1. Why do you want to write a nonfiction book?
There are as many reasons to write a book as there are books. To establish your authority in a subject? To make money? To more deeply explore your field of interest?
When you know your topic and want to share what you know with others, a book is one of the best ways to do it. High-profile CEOs often write books to pass along their business philosophies and practices to the next generation of leaders in their organizations; to articulate their personal visions for their companies to significant stakeholders; or to apply the hard-won lessons of their lives to the broader context of business, society, academia, or government.
2. What’s holding you back from writing it?
Is it that writing a book is an overwhelming project? Perhaps you feel you wouldn’t even know where to begin? Or, is it that your plate is so full, you simply don’t have the time? You can overcome every one of these reasons!
All big projects seem overwhelming when you view them in their totality. Mountain climbers preparing to climb the Himalayas don’t expect to do it all in a single day. They have a plan, and they execute it a day at a time. More accurately, they do it one step at a time, and that is exactly how one writes a book.
Anything you do for the first time has an element of mystery, simply because you haven’t done it before, but a visit to any bookstore will clearly demonstrate how many thousands of people have solved the mystery.
3. Do you have what it takes to write a book?
First it takes desire.
Do you really want to write this book? You must be excited about your topic, and believe you can you keep that desire alive through every step of the process.
If you don’t have a clear idea of what your book is about, you are not ready to begin. A plan is like a road map for a trip. Don’t start out without one. This is where many first-time nonfiction authors go wrong. They have the romantic idea that one begins a book by sitting down at the computer and just “letting it flow.”
A nonfiction book takes planning and lots of it before you are ready to write a word. A book takes months to plan, research and write. You need a long attention span to stay interested from the moment you get the idea to the moment you are holding it in your hands. Self-discipline is doing what has to be done, sticking with it even when it’s not fun, and reasserting your commitment as many times as necessary.
Support & guidance from a writing coach, a good editor, a book on writing, or even a writing group can be the extra element that makes all the difference between going on and giving up.
4. How is your book unique, special, important?
There are probably many other books on your topic. You need to know what they are, how your book is different or better, what void in the market this book will fill, what problem it will help solve, how readers will benefit from reading it, and why anyone would buy it.
To find out this information, search around on amazon.com, Google or your favorite search engine, and, of course, real bookstores. Don’t be concerned if you find that your topic is not unique. In fact, you don’t want it to be unique. You want your book to be better.
5. What makes you uniquely qualified to write it?
If you are a bona fide expert, this will be easy to answer. Simply show how your credentials relate to the topic. Otherwise, consider your relationship to the subject matter. Why does it interest you? Is it a memoir or a personal recollection? An outgrowth of your education or work? A topic you have thoroughly researched? A philosophical or spiritual exploration? Why are you the best person to write it?
6. Who is your audience?
Don’t make the mistake of writing a book you think “everyone” will want to read. You must have a clear picture of your reader in mind. Build a profile. Is the book gender specific? Is it targeted to a certain age group, educational level, income bracket, or social class? What does your reader do for fun? What newspapers and magazine does he buy? What movies does she attend or rent? And, most important, how will that person benefit from your book?
7. How will you reach that audience?
Whatever publishing method you choose – conventional, print on demand, or self-publishing – you are going to be responsible for a large part, if not all, of the marketing and promotion. Promoting your book is partly art, partly science. The possibilities are as vast as your imagination.
Consider presenting lectures and workshops, sending out press releases and review copies prior to publication, writing magazine articles, arranging for book reviews, holding book signings, appearing on radio or TV talk shows, and launching a Web site or a blog. The more you do, the more books you will sell.
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