I was chatting with a friend at a party. I had just said that “Nobody makes money off book sales.” Just then, Charlie asked over my shoulder, “Then, why do people keep writing books?”
Let’s start with some statistics. The last time I researched this, the average US nonfiction book sold less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies total. You can’t make much money from sales like that.
So, back to Charlie’s question, why do people keep writing books and publishing them? Well, the truth is that people write books for a host of reasons besides making money from book sales. Here are a few.
People Write Books to Make Money in Other Ways
Most of my clients are like this. They’re mid-career folks who think that writing and publishing a good business book will help them. They think a book will enhance their reputation. They may be able to increase consulting or speaking fees. They might get noticed by top management and slated for a promotion.
For some of them, writing a book is a strategic move. One client of mine has now written three books. He wrote each book for a specific strategic purpose.
People Write Books to Share What They’ve Learned
I had a client who rose to great business success from very modest beginnings. She wanted to write a book to inspire young people and help them learn lessons she had learned the hard way.
People Write Books to Share Important Stories
One of my clients wanted to write a book to tell his children and grandchildren about his experiences in the Vietnam War. He didn’t intend to publish the book for public consumption. He thought he would self-publish enough for the family and that was all.
People Write Books to Learn from The Process
People write books to learn about something they’re interested in or that’s happened to them. One client of mine is doing that at this moment. She thinks the discipline of writing a book and explaining things will help her understand her experience.
People Write A Book to Tick an Item Off Their Bucket List
Many people want to write a book “someday.” Some get serious. Some of them actually start the process. A few finish.
It’s Usually Not One Reason
When I talk with prospective clients about why they want to write a book, they usually have more than one reason. The fellow who wants to tick an item off his bucket list may also find that he’s learning about a process by writing the book. Or, he may think a book will improve his reputation and fees.
Why Do You Want to Write A Book?
If you want to write a book, get clear about why. Figure out how much time, money, and sacrifice it will take. Then decide if now is your “someday.”