There are many important questions you need to ask yourself as an author, but none is more important or far-reaching as “WHY?”.
W h y … three little letters that form one of the most powerful words in the English language. Asking “why” of things gives us clarity, understanding, purpose and direction. When it comes to writing a book, asking “why” can help make the process much easier and give your book a greater chance of being successful.
There are two main areas in which you need to ask yourself “why” when it comes to writing a book: your why, and your readers’ why.
Asking yourself “Why do you want to write this book?” may sound a little rudimentary and obvious but understanding what your motivations truly are will help you get past obstacles when the going gets tough.
Writing a book simply because other people have told you that you should doesn’t always give you enough of a personal incentive to dedicate the time and energy that it requires to write a good quality book. Whereas if you have a driving desire to write a book that comes from within, you are more likely to make the sacrifices and put in the time to see the project through to the end.
I’ve lost count of the number of people I’ve spoken to who have started a book (some even starting the same book several times over a few years), who never managed to finish it. When I dig a little deeper into what motivated them to start the book in the first place, and what happened to pull them away from the project, more often than not the response boils down to the motivation for writing the book not being as strong as the motivation of the thing that pulled them away from it (whether it be other commitments, lack of time, frustration, etc.).
Writing a book is hard; seeing a book through to publication is even harder. You have to WANT it to see it through to the end.
Your “why” can be anything, as long as it is something that will personally motivate you. It can be the prestige of being a published author, or it can be the desire to teach or leave a lasting legacy. It can be the financial stability of an additional income, or it can be to raise your profile within your industry that sets you apart as that ‘go-to’ expert. You can even have a “why” that is a combination of multiple different reasons. As long as your reason(s) for wanting to write your book are more powerful than the multitude of reasons for not writing it, you’ll ultimately get there in the end.
Your Readers’ Why
Sitting down and considering your readers’ “why” is usually the one thing that tips a book from being just good to being great! Having the answer to “Why should my readers care that I’ve written this book?” will ultimately guide most of the decisions that you make regarding your book from its content to title; its cover design to your marketing strategy.
Let’s be honest… with the millions of books currently on the market, with thousands more being published every year, it is profoundly unlikely that you are writing about something that no one has ever written about before. You need to be able to give readers a reason to buy your book over any of the other books available to them on a similar subject.
As a species, we humans are fundamentally lazy; we want to save time and energy whenever we can. If you can make things quicker and easier for your readers when they are looking for a book on a particular subject by giving them reasons as to why they should buy your book, they will thank you for it. The earlier on in the process that you think about this (ideally before you even write a single word), the easier things will be for you too.
Knowing what makes your book unique in your genre, knowing what your readers’ will get out of reading it, and knowing how to then communicate all of that to your readers will fundamentally give your book a much greater chance of being successful. Which in turn will ultimately fulfil YOUR “why”.
So, what is your why? Let me know in the comments.
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