. If you are ignored, or permission is declined, you could turn next to fair use clauses, which is vague at best, and can leave you exposed to legal action. The final option is to remove references to others’ work within your work.

Spend some time understanding a bit about copyrights if you are self publishing, or seek guidance from your editors, as this can become an issue if you achieve a critical mass of sales. Book selling platforms ask you for a declaration as to your publishing rights before they allow you to publish, thereby absolving any responsibility for themselves, its up to you to cover your own a$$. 

How do you go about promoting a book as a first time author with an average size audience?

Your audience matters. So much. A first time author needs to harness and channel the actions of their audience and following on launch, because often they do not yet have the scale to sustain performance of the book for long periods. 

This is key to achieving best selling status, as Amazon recalculates its best sellers using an algorithm that considers purchases in the last 24 hours as more relevant than purchases last week for example. 

If you are doing a book for the first time, you need a launch strategy and launch plan, and your audiences need to know what to do when. 

The best selling status is important, because it helps you to leverage the initial bump of support from your audience, and scale it after launch.

There will be various opinions and advice about how long before the book goes on sale do you start talking about it, how much do you reveal about the book cover and the name, whether to create an email list or a community. How many times to post about on socials. I’m certain that I don’t have enough experience to give you an answer about what’s the right approach. I can only share what I’ve learned. 

During the period of promoting the book, my Instagram following on my @katherineannbyam account grew 7% in 3 months, much faster than any growth I’ve experienced since setting up my business. 

My tiktok account was dormant until a few weeks before launch, so that data there is meaningless, but we saw 800% growth by being regularly active at least on the platform. This is the valuable piece, the lessons I learned from being regularly active.

My Linkedin Following grew about 2%, but my impressions grew 24% and engagement grew 43%. I looked at those numbers today, but at the peak of the launch I’m sure these figures were even better. 

My direct messages increased exponentially also, but this is more based on sentiment than data. I didn’t previously track how many messages I was receiving randomly, but during the full week of targeted launch activity, this engagement definitely spiked – I was receiving double digit DMs on a daily basis.

What does this mean? Top of mind for your brand. 

One of the questions I’ve had from a few people is whether or not a pre-order is worth it. On Amazon a pre-order is only available for kindle, and it allows you to consolidate sales that convert on the launch day. There are some important things to note though.

Although the sale will be recorded on launch day in your KDP publishing account, the sales are already counting when they happen toward your best seller and new category metrics. I believe that I will always do a limited period pre-launch of between 1 week and 1 month for the following reasons.

About the Pre-orders

  1. The algorithms on social media where I promote the book don’t show posts to everyone on the same day I post it, it can take weeks for a post to run it’s cycle, so it’s a good idea to have a window to capture new interest and trial for your book, at a lower price.
  2. It gives your audience time to decide. In traditional marketing circles this isn’t a good idea, as they promote concepts like FOMO – Fear of missing out, and pressure selling tactics, but if you are ethically minded and want people to decide on their own not just to purchase but to read it, you will reap the rewards in early reviews. People also then anticipate the release, and this excitement is positive for early reading.
  3.  At the time of writing I have 9 5 star reviews, 6 of them are from early readers, 3 of them are from people who read it post launch. This is good at this still early stage, as it shows people have excitedly read and want to talk about their experience of reading it.
  4. You have a nice period to be legitimately promoting your work as much as you want to. For me that’s psychologically positive for me – I feel more like I’m talking about the journey I’m on, than I’m forced to hard-sell this work.
  5. It creates a mental anchor for people on the price and subsequent changes – price will always be an incentive for a purchase so a pricing strategy is important, and it also creates time and space for others who want to support you to share the book with others, and offer some of their credibility with followers to you. I’ve picked up many new followers from this journey.

Organic Marketing

I generated organic traction by doing the following:

  • Audience participation on the name.
  • Audience participation on the book cover.
  • Sharing of the table of content.
  • Authenticity about feedback from beta reviewers.
  • My personal journey of writing.
  • My reason for writing.
  • My credibility as a writer.
  • My credibility on the topic.
  • Linking it to my existing podcast.
  • Publishing a new podcast linked to the book
  • Creating a community of supporters to help engagement
  • Prizes and incentives for creativity in sharing 
  • Asking directly for support.
  • Sharing my big hairy goals
  • Sharing early reviewers post editing from the beta review stage.

Paid traction

I have used only one form of paid support, choosing book influencers. I will be integrating other forms of paid support soon, in the form of direct ads. Influencer marketing is an interesting space, and my verdict on it is still out, I need more time to assess whether or not I would recommend it.

My exploration into paid support is ongoing and I will update on this in a few months. Knowing what I know now however, I would probably change the sequence of which paid advertising I start with; but I haven’t investigated it yet so stay tuned for more on this.

How do you sustain your product’s relevance over time?

Enter the PR Campaigns. I’ve been shy about PR for my business over the last 3 years, because I didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything PR- able. I just serve my clients. I opted instead to have newsletters, on LinkedIn, Medium, Thrive global, Host my podcasts, now 2 of them, and then follow up on leads as they come to me.

The book changed that for me, because authoring a book has changed my perceptions on my sense of accomplishment. It’s not just that I serve my clients. I serve my clients, learnt so much from doing that, now I’ve captured that knowledge into an affordable package of experience and wisdom. 

PR requires a few things, including being crystal clear on your strategy, and practice at delivering to that strategy with each interview. I’m still learning here. I worked with a PR Consultant called Melissa Hobson to get clear on the direction I want to go in. She wrote about it here. I also worked with 2 other consultants, one in Trinidad, and one in the UK. They have created, so far, 1 television interview, and 2 newspaper interviews, on a part fee part pay per performance basis. I’ve also been on one podcast other than my own, and plan to do more spread out now over time. 


PR isn’t about urgency, it’s about consistency, and building more for the wider business goals, using a lever, such as the book. Allow your book to make you PR gold.

Conclusion – do it, with clarity on your strategy.

Book writing and promotion can quickly become an industry you create for yourself. When you consider the number of moving parts that go into it, finding a good publisher who understands your goals and manages the process toward that is likely to be worth it, but it’s a long game. Choose your publisher or publishing support team carefully. Ask specifics about the numbers of sales, the expected return, and make sure they  are helping you to create your long term business goals with how they position you. 

I received some free but helpful coaching support on the overall marketing and business strategy from Saleema Vellani and the team at Ripple Impact. They offer one of the most comprehensive packages of support I’ve seen. Although I couldn’t afford it in my first book, I am considering them for my second or third offering.  

Other people I am grateful to and I cannot thank enough: Holly Hudson – my book coach, Louisa Herridge, my commercial editor, Fanny Rousseau my graphic designer, Harriet Pope my proofreader, and the many people who afforded me the permission to quote them in my book, and to read, review, and generally cheer on this immense work.

If you want to get your head around your approach why not send me a DM?