We live in a time where technology has made it possible for all of us to share our stories with the world.

We live in a time where technology has made it possible for all of us to share our stories with the world.

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.

That’s wonderful. We live in a time where technology has made it possible for all of us to share our stories with the world. And we should.

Publishing guru Seth Godin said (paraphrased), “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.”

But it’s a fact that not all stories are equal. Some travel better than others. How well your story stands up, or not, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell it. It just means how well it may spread.

Three questions to ask about your story:

Is it important?

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

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 it travel? 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.

Is it timely?

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

I can’t believe how many books have been published about the 2016 Presidential election! Every political player and “celebrity” has an opinion and a book on the subject. People can’t stop talking, and reading, about it. Even so, in a matter of months, those “urgent” books will fall 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? Some 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 it’s message, I think, is more relevant today than when the first edition was published.

Will it appeal to a larger audience?

Macaroni Penguins

Macaroni Penguins

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

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, then you’ve got a story a wider swath of readers 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 related their lives to mine.

As you write your story, and then as you read it over, ask these three questions:

  • Will this story be important to my audience?
  • Is this story timely, or is it timeless?
  • Does this story appeal to a wider audience?

Stay tuned for next week! We’ll talk about the second dynamic of a successful book: your audience.

Do you want to talk about what success can mean to you as a professional and an author?
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