Should You Write a Book — Or Shouldn’t You?

10 questions to answer before you proceed

Kathy Widenhouse
Dec 29, 2020 · 5 min read
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Photo by Ed Robertson on Unsplash

you do a quick internet search you can find plenty of tips about writing a book. Courses about writing a book. Books about writing a book. And these days, self-publishing makes it easy and affordable for anyone to become a published book author.

But should you write a book right now?

The idea of writing a book and publishing it yourself is appealing. When you’re the writer and publisher rolled into one, you don’t have to lobby for a book contract. You don’t have to wait 12–24 months or longer for your manuscript to lumber through the editorial process. Instead, you have control over your product. And in terms of money, you get to keep more of what you make from book sales.

Yet writing a book may give you pause. Maybe you’re intimidated or overwhelmed. You have heard people say that writing a book requires sweat equity and time.

Still, plenty of people write books. So how do you decide if you should write a book or shelve the idea for later?

There are plenty of great reasons to write a book and some compelling reasons not to. You want to know what you’re getting into so you can make a good decision. Ask yourself these questions to help you decide if you should go ahead and start that book right now … or wait until you’ve done some more homework.

You should get started writing your book

1. Are you ready to share what you know?

If you’ve developed a special skill, a distinctive method, an unusual approach or viewpoint, a unique solution, or if you have a powerful personal story, you can write a book and share it with more people. Or perhaps others have asked you to share your know-how in a book. When you write a book, you’re able to meet this important need in the marketplace.

2. Are you ready to expand your reach?

Your book can allow you to reach a wider audience with your content. You can take the material you use as a speaker, teacher, or consultant and use it to write your book. Conversely, once you write your book, you can repurpose the content in a course, speaking engagements, and consultant work. In this way, a book is a good content marketing tool. It gives you visibility and authority in your niche by reinforcing your message through the printed word.

3. Are you driven to raise awareness?

Writing a book brings attention to your cause or might help you launch an organization. Your book can introduce readers to your topic, help them become more familiar with your topic, or reinforce your message.

4. Are you eager to learn more about your topic?

Any writer worth her salt completes a market analysis to find out what other books have already been published in that niche. Novelists must conduct research in order to convey an accurate setting and to create believable characters. Nonfiction writers go further with citations. Even if your book is a personal memoir, you need to review your journals, family history, and fact check details. You have to organize your ideas, interview people, and process your content. If you write a book, you’ll learn a lot, even if you don’t plan on it.

5. Do you have reasonable financial expectations?

While making money is a reason to write a book, there is no guarantee how much you will make. You may make a little. You may make a lot. Or a book may provide only a small income stream but can open other financial doors for you.

You should wait to write your book

1. Is your idea untested or under-developed?

Maybe you’ve got a great idea, but you haven’t put it into practice. Or maybe you have created a process that will be helpful to many people, but you are not able to articulate it just yet. If your book idea is untested or you are unable to communicate it clearly, then wait to write your book until you can do so.

2. Have you set aside time to write your book?

A book is a significant project. While prolific writers can produce a book in a month, some literary novelists invest three to ten years in a book. If you haven’t planned your book with a calendar at your elbow, do so.

3. Do you expect notoriety?

Some writers become instantly famous and others sell less than ten copies of their magnum opus over a lifetime. Today’s writers add “marketing” to their skill sets in order to promote their books. If your plans are to write a book to gain fame, take some time to learn how to go about getting your name in front of readers.

4. Is your motivation purely financial?

Like I said: you may make a little. You may make a lot. If financial gain is your sole reason for writing a book, then wait until you have other motivations in place, too.

5. Are you giving in to peer pressure?

Indie publishing: everyone’s doing it, but is that a good enough reason for you to invest time and sweat into writing a book? If you feel compelled to write a book simply to keep up with the Writing Joneses, then wait.

Use these questions as a self-check

Answer these questions as honestly as you can. If you’ve got more “yes” answers to “You should wait” questions, than “You should get started” questions, then hit the Pause button on writing your book. But if you’ve got a well-defined idea that will help others — and if writing a book will give you a good avenue for your message and extend your reach — then what are you waiting for? Get started writing that book already!

Kathy Widenhouse offers tips and tutorials for writers at www.nonprofitcopywriter.com.

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Kathy Widenhouse

Written by

Kathy Widenhouse is a freelance content writer and online publisher who specializes in writing for nonprofits and ministries. www.nonprofitcopywriter.com

The Book Mechanic

Down-and-dirty growth strategies for commercial writers and creators, with a blue collar work ethic, and a no-nonsense voice.

Kathy Widenhouse

Written by

Kathy Widenhouse is a freelance content writer and online publisher who specializes in writing for nonprofits and ministries. www.nonprofitcopywriter.com

The Book Mechanic

Down-and-dirty growth strategies for commercial writers and creators, with a blue collar work ethic, and a no-nonsense voice.

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