Here are 7 practical questions to ask before you start to write a book to build your personal brand

As a business owner, career-builder, or self-employed professional, your time is too valuable to write a book simply because you want to to see your ideas in print.

Unless you’re writing for creative expression, your book has to pay its own way, contributing in a material way to greater opportunities and profits.

3 possibilities

Your published book has to reward you in 1, or more, of the following ways. It has to:

  • Increase your job prospects by making you a more desirable employee or manager. This translates into more responsibility, job security, and/or higher pay.
  • Drive new prospects to your business to purchase existing products or services. This permits you to be more selective in the clients you serve as well as increase your fees.
  • Create profitable new products and services, such as information products, coaching and consulting, or income from paid speaking and presenting.

Ideally, your book is the first step in a long and rewarding relationship with strangers who first become readers, then turn into prospects and clients.

Questions to ask before you write

Before you get too involved writing your book, it’s important to make sure that your book has the makings of a profitable, brand-building book.

To succeed in your long-term objectives, you have to view writing a book as an investment that will adequately–or, even, outrageously–reward you for your efforts.

The following 7 questions will help you view your book from a business, rather than an “idea,”  point of view:

  1. What types of readers are likely to be interested in your book? For your book to be profitable for you, it has to appeal to those you want as future clients, customers, or employees. Writing a book that shares good information, but doesn’t target the right readers, usually leads to disappointment.
  2. How will readers benefit from reading your book? Your book has to offer your target market practical, desired information. It has to help readers solve a problem or achieve a goal. An omnibus, or a historical approach, may lead to critical praise, but won’t be as successful as a 10 Ways to…(Achieve, Solve, Eliminate, Increase, Reduce, Sell, Hire, Avoid, Prevent, etc.)
  3. How much urgency do readers associate with your book topic? Analyze your proposed topic from the costs, lost-opportunities, or risks, point of view. Topics that show how to reduce costs, save time, or increase sales are best. Look for book topics where the stakes are avoid high, especially if you can document the savings in dollars, man-hours, faster shipping, or higher conversions.
  4. Do you have a track record of success in your field? What kind of experience have you had addressing the types of problems you want to write about? Have you created a step-by-step system, or process, while working in your field? What kind of evidence do you have in terms of case studies, metrics, or stories?
  5. Does your topic lend itself to updates, reports, and follow-up titles? Avoid writing a one-night stand book, a book that tells everything about the topic, but doesn’t have potential for follow-up information products. Examine your book topic from the point of view of creating a brand, like Jay Conrad Levinson did with Guerrilla Marketing, which now has over 100 titles in the series.
  6. What kind of tools, like scripts, spreadsheets, or workbooks, can you sell readers implementing your ideas? Can you translate your book into a series of online or offline resources and tools that readers can only buy from you?
  7. What types of businesses or organizations might invite you to consult, speak,  or present? Speaking not only sells more books, but can be extremely rewarding. For established authors, a keynote speech or an afternoon workshop can more than the royalties and profits from selling 1,000 books!

When evaluating book topics, look for “evergreen” topics, areas where change is rapidly taking place…and will likely continue to take place.

Writing a book is an investment

Books are businesses! Your perspective on writing and publishing a book is likely to change when you view it not as you creative “statement,” but as an investment of time and money that has to earn a payback down the road.  Books about topics that your ideal readers aren’t interested in, or solving problems that your readers can live with, are not going to properly reward you–no matter how well written they are.

By taking the time to ask the 7 questions, above, and analyzing your book’s profit potential before you start to write, you can make better decisions as you plan, write, promote, and profit from your book. Your answers will help you save time, make your book easier to write, and increase the likelihood of your book’s achieving your brand-building and profit-building goals. Please share your experiences and opinions as comments, below.


Roger C. Parker blogs at Published & Profitable. Download a proof of his new workbook, 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-Publish a Brand-Building Book.