As I talk about in further detail in my Publicity/Book Marketing Course, it's hands down the fastest way to gain credibility and exposure. It's so much easier to get mainstream exposure if you're a published author because you're automatically deemed an expert.
Here's an overview of a step by step process you can use:
1) Find a topic that you want to establish yourself as an expert in.
If you have a current business, you want it to be something related to what you do. To come up with ideas, you can use the best sellers list, popular magazines, or even Clickbank. This is very similar to niche selection.
An easy way to do this step is to find an angle or subniche within a popular market. That way you know your title will appeal to both the subniche and the overall market. For example, I had success with Cooking / Restaurant Recipes.
2) Come up with a title and a cover that makes people want to read more.
I list this as a separate point because it's so important. The title and the cover are critical. You want it to have the same effect as a headline and header graphics do for sales copy.
There are freelance graphic designers who will do a professional cover for you for like $200 - $500. I used KNDesign.net to do a cover for a self published title back in 2003. They used images from IStockPhoto. To my surprise, when I got the book deal with Simon & Schuster, they liked the cover so much that they used the same images for my book with them.
The point is, just because it's done by a freelancer doesn't mean it's not professional enough for the mainstream.
3) Come up with 15 main points for your book. You will have to get 10 pages written for each point. Make an outline / table of contents.
4) Write it yourself or go to one of the freelance sites to find a ghostwriter such as Elance, Guru.com, or even Craigslist.
If you hire a ghostwriter, you can easily record an interview with him/her using freeconferencecall.com or Skype. Have a discussion about your background and each of the main points you want to cover in the book.
The ghostwriter should be able to take it from there.
5) Make any changes or additions to the manuscript and hire a freelance editor to clean it up. Take a look at some similar books on your shelf or in the bookstore and use a similar layout for your book.
6) You can use CreateSpace.com to format your book and get it ready to be published on Amazon.com.
7) Host a free giveaway event for the launch of your book.
Free giveaway events are excellent for list building. Basically the way it works is, marketers sign up to promote the event and contribute a free bonus. The free bonuses from all the participating marketers are listed on a webpage in order of which marketers send the most traffic. Visitors have to opt-in to each marketer's list to receive their free bonus. Obviously, the marketers who send the most visitors to the page get the most exposure for their free offers and usually the most leads.
You can do the same thing with a book launch. But instead of it being a free giveaway event, you can make it a "buy this new book and get all these amazing free bonuses" event.
You'd be surprised at how many marketers would be willing to participate in your book launch if you set it up as a list building event like this. And who knows, your book launch may get enough sales to get ranked as one of the top selling books on Amazon.
I realize that this is not a new discovery, but hopefully me explaining it here helps motivate some people. Obviously, there is more to it that I can teach you, but I don't want to make this a 20 page opening post .