14 questions to ask yourself before starting a book project.
My mom wants to write a book. I’m going to help her.
(Coolest project ever? Pretty much.)
We’ve been exchanging emails back and forth to map out the project.
As part of our prep work, I challenged my mom to answer the following 14 questions.
(She totally resisted at first — and tried to get out of doing her “homework.” Unacceptable, mom. I mean, really.)
Projects that begin with a clear, bright focus… tend to get finished.
Projects that begin in a state of confusion and chaos… tend to get abandoned.
Don’t rush. Take some time to think, plan, and wrap your project in the clarity it deserves. You’ll be grateful you did. (Your readers will appreciate your thoughtful precision, too.)
1. Imagine that you are describing the finished book to a friend at a dinner party. How would you sum up the book — in a sentence or two?
To give you an example… here is my mom’s answer (go, mom!):
This is a book about my personal journey — building a $45 million theater during one of the worst economic climates in history, with zero experience, while raising three kids.
It’s a book about what it takes to make “impossible ideas” become real.
2. What is your highest hope for the book?
To give you an example… here is my mom’s answer (isn’t she rad?):
I want this book to inspire people to take impossible ideas and commit to them with conviction.
I want this book to show people: it’s possible if you BELIEVE it’s possible — and if you’re willing to be gutsy and unconventional with your approach.
3. How do you want this book to look & feel? (Riff on the format, size and style.)
4. Do you care about making money from this book? (It’s totally OK if you don’t. Not everything needs to turn a profit. And… it’s totally OK if you do. Money is great!)
5. If you care about making money from this book, are you willing to promote / market / publicize it? (Like: a lot?)
6. Do you care about getting a traditional publishing deal? Or do you want to self-publish?
7. If you think you want a traditional publishing deal: how come? (Just because it sounds “fancy?” Or is there a more compelling reason for you to go that route?)
8. What’s the basic structure of the book? What’s going to be inside? (Stories, essays, manifestos, photos, letters, poems, recipes… what’s up?)
9. What is your budget for producing the book? (Some costs to consider, depending on your project: Editor. Proofreader. Illustrator. Cover designer. Historical researcher. Fact checker. Attorney / intellectual property expert.)
10. Once the book is done, what do you want to “do” with it?
A few examples:
Give 100 copies away to my closest friends and colleagues at my 70th birthday party. Sell it on my website. Read excerpts at a book launch party. Donate copies to local yoga studios. Use it as a starting point for a speaking tour.
11. How will you feel once you complete this book and deliver it to the world?
12. How will you feel if you never attempt to write — or fail to finish — this book?
13. Imagine the book is done. You’re writing a “thank you” note to everyone who believed in you and encouraged you to finish it. Who will you thank — and what will you say?
14. Imagine the book is done. Party time! How will you celebrate?
Not everyone on the planet needs to write a book, start a blog, or play with words.
There are plenty of other ways to express yourself & make a contribution in the world.
But when there’s a particular project that’s tugging at your mind & heart…
A project that you really feel called to do…
Make the time.
Be the kind of person who starts clear — and finishes strong.
As my very smart friend Susan says:
“Speak your mind. Stand your ground. Sing your song.”
If writing is something that you love, want and yearn to do — except you always find a way to stop yourself, distract yourself, or talk yourself out of it — my new course is for you.
It’s called Unstoppable. It is going to be… quite excellent.
Learn more & sign up if this feels like the kind of creative jolt that you need.
The course begins on February 22, 2015.