“Which book should I write?” I hear this question often and happen to have just received an email asking for advice on the topic.
In today’s post I offer several ways to examine and explore the question of which book to write.
A Markets View of “Which Book Should I Write?”
In the case of the author who wrote me this morning, the three books were for three very different audiences. I advised the aspiring author to think about the future with each book. Imagine yourself connecting with each of those audiences (so answer these questions for each separate audience):
- How you would reach these readers?
- How well do you imagine enjoying this group of people and the type of work you might do to reach them?
- Would you be able to make a living working with this audience on this—or a related—problem, challenge or goal?
For example, I had not fully imagined what it would be like to teach anger workshops when I had the original idea for the book that became The Ultimate Guide to Transforming Anger. Once the book was published, I taught anger workshops with one of my co-authors. I realized, instead, that I wanted to work with people who want to enhance their creative process and their writing, rather than work with their anger. Over time, that led to becoming a book coach!
In my case, it wasn’t a bad thing to have published the anger book, since it resulted in a new career as a book coach. However, it was a long, circuitous path, rather than a quick one. And I don’t use the book in my current line of work at all. The book, however, did provide credibility as a book coach and helped me discover what I loved to do once I realized what I didn’t love!
So, do your best to anticipate but also trust in the process.
A Marketability View of “Which Book Should I Write?”
Another perspective to look at is comparing the marketability of each of the books you are considering.
- Who would this book be for (what markets or audiences)?
- Are you already reaching this market or do you need to start from scratch to build a following or tribe?
- How easy would it be to reach this market?
If you already work with a specific market or audience, then it may be easiest to write a book for them. If you’re starting from scratch you’ll want to think about how you can reach them. As a book coach, I have worked with clients on both ends of the spectrum. It can certainly work if you are new to this audience, but be prepared for some serious work in creating a community and mailing list.
Your answers to these questions (and many that follow) will also help you if you decide to write a book proposal.
A Visionary View of “Which Book Should I Write?”
Next, let’s look at your big picture vision.
How does writing this book and getting it into the hands of future readers fit with a bigger picture vision of your future lifestyle and career plans?
- Can you describe your vision of what each book would create in the world and which vision is the best current fit?
- How would you describe the business model?
- What services might the book help you sell, beyond the book?
- What products might the book help you sell, beyond the book?
- How sustainable is the business model?
- Would the book writing, publishing and promotion resources needed for the book pay for themselves (by supporting additional business) and then some?
I almost always have my book coaching clients and course participants start by creating a vision statement for their book, so they can consistently make decisions from the perspective of the big picture view and where they see themselves going. Consider creating your own vision statement.
An Ease and Grace View of “Which Book Should I Write?”
There’s something to be said for making it easy on yourself. In fact, an easier book often gets completed over a very hard one to write!
- How much work would it be to write this book?
- How much do I already know on this subject?
- What is my estimate for the number of hours of research it would take and:
- Do I have time for the research?
- Would I enjoy doing the research?
If this is your first book, you may want to start with an easy book to write. I often advise new authors to consider the book that requires less research and is based on what they already know. Consider this view when you ask, “Which book should I write?”
In addition, you may want to return to the question asked earlier about which audience(s) would be easiest for you to reach.
A Passion View of “Which Book Should I Write?”
Let’s not forget the importance of passion! Here are some questions to ask yourself about writing this book from the perspective of excitement, joy and fulfillment:
How passionate am I about this topic (and the audience)?
- Can I see myself enjoying writing and promoting this book—and staying passionate about it for several years, at least?
- Does writing, publishing and promoting this book feel like a calling?
Most of the authors I work with are pretty darn excited to spread their message and share their wisdom when their books come out. They enjoy teaching classes or webinars, appearing on podcasts, TV, radio and in news articles. However, I have met authors who publish a book and are on to the next thing, losing interest in the message of their book before they’ve even launched it. While rare, it’s worth considering whether this topic can hold your interest and passion for several years, so that all the work you put into it can reap rewards and create a fulfilling experience for you and your readers.
Have a question? “Ask the book coach” below. You may also enjoy this post on How to Choose a Book Idea.
Karma Kitaj says
Hi,Lisa, remember me?
My 3rd book and FIRST novel is about to be published on 5/1.
It’s a historical novel called BEGUILED, set in Boston, then Greenwich Village and P’Town
from 1900 – 1929.
Please see my website, http://www.KarmaKitaj.com
I forgot you’re a writing coach!
I found you on Goodreads. Can you tell me how I can post info about BEGUILED on GR?
So far, I’ve only found ways to respond to others’ comments.
Lisa Tener says
Of course I remember you! I think you’re still quoted in my book-writing course materials from when I interviewed you years ago. Congratulations! I am not an expert at Good Reads, but my colleague, Frances Caballo is. I am going to ask her to answer your question here. You may also want to purchase her ebook ($2.99 on Amazon), The Author’s Guide to Goodreads.
Frances Caballo says
Do you have a Goodreads account? If so, simply search for Beguiled in the search bar. When I searched for your book right now there were 268 results. So I did a second search and used your ISBN instead. Goodreads pulled up your book but the cover was blank. So when you search for your book with the ISBN be sure to upload your book cover when you’re adding information about the book. Good luck!
Lisa Tener says
Marian Thompson says
I just finished-authoring a book .Neither of us have experience in co-authoring.
We are awaiting the final draft.
I found a contract that seems to fit our needs, as far as what we have already accomplished (writing, finding publisher, proof reader, etc).
I want, in writing, when I know the answers:
How do we get paid from books ordered on line, at our website?
If I do a workshop and sell copies of the book, what percentage is mine and hers?
How should travel expenses be handled?
Currently I am available for travel, as kids are grown, and I’m willing to do that.
I also have a website, and wil be updating to include our book.
Thank you for sharing your experience.
Lisa Tener says
It’s best to consult an IP Attorney for contractual issues, but here are my thoughts on the non-legal part, more from a perspective of figuring out what you both think is fair :
How do we get paid from books ordered on line, at our website: It depends. If you go through Amazon, then you’ll get payments from them. Maybe you want to consider a joint account, or have one of you be the main business and pay the other.
If I do a workshop and sell copies of the book, what percentage is mine and hers? That is really up to you two to decide. Many co-authors just say if you buy the books and sell them, that’s yours. But, and I assume your question means you are self-publishing, others may have a specific percentage to pay each other, such as the co-author who is not selling gets 10% of cover price.
How should travel expenses be handled? Again, this is up to the two of you. If you are being paid to teach a workshop, perhaps you handle those expenses. If you are only making money by selling books and you share more equally in the profit, then it seems it would make more sense to share in expenses. But again part of this is about what seems fair for how much work each of you does (writing, publishing, selling).
I hope that covers your questions, but feel free to ask for clarification. Again, I cannot give legal advice but more just my experience of what often works.
Thank you so much for your reply. This helps very much and if I find I need more clarification, I will ask.
Again, your expertise is appreciated, I have not know which way to go, and saw your information.
Thank you again, All the best.
Lisa Tener says
You’re welcome Marian.