3 Questions to Ask before You Write a Book

Twenty-five years ago, a preacher wrote a book that he thought could help women break free of addictions, poverty, abuse, and crime. At first, no publishers were interested in the book. Eventually, the preacher found a publisher willing to publish the book. But the preacher had to contribute thousands of dollars towards the publication. The preacher and his wife had a few thousand dollars that they were saving to buy a home. That preacher, T.D. Jakes, and his wife invested their savings into publishing Woman, Thou Art Loosed. Since its first publication in 1993, millions of copies have sold and the book was made into a major motion picture.

Many people want to write a book. Many feel that their book could help people overcome a problem. Some people think that they can become rich and famous by writing a great book that millions of people will adore.

Regardless of your reason, before you invest hours and dollars into writing and promoting a book, consider these questions.

1. Why are you writing the book?
Do you want to document your life on paper for your grandchildren? Do you want to see your name at the top of the New Your Times bestseller list? Do you want a product to sell on your website or at your speaking engagements? Do you just need to get your thoughts on paper? There is no wrong reason to write a book. However, if you intend to sell the book and make a profit, you need to invest the money in making sure you’ve produced a good product.

2. Are you willing to invest the money to produce a good product?
Even if you write very well, you need to have your book edited. A good editor will tell you that chapter five should follow chapter three. She will tell you that you use “such as” incorrectly. For a 200 page book, a good editor will charge at least $500. You will also need a designer for your book cover. This will cost about $400. And you will need someone to format your book. That will cost another $300-$500. There are websites that allow you to create your own book cover for less than $100. The problem with these covers is that they look homemade. If you don’t intend to sell your book, this option is okay.
What if you’re planning to do a short e-book? If you’re planning to do a short e-book of 20 pages or less, I wouldn’t worry about formatting or creating a cover. Nor would I invest hundreds of dollars in an editor. For a short e-book, I would find cheap labor on Fiverr or Upwork. If you decide to turn your short e-book into a full length book, you can always have it edited and formatted at a later date.

3. Who will buy your book?

Before you spend the time to write a book and invest the money in creating a good product, make sure someone wants to buy your book. Most books sell fewer than 1,000 copies. If you self-publish your book, you will make about $6 per copy that you sell. If you go through a traditional or hybrid publisher, your proceeds will be closer to $1 per copy that you sell. How do you find out if someone wants your book? There are a few ways. Start by asking people who you think would be interested. Ask them what books they’ve read this year. Ask them how much they paid for the books. Ask if anything was missing from those books. Once you have a few of these casual interviews, you’ll know if you have something fresh to bring to a topic. Read book reviews on Amazon. Are there any books on the topic that you want to discuss in your book? If not, how will you build an audience? You could consider a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for editing, designing the cover and formatting. If you can’t raise a few hundred dollars on Kickstarter, that’s not a good sign for selling thousands of books, if that’s your goal.

If you’re considering writing a book and you want to sell it outside of your immediate circle, read Sell Your Book like Wildfire by Rob Eager. This book will show you how to build your audience before you write your book and will give you tips on building marketing into your manuscript.
Do you want to write a book? Why?

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