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The 4 Questions Every Author Should Ask

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

It’s a romantic idea ... to ‘write a book’. It gives us a purpose and something to do. It gives us somewhere to pour our time into. It is creative and we join a community of writers. But do we really know what it takes to get to the end? Not until you have done it. I am mentoring a ghost-writer who has written lots of blogs and articles and was commissioned to do a book. We are a year into the process, and the very hard reality of writing such a big thing is hitting hard. A book is simply a massive amount of words to lasso into shape. I am not telling you this to put you off, but to let you know the reality behind it. Writing a book is no small thing. It is not a poem, a short story, or an article. It is not 10,000 or even 40,000 words. It is going to take you a year at least to write, and another year to get it to market. My first book was published in 2005 and I am still promoting it. I just finished another one this month (for a client) and I swear I nearly lost my mind from the sheer weight of all those words. Writing a book is such a leap of faith. It may never get published. It may sell 10 copies. It may also fly, change your life, and open doors to a new future. ​But I know that a book is a calling, more than anything else. Nobody writes to make money.

Some questions to ask yourself as you start the journey Why do I really want to do this? This is so important to know. Get very clear on why as this is the thing that will hold you to your course over the next few years. Is it to record your life? Get revenge? To share an idea? Because you have a story to tell? You have lessons to teach? You want to entertain others? You want to build a brand? Entertain your kids? Is this a book, or something else? We are not all cut out to write long-form. Take a real look at the way the world consumes media. Should this be a book? Could this be a letter? A manifesto? A series of blogs? A talk you can do at the local school? What am I prepared to pay? This always takes writers by surprise, that writing a book will actually cost you. The first cost is simply your time investment, which is massive. Carve out a year of part-time work. Imagine you are doing a doctoral thesis. But then were are other costs. You may want to pay for a manuscript appraisal, a Beta reader, an editor. You may not get a publisher and want to self-publish, in which case your costs will rise to include the entire book production. Who’s on my team? Who do you need to support, bully, cajole and boost you? Very few authors are lucky enough to get a book commissioned upfront by a publisher, so you will need to find a few folks to back you and do some quality control. I have found over the years that writing in a group at a set time every week really helps with discipline and focus. Just as long as we are writing, not talking. You will also need a larger publishing team to get your book to market. From an agent, editor, cover designer, proofreader – to PR and distribution - so many hands need to touch your book before the public sees it. Don’t think you can do this alone – and don’t dare try and fill all those roles this is a time you need professionals or it shows.

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