These days it’s easier than ever to publish a book. With the advent of self-publishing, almost anyone with the dedication to commit fifty-thousand words to paper can add “Published Author” to their list of credentials, and there’s no denying the impact that a book can have on your career. When was the last time you saw an expert interviewed on TV whose name wasn’t listed alongside their book title?
The book is often one of the final steps in establishing your position as an expert in your field, as a place where you’ve compiled your knowledge and research into one package that will hopefully help others. But with more books in the market than ever before, it’s important to make sure that you’re not writing the book for the sake of writing a book.
A clear understanding of your goals for writing the book, as well as a strong author platform, will increase your chances of the book positively impacting your career. Think you’re ready to take the leap? Read on to be sure.
1. You’re already contributing content. If you aren’t already speaking regularly or writing articles on a given topic, it’s going to be an uphill battle to find the content to fill an entire book. More importantly, the demand for your content remains untested. Whether you’re recording a podcast, writing blog posts, or building a social media following, it’s important to pay attention to the kind of content that your followers respond positively to before putting pen to paper. Which topics get the most shares, the most listens, the most downloads, etc.? Without that knowledge, you’re taking a bigger gamble on your book than you need to.
2. You understand your audience. Knowing your audience goes hand-in-hand with the testing of your content. Take advantage of whatever analytics you have access to. Pull demographic information from your social media accounts or through Google Analytics on your website to get a general idea of who is consuming your content.
Take it a step further by surveying attendees at speaking events, responding to comments, or A/B testing content. What are the pain points your audience is experiencing? How are you helping them?
A book is a large investment of time, and without really understanding what makes your audience tick, you can’t guarantee they’ll make the jump from short-form posts to buying and reading your book.
3. You can answer 3 critical questions. Before you start writing, take some time to reflect. Thoughtful answers to these questions will not only motivate you to finish the book but will also make the outlining and writing process much easier, as you can always refer back to them.
- What would I write about? If an answer doesn’t immediately come to mind, refer back to the content you’re contributing. What gets the most traction? How can you expand upon that topic? Is that also the area that you are most passionate about? Without an authentic enthusiasm for the topic, it will be difficult to reach your word count goal. The topic should be both something you feel passionate about and something your audience is asking for.
- Why am I qualified to write about it? The simple answer here may be passion. You love the topic, you’ve researched it thoroughly, and you’ve been writing about it for years. However, most skeptical readers will also be looking for some sort of credential to back up your book. Are you writing a book about developing a successful company culture? If so, readers will expect that you’ve actively developed one in the past and that your strategies have been tested. Beware crossing into fields that are tangentially related to your own. If you’re a fitness instructor, your audience may also be craving information on nutrition. But if you don’t have the credentials to back it up, either partner with someone who does or steer clear.
- Why do I need to write it now? This is often the hardest question for potential authors to answer, but it is critical to the promotion of your book once it’s written. If the book is not grounded in the present day, it becomes harder to pitch your book for media coverage or reviews because the content isn’t timely. There’s also less of an incentive for readers to purchase the book if they aren’t experiencing an urgent need for it. If you struggle with this question, check back with your audience and ask about their pain points. What’s causing them that pain? And how can you help?
4. You have a clear goal for the book. With all of these building blocks in place, the last step is to objectively identify your goal for writing a book. Yes, it’s nice to have a book on your resume, but how specifically will you leverage it?
Are you hoping to charge more for speaking engagements? Do you want to get those coveted television interviews? Are you an entrepreneur, hoping the book will grow your business? Do you want to make an impact on people’s lives?
Writing the book is only half the battle. Publishing and promoting your book well require time, dedication, and research. Clearly identifying your goal for the book should inform all your choices going forward, and there are going to be a lot of them. From which publisher to work with to your launch strategy, keep this goal front of mind to ensure everything ties back to supporting it.
As CEO of Greenleaf Book Group, Tanya Hall drives the company’s growth efforts and fosters a culture built around serving authors. Learn more about Greenleaf Book Group at www.greenleafbookgroup.com