Most of you reading this probably aren’t called to write the Great American Novel, but it’s likely you’ve toyed with the notion of writing a book. Depending on what statistic you believe, something like 60 to 80 percent of Americans want to write a book. Going from wanting to write to actually writing cuts that down considerably, of course, which means that those who write books are a rare breed. Those who actually follow through and publish are even more rare.
Writing a book isn’t easy—it’s hard. It takes willpower and perseverence. It takes a lot of time and thinking. It takes multiple drafts and reviews and rewriting—because, as Hemingway said, the only kind of writing is rewriting. So why do it? What could possibly compel you to write a book?
There are powerful, convincing benefits to doing a book. Let’s go over a few.
- Writing a book allows you to share your expertise and knowledge. Everyone is an expert at something, and you are an expert at your business, your craft, your life experiences. You know something that is helpful to others, you’ve learned important lessons in your life that you can transmit to others, and you should write about them.
- Having a book with your name on it establishes your authority. Authors are considered experts, and having a published book is a mark of accomplishment.
- A book is the best advertising you can do for potential customers and clients, if that’s why you’re writing it. It makes for a great networking tool and gives you the opportunity to speak directly to your audience without filters. (We’re assuming that you don’t need filters, but if you do, a good editor will help. A good editor always helps.)
- A book is the introduction to influencers and clients that you don’t have and helps expand your business into markets you need to be in. It differentiates you from everyone else. It’s almost an unfair competitive advantage.
- A book has permanency. Family photos can be lost. The good stories you know may not be remembered beyond your immediate family and friends (or will be misremembered). Your business may not last past the next generation or two. But your book, especially in this digital age, will stick around, helping and influencing its readers for years to come. Your book will outlive you.
- Writing a book is like therapy. You learn about yourself in the writing. It allows for a level of self-reflection that is all too absent in our world.
- Writing a book clarifies and refocuses your thinking, allowing for new ideas to emerge and for tested ideas to gain new energy.
- You will learn something. No matter the kind of book you’re writing, you will inevitably need to do research, and that will make you smarter.
- A book can bring you income. Note that I’ve put this one last, for a reason. Will publishing a book make you rich? Very unlikely. Will the book pay for itself at least? It might. If you’re writing a book only to make money, then you are likely to be disappointed and you need to reconsider your goal or find something of more immediate financial gratification to do. A book generates additional income best when it is combined with other income-producing activities: speaking, consulting, coaching, online courses, college classes, your services and products. A book will not make you money in a vacuum.
Deciding to write a book is an easy decision now, right? All those benefits! Next you need to decide what it’s going to be about and why you’re writing it.
You may want to share your business insights or delve into your family history. You may want to share your poems or a traumatic experience that you survived. Perhaps you did some important research that you’d like to see published and you want to remain independent, or you have a cause or passion that you want to support. Perhaps you have a good novel in you or a captivating sci-fi story. Take some time to examine your reasons for writing and what you want to write.
As you’re doing so, ask yourself this: Are you writing this book for yourself or for others to read? If you’re writing for yourself, then that’s mostly therapy, and therapy is a hard sell to an outside audience. If you’re writing for others, then you need to keep that audience in mind as you write and make your work interesting. The writing can still be therapeutic—I think most authors would agree on that—but it should also be engaging.
You as a writer are in one of the best times to write and publish your book. There are amazing tools available to you to write via computer or tablet—or pen and paper or typewriter, as you prefer. The web is a pretty amazing thing, as much as we take it for granted, allowing you access to research sources, writing information and tutorials, as well as other writers for support. There are also amazing tools and processes available to publish, distribute, and market your book. It’s almost revolutionary, and you can be a part of it.
So write your book this year. Set yourself goals, work toward a deadline, carve out an hour or two a day. Make it happen. Just write it.