Writing a book can be a powerful marketing tool. Michael Watkins, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Duncan, B.C., occasionally gives out copies of his 150-page It’s Only Money guide to clients as well as lawyers and accountants.

What it is

Many advisors are authors already—think blogs and articles. Look at a book as an extension of your take on finances and investments, just collected between covers. And with the rise of self-publishing, books can be a DIY venture.

Why you need it

You might not pen the next The Wealthy Barber, but the goal shouldn’t be to hit the bestseller lists. “It helps you stand out,” says Watkins. “You get credibility just from having your name on a book.” Of course, it better be readable and educational too, he says. Never bore your clients or prospects.

How it helps

Norm Trainor, CEO of The Covenant Group in Toronto, which offers coaching for financial services and other professionals, has written or co-written four books. He says it’s a great way to build your brand and can lead to other exposure, like speaking engagements and being a go-to source for the media.

Watkins agrees, adding a review of his book in the Victoria Times Colonist led to his having a regular money column.

Good to know

Don’t write War and Peace. With financial books, the more concise the better, says Suzanne Anderson, author of Self Publishing in Canada. Given the complex subject matter, a shorter read is less daunting.

An editor is a great investment to keep things clear and tight, but to ensure you get your facts straight, also get advice from
sounding boards like colleagues, or a lawyer or accountant if you cover their turf.

Getting a book jacket endorsement always helps, because readers might assign greater value to your work if it includes a blurb from someone respected in the industry, or from a broadly known name. Reach out to your network for these testimonials.

How much

Editing costs vary greatly, depending on whether you want a simple cleanup (grammar, punctuation) or a more substantive polish (style, structure). Watkins paid $500 for a light edit, while Trainor says $10,000 for an extensive edit isn’t unreasonable.

Who can help

For some how-to advice, check the Advanced Self Publishing Guide (download or print) at firstchoicebooks.ca, or author Suzanne Anderson’s blog at www.selfpublishingincanada.blogspot.com.

Other digital self-publishing platforms include issuu.com, blurb.com and lulu.com. To publish an e-book to the Amazon Kindle, go to kdp.amazon.com. To find an editor, check the online directory of the Editors’ Association of Canada, editors.ca.

One final note

When the boxes of your book arrive, tuck them in a storage closet. Having them all over the office makes you look like an egomaniac. And having 20,000 leftovers five years later makes the book look unpopular—so opt for short print runs.