Interested in Writing a Book?
Many people may feel they have a good story to tell the world, and then start asking the question on how to write a book. Should you attempt writing a book and why? How do you even start? Is there a certain path you take? And is it worth it? I’m approaching the subject of writing a book based on my wonderful interview with Kim O’Hara, Book Coach to Best Sellers®, and her business A Story Inside. She had some wonderful words of advice, some which are shared here in this article. As we approach the subject how to write a book, we’ll first cover why to write a book, what to write about and then, who to write it for.
If you answer those main questions, you may discover you really don’t want or need to write a book. Or you may find that you need a stronger reason for doing the amount work it takes to get your book all the way completed. (It is a lot of work!) Just like many other projects in life, many get started on writing their book, but never completely finish.
Why Write a Book
This is the first question everyone should answer. Are you writing a book for a specific business venture? Is it for your pleasure or a project you’ve always wanted to pursue? Are you thinking it will help to expand your platform? (see Enlarge my Territory) Or do you just feel you have a strong message to share with the world that will help people improve their life?
Whatever your reason, realize there will be a lot work involved in writing a book. Also, there is some cost to self-publish a book. Actually, the writing and printing of a book are a small part of the process and expense. Depending on your goals, the promotion and distribution takes a lot more funds and effort than the actually writing, which seems strange at the outset! The amount of investment will depend on your reasons and purpose for writing your book.
FYI, this same principle applies to producing recordings in the music industry. When I taught a college music business course, students were shocked at the amount of funds it took to adequately promote a new artist. However, this fact doesn’t deter most people and projects. Your budget and plans will mostly depend on why you want to write a book.
What Do You Write About?
With the number of books released per year, with annual print book sales in the U.S. at 675 million dollars, there’s definitely a demand for books. In a market with over 1.5 million self-published books released per year,* how do you stand out in a field that’s so flooded with product?
A good educational exercise is to go to an actual bookstore and browse. I know bookstores are not as plentiful in today’s market, but even airport bookstores are an excellent resource. Note the main subjects and titles of the books. What problem are these books solving? How do the books make you feel, even by looking at the cover? Are they inviting? I happen to love books, so I’m drawn in by many of the covers, but may then be turned away after looking at the contents. This is a good reminder to make sure your message is clear throughout any product.
If you see a section in a bookstore that’s packed with books on a particular subject, the store has already done some of your research. They know what will sell. Your purpose may not be just to sell books, but to tell a story or approach a subject in a unique way. (see: How Valuable are Your Skills?) However, if you would like your message to go farther than sitting in your closet, you want to make sure your message is super clear, is appealing to your target audience and evokes some sort of action for your reader. I encourage you to do your homework and spend time on all the steps noted in this article! It will be well-worth your time and effort.
Who Do You Write For?
This is a very important question to answer. Answering the questions on how old is your reader, what keeps them awake at night, what type of products do they spend money on and what are their cultural preferences are necessary for a successful project. In our interview, Kim strongly suggested answering these questions before even starting to write. Getting as specific as possible on your target audience will help guide you in not only the topic of your book, but with the format, language and even marketing materials.
It’s never too early to start creating a strategy and plan for marketing. Many rush this process, myself included! You can start creating your promotional materials way before the release date to send out advance copies of your book for reviews and feedback. If you’ve adequately identified your audience, start creating a list early in your process for viable contacts.
With current technology, preview copies can merely be PDFs. As long as your book is formatted correctly, this is an easy way to get feedback without having to snail-mail physical product. Also, some authors opt to pursue the print-on-demand option, which works very well for those with limited storage space! My book Music for Kids is formatted for print-on-demand, but I also keep a limited number of copies to send out if I wish.
Writing Your Book
After reading this, you may decide not to write a book at all. But the opposite may also be true, with your solidified resolve and a clear message and vision for your book dream. Whatever the case, it’s very worthwhile to find some sort of book coach, editor or program to guide you through the process.
A good guide will end up saving you time, money and lots of misdirected energy. Writing your book is not only an investment that will help and entertain others, but an investment in yourself. You are definitely worth spending the extra resources to make your project the best it can be. And the very best is what I want for you!
Circumstances may change, but we can stay on course with what we can control.
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