Wherever you are in your journey of writing or publishing a book, these three questions will help you focus your efforts to avoid getting lost, wasting time, spending money on the wrong things or ending up wondering which way to turn.
Question #1. WHY do you want to write your book?
Be honest with yourself about the reason(s) you are undertaking this task. Writing a book is not for sissies. It takes hard work, dedication, time, and energy. Publishing a book takes education, money, effort, and a willingness to manage expectations.
It’s nice to imagine living off your monthly royalty check, but that’s a fantasy that will disappoint you eventually. You need a bigger WHY than the money.
Ego satisfaction is a perfectly good reason for writing a book. Or maybe you feel strongly that other people can learn something from you and your book is a way of spreading your wisdom. Or perhaps you know that the right book can help you achieve greater success in your business by conferring authority and credibility and by giving you a way to attract media attention.
Whatever your reason for writing your book, write it down.
Keep your WHY visible – above your computer or on your refrigerator or your bathroom mirror.
The stronger your WHY, the more powerful a motivator it will be for you. Your WHY will keep you going when you want to give up.
And you will want to give up at some point along the way! So be prepared for those frustrating, ready-to-chuck-the-whole-thing-out-the-window moments.
WHY are you writing this book?
Question #2 WHO are you writing your book for?
You must have an audience in mind, don’t you? Surely you imagine someone other than your mother reading your book?
Don’t think that everyone will be a reader, however. Too many first time authors make this mistake. It may be true that everyone SHOULD read your book, but that doesn’t mean that everyone WILL read your book.
You have to imagine who is really going to take the time to read what you’ve written.
Imagine who that reader group is and describe it:
- Maybe it’s your family and a group of friends who will read your book (or at least graciously accept gift copies and say nice things about it to you).
- Maybe you have a following from your blog and you know that those 5000 people are eagerly awaiting your book.
- Maybe you know that your readership will be 14-year old girls who are into tattoos and live in big cities.
- Maybe your readers will be professionals in your specialized area of medicine.
Whoever your real audience is, write down what you know about who they are, where they live and work and hang out, how you can reach them to tell them about your book.
Also, write down some of the other books like yours that they read (comparative titles) and seek out. Then go on to question #3.
Question #3. WHY will they want to read your book?
Once you know more about your target audience, and you’ve identified other books like yours that they already read, ask this question. Why will they want to read YOUR book?
- Write down how your book differs from other books like it.
- Write down what your readers will take away from your book.
- Write down how the experience or impact of reading your book will be different from other books like yours.
Your focused attention to this question will help you write a better book.
Spending even a short amount of time answering these three questions will aid you immeasurably in your writing and publishing journey.
Let me know how they work for you.
This article is adapted from Gail’s forthcoming book, 20 Good Questions to Ask When You’re Writing or Publishing a Book.
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