A vision statement is the best way to convert your desire to write a personal brand-building book into a commitment to write a book to build your brand.

A vision statement is a short, 1 to 3-page document that describes the book you want to write and use as the foundation for your personal brand.

Vision statements versus book proposals

Vision statements are not book proposals. Here are some of the ways vision statements differ from book proposals:

  • Distribution. A vision statement is primarily for your own use as you explore alternatives and define your goals. Book proposals, however, are formal documents based on your latest thinking, intended for distribution to literary agents and trade publishers.
  • Sequence. Vision statements precede book proposals; they are often the first step in pulling together your ideas and goals for your book. Vision statements provide an opportunity to test market and refine your ideas before preparing a formal book proposal.
  • Detail. Vision statements provide a high-level overview of topics in just 1 or 2 paragraphs. The same topics addressed in a book proposal can take up 2, 3, or– even–more, pages.
  • Preparation time. If you’ve been thinking about your book for a long time, you should be able to prepare a vision statement in a couple of hours. Book proposals, however, can take several months of writing and rewriting – often with the help of others – in order to successfully sell your book idea to an agent or publisher.

On the way to preparing your first book proposal, you may prepare several short vision statements as you explore different titles, topics, and approaches for your book.

Elements of a successful vision statement

Here are some of the “visions” to include in your vision statement:

  1. Your vision of your intended reader. This involves answering 2 questions. First, Who are you writing your book for? Describe your intended readers in terms of characteristics like age, occupation, income, sex, geography, education, marital status, or health. Second, Why should they buy your book? What are their problems or goals? What do they worry about? What are they looking for in your book?
  2. Your vision of your book’s benefits. How is your book going to help your intended readers solve their problems or achieve their goals? What are the specific changes that your readers will take away from your book? What will your readers be able to do that they can’t do now?
  3. Your vision of your business and life after your book appears. After describing your vision of how readers will benefit from your book, describe how you will benefit from your book. What will you be able to do after your book appears that you can’t do now? What kinds of new opportunities will your book create for you? What kinds of connections will your book make possible with other experts in your field? What kinds of back-end products and services can develop and sell based on your book?
  4. Your vision of how your book will look and feel. Imagine that you’re looking at the front cover of your book as you hold it in your hand. What images come to mind? Is it a light or a heavy book? Is it large or small in terms of physical dimensions or number of pages? What kind of colors do you see on the book cover? What kind of image does your book project? Hint: start by thinking in terms of opposites; informal or serious, friendly or academic, quick read or exhaustively detailed?
  5. Your vision of your book’s contents. What are your thoughts about the way your book’s contents are organized? Are you thinking in terms of a few long chapters or several shorter chapters? Are you going to divide your book into a few key sections, or parts? When you think of opening your book to a typical 2-page spread, i.e., view of both left-hand and right-hand pages, what do you see? Just paragraphs of text, or text enhanced with questions, exercises, worksheets, tables, charts and graphs? Do you also see short text elements like ideas, tips, and suggested resources?

Tips for preparing a vision statement for your book

The key to a successful vision statement is exploration rather than finality

Here are some tips for creating a vision statement for your personal brand-building book:

  • Start by analyzing already published books in your area of interest. What do you like about them, what don’t you like? Do they resemble textbooks rather than conversations with the author? Do they answer your questions? Observations of what you like and don’t like can help you identify what you want out of your own book. Look at inexpensive, as well as expensive, books.
  • Expand your analysis to include “out of field” books. Explore books that have nothing to do with your topic, and sensitize yourself to what you like, and don’t like, about them.
  • Don’t sweat the details! Don’t take too much time preparing a vision statement. Don’t concern yourself with words and grammar. Instead, just let the ideas flow. Jot down ideas and impressions in list format, rather than full sentences.
  • Keep it short! A couple of short vision statements is preferable to a single long one.
  • Save them and review them frequently. Consider creating your vision statements on 3-hole punched paper, so you can save them in a 3-ring binder devoted to your writing project.
  • Don’t prematurely share your vision statements.  A vision statement is starting point, for your eyes only. Discuss your ideas verbally, and note the reactions you receive from family or friends, but keep your ideas to yourself until you’re ready to present them to potential literary agents or publishers.

Every project has to begin somewhere!

No matter how much you’ve thought about writing a book to build your personal brand, until you begin to take action, your dream of publishing a book is just that – a dream. By taking the time to prepare a brief vision statement describing the benefits your intended readers and you are going to get from your book, you’re taking the first step to writing a book that defines and promotes your personal brand. Question: Is this the week you take your first step? Why, or why not?


Roger C. Parker shares ideas for planning, writing, promoting, & profiting from brand building books in his daily writing tips blog. His latest book, #BOOK TITLE Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, & Event Titles, offers step-by-step ideas, tips, and examples for choosing the right title.