So you want to write a book. If you think that’s a unique ambition, think again: 81% of people have dreams of writing a book. If you want to be unique, become a part of that 1% who actually puts pen to paper (or more likely, fingers to keyboard) and get your book written.
Once you become a part of that rare 1%, you’re able to choose unlimited possibilities for your life. You can experience the joy of making new connections, or even growing a business, all the while earning passive income from book sales. You are the authority figure in your niche so doors open up for you.
But—you knew there was a “but” coming—before you write, it’s important to get a clear, specific picture of WHY you want to write a book. Knowing your WHY before you even begin will prevent your book from flopping. Too many of the 1% write a book, only to see it as wasted effort in the end.
Your WHY is your foundation for your book. It’s the fuel that carries you through the hard times and motivates you through until the end. It gives you a deep purpose for doing what you are doing so you are less likely to flake out before the rewards come.
For example, when I wrote Breaking Out of a Broken System with my brother Seth, our why or purpose for writing was a passion project. We were passionate about saving 10,000 lives through selling this book. When we didn’t want to write all day and all night, we focused on the good we were doing by writing the book and it got us through.
When you establish your WHY before you begin, you can establish goals for yourself and your book, and find out what actions to take in order to meet those goals.
There are many reasons why people write their books, and limitless possibilities available to authors who follow through and publish their books. Read on, and decide for yourself why you want to write your book so that you can take the right actions from the outset.
Why Should I Write a Book?
The fundamental question of “Why write a book?” is one you should answer before you even begin the writing process. While writing and publishing your book will ultimately be rewarding for plenty of reasons, you will still face hurdles and discouraging moments. The reason why you decided to write a book in the first place should keep you motivated and help you push past the tough parts of the writing and publishing process.
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Make sure your WHY is glorious enough and exciting enough to light your way when you hit those rough spots. So, let’s explore some reasons why people write books. As you read, try to nail down which reasons would motivate you most.
Do What You Love
We’ve all heard the saying “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” It may sound simplistic, especially in our increasingly hard-driving, go-go-go society. Is it really possible to do what you love? Of course it is, and it’s never too late (or too early, for those lucky readers who are just beginning their careers!)
For some of us, writing is what we actually love to do, and that’s enough for us. You may have been itching your whole life to write your own book but have been waiting for the right time. If so, perfect—maybe your love of writing is your WHY.
Author R.E. Vance worked in the traditional publishing industry, but his dream was to become a full-time author. So he self-published a series of urban fantasy novels. He’s in the process of growing an email list of readers who are following his series and who want to know when the next book comes out so they can buy it. His days are now filled with imagining new worlds, researching mythological creatures and writing fast-paced urban fantasies–in other words: his dream job.
For others, writing books isn’t the endgame, it’s just the beginning. They want their first book to act as the doorway to the rest of their life. Whatever your career ambitions are, chances are that being perceived as an expert on a beloved topic will bring you closer to doing what you love. Writing a book is a great way to become known as a professional, which will increase the opportunities available to you. When you write about a topic that brings you feelings of freedom, growth, and joy, you can finally make a living doing what makes you happy.
A Lasting Legacy
One of the most impactful concepts when considering writing a book is the notion that your book can become your enduring legacy.
While it’s true we’re all going to die, authors can “speak from the grave” and will live infinitely through their art. The illusion of immortality is enticing. The thought that our words will live on forever—long past the death of our physical bodies—evokes a powerful feeling.
Perhaps no other book has yet to define the “Book as Legacy” idea quite the way Randy Pausch did with The Last Lecture. He was a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, a husband, and father to three young children. Randy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at the age of 46. At the time of his diagnosis, he reports that he was expected to have only three to six months of good health before the cancer progressed. Ultimately, his diagnosis was terminal.
Spurred by his terrifying diagnosis and the dire timeline, Randy wrote and delivered a lecture to his faculty, based on the idea of a hypothetical “final talk” curated from the life wisdom one would like to share.
His lecture was so compelling and inspirational that it was uploaded to YouTube and has been viewed more than 17 million times. The book rights to his lecture were purchased for $6.7 million, and the book went on to become a New York Times bestseller. It’s since been published in 46 languages.
While Pausch’s death at a young age was certainly tragic, Pausch used his last days to create a written work which connected with people on a massive level, which ultimately served to inspire millions of people.
Sharing your own story can create your legacy. Think about the impact you want your own book to have on the world. Life’s circumstances are not always in our control (like Randy’s diagnosis), but cultivating your dream and fulfilling your own legacy is.
Don’t wait until you face your own “life flashing before your eyes” moment before you realize it’s too late to create something impactful and enduring. There’s only one you. Avoid the mistake that plagues most people with regret: losing the opportunity to share your unique story, in your distinct words.
Help Others—and Yourself
One of the greatest joys in life is learning how to overcome an obstacle, and then sharing your solution with others so you can help them out of the same struggle you escaped. It’s beyond fulfilling to know that you helped shape someone else’s destiny and touched their life in a positive way.
Self-Publishing School coach Chelsea Miller, best-selling author of Imperfectly Perfect, used the story of how she overcame her own demons to write a book. Miller was plagued with self-doubt and body image issues. Once she learned how to shed the perfectionism that haunted her and learned how to love herself, her confidence soared. Her book shows others how to do the same.
Helping others can help you, too. Teaching others your wisdom can reinforce the message for yourself. If you ever run into the same obstacle again, you now have a guidebook—written in your own words—of how to come out on the other side. Being considered the “expert” by others who have been helped by your story can give you the integrity to leave excuses behind and live a transformed life.
Foster a Passion Project
Perhaps you want to start or grow a charity or another organization that will help educate or heal others. Maybe you want to build a non-profit or otherwise become an activist to promote awareness of an issue that’s important to you. Or maybe there’s an issue you want to bring to light to help others out of the darkness.
Self-Publishing School graduate Shelia Merkel did just that when she wrote Live to Tell alongside her coworker, Ben Schwipps, after he tried to commit suicide. The WHY behind their book was to give readers greater insights into depression and anxiety to enable them to help others who are struggling.
Or take the experience of Carly, another student of Self-Publishing School who wrote a best-selling book. In a five-month time period, Carly Danielle’s older sister and father were each diagnosed with cancer. Carly was devastated. But even more than that—she was angry. Her family had no history of cancer. Her sister was a health-conscious, active woman. Her father led a vigorous life, too. Cancer just didn’t make sense. Spurred by her sadness, a touch of anger, and great determination, Carly sought answers.
In her research, Carly learned that getting cancer isn’t just due to genetics, diet, or activity levels. She found numerous articles by credible sources which explained that common consumer goods we expose our bodies to in our homes and at work are typically rife with carcinogenic chemicals because the FDA hasn’t established firm rules in this area.
Carly knew she had to share this hidden truth with everyone she knew and beyond, and that’s how she came to write her book, The Toxic Truth. As Carly explains:
“The Toxic Truth is a passion project because it’s my heart and soul. I don’t hold anything back in my book. I put every detail out there for the entire world to read. Every chemotherapy treatment, every tear shed, every emotion I ever felt is in that book. It’s not just my passion, it’s my mission to tell the world this information because I was never told any of this and that infuriates me down to my core.”
About Self-Publishing School, Carly says, “[Chandler Bolt] states that you can write and publish a book in three months, and that is the truth. I was worried about making that timeframe true, and when I found out that he actually had a three-month timeline that told you what to do…it was a no-brainer.”
Carly’s passion for educating others about cancer and offering solutions has yielded amazing results. Carly is a #1 best-selling author in two categories. In the first two days of her launch, she sold over 1,400 copies of her book.
And the hype continues. Carly says, “My life is straight out of a movie. Every regional newspaper is picking up my story. Every family, friend, or neighbor I’ve ever known is asking for a copy. People are even recognizing me at Target. All because I shared what I am so passionate about.”
Can you transform your experiences into a book that connects to an audience? Of course you can. Your fresh story, told in your own voice, can bring your passion project to life. Turning your passion project into a book can lead you to new heights in your life and your career.
Find Your Tribe or Grow Your Network
One way people bond is through shared experiences and empathizing with others. No matter what your particular story is, someone else out there will be able to relate to it. Digging deep and getting the words on paper can forge connections with people in ways you can only imagine.
Jyotsna Ramachandran wanted to quit her job and do something more meaningful with her life, but she wasn’t sure how she could manage to escape the rat race. So she started researching the topic in depth. She interviewed a slew of experts who are professional internet marketers, and Jyotsna learned how people can build their own businesses doing what they love. She used what she learned to create a great resource for people like herself–people who wanted to bust out of the workforce and carve their own path.
Jyotsna used the recorded interviews that served as book research as a lead magnet to gather email addresses. That way she could market her book. Her book, Job Escape Plan: The 7 Steps to Build a Home Business, Quit your Job and Enjoy the Freedom, was a raging success. And that old day job of hers? History.
Many best-selling authors have built their respectable brands on the back of challenges they’ve faced and overcome. Have you overcome injury or illness, childhood abuse, or poverty? These harsh life circumstances can help connect you with many out there who have shared the same struggle. You can share your survival story, both to heal yourself and to connect with others who may learn from your experiences.
The maxim “you can’t be all things to all people” holds true for writing. Your audience is not “every person in the world.” Defining your personal experience will help you grow your audience, the people who can best relate to the story you want to tell.
If it bleeds, it leads. While that axiom is true, seek to maximize the positive outcomes of your story. Enlightenment is often borne out of struggle. The story of a rising champion resonates with others, too, so don’t feel you need to manufacture a never-ending sob story to succeed with your book. Share your joys and successes to find your tribe, those people who can relate to you and who want to read what you have to say.
Maybe your WHY for writing a book isn’t personal, but financial and business-based. Maybe you want to establish a passive income stream: write it once, hit publish, and collect book royalties for life. Or perhaps your goal for self-publishing your book involves your entrepreneurial aspirations. In that case, rather than passive income, your goal for writing your book is to get more work by establishing yourself as a pro in your industry or by launching yourself into a new career.
Whether you want to make a living writing books, or you want your books to help you make a living doing something else, making money is absolutely a viable reason to write a book.
A book may not be a business, but you can easily make it into one, just like Michael did.
Michael Unks, a pharmacist from South Carolina, attributes one teacher to helping him turn his life around. The teacher helped Michael become more confident in himself and develop a positive outlook on life. Michael’s powerful, personal transformation incredibly took place in only one month. Because it was such a radical shift in being, Michael felt compelled to write a book that could inspire family and friends to make similar positive changes in their lives too.
Michael wrote and published his book One-Month Willpower, and enjoyed its rapid rise to best-seller status. Initially, Michael had thought maybe fifty people would read it. To his surprise, thousands of people are now reading his book. People are reaching out to him from all over the world saying how much the book has helped them.
One-Month Willpower gave Michael the confidence to keep writing and to see writing as a new career, not just a hobby. Since then, Michael has written three more best-selling books and is putting the finishing touches on his fifth book.
Michael’s first book was the catalyst to creating a dream business: inspiring others to live better lives. He is now pursuing a career in motivational speaking.
You can be just like Michael. He never thought he could build a business or brand from his books, but he did. Writing that first book was his ticket to believing in himself, and that was all it took.
If he can do it, so can you.
The bottom line is this: There are a million and one reasons to write your book and share your story. Each reason is viable and worthy in its own right. Likewise, your most compelling reason will be unique and valuable to you. Having confidence in your WHY and using it to shape your writing and publication process will motivate you to stay true to your goals for your book and your life.
Becoming an author and writing your own book is a dream within your grasp. By defining your WHY and thinking hard about what you ultimately want your published book to accomplish, you will be able to establish goals and take steps to follow through on your dream. Writing your book is the first step on the path of limitless possibilities for you as an author. Now, it’s up to you to take control of your destiny and success.