Why Do You Want to Write a Book?

Taking on Parkinsons CoverDepending on the statistic you find, one of the top goals for some 80 to 90 percent of Americans is to write a book. If you are reading this, you, too, have expressed this goal.

But why? You don’t have to determine why all those other people want to write a book, but you do need to understand your reason for doing so. You have probably already discovered that writing is a long, lonely and laborious process. Whether fiction or non-fiction, writing takes effort. In the late 1990s, I wrote a book entitled “Exploring IBM e-business Software.” (Yawn.) At the time, I was a manager in the DB2 performance area of IBM. (I’ve never quite understood how someone with a master’s degree in theater ended up in that position.)

A few months later, one of my employees, a brilliant man who wrote intricate code, was asked to write a ten-thousand-word article for a German publication. After a few weeks, he mentioned that writing was hard work.

Yep.

So why did I write the technical book? Pure self-defense. I was tired of repeating myself. I figured if I wrote it all down, I could simply send people who didn’t understand why things worked the way they did to the book. The fact that IBM gave me a nice bonus just for writing it didn’t hurt either.
The book served its purpose, and I was content.

Your Purpose

Sometimes writing a book is the wrong answer to what you want to do. One of my editing clients is a database consultant who works all over the world. While he’s toyed with the idea of a book, he hasn’t felt a compelling need to write one. The world has changed considerably in the last decade, especially in technology, so a book would probably be obsolete by the time it was printed. Instead, he writes a targeted blog on performance. It’s detailed and provides value to people who are looking for that information. It establishes him as an expert in a way that a book couldn’t. When companies are looking for someone to solve their performance problems, who do you think they call?

Since you have already written your book and have published it, or are about to publish it, take some time to examine your purpose in doing so. You’ve already discovered there’s a lot more to publishing than writing 50,000 or more words. Consider the following questions:

  • Does your book provide crucial information for some group of people? If so, how will you make sure they know about it?
  • Do you want your book to provide an extra stream of income for you? If so, how much time and effort do you have to put into learning about, executing and measuring marketing efforts?
  • Is the book the first of many? If so, how will you create a sustainable business model for this publishing effort to help you produce quality material on a regular basis?
  • Does your book support your career by proving your expertise or encouraging people to think/feel deeply about a certain subject? If so, how are you going to leverage that opportunity?

Your Results

Once you decide the purpose of your book, how are you going to measure the results? This can be tricky. If you are hoping for an extra stream of income, that’s an easy measurement. Influence on another stream of income such as public speaking, is a little more complicated.

However you decide to measure, make a regular appointment with yourself to review results, analyze them for improvement and tweak your efforts.

Coaching Opportunity

If you want to discuss any of this in more depth, please contact me for a complimentary coaching session.

Parkinson’s Disease

I have been privileged to work with Dennis Jay O’Connor to put together his book Taking on Parkinson’s. A dear friend has this challenging disease, and, with humor and insight, this book has taught me much about coping. I highly recommend it.

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