Parts 1 and 2 of “Why Write a Book” were about finding and harnessing passion, skill, and time to write your story. Today’s blog is about defining book goals. A clear understanding of what to do with the book once it’s written helps define and refine writing timeline, budget, target market, short-term and long-term marketing plan, and actual content, before the book is written. This is key because, when someone tells me they’re having trouble writing, it is because they don’t have a clear plan.
I specialize in writing nonfiction; therefore, I help business people answer the goals question from the very beginning. Most people want to write a book as an additional marketing tool to position themselves as an expert in a professional field. Others want a book to generate another line of income. Some want to use a book to increase access for speaking engagements or as the basis to fill workshops. Often speakers don’t have a book to support their mission and message, then realize they’re leaving opportunities on the table without a good, focused book.
Some clients use a book for educating others on professional topics like: how to streamline a technical process, improve human resource safety protocols, prepare for certification audits, or political hot button issues. Clients who are using a professional story for business building, must be clear about how to tell the story with a balance of processes and systems, case studies, cautionary tales, and personal lessons. And this balance is determined by the book’s goals. Clients writing memoirs to address a specific reader, for instance, recovery from addiction, life after abuse, moving forward after a disaster, and other similar topics need to tell a story that connects to the reader’s pain and is relatable, but also gives hope and tools or tips for survival or overcoming. These writers use the book as the basis for inspirational/motivation speaking careers, or to help fund a nonprofit, for example. These are very specific goals for what to do with the book once it’s written, which impacts how it’s written (format and content) and marketed.
If you’re a fiction writer, you need goals for your book, too, before spending all your time writing a book that’s not sellable. For example, if you’re writing for an elementary school or high school aged audience, you need to know age-appropriate word use, sentence structure, and book length. Also, if you’re writing a series, timing between the books becomes a marketing consideration.
I know a book can open doors, and provide additional income, to all kinds of opportunities because I’ve done it. I’ve booked several working cruises, all expenses paid, based on topics found in my book Face Forward Move Forward. I worked a couple of hours on the first day and the last day and then played the rest of the time, all because this book had clear goals that positioned me perfectly for such business. I’ve been hired to speak at events from New York to California and places in between. I’ve spoken in Canada and Mexico, too. This book won numerous international and national awards and even though it has been on the market four years, I still get sales and paid speaking bookings from it. I tell you this not to brag, but in Texas we say, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” I tell you this so you can see the possibilities for you, your book, and your business, too. Close your eyes and imagine standing on a stage or coaching client(s), or whatever your goal is for your book. Take a deep breath and put words to how this will feel when it happens.
Back to the point: How you want to use your finished book directly correlates to success in both getting it written and using it to build business. Developing clearly defined goals saves time, money, and heartbreak.
There is no right or wrong answer to the why write or what you’ll do with a book after it’s written. There’re only your answers, but you do need answers. Don’t get stalled trying to figure out “the right answer.” Figure out your goals and motives and how your answers impact the writing and marketing of the book. These answers become the directional guide and make your book-writing process easier.
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