10 Key Questions to Ask Before You Begin Writing Your Book – Part 2

This is the second in a three-part series on the questions to ask before you begin writing your book. The first post in the series (covering Questions 1-3) can be found here.

Now, on to the questions … starting with Question 4:

4. Why me?

Why are you the perfect person to write this book? What are your credentials and qualifications? Books are a great way of promoting your credibility, true … but only if you have the knowledge, experience, and expertise to back it up! A general rule of thumb: you are most credible when you talk about something you know inside-out and backwards.

5. What’s my point?

You need to go beyond “I want to write a book” to “I want to write a book about THIS.” Whatever “this” is should be something you are passionate about, something that is compelling to your target market, something that meets a need, something that is different in some way from similar material already on the market. Consider writing an elevator speech for your book: what would you say to people to tell them what your book is about and why they should read it?

6. Am I willing to put in the time?

Books take time. I know there are “write a book in a weekend” and “the secret to breezing through your first book” seminars touted all over the web. I’ve written many books – spanning everything from a short 40-page ebook to a 400-page novel. Trust me: writing a book takes time. It takes time whether you write it yourself or hire a ghostwriter (since you’ll need to provide the ghostwriter with all the content, and read and edit the manuscript). So ask yourself: Am I willing to put in the time? If I want to write it myself, how good a writer am I? How fast do I produce quality material? How much time am I willing to commit? Will I put aside concentrated time to write my book, or do a little bit every day, or write when I have a spare hour?

Stay tuned … final questions to come in Part 3!

Short is Not a Virtue

As a ghostwriter and book coach, I have found that there is a recurring theme among businessfolk when it comes to writing books. “I want it to be short,” I hear over and over again. “Short and sweet. People are pressed for time. They don’t have time to read anything long and involved.”

Now, if you’re talking about direct mail, short and sweet is essential. If you are blogging, you don’t want to ramble on ad infinitum. And website content? Scannability is the name of the game.

But books? When people pick up a book, they want information. They want to learn something they didn’t know, discover an approach they can use, gain insight they can leverage. And that, my friends, may take some time.

If you try to be short for the sake of being short, you may run into the following pitfalls:

  • Skipping. You assume a knowledge base your readers don’t have, so you skip important topics entirely. The result? Reader confusion.
  • Rushing. You touch on all pertinent topics, but each one only gets a cursory treatment. The result? Reader frustration.
  • Skimming. You don’t have enough space or time to ever get deep into your topic, so you just skim along the surface. The result? Reader boredom.

The purpose of writing a book is to deliver value. That’s your primary goal, and one that should dictate everything else about the book, including tone, style, structure … and length.

Does that mean that books should never be short? Of course not! Short can work magnificently well – in the right place. Just remember: short is not a virtue. Short only works if it delivers true value.