Figure Out Your Book Objectives
“Focus on the target, and you’ll hit it. This gets you the trophy. Focus on the trophy, and you’ll miss the target. This gets you nothing.”
At Scribe, we start book positioning with objectives. This is because once you know what you want to accomplish with your book, it allows you to focus on writing the correct book to get those objectives.
Three basic questions help our authors discern the proper objectives:
Question #1: How do you want your book to serve your readers? What will they get out of it?
While your book can get you myriad benefits, the content of the book is not for you—it’s for the reader.
Readers are the audience for the book, and they will support and share your book (which helps you) only once they’ve gotten real value from it.
We begin by having our authors identify how they see their book serving readers. Once you can pinpoint the benefit your readers will receive, you’ll see how to connect their support to your goals. Here are some common ways authors want their book to serve their readers:
1. Help Solve A Problem/Get Something They Want: This is usually the big one, and can vary across a wide range of benefits, but the point is that every reader is buying your book because they anticipate it is going to get them something they want—so what is that thing?
2. Gain Knowledge/Wisdom/Information: Sometimes that thing the author wants will come from learning something, so this is often intimately tied with solving a problem, but they are not always the exact same thing.
3. Inspired/Motivated/Empowered: This is about how the readers will feel coming out of the book.
4. New Perspective: This is not as common as the above, but still fairly frequent. Many authors want to give readers an entirely new way to look at something.
From a book about learning faster and more effectively:
|1. First and foremost, I want to inspire them, and convince them that they aren’t stuck where they are now—that they can improve and unlock their full potential to learn anything and everything, fast|
|2. I’d like to give them tools and techniques (and then the confidence) to actually learn faster|
|3. Finally, I’d like to open their eyes to an alternative way of living, from health, to lifestyle design, to their career. I want to ultimately inspire and empower them to live the lives of their dreams|
From a book that teaches women how to sell like men, but ethically and with heart:
|1. The women who read this book will feel empowered to ask for the sale confidently|
|2. The women who read this book will be able to use the sales strategies I share to increase their conversion rate without ever feeling pushy or sales-y|
|3. The women who read this book will feel like, “If she can do it, I can do it too!”|
|4. The women who read this book will feel inspired to stand in the face of fear and go for their dreams in sales|
Question #2: Imagine it’s a few years after your book has been published. What has the book helped you accomplish that made the effort worthwhile?
There are an almost infinite array of benefits a book can get for an author, but most of them fall into one of these six popular objectives:
1. Raise Visibility/Profile: books can increase visibility in any number of ways, like making it easier to gain media exposure or raise your profile in your niche.
2. Increase Authority/Credibility: books help an author establish authority and gain credibility within their field.
3. Get New Clients/Opportunities: books can easily help generate new business and other opportunities across a variety of platforms and venues in multiple ways.
4. Speaking Engagements: a book is almost a necessity for becoming a paid speaker, or often getting booked for any public speaking at all.
5. Leave a Legacy: a book can help establish a legacy, and pass your story on to others.
6. Impact Others: This is somewhat covered by the first question, but you can put it here as well. For some authors, this is often the main benefit to them. They either do not care about what they’ll get from their book, or they care about that only as a secondary benefit. Note that for any book to be effective, it has to impact others—it’s just that some authors place a much higher emphasis on this than others.
Obviously, the details of each of these depend on your specific field and profession, but any of those objectives can be very realistic objectives.
NOTE: The more specific you are with your objectives, the better.
From the same book about learning faster and more effectively:
|1. We have built our B2C business to over $10M a year, in large part by leveraging the free book funnel and the exposure of the book, despite the fact that I’m less involved in the business than ever|
|2. We are running the world’s largest learning summit, with over 500 people a year paying to attend|
|3. We’re doing over $1M a year in corporate and enterprise subscriptions, because of the exposure and credibility of the book and the event|
|4. We have sparked research, conversation, and debate about education reform, and are working on a few not-for-profit pilot initiatives to improve education|
From the same book that teaches women how to sell like men, but ethically and with heart:
|1. I have a large following of female entrepreneurs and my brand is recognized and well-respected|
|2. I’m a sought out speaker on the topic of sales, and female empowerment. I have done a TEDx talk and been asked to speak at large, recognizable conferences like SXSW and Traffic & Conversion Summit. I will be asked to speak in venues with thousands of audience members and be paid $20K for a speaking engagement.|
|3. I frequently get messages from people (women and men) who thank me for writing this book because it genuinely helped them|
What Are Unrealistic Book Objectives?
Of course everyone secretly hopes their book will sell millions of copies and be a breakout success—but if you make that your objective, you are setting yourself up for failure. Those are not realistic goals. If you set realistic goals, you give your book a chance to actually succeed.
In fact, the most important thing you can do with this question is kill your fantasies and set objectives that are achievable. These are unrealistic objectives:
- Sell a million copies the first year
- Be asked to do a TED talk
- Become a famous author
- Be a New York Times Best Selling author
- Get on Oprah/Ellen
- Fill an ill-defined emotional void
Here’s the thing about these objectives: they are not literally impossible. People have accomplished them all. We’ve had a few of our authors do them.
But they are exceedingly rare, and most books have no shot at these objectives. The more you focus on realistic objectives, the better your book will be at hitting the audience you need to hit in order to succeed.
Question #3: What’s the single event that will happen because of the book that will cause you to say, “This was all worth it!”? The thing that will make you “break out the Champagne” and celebrate?
We ask this question to check on alignment. If your “champagne moment” doesn’t match any of your stated objectives, then you need to really ask yourself why, and examine your alignment.
- “When I book my first speaking gig.”
- “When I get my first client from the book.”
- “When my book is finally published.”
- “When I hold my book in my hand.”
BAD EXAMPLES (note these are real things authors have said to us):
- “When I sell a million copies and get on every bestseller list and Malcolm Gladwell asks me to co-write his next book and Oprah wants me on her show.”
- “When I keynote TED and sell my company for a billion dollars.”
- “When my book has an impact on my industry.”
- “When my dad tells me he loves me.”