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How Writing a Book Can Boost Your IT Career and Your Income

By Meridith Levinson, CIO
August 24, 2011 04:19 PM ET

CIO - Jason Alba always wanted to write a book. When he started his own business, a service for job seekers called JibberJobber, in 2006, he finally had the time. One night in January 2006, while dining out, Alba shared his book idea--an explanation of how job seekers could use LinkedIn in their job search--with some friends who had books published. Alba says they loved the idea, and one of them offered to introduce Alba to his publisher and serve as his executive editor.

Two weeks later, Alba had a contract from Happy About Books, a boutique publisher based in Cupertino, Calif., to write I'm on LinkedIn: Now What???

Five years later, Alba has sold around 12,000 copies of the LinkedIn book and earned just under $100,000. In the business book publishing world, I'm on LinkedIn, Now What??? is by all measures a wild success. Most business and trade books don't sell more than 500 copies, he says.

I'm on LinkedIn, Now What??? has paid off for Alba's career in many other ways. First, it gave his fledgling startup, JibberJobber, instant credibility. He became a media sensation, which led to lucrative speaking and consulting engagements. Alba says he's made more than $100,000 from speaking at conferences and events and pocketed $75,000 in gross sales from an instructional DVD he spun out of the LinkedIn book.

"Being an author is a big deal," says Alba. "Even if your book sucks, even if it's small, even if it's lame, just being the author of a book is something that a lot of people want to do. It gives you credibility."

Why does writing a book give people so much credibility? Because it's hard work and requires a tremendous amount of self-discipline and persistence, say the people who've done it. "Everyone says they want to write a book, but there are few people who actually do it," says Russ Edelman, president of Corridor Consulting, a Microsoft SharePoint consultancy, and author of Nice Guys Can Get the Corner Office.

Writing and publishing a book also establishes your authority as a thought leader in a way that far exceeds anything you could do through a blog or Twitter, adds Edelman. You deepen your knowledge and expertise while writing a book because you spend so much time investigating your subject matter.

Indeed, a published book illustrates to the world that you understand a subject so thoroughly that you can fill an entire book with your knowledge, says Ben Snyder, CEO of Systemation, a Colorado-based project management consulting and training company. Snyder is self-publishing Everything Is a Project: 70 Lessons From Successful, Project-Driven Organizations in December 2011.

Finally, having the book author moniker in your bio sets you apart from others in your field. Snyder notes that the consulting and training firms with which Systemation competes haven't published any books. Dan Roberts, president of Bedford, N.H.-based IT consultancy Ouellette & Associates, uses his firm's book, Unleashing the Power of IT (Wiley 2011), to build relationships with potential clients.

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