The Value Add
I’d like to leave you this month with a few thoughts about adding value to your publications. It’s one thing to write a book and have it be something that sells. It’s quite another thing to have a book that your readers cannot possibly live without. The difference between a book that sells and one that’s indispensable is the added value, or what I call the “value-add” in conversation.
You may have come across the term value-add in business contexts when you hear tycoons talk about how their products beat the competition because of differences other than price. You see it played out all the time when you go grocery shopping.
For example, as you choose what brand of detergent you will buy this week after parsing out the ones not on sale, you compare what remains by reviewing their extras. These extras could be in the form of a promise (we’ll make your whites whiter), a feature (check out our new fresh scent), or a benefit (using high-efficiency detergent is better for your machine). Whatever the reason, you look at the added value that a product brings to help you make a decision among otherwise equal options.
Consider thinking the same way about your book. This is more than simply thinking about what makes your novel or nonfiction book unique. It’s about thinking of what additional tools or experiences you can offer to your readers without adding extra cost to yourself or to them. You want to ensure you can offer this added value without reducing your own profits.
What follows is a brief list of items that you could use to add value to your publications. Many of these suggestions apply to nonfiction books, but with a little creativity, you might be able to find ways to adapt these items for use with fiction titles, too.
Give readers a tool they can use to follow along through the steps you’ve outlined in a how-to book. Or if your book is less of how-to and more about providing good advice, the checklist can be used to ensure that each bit of advice has been followed in a logical sequence.
Create a series of questions to be answered by filling in the blank on a page. A variation of this might be creating a series of exercises, like journaling or completing other tasks, that will later be recorded on the worksheet as having been done.
Do the heavy lifting for your reader when there’s a complex task that takes a certain level of skill. Often templates take the form of letters, designs, and outlines of materials that look simple on the face but really take hours to do.
Provide a combination of checklists, worksheets, templates, and other materials together all in one package. Make it available directly in the book or as a download online if adding it to the book directly would make your book too long.
A reference list might mean creating a bibliography, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Extensive lists of any kind can be valuable as long as it relates to the topic of your book.
Offer readers a free gift when they purchase your book. Sample items might include a second copy of the book they just purchased, a copy of another one of your titles, an audiobook, or other item related to the content of your book.
What I’ve shared here are just a few of the ways that you can add value to your publication to make it an even better buying choice in the eyes of your readers. What other ways can you think of to add value to your books?