People tell you, “You oughta write a book!”
It’s nice to have supporters.
But what’s your reason to write a book?
- You’ve had a trauma, success, or challenge that you want to share so that others can benefit from your experience
- You’ve solved a common problem—maintaining a healthy lifestyle, retiring in style, acing every job interview
- You want to have your say or make a difference—often on a big issue, such as mental health or climate change
- You want to set the record straight—could be personal, political, or professional
- You have a unique point-of-view on an issue—often “I was there” stories about an event or an era
- You want to leave a legacy for your family—a story about your life or a family business
Deciding why you want to write can also help you decide what you want to write. I often speak with aspiring authors who have an experience they want to share—overcoming hardship or an abusive childhood, for instance. This could be the focus of a memoir. But if they try to extract “lessons” for the reader, they’re straying into self-help territory. Trying to blend self-help or how-to with a memoir is challenging for the writer and the reader. Best to pick a lane. Your reader will take their lessons from a well-told story.
If you want to teach or share in a self-help or how-to book, present your content—program, best practices, techniques—in clear and simple language, in a well-organized format. Your personal struggles and triumphs are best left for the preface or introduction. This doesn’t mean your book is soulless, a few personal and professional anecdotes, when they support the argument of the book, can warm the tone of a book.
Regardless of the genre in which you are writing, the worst reason to write any book is, “to get rich from the sales.” This road leads to disappointment.
That doesn’t mean writing a book isn’t a great idea. Or that your book won’t be successful. Just know, most nonfiction writers will make more money from what authoring a book brings than from actual book sales.
One thing that authoring a book brings is support to your existing business brand. A book provides credibility, authority, and increased visibility. A book is a versatile marketing tool. It can assist you to sell more widgets, start a new business, or rebrand an existing one.
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