I’m an author and book writing coach. When people at social events find out what I do, they often itch to tell me the great idea they have for a book. All they need is someone to write it for them. Other people have a simpler question: “Does everyone really have a book in them?”
If you can read a book, you can probably write a book. The question is whether it’s worth doing the hard work to pry that book out of you. Here are some thoughts that should help.
Why Do You Want to Write a Book?
There are lots of reasons to write a book. There’s one bad one. If you expect to make lots of money from book sales, don’t bother putting in the work to create your book. The vast majority of books do not cover the expense of writing, editing, and publishing them. That’s OK. There are plenty of other good reasons to write a book.
Many of my clients write a book to get the increased revenue that writing a book makes possible. They may be able to increase their consulting or coaching fees. They can develop products based on the book and sell those products. They can conduct training events and give keynote speeches based on the book. They’re all great potential sources of revenue.
Many of my clients also write a book to increase their reputation. This goal is usually paired with the one of increasing revenue from sources the book makes possible.
Some people write a book because they have an important story they want to tell. One of my clients wrote a book to tell the story of how she came from a poor background to a senior corporate position. She hopes her book will inspire others. Another client wrote a book that will be given to his family when he dies that will tell the story of his time in Vietnam and the years that surrounded it.
Some people write because they want to leave a legacy. They want a book that will help others understand what they believed and make wiser choices because they do.
Finally, many people write a book because it’s on their bucket list. It’s one of the things they want to accomplish in life.
You may have another reason or two. Any reason, other than revenue from book sales, is a good reason.
What Do You Want to Write a Book About?
If you’re writing a business book, readers expect you to answer a question or solve a problem. Okay, what’s the problem you want to solve or the question you want to answer?
To write a book, you must understand your answer or solution well enough to convey it in simple language. So, can you explain what your book is about to an intelligent 15-year-old?
If you want to write a successful book, lots of people should be interested in it. So, how many people have the problem you want to solve or the question you want to answer?
When you’ve got a number in your head, identify someone you know who’s part of the group. Can you describe him or her? I’m not talking about a demographic description. Can you describe a real person with a Social Security number and bad habits who has the question or problem you want to write about? If you can, write out why they would buy your book.
Do you have a way to reach potential readers directly? Just putting out a sign in your yard won’t do the trick. Here’s some simple math. Take the number of followers and fans you have and divide it by five. That’s a good estimate of how many will buy your book.
How Will You Publish the Book?
There are two basic ways that books get published. The one you choose will determine what you should concentrate on first.
Some people want to use a traditional or legacy publisher. If that’s you, you need to find an agent who is willing to present your book to publishers. To make that happen, you need to draft a book proposal and find an agent, then revise your proposal as the agent directs so he or she can present it to a publisher.
If you do all that, you will sign a contract with the publisher to produce the book they want to publish. It may not exactly be the book you want to write. The publisher will be writing the checks, so the publisher gets to make the choices about what’s in the book.
You can publish the book yourself. If you want to do this, you must publish a book the same quality as what a traditional publisher turns out. There’s a lot to know. Do you know everything that must be done? Who will you contact for help?
How Will You Get the Book Done?
It’s important to answer this question before you get too far along. It’s going to take you a year or more to write your book. Yes, there are people who produce a book much more quickly, but you’re probably not one of them. Most of my clients take more than a year of intensive work.
You probably already have a full calendar. You must find a place to take the time to write the book.
Cutting down on sleep is probably a bad idea. You’ll get more hours in the day, but fatigue will probably erode your productivity and your writing quality. You might take some time from important relationships. That’s okay up to a point. Just remember that your relationships are more important than your book.
You might get the time to write by cutting back on things you like to do. If you play a lot of golf or spend a lot of time hiking and camping, you can probably get some time by cutting back on those things.
However you do it, you must find large blocks of time on a regular basis to write your book.
Why do you want to write a book?
What will you write about?
Who cares about your subject?
How will you publish the book?
How will you get the book written?
What help will you need?