As a ghostwriter, I often get emails and calls from potential clients who say, “People tell me my life story would be a great book.”
Comments like this tell me that they are not ready to write a book yet (although one day they might be). Writing a book is a big endeavor, the same as starting a startup or having a new baby. Nobody takes such a huge commitment because other people think it’s a good idea. It’s too much work. It’s only worth writing a book because it’s so important to you that nothing can stop you except circumstances beyond your control … because you will be tempted to stop writing several times during the process. It is difficult.
Writing a book about entrepreneurship can be a prime experience of your life – if you are wondering that … [+]
Even when you have this intense desire – aided by a commitment to action – it is also important to have a strong sense of the book. I’ve found that the most successful entrepreneurship writers – whether they run one-person businesses or fast-growing startups – answer three key questions in their minds before they start writing.
- Which gap in the market will be closed? Just as a product works best when it brings unexpected joy to your target customers or when it solves an annoying problem for them. Your book will be most compelling when it offers a straightforward answer to an important question that readers are trying to solve (and can’t find anywhere else) or is so entertaining that they can’t put it down. It is not always easy to figure out what void you can fill, but no one says you have to answer that question yourself. Doing market research in online bookstores can help you better understand the writers’ conversation about the topic you want to write about and find out where to drive that dialogue forward.
- Why does it have to be published now? Timing is everything when it comes to new product releases – and while books are creative works, they are ultimately products too. Unless you can think of a compelling reason why your book needs to be written now, wait until you have a “why now?” Often one way to uncover this is to wonder what current opportunities your book offers readers, or what weaknesses it helps them avoid. These should be in time enough to make the book a must-see now, but not so time-sensitive that they appear out of date in two or three years – that’s how long it takes for many books to go from the seed of an idea to a published work .
- How is this book about the reader rather than me? A book is a great way to express yourself, but it’s important to remember that ultimately readers will try to find out something about themselves from it. It will be easier to get in touch with them through your book if you think carefully about what they will make of it and how they will feel while reading it. It’s like welcoming guests into your home. The more you can show them a great time and keep them interested and entertained, the more likely they will stay a little longer and come back soon.