“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” ~ Benjamin Franklin
Perhaps you are pondering ‘what kind of book should I write and more importantly – why?’ When someone says you should be writing a book.
People say that a lot don’t they? You have so much knowledge, so many skills and what about all of your amazing experiences – they say.
You, delighted that someone might think you worthy of such a role inwardly beam. But in reality, you freak. It can seem like a mammoth task unless there is more than ‘it’s a nice idea’ to write. Planning and writing a book takes time and resources and so it needs to be justified in some way. You need to know your why. And you want to know how you can use a book when it has been written.
Exploring why you are thinking about writing a book is a good place to start, but something often overlooked is what kind of book one should contemplate writing. It’s worth noting that you can write many kinds of books, you do not ever need to stick to one style or genre (no you don’t!!!).
I believe that there are books that want to be written for different stages of your life.
Here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.
The how-to manual
The how-to manual book is the kind of book that you would write if let’s say you taught or coached a technical subject, selling software or a product – like a camera. In the early days of my training career in IT I wrote many a how-to book, we called them training manuals. They are extremely valuable. Naturally many people head over to YouTube to find out how to do something which gives you an opportunity to extend the reach of your book.
Think about some of the books you own in this genre. I have one on how to use my camera and some on painting and drawing. In these, there are no stories or case studies they simply show you have to do a particular task.
Take a look at some that you might own and ask is this something you would like to do and is this something that would prove useful to your clients? If you are a trainer, for example, giving a client a how-to book (manual) as part of a training course looks far more professional than a manual in a folder. In addition, because of print on demand either from a printer or Amazon, you can easily keep these up to date. Plus you have opportunities to sell extra workbooks and planners.
A recipe book
I don’t know about you, but I love recipe books, especially those that have stories to go with the recipes. Someone told me that they had read that recipe books sell well but are rarely used. That’s not true in my house as I love to experiment and find inspiration in another’s idea of the perfect dish.
One of the problems with recipe books is that they sometimes are missing parts of the process or the weights are not correct, or horror of horrors the writers fail to tell the readers that their oven or loving hand may produce different results.
While holidaying with my parents, I received a frantic call from a now ex. He’d rung to say his cake had sunk. While I knew that there could have been many reasons why being so far and not being able to witness how this catastrophe had occurred I was at a loss.
When I arrived home, I invited him to show me the process in action. His job was to prepare the ingredients and then read to me each step as he did it. We got to the eggs; I said for him to wait, he impatient and knowing better, cracked the eggs and shoved them into the waiting ingredients. The recipe had omitted a vital part (whisk the eggs and add them slowly), and his cake mixture was now curdled. Luckily I knew how to ‘uncurdle’ a cake and the day was saved.
This kind of book would suit you if you love to cook, have a story or two, want to either be known for this, are doing it preserve your or families recipes and you want a fun project.
You may also want to be able to support people who a) might cock it up or b) want to swap ingredients for health reasons and c) are meticulous to detail.
Self-help non-fiction book
In this category it can be any kind of self-help book, be that one on personal branding, how to write a book, healing trauma, training dogs, renovating furniture and a multitude of other subjects. I’ve clubbed them together, whereas on Amazon they would be classified by genre, e.g. business or mind, body, spirit.
The essence is the same that they support the reader on a journey. They differ from a manual which is more about giving instructions.
This is where I believe that you would want to ensure that your book, brand and business are aligned, and you pay attention to what this book will bring you. It has to be the right book for right now. If it takes the average writer a year to ‘knock out’ a book while running a business and juggling life, then this book needs to be focused on what you want to be known for.
For example, with three other coaching colleagues, we wrote a book on Executive Leadership, at the time it was relevant for all of us. Then my life changed, and although I am extremely proud of it, it’s not currently as relevant for me as it is for the other authors.
By comparison, I have a book on how to plan and write a non-fiction book and this many years later is still very relevant for me. I have run writing retreats, workshops, have a coaching program and online courses based on it.
What do you love doing, what are you good at, what does the world need and what can you be paid for? What do you want to be known for which is sustainable in let’s say two years time?
What is your right book for right now?
A memoir is a slice of your life. Memoirs are written for many reasons, most notably to leave a legacy. Every person has a story or two to tell, but whether they want to tell is another story. It requires is a theme (the slice) and a purpose. If you are writing about another member of the family or another person, then that is a biography.
Again memoirs fall into many categories, trauma, finding yourself, adventure or maybe a dedication to a cause.
These kinds of books tend to be written by people who use them to support their speaking careers or to raise awareness of an important issue, but equally to contribute to their business in some other way.
Imagine if you have been on an incredible adventure and what you coach or teach is the skills you used to prepare and get you through that adventure. That would be worth writing about – right?
A biography is a story about someone else or something else. Perhaps you are a fan of a particular band, a family member was held in a prisoner of war camp, someone made a heroic journey, a person you want to write about suffered adversity, cured an illness, or went on a remarkable adventure.
I see these books about preserving the history surrounding the event and possibly not something that would support your business, but would nonetheless be extremely rewarding.
I’ve separated this from memoir, as I see this as a combination of self-help book and memoir that you would use for your brand and business.
Your book would chart a period of your life (a period of awakening, transition and change), tell a story, offer research, practical experience and advice.
Most importantly it would inspire others personal growth and to know that there is a way.
This could be a cause-related book where you write it to support others and to raise awareness, but which you may not want to build a business around. Alternatively, this book might be a business book, and it could be your business pivot book – it gets you out of what you are doing now and into what speaks to your heart.
If you have experienced something which is life-changing and now want to coach and consult in this area, a book that is written like this is a) very rewarding to write and b) adds credibility to your brand, c) is something you can build products and services around and d) will inspire others to change.
This is a book, which may never see the light of day. Imagine if you have been through a crisis of some kind and you want to move on. While there are many therapies that you could choose, writing is known to support healing. You could argue that journaling would serve the same purpose, and it might. However, with this book, you are following the flow of planning and writing a ‘normal’ non-fiction book, but instead of writing to publish, you are writing to heal.
Typically you would work with a coach who would guide you through the process, each week you would meet to discuss the chapter, and you would pour yourself into your book.
The very act of talking and writing with purpose enables you to explore your story, gain perspective and heal.
I have worked with many people in this way. The book never gets published, but it is one of the most rewarding experiences in the field of writing to heal I know.
Like healing non-fiction, this is what I call creative life writing. You would take an aspect of your life and write it from a purely fictional perspective, being very careful to protect the innocent and litigious.
Practically all fiction will contain some of the author’s life experiences or experiences that they have heard of or witnessed. This style of book will allow you to go on your journey while you have the pleasure of fictionalising and being creative in your expression of the tale. You could use some of the planning tools available for non-fiction books and then let the rest flow.
Using an event like NaNoWriMo, which is an annual write-a-thon is a perfect way to get 50,000 words out, and your mind cleared in a more artistic way. Imagine if you took some aspect of your life and wrote it in what I call a wicked way, where you get to be the master or mistress of your over-fertile imagination, anything could happen. In this way, you will see life from a new perspective.
I’m currently doing this and while I had a plan, what is flowing out of me is about betrayal, forgiveness, trust and finding love again. Who knew I needed to learn this…?
Unlike healing fiction, the purpose of this is to entertain. Your purpose is very much that you want to write stories around a theme or for a particular genre, think 50 Shades, Harry Potter, Confessions of (now that is showing my age), The Tudors, murder mystery, thriller, psychological, children, teens, romantic comedy or historical. The list is endless.
You might do this because you want to build a career as a fiction writer, you love to write, or it’s your retirement dream.
Whichever you choose, remember it will only get written if it speaks to your heart. Where writing is concerned nothing gets done if it feels like you have been airlifted into purgatory. Check out the first 10 steps to your book – you may feel inspired.
Have a think and let me know what you are thinking of writing and why. Drop me a line and let’s chat about your book project.
PS: If you are thinking of writing a book then take a look at WRITE! online course for writing a book.