This is the final installment in a three-part series on the questions to ask before you begin writing your book. Be sure to check out the first post (covering Questions 1-3) and the second post (on Questions 4-6) in the series.
Now, on to the final four questions!
7. Who is my audience?
“Everybody” is not the answer to this question! You might say you want to profile your target market. I prefer to phrase it as creating a portrait of your ideal reader because the word “portrait” reminds us that we are talking about people here – not about some abstract. So what do your ideal readers know about the subject? What do they need to know? What do they want to know? Why would they buy your book? What is going to grab their attention? Can you identify their demographics? Psychographics? Lifestyle? Goals, dreams, pains? The better you know your audience, the better the book you will write!
8. What tone and style would I like to use?
Once you know your audience, you will be able to answer the question of tone and style. Some markets will prefer a personal, conversational style. Others will want a lot of information and a scholarly approach. A different segment will want copy that is quick and scannable. Remember: there is no style that is “perfect ” for every book, just as there is no book that is perfect for every audience. Your subject matter, your goals, your personality, and your audience will suggest an appropriate tone and style.
9. How long do I want my book to be?
You can certainly just start writing and when you reach the end, stop. The finished product may be 100 pages or 400 pages. But you may find it helpful to figure out ahead of time the approximate length you would like for your book. After all, if you are going for a quick, scannable style, it may not make sense to have a 350 page tome. On the other hand, an in-depth treatment of a topic might require nothing less. Determining the final length of your book will also give you a general guideline as to how long individual chapters should be.
10. Will I need a marketing plan or a marketer, or can I handle both the marketing strategy and implementation myself?
Don’t forget about the work that happens post-writing! For your book to be a success, you will need a marketing strategy and time and effort for implementation. If you can work that end yourself, that is excellent. But if you can’t (either because you lack the knowledge, expertise, or time), then plan on bringing in an outside resource to assist you. Either path will require an investment, but good marketing is crucial to your ultimate goal: having people read your book!
So, having gone through these 10 questions, here is one more … are you ready to write?