An oft-quoted study found that 81% of Americans want to write a book someday. (I think the other 19% are realists.) But what kind of book do you want to write? In the context of what I discuss here, we’re talking about a book for your business.
When I first talk with someone about their book, I ask them two questions. The first is what do you want this book to do for you and/or your business. The second is what do you want this book to do for your readers.
But there is another question that needs to be asked before I even get to these questions.
Why do you want to write a book?
It is probably the most important question I can ask you.
A book takes time, focus, concentration. Writing a book is hard work. It can be frustrating. It can feel endless. Your head will be crowded with stray thoughts, feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. You’ll wonder if you’re doing it right, then wonder what “right” is.
Does it sound like fun yet?
Even a simple book, a “book in a box” or “book in 3 days business card” book takes effort. It takes commitment. It takes a butt that can withstand hours in a chair in front of a computer.
So the “why” behind your book needs to be very strong in order to power you through the writing process. The why is your deep-seated need to have a published book out there for the masses to discover.
Beware the Weak Why
Many times the why behind the book is not strong. Sometimes it’s a temporary state of anger (it seems everyone wants to write a memoir after a break up to tell their side of the story). Sometimes people want a book in order to compete against others in their field. (That is actually an answer to “what do you want your book to do for you?”) Or because they’ve been told they “should” have a book.
Those aren’t reasons that will sustain you through the process. Which is why nine out of 10 people who start writing a book never finish it.
And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an altruistic reason behind your why. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to save starving children in Africa or trying to save up for a new BMW convertible.
But it is vitally important that your why matters to you.
I have found that in the realm of business books, your why for writing your book needs to be based on your why for having a business in the first place.
People tend to fall into businesses. They’re good at something and someone hires them to do that and next thing you know, they’ve got a little freelance side hustle going. Great. Because you can definitely build a side hustle into a business.
But building a business is like writing a book. It’s going to take time, commitment, sacrifice. It’s going to take a whole lot of faith that there will be a reward at the end of this process. It is going to take studying things and doing things that you don’t actually enjoy because they are necessary to achieving your goal.
And for that, you need a why to sustain you.
Here are some realities:
- Writing a book to tell “your side” of a story seldom works, whether it’s in retaliation for a bad romantic breakup or a bad business breakup. You look (and are) defensive and you are reacting rather than taking the lead.
- A poorly written, poorly produced book will work against you on several levels. If you’re going to write a book, it needs to be a quality book, above the “book-in-a-box” level that is flooding Amazon.
- Writing a book is an accomplishment, but it won’t win you fame or fortune. In fact, you probably won’t make back enough money on book sales to cover any costs incurred.
If you can deal with these realities and still want to write your book, you are halfway home.
But, if the goal of your book is to use it as a marketing tool for your business, to help your clients, to use as a lead generator, to establish yourself as an authority, then yes, a book can do all these things.
“That’s not a good why,” I hear you saying.
Welcome to My World
In my world, it is. I want the why of writing your book to connect deeply with your why for having a business. If you do not have a strong why for your business, then you most likely will abandon the book and in time, abandon your business.
If the why of your business is to create income while working from home so you can also care for your aging mom, then you’re going to work very hard to keep that business running and you will be more motivated to finish your book.
If your business why is to create a certain level of income because you’re getting older and are terrified at the thought of having to live on limited Social Security benefits, you’re going to have a fire under your butt.
Your business why must be strong in order for your book why to be strong. So start with that. Put some thought into why you get up every day and work on your business and put your heart and soul into what you do.
Once your why is firmly in place, we can get to work on actually getting that book written. The why is your big reason. That’s the big hurdle. After that, writing your book is a matter of mechanics and perseverance.
Fortunately, at that point, there are tricks to getting your manuscript finished and this month we’ll explore some of the tips and tricks that will help you out when the muse is refusing to come out of hiding and you’re stuck on chapter 3.
But the first step is to know why you’re writing your book. You need to have that why very clear in your brain (and if you’re like me, printed out on a piece of paper over your desk) to remind you why you are going through this process and why it’s imperative that you must finish.
So what’s your why? Let me know in the comments below.