One of the most misunderstood stereotypes surrounding writing is that published writers make bank and that’s why they write. Yes, some do, and they work really hard at it. But, most writers likely fit the starving artist motiff. So (as I was asked yesterday), “why would someone write a book if they aren’t going to make a lot of money from it?” That same person was beside theirself when I said most people who hire me don’t make any money on their book or a profit, but money is not the reason they are writing a book.
This doesn’t mean you won’t make money on your book if that is your intent. In fact, a good example is someone who I wrote a book for about seven years ago. He’s a real estate agent in Long Island and wanted a book about restoring older homes in the Northeast U.S. That was his market, and while he didn’t sell distressed homes, he did realize that many people who bought from him, bought houses with the intent to renovate anything from a single-room to the entire house. So, he wanted to share his expertise with a free guide that he was going to prominently display at open houses, in his brokerage, and other places. He never had the intent of selling his book. Well, at his first open house after publication he setup his book, then had to leave while another agent (a friend) stayed the rest of the day. At the end of the day, my client came back to the open house to clean up, realized his books were gone and suspected his friend had already packed them away. You can imagine my client’s surprize when his friend handed him $300 in cash. “You’re books sold out. I didn’t know the price, so I sold them for $15 each; hope that’s okay.” From then on, he sold his books instead of his original intent to give them away.
It is funny, that the people who write their books to give away for free are often the ones who make the most money. That Long Island real estate agent continues to sell his books and I know he’s sold at least 10,000, because when he sold his 10,000th book he was so excited he sent me a bonus check for helping him out. He’s not the only one.
Many of my clients do not make money though, and I often tell people that if they want to make money I can help lead them in the right direction, but it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of marketing, and yes, even more money to hire people to help you if you don’t want to do the work yourself. That being said, why would you write a book if the intent isn’t to make money?
Here are five reasons you should be writing your book now.
You have a unique idea or expertise
With the story I mentioned earlier my client did have a unique idea, at least neither of us at the time had known of a book like his. He was writing a book focused on people who wanted to renovate parts of their house that they wanted to live in, as opposed to flipping houses for profit. It covered everything from how to live in a home your rehabbing, how to manage the kids, to making good color choices. Like him, many people have experience in their work or hobbies that can benefit others. Another good example is a woman I collaborated on a book with who wanted to write a “waitress – how to” book. She owned a restaurant and gave it away to each new employee. It was light-hearted, comical, and shared her experiences as a waitress in the 70s and 80s before she owned restaurants. What she was trying to do is say, “Hey, you’re going to have shitty days, but we’ve all been there, and tomorrow might be great.” By sharing her own experiences she was also imparting wisdom, her philosophy, and helping new employees understand who she was.
Another example of a unique, yet common experience is that of divorce. Divorce affects all Americans in one way or another. Are you a child of divorce, a friend or family member, or are you involved in a divorce and looking for a way to overcome the pain and loss as Monique Fuentes writes in her Ebook series on becoming a better you after divorce in, The Divorce Dare. You can also find out more about her experiences and helping others step beyond divorce in The Divorce Dare Support Group on Facebook.
You are researching your family
The U.S., being a melting pot for over four hundred years, is loaded with family historians. But, after decades of research, passing on your family history in a narrative way can seem nearly impossible. For people who want to write a narrative about their family the goal is to create a fun and light read that is not always filled with charts as they chronicle their families past. Even I have a book like this on my to-do list. While the research is fun, creating a book that is not just a lengthy pedigree chart, is a way to share your research. It is no different than a novelist who compiles and reviews thousands of pages of research materials to write a 400-page book.
Letting others know they are not alone
From divorce, to death, and traumatic childhood experiences, many people are subjected to trauma that the average person would find difficult living through. There are millions of these stories, but the sad thing is that most people who contact me to write a book like this has said they always felt alone. Right now I am collaborating on a book about a woman who was sexually molested by her step-dad and her mother refused to accept it was happening. This type of story is way more common than most people believe because most people are too afraid to come out. But, as the years passed, this woman found others who had been in similar situations. The theme of all of their stories is they thought they were alone.
Writing about a unique experience is as much about sharing your experience as letting others out there know that they are not alone. I think there are few social campaigns that express this more than the #METOO movement now sweeping across the country. Objectification of women has existed for as long as anyone can remember, yet when women started to come forward I think it hit many people who didn’t understand in today’s world how significant the issue still is.
You want to share your ideas or your philosophy on life
This type of book is very common with everyone from Brandy down the block to celebrities you watch on Bravo. People have approached me on all kinds of subjects such as self-help, religion, conspiracy theories, living in solitude, depression, and more.
I even spoke with a woman recently who is the inner circle of her friendships, meaning that she is the person her friends go to when they need relationship or dating advice. She jokes that she’s never been married or even had a long term relationship, and maybe that is the key. While she’s still contemplating on writing a book her friends are all in on it, which tells you something about how respected her thoughts are. In fact, if your friends are saying you need to write a book, then there is a good chance you should.
Leaving a legacy
By far, the most common book I write for people is a legacy book, which can also go by memoir, autobiography, and an as-told-to book. Leaving a legacy is one of the most important things a person can do in their life. This is a way for you to share with future generations your life, why you made decisions, your beliefs, and what you want to impart on future generations. After all, you don’t want to leave those things unknown so that future writers can misdiagnose every move you made – because we will.
A legacy is far reaching and can last for centuries. Just imagine your great-great-great-great grandchild in 200 years obsessed with learning about you. It happens, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I wish my seventh great-grandfather Daniel Mabry in the 1700s wrote about life in South Carolina and the Revolutionary war, or that my tenth great-grandfather, Francis Maybury, wrote about coming to the Virginia Colony from England in the 1600s. Someday you will be that person, and your life should be valued as such.
Research shows that the process of writiing a book about your life improves your mental strength. I’ve seen this myself with clients who were experiencing the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease and other mental diseases that cause memory loss. Working with a writer can help to reverse the effects of age-related memory loss and cognitive skills. I’m not sure why, but as we work together on book projects I use a lot of small techniques to help people recollect even small events in their lives, as well as names of childhood friends, foods, and pieces of life that people previously couldn’t remembered even existed. For many, collaborating on a book is an enlightening experience.
In addition to creating mental clarity and improving memory, writing a book about ones life is also a good way to improve mental health such as anxiety and depression. If you know any of my clients or have looked at my list of books you’ll see that mental health challenges are common. In the last three years they have become the most popular type of book project. The biggest feedback I receive from these books is how good a person feels afterward. Mental health is not a challenge that is likely cured by writing a book, but it is a great way for someone to evaluate their life and put life and experiences into perspective. Additionally, it is a way to focus on something important and there are few things that can improve mental health as much as knowing that you are doing something that can benefit others.
There are many reasons why someone wants to write a book, and yes, money is one of those. But, on this long list of reasons, money barely scratches the top half. People have important stories to tell motivated by experience and thoughts. People have lived amazing lives. Even people who think they have lived a “boring life” have something to tell. So, isn’t it about time you’started?
I am a full-time freelance writer specializing in books, though I also write blogs, web-content, and handle several other types of projects. To see what I offer visit my rates page or contact me with specific queries and questions. I’m also available to help mentor you through your first book. I’d love to work with you, and if you know anyone else looking for a writer I offer a generous referral fee.