Why are you writing a book?

Of all the questions you’ll answer, this is one of the most important ones. The “why” behind any project, whether it’s a business venture or a book, is the driving force behind what you do and how you do it. Your why is your mission statement and everything you write in the book, from the quality of the production to how you market it, should point back to why you’re writing the book in the first place. In his TED talk, Simon Sinek famously talks about why then what. Think about why you are writing your book and then decide what you’ll write based on your answer.

So, what does your why look like?

The WHY behind a memoir

Let’s say you want to write a memoir, autobiography or family history. In this case, your why may be to pass down your memories to your children and grandchildren so your family history won’t get lost to time. On the other hand, if you believe your history has great historical value, like your part in the march for freedom, or there is a broader takeaway for the reader like perseverance or bouncing back from abuse or illness, your why might be to write a book that inspires those who have also fallen victim to similar circumstances and to help them see healing and a hopeful future. Finally, you may have a memoir that reads like fiction and sweeps the reader off their feet with a beautifully told story, in which case your why may be to explore your creativity.

The WHY behind a promotional business book

If you are writing a book to impact your business, your why may be different still. The purpose or mission of my book, The Almost Perfect Birthday Party, is to have a marketing tool to give to families who might want to hire me (in my other career as a professional juggler). I can give the book away or sell it online and at events with the purpose of getting juggling gigs. I don’t have to position it as the ULTIMATE book on the market. I just want parents to know that I understand what it is like to be a parent throwing a party. It helps me establish trust with the people making the buying decision. No parent wants to hire Hannibal Lecter for their kid’s party.

The personal WHY

It could be that the process of writing the book is the most important thing to you. Your why could be to heal yourself or prove that you can actually write a book. While some may run a marathon, climb Mt. Everest, or get a Ph.D., many of us turn to writing. Crossing a massive project, like writing a book, off your bucket list is an awesome reason to write it. If your main purpose or why is about you and your path in life, your task is somewhat easier because you don’t have to worry about commercial success. My dad wrote eleven books without ever worrying about anyone outside of the family seeing it. He didn’t have to worry about every typo or perfectly craft each sentence. Even so, it’s still important to identify your why and write it down.

If your why focuses financial success or notoriety, it’s especially important to define it up front. While most people want their book to sell and sell well, centering on sales numbers challenges you to create the best possible product and invest your time and money to ensure you reach your goals. Essentially, the bigger the payoff you hope to achieve, the more you’ll need to plan up front for success. Makes sense, right?

Identify your WHY before you write a book to benefit you AND your readers. #amwriting Click To Tweet

The benefits behind your WHY

Let’s start with the monetary benefits:

  • Passive income from selling the book
  • To teach live and online workshops
  • Get paid speaking engagements

If you’re writing to promote a business, you get indirect monetary benefits like:

  • Use as a lead magnet
  • Use as a promotional tool
  • To help people know, like, and trust you
  • To establish your expertise in your field
  • To use as an outline for a course

Other benefits from the process of writing the book may include:

  • Get to know your business better because of in-depth analysis of what you do
  • Get to know your target reader well – their hopes, fears, and needs
  • Get to know yourself better – YOUR hopes, fears, and needs
  • Heal yourself
  • Express your vision
  • Share your passion
  • Help people overcome something
  • Make the world a better place and…

Engaging in a daring pursuit and accomplishing it is a feeling like no other. After you write a book, you’ll feel like you can do anything. And the truth is, you can.

Some of these benefits may speak to you more than others. Decide on the driving force behind why you are writing this book.


Benefits to your readers

Additionally, your why must benefit your reader. While this book may be about your journey, your experience, or your insight, and it may be a stepping stone to what you want to accomplish in your life, it ultimately must be for the reader. If you want people to read your book or especially if you want them to buy it, it has to resonate with them and it must be something you’re passionate about. Write your why with them in mind. Ultimately, it’s a win-win – your reader wins, and you win.

Use words like help, teach, provide, inspire, foster, delight.

______ is to help people heal from _______.

______ is to teach young adults how to ________.

______ is to provide salespeople a tool to overcome _______.

______ is to inspire women to _________.

______ is to foster _________ in ________.

______ is to delight people with stories about _________.

Once you’ve defined why you are writing the book, the task of writing it becomes infinitely easier. You don’t have to help everyone with all their problems or tell every story that pops in your head. If you’ve got more to say, think about how to include in the next book or the one after that. Think big, my friend. The world is waiting to hear what you’ve got to say.

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