Why Ad Agency Principals Should Consider Writing a Book

Don Beehler

Write a book for ad agency new business.

This is a guest post written by Don Beehler. Don is the author of the blog, The Art of Telling Your Agency’s Story. He provides public relations consulting services to small- and medium-sized advertising agencies and businesses. 


At one time or another, just about every agency principal has toyed with the idea of writing a book.  In fact, as any publisher can attest, there are all kinds of people in all kinds of professions who believe they have a book or two in them. So, why aren’t there a lot more good books around?

 English economist and journalist Walter Bagehot had a theory:  “The reason why so few good books are written is that so few people who can write know anything.”

Ad agency principals know a lot and have plenty of valuable insights worth sharing. 

Those who dislike writing should not let that discourage them from pursuing a book, because there are some very talented ghost writers around to help. 

When I was in graduate school, one of my writing professors made the point that sometimes a person doesn’t realize what he or she really believes about a topic until that person begins writing about it. 

Writing a book allows you to clarify your thoughts, get to the core of your message and discover the best way to convey important information.  

A good ghost writer will ask probing questions, serve as an objective sounding board and distill the essence of your thinking into clear, lively copy that keeps readers engaged.

Here are a few other benefits of having a published book:

  • It positions you as an expert.
  • It gives you an advantage over your competitors.
  • It increases your visibility.
  • It helps market you and your agency.
  • It can open new doors for speaking engagements and media interviews. 
  • It can be a passive source of income.
  • It gives you material to use for your agency’s blog posts, EzineArticles and E-newsletters.
  • It can help with business.  For example, after making a new business presentation, think how impressive it would be to give prospects a signed copy of your book.
  • It enables you to leave a legacy for future generations.

A few examples:


Steve McKee, president of McKee Wallwork Cleveland  a full service ad agency in Albuquerque, NM. Steve has gained national attention for his agency through the ADBOWL, his columns for BusinessWeek.com and other articles published in the New York Times, USA Today, Advertising Age, Business Daily, just to name a few.  He’s the author of the new book, When Growth Stalls. Steve generated pre-sales of his book  using FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter as well as through his blog. I’m sure the book will provide additional promotion for his agency and greater positioning as an industry leader.

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Bob Hoffman, ceo of Hoffman/Lewis advertising in San Francisco and St. Louis, wrote the book “The Ad Contrarian, which is now being offered as a eBook to help generate traffic to his blog and build awareness. 20,000 downloads in the first week it was offered. You can get a copy here at no cost: The Ad Contrarian


Linda Kaplan Thayer, the CEO of Kaplan Thayler Group, wrote a book, The Power of Nice, that put her agency, on the map. Linda has been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, Nightline, The Today Show, Inside Edition and Fox News to name just a few. There is also the Power of Nice website and Nice Blog.

Please feel free to email your  questions on writing a book, best practices, costs, etc.:  don@abcdcommunications.com

Additional articles that may be of interest:


About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


  1. Couldn’t agree more. It’s a daunting task, to be sure, but one that can reap significant–and lingering–rewards. Say it takes you 6 mos.-1 year to write and publish it (ebook or vanity press). You can coast on this for several years or more before you decide to revise it. Then, put out a new edition and you’ve got something to promote all over again. Keep in mind you’ve got to break at least some new ground. Look around for what’s out there and give it your own spin. One trick that’s sure to make your book unique–include personal experience/anectdotal proof of your theories. I collaborated with a partner on our agency’s book (“Brand-Aid: Lessons for Building an Enduring Brand”) and it’s in its second printing, because it works. As a final note, I wouldn’t recommend going the traditional publishing route for several reasons: this can add years to the process, it’s tougher than ever to get published (unless you’re an established authority and not seeking to make yourself one) and lastly, the people we give this book to are impressed that it’s published at all. They don’t mind that we did it ourselves. Says something about our convictions.

  2. Bill thanks for this additional example and your insights. Very much appreciated.

  3. Thank you Don. Good article and I agree with all the points – as someone who has written a couple of books, I concur. Being recognised as an author still add kudos.

    Books and publications will undoubtedly establish your credibility, your presence and your niche.

    Just have to question the use of ghost writers – an editor yes – a ghost writer… mmm

    How does using someone else to write your book and creat your material match with being your authentic self?

  4. Hi Eilidh,

    Thanks for your comments. Good question about how someone else can write a person’s book and yet do so with authenticity. Most executives have very busy schedules, and the thought of taking time to write a book can be a bit overwhelming. Plus, some people have a great deal of knowledge about a particular topic but don’t like to write and/or are not very good at it.

    A good ghostwriter is able to pull information out of the executive/author, as well as work off of written documents (notes, presentations, articles, etc.) he or she may have about the subject matter. I supplement the existing material with interviews, and then write a chapter draft. The author edits the draft, and we go back and forth a few times to fine tune it. Then the process starts all over again with the next chapter.

    It also helps to get to know as much as possible about how the person thinks and speaks, and then try to capture his or her personality on paper.

    Recently I finished co-writing a book that will be released next week called Life in the Turn Lane for one of my clients. This client has a very interesting personal and career story (he was a heating and air conditioning repairman who learned how to turn around distressed manufacturing companies by reading The Wall Street Journal and today is head of a global private equity firm).

    After I worked with him to create a chapter-by-chapter book outline, he would write bullet points for each chapter.

    After reviewing his bullet points, I’d sit down with him and ask questions to fill in gaps and add details. This process worked very well for us, yet I think the book very much retains his personality and tells the story in an authentic way.

  5. How did I know my post would prompt a reply? Yes, Don I was being a tad “precious” about writing one’s own material.
    You have covered the assailant points in your response.
    The key one in my opinion – that of finding a GOOD ghost writer. The best you can afford in truth.
    My book editor, Ali Turnbull of Fit to Print does both jobs very well. The trick is knowing when to stop editing … or run the risk of becoming the ghost writer.
    I was horrified at one conference, when I realised that a speaker (speaking is my main income generator, writing comes third) had commissioned a book offshore in a country where English is not even the first language.
    Why? The quote was the lowest. The book was also not printed in UK – where the author resided.
    Guess that is when the reputation of ghost writing took a dive in my mind, or was it simply my respect for the speaker and two the by association were linked.
    If you are going to commission a ghost writer, or any other business service for that matter, you should match your core ethics (who you are and what you stand for)to further establish your authentic self.

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