The other day, I was chatting with someone who didn’t know I’d written several books. I found myself explaining why I wrote them … and now I’m wondering why people write their books. So I’m going to share first, then I hope other people will do, too, in the comments.
I wrote my first book, “How I Conquered High Cholesterol” for two reasons. The first was that I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, given a really quite unhelpful single A4 sheet by my doctor (which tried to cover the diets of all of the ethnic groups in the UK in one page) and threatened with medication. Once I’d worked everything out and got my cholesterol lower and staying lower, I wrote it all down and added some recipes. The second reason was that as an editor and proofreader, I was working with quite a few people who wanted to self-publish ebooks, and I wanted to see what that process was like from the inside (I used that same reasoning when I later put together print versions of my books).
When I went full-time self-employed, I blogged about the process for a year, and then I put those blog posts together into a book, “How I Survived my First Year of Full-Time Self-Employment“. I did that one for two reasons, too. The first was, to be honest, that lots of people were turning blogs into books and I thought it would be easy (it’s not that easy to make it not seem like it’s just a load of blog posts shoved together into a book, by the way). I thought I could produce a side-stream of passive income which would generate itself as I worked on my full-time job, and the books have done that to a certain extent. I did also write it, again, because I couldn’t find many resources covering my specific situation, as a 40-something wanting to dip gently into self-employment rather than risking everything. I also wanted to make it approachable – a book I would want to read, and my readers have appreciated that (even the one who said there were too many cardigans in it …). The subtitle, “Going it Alone at 40” was the original title, another error!
I kept on blogging, and I realised I had more to say about running more of a mature business, once you’ve done all the start-up stuff. So I put together the ultimately not hugely successful “Running a Successful Business After the Start-up Phase: Who are you Calling Mature?” I added loads of stuff about social media, websites and how you know when your business is stable and levelling out, then how to build income, etc., and people who read it like it, but I’ve never really been able to explain it very well, I fear, and it lags in the sales department.
Then I put these two business books together into “Your Guide to Starting and Running your Business” which I offer at a discounted price compared to the two individual volumes, because I honestly feel that I want to provide this information in the most cost-effective way possible for the reader. I feel very strongly about books that promise much then try to sell you a course with the author: by putting together the omnibus, I tried to provide as much as I could for as little as possible.
My next-best selling title after the Cholesterol book, “Quick Guide to your Career in Transcription” came about because I kept seeing lots and lots of searches coming through to my business blog around transcription. I’d blogged a bit on the topic and I wrote more for this guide – including adding a section on ergonomics when an early reader complained that topic wasn’t included! The books I found on the topic were quite pushy and get-rich-quick, so I thought there was room for a no-nonsense and friendly guide along the lines of my other business books. I included some basic information on setting up a business from those book, but tailored everything else towards transcription itself.
Showing that you can be too clever, I sprung at the idea of stuffing your title with keywords and put together “Quick Guide to Networking, Social Media and Social Capital“. Oh, they will all search for these terms and come to the book, thought I. Well, again, people who read it find the brief, no-nonsense guide to networking in person and through social media useful, but it’s not picked up the sales I hoped for.
Looking to the future, I really want to write a main and quick guide to your career in proofreading and editing. I’m including a self-mentoring guide in that – the reason for that being that a lot of people ask me for formal mentoring and that’s not something I have the resources to do. The self-mentoring guide will then be published separately in a more general version to help people with their businesses.
If I cast my mind back over all of these books, the main impetus has been to help people, and to write the book I wish I’d had when I was in that situation. What about you? Why did you write your book? I’d love to know (feel free to include a link to your book in your comment, but I’ll monitor the responses for spamminess so please share your story as well as your link).
Over to you …