Recently I’ve discovered Dusti Arab, blogger extraordinaire (see Confessions of a Former Danielle LaPorte Wannabe, Or How To Make Every Copywriter Hate You and Why Old White Men Should Stop Making Assumptions About Millenials.
If you plan to write a book, please check out her take on How to write a book and raise a family and 10 Reasons Your Book Isn’t Written Yet (And 10 Actions to Get it Done).
I just want to highlight and expand on one reason that Dusti offers: lack of clarity.
Suppose you mention that you’re writing a book and someone says, “Cool. What’s it about?”
Prepare to answer this question now—before you tell anybody about your book project. And, be able to answer it in one sentence that draws people in.
This means work. Hard thinking. Expect to write many drafts of Your Sentence. The clarity you gain will make it all worthwhile.
There are dozen of approaches to crafting that sentence. Fortunately, if you’re writing a how-to or self-help book, you have an obvious choice. Take a cue from Stephen Covey and begin with the end in mind.
In other words:
- State the main benefit that readers will gain from your book.
- Describe the main problem that you will help readers to solve.
- Explain the most important outcome that people will be able to produce after reading your book.
Those bullets are three ways of saying the same thing.
For the more anal-retentive among you, here’s a template for constructing Your Sentence:
I explain how [intended audience] can [main benefit, solution, or outcome].
- I explain how busy people can finish their book manuscript.
- I explain how people with attention deficit disorder can establish a regular meditation practice.
- I explain how parents can set loving and firm limits with children.
- I explain how self-employed people can create a business plan that actually works.
For more ideas, see Gordon Burgett’s wonderful blog, including Your book is the answer to one question.
Also check out Michael Port’s notion of a “who and do what statement,” mentioned here. Michael’s post is for self-employed people who want to talk in a compelling way about what they do. However, his suggestions translate beautifully into crafting Your Sentence for a book.