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Simon_JimAlthough just a few well-crafted words have the ability to go viral in today’s digital environment, nothing trumps the value of book-author status. Whether a moving memoir or an insightful business guide, a book instantly denotes leadership and wisdom. That’s why book authorship is a sought-after goal for so many executives across every industry, including real estate. Common roadblocks, however, often come in the form of time, ability and resources to not only complete the book, but market it effectively as well.

That’s exactly why real estate veteran Jim Simon—former president of GMAC Global Relocation Services and New York’s Douglas Elliman—is launching Centurion Book Service, a division of his firm Simon/Zef (S/Z) Publishing. As a now accomplished novelist himself, Simon is in a unique position to realize the value of book publishing for real estate leaders.

“Writing a book is a life’s accomplishment in itself,” explains Simon. “On a more practical level, a book can be the vehicle to impart a business leader’s secrets of success, a life story, a marketing vehicle to promote your business, your organization, to support your real estate agents, to leave a mark on the world—forever.”

Simon’s experience writing two successful novels, Death Never Sleeps and Death Logs In, and then starting Simon/Zef Publishing, made him aware of the large number of corporate and business professionals who wanted to write a book—and the lack of resources and support systems available for them to do so. “There’s clearly a void in the market right now and tremendous demand from successful people who want to tell their story,” he explains. “Our Centurion service fills that need to help people tell their story and have it published.”

Of course, in today’s world of online-everything, where self-publishing is readily available to the masses, several services already exist to help the lay person make the leap to published author. According to Simon, however, such services fall short in their ability to offer the complete package necessary to not only get a book written and published, but to successfully market and distribute it as well.  “Very few, if any, provide effective services to market your book effectively once it’s produced,” says Simon. “The point of difference Simon/Zef Publishing has is that we offer expert services from concept to sale—whether that point of sale is at a book signing or to a publishing house after we have arranged agency representation for your work.”

For the real estate professional, the benefits of producing a book are vast. According to Simon, the simple act of telling your story—from how you sell to your philosophy on life—can be an immensely rewarding experience. Beyond that benefit, a book is a critical way to brand yourself and your business, and obtain increased credibility as leader, speaker or consultant.

For any book to succeed, however, it must meet certain criteria. “In addition to telling a compelling story, the book must be professionally edited, have a great cover (often we do judge a book by its cover!) and have an appeal to its target market,” advises Simon. “It has to not only have solid and interesting content—but it has to look professional, otherwise you defeat the purpose of it in the first place. It’s a reflection of you and your business.”

Simon emphasizes that the publishing project must not be a vanity book, but rather truly impart interesting and useful information. According to Simon, “This is where you need professional help—right from the beginning, even as you conceptualize the book. One of the first questions to ask yourself is, why are you writing it? What’s your objective? Is it to leave a history behind for friends and family? Is it a marketing piece for you or your company? Is it a guide to help others navigate challenges you have experienced? Is it a way to advance a philosophy? Our consultants, writers and editors will work with you to develop a compelling approach to your manuscript.”

Book publishing is rough terrain to navigate and, therefore, requires a partner like Simon/Zef’s Centurion. “Centurion Services works with clients in a multitude of ways,” says Simon. “If the client wants to author their own work, we develop a timeline for them to adhere to and support them with the necessary elements. If Simon/Zef is engaged to ghostwrite a work, the client will interview biographers we work with until we are comfortable that we have selected the best one for the particular client. Together we develop the angle and the narrative; interviews are then set with key people to execute the vision. S/Z’s Centurion Book Services offers everything from concept development, editorial evaluation and editing, book production, and placement into online booksellers such as Amazon, to agent querying, press relations, virtual book tours, and personal book events and signings.”

Centurion also provides comprehensive social media support to help market an executive’s book. “We have a team of social media experts that develop an engaged following utilizing a variety of proven formulas depending on the work,” says Simon. “Our public relations team has worked with mainstream best-selling authors and emerging authors and garners millions of media impressions monthly for clients. Just like social media, author websites are necessary and we work with clients to develop the correct creative/messaging for their brand and connect them with web designers to execute that vision. All of these elements are about branding, whether you want the book to brand you nationally, or in your specific category, it’s imperative you present yourself in a way that brings value, and to achieve that, it must be of the utmost quality.”

Beyond the potential positive ramifications for one’s business, publishing a book provides a value beyond measure. “Jacqueline Kennedy, not only a great first lady but a noted editor, once says, ‘If you produce one book, you will have done something in your life,’” says Simon. “Authoring a book is not only an achievement but leaves a legacy.”

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