Before You Write, Find Your ‘Why’

Most people say that want to write a book ‘one day’, but very few can give a specific reason why. Do you know your ‘why’? If you don’t, or even if you think you do, read this article to learn how (and why) to find your ‘why’ before you write.

I see a lot more self-published authors put out a book without knowing their why than traditionally published ones. The vetting process of getting published demands it. You want a book deal? You’d better find your why first!

Why Find Your Why

Back in 2015, I was curious to know how satisfied authors were with their experience. I went into my opt-in list, and I dialed and interviewed about 300 self-published authors. Though they were on my list, none of them had ever been my client. Much to my surprise, almost all of them said they were bitterly dissatisfied. When I dug into why they felt this way, I heard a litany of disappointments with their outcomes.

Nearly all of them were sad that the book hadn’t sold more copies. Several of them were mad that it hadn’t attracted new clients, or media attention, or paid speaking gigs like they’d hoped. Each one of them, in their own way, had been living a fantasy that once they wrote the book and put it up on Amazon, people would find it and flock to them, checkbooks in hand.

And then the book came out, and they woke up to a hard reality.

What Could Go Wrong

As I interrogated their experience to try and figure out where they’d gone wrong, it became very clear to me that they were dissatisfied because there was a lot they hadn’t known beforehand—missing information that had blocked their ability to reap the rewards on the backend.

Rather than writing the book with a clear intent (or audience) in mind, they had created a situation where they wrote a book and hoped that divine providence would provide them accolades, bestseller status, and money. But they hadn’t thought it through. They didn’t ask and answer the questions essential to positioning a book, and its author, for massive success.

And once they realized what they’d missed, it was too late. Because it’s nearly impossible to retrofit a success plan for a book that was written off the cuff.

How to Be a Happy Author

Conversely, the few people who told me they were really happy with their experience were the ones who’d asked the essential questions before they even considered writing an outline.

  • Why do I want to write this book?
  • Who’s going to read it?
  • Why will they read it?
  • How do I want to be known?
  • What am I going to do with the book once it’s out?

Consider all these first, before you do any other book work, and you can gain essential clarity to guide your writing experience and help you succeed. No retrofitting necessary.

Another benefit of not writing until after you find your why is that you can always revisit those answers when you hit that inevitable wall that we all face when confronted with a massive project like writing a full length manuscript. You can reconnect to your why and vault over that wall.

Before You Write, Get Clear on 3 Key Areas.

  1. Why are you writing this book? What life goals will it help you accomplish? How do you want others to see you? What difference do you want to make in the world?
  1. Who is it for? Who is your ideal reader, and why will they read your book? What do you want them to walk away with?
  1. How will you use it? Are you going to use it as a sales tool to help you attract new clients into your business? Are you going to use it as an onboarding tool to orient new clients to the foundations of your practice and what you do? Will you use it as a tool to generate referrals? As a foundation for a program that you can market and sell for 1,000 times what you’re charging for your book? All of the above?

Whatever you decide, put together, these make up your ‘why’. And to have a firm grasp on your why will help make the time and money you invest in writing and publishing your book worth it.

The Bottom Line is This:

If you find your ‘why’ before writing your book, then you can reap the rewards—both in business and personally. If you don’t, you’ll probably wind up disappointed.