Before You Begin Your Writing Project

We often jump into a new writing project without much thought. Driven by passion and fueled by the excitement surrounding the creative process, we dive in. Sometimes, this is a terrific strategy. Pour out what’s in your heart; try to make sense of it later. Other times, you simply waste your time by not answering a few preliminary questions. If you’re serious about a book project, it will serve you to clarify your intention with the following.

Before you lift a pen or fire up your computer, there are a number of critical questions you’ll want to answer. This little exercise will help clarify why you are about to invest hundreds of hours into a potentially agonizing—yet rewarding —process.

  1. Why do you want to write this book? What do you think the book will give you?
  2. What is the purpose of the book? Why do you feel compelled to write it?
  3. Who are you writing this book for? What kind of person will pull it from the shelf? Accurately pinpointing your audience in advance can determine your book’s salability to a publisher and ultimately, to the market.
  4. Why will someone want to read it? What need / problem will the book address and how will the book help the reader? This question assumes you are writing a nonfiction book. Again, know your market.
  5. Has your message already been said? What’s unique and remarkable about your message? Do some market research in your local bookstore and / or at We’ll get into this further in the next section.
  6. How does being an author fit into your overall career?

Take twenty minutes or several days and soul-search the answers to these questions. It is the best time you can spend.

The above article is an excerpt from the guidebook included in Everything You Need to Know to Become a Best-Selling Author. In this program, Dr. X and Scott Jeffrey guide the listener step-by-step through the Book Proposal process with clear illustrations throughout.

By Scott Jeffrey

With an impressive client list including New York Times best-selling authors, speakers, and consultants, Scott Jeffrey is renowned for his ability to guide each client’s journey to the impossible—crafting their own adventure, zealously following their bliss and discovering their unique, meaningful contribution to the world. Scott is the master strategist behind Creative Crayon, LLC, a world-class strategic coaching enterprise and consultancy.

Scott is the author of Journey to the Impossible: Designing an Extraordinary Life, a Benjamin Franklin Award finalist, as well as the interviewer in the 10-CD audio program, Everything you Need to Know to Become a Best-Selling Author. He was the editor of Impossible Journeys.

Scott and his four-legged hiking companion, Yoda, reside in the mountains of upstate New York.

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