BRASELTON, Ga. — Advisers who think writing a book takes too much time, costs too much money and yields too few sales are missing out on a major shortcut to success, according to one book publisher.

Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks CEO Adam Witty said Wednesday at the FPA Retreat that actual book sales are beside the point. Rather, he argued, advisers gain authority, niche celebrity status and expertise through publishing, therefore attracting and retaining clients.

Advantage Media Group|ForbesBooks CEO Adam Witty says he created the term “authority marketing” to describe the process by which authors gain credibility, celebrity and expertise with their audience.

“When you write a book, it is the greatest single marketing investment that you will ever make in your career,” Witty said. “When you amortize over time the lifetime value of a book, it’s the most cost-effective way of marketing yourself known to man.”

Witty cited President Trump and Suze Orman as examples of people whose books lent them credibility that has served them well throughout their careers.

Advisers can also grow their stature by writing books, he said, showing testimonials from his firm’s clients. Brian Fricke of Financial Management Concepts in Winter Springs, Florida, estimates he adds five new clients per year as a direct result of his book, “Worry Free Retirement.”

Robert Phelan, an insurance agent from Hartford, Connecticut, devotes his full marketing budget each year to mailing out 5,000 free copies of his book, “Broke: The Broken Contractor's Insurance System and How to Fix It.” About 3% of those who receive the books wind up retaining Phelan, according to Witty.

Books at FPA retreat
The company presented a display at the FPA Retreat of some of the books written by 250 advisers under the firm’s auspices.

Advisers get instant credibility when they hand out their book to prospective clients, he says. The texts also help them target a specific clientele, such as Norcross, Georgia-based Shalin Financial Services CEO Rajesh Jyotishi, who wrote a book specifically about issues affecting Indian-American clients.

“Remember this: The riches are in the niches,” Witty said.

Forbes Books announced a partnership in November with Advantage Media, which Witty founded when he was 23. The company offers a service it calls “talk your book,” which spares advisers the actual writing. The process costs $25,000 to $30,000 and takes about 12 hours of interviews and six months, Witty said.

Advisers may save money on the fee by writing the text themselves rather than dictating, and around 250 advisers have published books under Advantage’s auspices.

The pitch didn’t win over the audience of about 25 advisers at the FPA session instantly. One adviser in the group said he spent 1,000 hours over two years writing his book. Others brought up online self-publishing services that cost much less than Advantage.

Stephen Brody of Greenville, North Carolina-based Greenville Financial Advisors self-published a book called “What Your Happiest Friends Already Know” in 2008. He has three other books in the works, one of which he plans to self-publish to ensure that he has full editorial control, he says.

Brody acknowledged that writing takes time, noting he spends a week or so at a time writing in a secluded cabin at a hermitage in the mountains near his home. Yet Witty made some good points in his presentation, according to Brody.

“For me, the book definitely adds credibility. It is definitely a differentiator,” Brody said. “It gives somebody the ability to know who I am before they sit in the conference room with me.”

Advisers who publish through Witty’s company retain the full publishing rights to their work, he said. The books provide a springboard to media appearances, which help advisers get their names out to the public at large, Witty said, noting President Trump’s announcement of his tax reform plan a day earlier.

“Would you be qualified to talk about that? Yes,” he said. “And if you don’t think you’re qualified, therein lies the problem.”

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Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger is an associate editor for Financial Planning, On Wall Street & Bank Investment Consultant.