Being a writer and author is hands-down, one of my greatest passions in life. And as a ghostwriter and writing coach, I firmly believe that writing a book and getting it published, and even sold, is a truly satisfying experience, and a dream worth pursuing.
However, it’s not for everyone.
You see, in my experience, I have come to find that many start writing a book for all the wrong reasons. And the usual result is disappointment and frustration. Disappointment if the book doesn’t ever get published, and frustration for if it does get published but doesn’t end up bringing in the desired results that the author had for it.
With that said, here are four reasons you probably shouldn’t write a book.
1) “Everyone,” Says You Should Write a Book About Your Life
Now, not many writers and authors will tell you this, but I truly believe that everyone has a great story (or book) in them waiting to be written and shared with the world. Therefore, I think everyone should take the time to write a book.
With that said, have you ever heard someone tell you, “You should write a book!”, after hearing a brief excerpt or two of your life’s story. It’s a flattering thing to hear, sure, but the chances are the person telling you this has no idea at all what’s involved in writing a book, not to mention what constitutes a book worth reading about.
The truth is, writing a book is a heck of a lot of work. And if you don’t feel pretty much compelled to turn your story, idea, experience, etc. into a book, then chances are you’ll get started but will become weighed down with life and all of its challenges and complexities, and never finish.
And this is true even if you do happen to hire a ghostwriter or a writing coach. While these experts can help, they can’t do it without a lot of work on your part as well.
Moreover, I don’t know about you, but I remember when I started writing my first book, and I was sharing with people that I was writing a book, they would always say something like, “I know so much about this or that, that I could write a book on it.” I would always respond by saying, “Well, why don’t you?” They would then be left speechless because I guess no one ever responded in that way to them before.
But that’s the thing … you see, once you start writing a book, and you tell others that you’re writing a book, it seems like everyone thinks it’s an easy thing to do. They think anybody could sit down and put words on paper. But you and I both know that it’s not that simple.
Sure, anybody could put words on paper, but just putting words on paper isn’t going to make you a successful author. And you and I both know that writing is not just some easy task to check off the to-do list. It takes a creative soul to sit down and take words and put them together in such a way that will impact someone’s life.
In fact, it has been said by many that writing is really all about bleeding a little onto the page. So, with that said, search within yourself and ask if you are willing to a bleed a little every day — if you do, fine, but if you don’t it’s probably better to leave it alone, at least for now.
2) Promoting Your Business or Yourself is the Only Reason You Want to Have a Book
While a book can be an ideal promotional or marketing tool for you and/or your business, however, if that’s your only reason for writing it, chances are you won’t ever finish it or it won’t really be a book worth reading.
You see, again, you’ve got to have something to sustain you during the writing process, and that’s usually a passion for what you’re writing about. If it is all about hurrying up and getting it done so that you can start using it as a high-priced business card I would suggest pursuing some other avenue in which to promote your business. Doing so would be more cost-effective in the long run.
Now, of course, you can hire a ghostwriter to do a promotional book for you, but as I’ve stated before, if you aren’t intimately involved with the writing process by taking time to talk with your ghostwriter, and to read over and provide editing suggestions for every chapter, chances are it won’t reflect enough about you to actually impact your potential readers.
To that end, a book rushed or quickly put together without any true passion behind the production of it (including the writing process and the book and book cover layout process) is going to do you and your business more harm than good in the long the run.
3) You’re Not Willing to Market Your Book
Although I suppose there are a few books that fly off the shelves with no marketing effort on the part of the writer, don’t count on it working out like that for you!
You see, these days the work it takes to write the book is just the beginning. You’ve also got to market it or hire people to market it for you, which can get expensive.
Obviously, this is true for self-publishing, but it’s also true for writers who land contracts with traditional publishers. Unless you’re already famous, publishers want someone who can help them sell the book. And more than likely they won’t accept your book proposal if they know you don’t already have a substantial following, whether that be on social media or what have you.
Yes, they might have a designated marketing associate assigned to your book to help with promoting it and setting up book tours and what have you, but even still, it is going to take some serious promotional, marketing, and advertising work on your part.
Marketing is key to the sales of a book — being willing to promote it, or at least help advertise it, is key to the success of your book. If you don’t have any desire to become a self-marketing powerhouse, you shouldn’t even get started writing a book.
Lastly, it makes a whole lot of sense to start learning as much about sales and marketing that you can now before you ever commit to writing a book, or paying someone to write it.
4) You Don’t Have (or Won’t) Take the Time to Sit Your Butt in the Chair and Write
Asking how long does it take to write a book is like asking how far is far— there’s just no way to answer with much specificity.
That being said, in general, nonfiction books are around 40,000 to 70,000 words or more — this article, for example, is about 1,800+ words. Regardless if you are a seasoned writer or not, it takes serious time to write a book!
True, if you write a page a day, roughly 300–500 words, at the end of the year you’ll have 365 pages and more than enough for a full-length manuscript. Between the writing, rewriting, and editing you simply have to be willing to devote enough time to get it done — if you’re not willing to do that, don’t start until you are!
Moreover, while hiring a ghostwriter might mean you don’t necessarily have to write the book, if you want it to truly represent you, you’ll still have to spend some time working, probably through interviews — getting the information from your head to the ghostwriter. Then you will need to spend some time reading what the ghostwriter has written, making corrections, adding information, and so on.
In short, it will still take a measure of commitment from you even when you hire a ghostwriter.
Now Over to You
Are you still thinking about writing a book? I didn’t write this article to convince you not to write a book. I wrote it so that you might understand a little more about what writing and publishing a book demands from you.
And I wrote it to encourage you to keep pursuing your dream of becoming a successful published author — because nothing that is easy is worth having or pursuing in my book.
That way, once you finish your book and publish it, you will understand how much of an accomplishment you have made. You see, there are a lot of analogies that could be used here to better clarify what it takes to write, produce, and market a book.
We could use the analogy of a baby. You see, there is passion involved in the making of a baby, and then there are nine months of development and process. In other words, you can’t produce a quality book in a few hours and then expect that “baby” to be fully developed and ready to enter the world (marketplace).
It is going to take time. And it is going to require you to be refueled with passion every time you sit down to write, as well as every time you get on the phone to work with your publisher (whether that be a traditional publisher or self-publisher) during the production phase of putting your book together.
We can also use the analogy of going to college. You see, it takes about two to four years to earn a degree (depending on what type of degree you are going after). And in those two to four years it is a guarantee that life is going to hit in you in the face every now then.
Challenges will happen and circumstances and situations will often weigh you down, which is why it takes discipline, dedication, and commitment to do the work that is required to earn your degree. And once you do earn it, it becomes such an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment.
Well, it is the same with writing, publishing, and marketing a book. It’s going to take discipline, dedication, and commitment to make it a priority to sit down and write, as well as making it a priority to do what it takes to market the book once it is published.
But once it’s published, and once you are beginning to see some of those royalty checks coming in (think of those royalty checks as that degree), again, it becomes an overwhelming feeling of accomplishment. And there is nothing like that feeling.
William Ballard is one of the most sought-after business and leadership coaches in the world. As founder and CEO of William Ballard Enterprise, his core business development and leadership programs are designed to be a catalyst for entrepreneurs and leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their business, their lives, and the world. To learn more about how to grow your business in the midst of the new normal, subscribe to William’s free business insider newsletter.