Your Story

Dynamics of a Successful Book: Lesson 1

Wherever I am, when someone discovers that I’m a publisher, I hear, “My cousin is writing a children’s book” or “I’ve always thought about writing a book.”

The desire to write a book is almost universal. That’s because every one of us has a story to share with the world.

Steve Spillman, Founder, True Potential

“These days writing and not publishing is the equivalent of not writing at all. It doesn’t count. Ideas are not meant to sit in a drawer.” (paraphrased)

Seth Godin

Author, Entrepreneur, Teacher, Founder of Squidoo and Yoyodyne

Lesson 1:

Three questions to ask about your story:

Question 1: Is it important?

Every story is important to the one telling it. But will it be important to those whom with you wish to share it? Will it resonate with your audience?

Example: Your life as an accountant, making Balance Sheets balance, getting to the bottom line of a P&L, that’s fascinating stuff! …to you. But will anyone else care?

But what if you can demonstrate, through your accounting expertise, how entrepreneurs can save capital, make profits, and steer clear of the IRS. That’s a story that will travel. It’s something that’s important to your audience (assuming they’re entrepreneurs). Your story is always going to be important to you; make sure it’s important to your audience.

Question 2: Is it timely?

Is your story relevant to what your audience is experiencing today?

I can’t believe how many books were published about the 2016 US Presidential election. Every political player and “celebrity” on both sides had an opinion and a book on the subject. Now those “urgent” books have fallen out of the news cycle and into irrelevance, gathering dust on warehouse shelves and eventually making their way to the pulp mill, their essential parts reincarnated into the next brood of “urgent” books.

Ask yourself if your story is timely or relevant to your audience today. Better yet, ask yourself if your story is timeless. Will it be as important ten years from now as it is today? Many of our best selling books were first published more than ten years ago. Our best selling book, the One New Man Bible, had its start thousands of years ago, and its message is more relevant today than when the first edition was published.

Question 3: Will it appeal to a larger audience?

For a story to resonate it must hold some common ground with its reader. It must touch something already present within the reader.

Example: If you’re a marine biologist studying the Macaroni Penguin (they do not eat macaroni) and your book extolls every detail regarding the fat content in their diet of Del-Fuego sardines, you may not attract a lot of readers. But if your story shares how these penguins develop complex community and family relationships, how they care for their young and interact with their mates, and how we can learn some lessons on community and cooperation and loving family relationships from the penguins, then you’ve got a story a bigger audience can relate to.

One of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched was two hours of penguins huddling on Antarctic ice … because the story behind these penguins allowed me to relate their lives to mine.

Homework

  • Review the main theme or topic of your manuscript or book. Is it something that would be meaningful to your intended audience? Would your reader’s life be better because she read your book?
  • Again, review your manuscript or book. Will the content in your book be relevant or obsolete in five years? Ten years? 
  • Do an honest assessment of your manuscript or book in terms of how many people your message would be relevant to.
  • Can a wide swath of people apply your story to their lives? No matter how interesting your story is to you, if others can’t see themselves in your words, they won’t be interested.

Hey! Do you have a question for me about this lesson? I’d love to give you an answer! Just scroll down to the comment section below and ask away.

We’d love to help you reach the world with your book. Just let us know where you are in the publishing process by completing the form below. Talk to you soon!

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