The best way to start to write a book is to start with the hardest paragraph–your book’s mission statement.
Once you have created your book’s mission statement, you’ll find it much easier to choose a title, create a table of contents, and start writing.
Your book’s mission statement should be as short and memorable as possible. Two or three sentences should be enough.
Basically, you’re looking for a 30-second “elevator speech” to describe your book to potential readers.
4 essentials of a successful mission statement
Your book’s mission statement should contain the following information:
- Market. Who are you writing your book for? In Part 1 of this series, I described the importance of identifying your ideal readers–individuals you want to cultivate as future prospects, clients, and customers. See Question 10, and the 4 questions that follow, for more information about your ideal readers.
- Change. What is the change that your readers will gain from buying and reading your book? Nonfiction books are agents of change; readers buy them because they have a problem they want to solve or a goal they want to achieve. To learn more about reader change, see my earlier blog post, What Are the “From” and “To” in Your Book’s Mission Statement? and download my free Reader Change Planner worksheet.
- Position. What makes your book different? Your book’s mission statement should also differentiate your book from other books offering similar information. Your book can be set apart by targeting a specific market segment, i.e., the “…For Dummies” series, focusing on a market segment, like women business owners, or by promising a program to deliver fast results, i.e., Facebook Marketing in an Hour a Day or Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days.
- Proof. Why should your ideal readers believe your promise of change? Finally, add a fact or two that reinforces adds credibility. Options include your qualifications to write a book, i.e., a “lawyer with 30 years of service,” or “over 10,000 people have mastered and profited from these ideas,” etc.
Don’t expect to sit down and instantly write the perfect mission statement. Like I said in the beginning, this will probably be the hardest paragraph you’ll need to write for your book.
Strong mission statements are the result of an iterative process of trial and error over a couple of days, maybe–even–a week or 2:
- After downloading and filling out the Reader Change Planner worksheet by hand, try to summarize your ideas as concisely as possible.
- Try different ways to describe your readers, their desire for change, and how your book is going to help them solve their problems or achieve their goals.
- Spend more time writing than evaluating. Keep writing and letting the ideas flow.
- Save everything you write, so you can review it and observe the direction of your thinking.
No matter how unproductive you may feel, everything you write is preparing the way for the perfect mission statement that is likely to show up when least expected.
If your experience is anything like mine, after a sleepless night, you may find yourself waking up one morning with the perfect mission statement already composed…or, it may appear you’re in the shower or driving.
Serendipity can not be controlled
In another case, the title of my first major bestselling book, Looking Good in Print: A Guide to Basic Design for Desktop Publishing, showed up on the screen of my computer while I was writing a memo arguing for a different book title.
Suddenly, the words appeared, and I knew I had the makings of a home run book.
The same can happen to you if you’re willing to put in the time thinking, writing, and rewriting, until your book’s mission statement appears on the screen of your laptop or iPad. Learn more about the best ways to start to write your book, and mission statements, during a free book coaching call, Tuesday, August 28, at 4 PM Eastern. Or, share your experiences starting to write a book as comments, below.