Here are 7 questions to ask before you start to write your book. These questions will help you write and publish a book that builds your brand and establishes you as an expert in your field.
These questions will help you avoid the temptation to focus your attention on the writing, rather than paying attention to your book’s “big picture.”
There’s more to publishing a book that successfully builds your brand than just writing!
Addressing these questions as early as possible increases your chances of a profitable writing and publishing experience. As you answer the questions, you’ll find each question leads to other questions that help you take a fresh, impartial look at the realities and goals that surround your book.
- Why do you want to write a book? Examine your motives for writing a book. What are your specific goals and objectives? Create a detailed vision statement describing the role your book will play in your life. In particular, describe how you’re going to profit from your book. Few books are best sellers, and few nonfiction authors can afford to depend entirely on income from book sales. Identify the different ways you can leverage your book into opportunities, profits, and relationships.
- Who do you want to read your book? Next, identify the target market you’re writing for. It’s unrealistic to write a book for “everyone.” Instead, identify the types of coaching and consulting clients you want to attract, or the types of speaking opportunities you are looking for. Identify market segments defined by age, education, employment, experience, health, income, location, marital status, occupation, or sex.
- What is the change your intended readers want? Successful books are not about you, what you’ve done, or how much you know. Instead, successful books are about your readers and their desire for change. The best brand-building books help readers solve problems or achieve goals. Focusing on your target market and their goals ensures that you’ll write the right book, one that your market is waiting for you to write.
- What books are competing for your reader’s attention? Competitive research during the planning stage will play an important role in the success of your book. By analyzing the pros and cons of existing books, you can identify the “missing book” – the book that readers want, but isn’t yet available. By focusing on writing a “missing book,” with significantly different content than existing books, you’ll be able to write a book that will stand out from the competition.
- Which publishing alternative makes the best sense? Today, there are more publishing options than ever before. The first step to choosing the right publishing alternative is to evaluate the pros and cons of retail, i.e., trade publishing, versus self-publishing. It’s important to look below the surface and balance pros and cons from both a long-term and short-term perspective.
- What do you need to know about manuscript formatting and delivery? Pay attention to your printer’s or publisher’s text formatting and file-naming conventions. Failure to pay attention to them can cause your manuscript to be rejected, resulting in lost time and extra costs. Today, publishers often expect authors to format their words as they write them, and each publisher has its own preferred file submission standards.
- How are you going to market and promote your book? An author’s marketing and promoting responsibilities begin months, sometimes, years before their book’s publication. When evaluating book proposals, publishers pay a great deal of attention to the author’s platform which previews their ability to promote their book to its intended market. Indeed, many publishers search the web looking for marketing-savvy authors active in areas where they want to publish books.
Cultivate the habit of asking questions as you write, promote, and profit from your book. Planning never ends. Asking questions helps you make informed decisions at every step.
- Reality check. Asking questions helps you keep your ego in check, as you decide what to include, and what to leave out, of your book. This helps you write the book your intended readers are waiting for, rather than writing a book that’s already been written or that readers don’t want to read.
- Avoiding future problems. Evaluating your current online visibility – or author platform – as early as possible allows you to create a realistic long-term marketing plan, rather than rushing to get things done in a last-minute panic. You’ll save money by building your platform one step at a time, and achieve higher results.
- Ideas versus words. Asking questions and taking the time to answer them helps you focus on ideas instead of words. Writing is easier after you have identified the information your readers are looking for, rather than writing words to fill an empty screen. Purposeful writing reduces the need for time-consuming rewriting and research under deadline conditions.
How do you answer the “7 big questions?”
Regardless whether or not you want to write a book, take a few moments to jot down your responses to the 7 questions asked above. If you’re not writing a book, answer the questions from the perspective of whatever you’re doing now, such as writing articles, blog posts, or content for your website. Or, use the 7 questions as a framework to plan your next presentation, speech, or teleseminar. Share your impressions and concerns as comments, below.
Roger C. Parker shares ideas for planning, writing, promoting, & profiting from brand building books in his daily writing tips blog and his latest book, #BOOK TITLE Tweet: 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Compelling Article, Book, & Event Titles