Law Firms Publishing on Amazon: An Underutilized Business Development Opportunity
All law firms know that having a strong, viable and ongoing online presence is now critical to maintaining and growing a law firm brand and reputation. Almost all major law firms actively use social media and have staff dedicated to regularly posting firm content to increase readers, followers, reputation and search engine optimization (SEO). Yet few major law firms are publishing their books on Amazon, even though Amazon is one of the world’s most visited websites and sells the most product.
Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers have hundreds of books published on Amazon, while the most any single, major law firm has is dozens. Notably, Baker McKenzie, Latham & Watkins and Morrison & Foerster have published various books produced by their firms on Amazon, including Year in Reviews/Yearbooks and other books on such subjects as International Arbitration, Global Privacy, Capital Markets & Securities FAQs and U.S. Corporate Jargon, among other titles. For the past eight years, Orrick has published their annual Employment Law Handbook on Amazon. But few major law firms have books published and available on Amazon. For many of the few law firms who do have books published on Amazon, the information about the books and authors is not current or complete. In addition, related third-parties in the legal sector, such as law firm networks (Lex Mundi, TerraLex, etc.) regularly ask their members to write books, including titles such as “Doing Business in ‘X’ (a specific country or state)”, yet they are not available on Amazon.
Given Amazon’s leading global market position and penetration, is publishing books on Amazon a business development opportunity missed by most law firms? The answer is clearly yes. Doing so can increase SEO, online reputation, generate quality leads, enhance client service and can create a new source of revenue for the firm.
Just like many law firms, over the past 30 years, I have written and amassed a treasure trove of non-client-specific information, including articles, checklists, an app and a wealth of other content I wrote and own. I realized that I can re-purpose it into a book for Amazon. So we recently compiled and wrote, and then published my first book on Amazon.
Below are five practical lessons learned, beyond simply writing an informative and useful book.
Do research – When undertaking a new, never-done-before project (like publishing a book on Amazon for the first time), many of us start by Googling. We spent a lot of time doing that and conducting other research (including buying and reading several “How To” books from Amazon). But as of December 2018, Amazon’s online publishing platform Kindle Direct Publishing (Amazon KDP) is still in the process of merging with CreateSpace (a print and distribution service). As a result, much of the information, tips and how-tos found by Googling and in recently published books on the subject are no longer valid, work like they used to, or no longer apply. Much of the information available on the internet is still valid, but not all information is correct. Once we realized this, we made our own process chart and detailed to-do lists for our book launch and updated them as the project progressed.
Assemble a top-notch team – As with many worthwhile projects, writing and publishing a book on Amazon takes considerable time and effort. And it takes a village. Team members critical to the successful launch of our first book published on Amazon KDP include an experienced book editor (we used more than one), a skilled graphic designer, an experienced and detail-oriented book formatter (one who knows how to format eBooks, paperbacks, and hard covers), a dedicated and exceptional assistant, and a skilled videographer. Depending on the author’s skill set, availability and bandwidth, there may be other professionals needed to get the project completed.
Create a schedule, to-do list, budget and marketing plan in writing – Looking back, one of the best things we did from the start was draft a detailed schedule, to-do list, marketing plan and budget, then we updated them as the project progressed. Notice I wrote the word “draft.” This is because we had never done this before, and there were many moving parts, so there was a lot we did not know or expect, which leads me to my next (and probably the most important) lesson learned.
Plan for extra time – In our initial timeline, we added approximately 10 days to two weeks into each major stage of this project, including getting the draft finalized, formatting the paperback and eBook versions, launching on Amazon KDP, and marketing tactics. In fact, due to the changes and updates being made to Amazon KDP because of their absorbing CreateSpace, getting books launched for the first time takes a bit longer than anticipated, and the unexpected happens.
Be ready to adapt – Doing something worthwhile for the first time incurs risk, which means we needed to remain flexible, adaptable, open to the unknown and learning new things. Even with all the research and preparation we did (which was a lot), things happened that we did not expect, anticipate, know about or have control over. For example, initially, to find a book formatter, we used one of the freelance “work for hire” websites and thought we did a good job vetting our candidates. Yet the one we initially hired oversold their experience and capability and was unable to finish the project. So we had to find and hire a new one. Another example is the unexpected, unplanned human error factor. Registering ISBNs is required for paperback books, yet we inadvertently used an “and” instead of an ampersand in our title when registering our ISBN, which caused issues and delays.
Most major law firms have a plethora of non-client-specific content - including books already written - that can be re-purposed and published on Amazon. Doing so takes considerable time, effort and investment, so if your law firm plans to publish books on Amazon, I hope the lessons learned in this article are of assistance.
To check out Julie Savarino’s new book on Amazon, click here.
About the Author Julie Savarino has worked with leading lawyers, law firms, and other professional services firms for over 30 years helping develop client relationships and new business in a focused, authentic, and effective manner. She has held in-house business development positions at Grant Thornton, Dickinson Wright and Butzel Long. For more information, visit her website.