Writing a Book: Thinking about that book you want to write

Dec 26, 2017 | Writing A Book

Most people don’t decide to write a book all at once. Usually there’s a long period of “Someday I’d like to” thinking about a book. Then, usually, something happens that shifts the thinking from “someday” to “I want to write a book.” That’s when the serious thinking starts, and the holiday season is a time when lots of people are doing that thinking. If you’re one of them, here are some things to think about.

Only A Great Book Will Make a Difference

Twenty years ago, writing a book would set you apart and above much of your competition. It would, automatically, make you a thought leader. That’s not true anymore.

Books have become table stakes. If you’re a speaker, trainer, or consultant, you’re now competing in a world where everyone you’re likely to compete with has written a book. The result is that you can’t get by with just having a book anymore. It must be at least a good one. If you want your book to make a big difference for you, it will have to be a great one.

Who Are You Writing For?

Who is your ideal reader? I’m not talking about a demographic description here. Think about a real person, someone you know, with a Social Security number. If you can center your thinking about a book on a specific person, you’ll find it easier to identify important things about your book and you’ll write a better book, too.

Find a Want and Fill It

You’ve heard the old saying: “Find a need and fill it.” That’s good, but if you’re thinking about writing a successful book, one that makes a difference in your business or career, I suggest that you “Find a want and fill it.”

People read business books to solve a problem or answer a question. They want to make revenue go up or costs go down or they want to make their life easier.

Your reader has problems you can solve and questions you can answer. You’ll have a better book if you identify what’s important to them and where there’s a gap between the way things are and the way they’d like them to be.

How Will Your Book Help Your Business or Career?

Your book can be the centerpiece of a system of products and services that defines you and builds your career.

So, think about the other products and services that will go with your book. There can be workbooks, and field guides, and all kinds of audio and video. Don’t stop there with you thinking, though. Think about training aids and branded merchandise that will help someone remember a training session. Think about the kinds of speeches and workshops you’ll give.

How Will You Get the Book Written?

Will you write the book yourself or hire someone to help you? All my clients could have written their book themselves. They reached out for help because of their demanding schedules or, in at least one, case, because they hated writing.

A coach might be just what you need. My coaching clients fall into two groups. One group wants to write their own book but wants help structuring the book because they’ve never written a book before. They usually need a guide to the process, too. For other clients, I’m more of a sounding board and accountability partner than a traditional coach.

Give a lot of thought to how the book will fit into your life over the next year or so. It’s a huge project and it demands commitment from you and the people around you.

How Will You Publish Your Book?

This is an important question to think about early. If you want to have a legacy publisher produce your book, you will need to find an agent and develop a proposal. If you intend to publish your book yourself, you will write the book and you will also have to learn some things about publishing or hire people who already know them.

Caution: Passion Required!

If you write a great book to boost your business and career, that book will go a long way toward defining you for a decade or more. People will expect you to maintain your expertise in whatever topic you choose for the book. So, choose something you’re passionate about.

Bottom Line

The holidays are a great time to think about the book you want to write. Use the questions in this post as guidelines, but don’t structure the process too tightly. Do some unstructured thinking, where ideas and insights can bubble up. Make sure you have a way to capture them when they do.

This is not a straight-line process where you answer one question and move on to the next one. The answers to one question will affect your answers to others, so you’ll probably revisit the questions several times.


If you want to know more about the book writing and publishing process, download my white paper, “Do You Want to Write and Publish a Business Book? How to Go from Your Idea to a Book You’re Proud Of.”

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