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by Patricia Fry

What is the Purpose`of Your Book?

So you want to write a book. And then what? What is your dream or desire?

Do you hope to:
• Change the world?
• Make a difference?
• Change a mind?
• Be heard?
• Be noticed?
• Get something off your chest?
• Add to your credibility?
• Make an impression
• Make a point?
• Share your point of view?

Writing and publishing a book has become a frivolous pastime for many Americans. We produce books on a whim—to fulfill our own, sometimes, selfish impulses. And then we wonder why we can’t find a publisher who’s interested.

Publishers, in the meantime, are seeking books that have wide appeal, even if it is for a niche market, because, unlike the author, the publisher is looking at your book as a product and he will invest in it only if he thinks he can make some money.

Shucks, there goes your vision of a publisher actually appreciating your beautiful, well-written story. But then, maybe you aren’t the best judge of good writing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had someone send me a manuscript to evaluate, saying it is “well-written,” only to discover that it needs a whole lot of work—a total rewrite, in some cases.

What gives a book wide appeal?
• Is it truly well-written?
• Does it fill a definite need?
• Does it include benefits/information not found in other books or presented in a new way?
• Is the author either well-known or an expert in his/her field?
• Does the author have a strong platform and an even stronger marketing plan?

Authorship is not something to be taken lightly, unless you have written a fun or meaningful book strictly for family and friends with no aspirations of bestseller status. If, on the other hand, you hope to enter into the fiercely competitive world of publishing and bookselling, you’d better do so with the proper tools.

Here’s my recommendation:

1. Study the publishing industry.
Prepare by arming yourself with knowledge. Read books on your publishing options, the possible consequences of your choices and your responsibilities as a published author. Join writing groups and author organizations in order to discover important resources and to hear the experiences of others. Attend writing/publishing conferences to learn more about the process of publishing, how to approach publishers and the whole process of marketing your book. Subscribe to appropriate newsletters and magazines in order to continue the learning process.

2. Write a book proposal.

A book proposal is the business plan for your book. Through the process of writing one, you should be able to answer these all-important questions.

• Why you are writing this book—the reason?
• Is it valid or frivolous?
• What is the purpose of your book?
• Is there an audience for this book?
• Who are they and how will you reach them?
• What makes you qualified to write this book?
• Do you have a platform—a following—a way to attract readers?
• Are you aware that you will be responsible for promoting and selling your book?
• Do you know how hard it is to sell books in this publishing climate?
• What is your marketing plan?

Don’t feel inadequate if you can’t fully respond to these questions right now. It is through the book proposal process and a continuing study of the publishing industry that you will discover what you need to know in order to successfully navigate the world of publishing.


Patricia Fry is the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) and the author of 35 books. See her most recent books in the left column of this page.

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