“Why Am I Writing This?”
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At some point in the process, frustrated by writer’s block or the editing process, you may find yourself asking this question. But that’s not the existential dilemma we want to address here.
We want to point out that before you start, and throughout the writing and editing process, “Why am I writing this?” is a critical question. When you think about why you are writing, it becomes clearer what you should write—what details should be included; how much background research you need to do; whether you want to use direct quotes or instead summarize events without dialogue; whether you start at the beginning and present details factually and in chronological order or go with a less formal structure and include thoughts and feelings along with the facts—and even what details, events or people you leave out.
So think about it…
- Are you writing to preserve events for posterity?
- Are you writing so that your family can understand their history or your own personal life journey?
- Are you writing to share your expertise or remarkable life experience?
- Are you writing for the therapeutic value of capturing emotions and events?
- Are you writing to “set the record straight” or prove something?
- Are you writing because you found something fascinating and you want to share your discovery?
Writing is a wonderful exercise. It can help us organize information, process thoughts and emotions, preserve stories and communicate information. But while anything can be a valid reason to write it’s not always the right decision to publish.
Which brings us to the follow-up to “Why am I writing this?” which is “What will I do with it when I’m done?”
- Will you file it away for your own eyes only?
- Will you share it with a few friends and your family members?
- Will you make it available to complete strangers?
Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, remember to think about why you’re writing and how much of it you plan to share with others. And if you find yourself stuck in the writing process, go back and rethink your “whys”—you may find that they will help you figure out what it is, exactly, you are trying to say.
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- Additional Post: Using a Book to Enhance Your Business Brand
- Additional Post: Where Do I Start...?
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Using a Book to Enhance Your Business Brand
“Well, he wrote the book on that!” Can you think of another phrase that so readily conveys the message that someone is at the top of their game in their field of expertise?
A well-written, properly designed book makes an elegant calling card for your business — in one attractive package, you can share the history of your company, your personal contributions to the industry, the motivating philosophy behind your business and the expertise you can bring to your clients.
For businesses celebrating a milestone, a book that commemorates the story of your founder and the legacy of your company makes a wonderful way to share a history that not all your employees may be fully aware of, and a gift for clients who have been part of building up to your current success. Nostalgia photo books are popular items that can evoke fond memories of a brand or business, particularly when a company has a rich heritage that has been well-documented in photos — memorabilia items or pictures of how the physical landscape and structures and tools of the trade have changed.
A book can also humanize a business — here you have a forum to share what makes you tick; what motivates your decisions; you can reveal your personality. Customers who see that the core beliefs of your business align with their own outlook become more loyal. Seeing who’s behind the counter or on the other end of the phone gives them a reason to have a relationship with your company, instead of thinking of you as just another one of any number of faceless options.
If you are frequently called upon to participate in speaking engagements, or if lectures or presentations are a core part of your business model, a book makes a great add-on at an event. Whether you choose to offer it for free or at a reasonable cost, it is a way for you to go home with each attendee. Even better, they can pass your book along to someone else — a new potential client or customer for your business who now understands exactly what you’re all about. (Being that this is a lasting memento, make sure you’ve put in the effort to include significant or useful information and that it represents you well — our professional editing and production team is there to ensure you put your best foot forward.)
“But if I put all my advice in a book, won’t that mean clients don’t need ME anymore?” Think of it this way: If you buy a cookbook from a famous chef, how likely is it that you’ll give up going to his restaurant simply because you are now equipped with the list of ingredients and methodology for creating his dishes? Not likely, is it? It’s the services, goods and customer experience you provide that make your business and keep customers coming back. A book is simply an efficient tool for reminding them that you have experience and knowledge to offer. After all, you wrote the book, didn’t you?
Where Do I Start With Publishing My Book?
If you have no idea where to start, now that you’ve decided you want to publish a book, don’t worry — you’re not alone. We field a lot of inquiries that begin, “I/my dad/my mom/my friend has a really amazing life story…I want to make it a book. How do I do that?” (And the business counterpart: “My clients always ask for the same information, and I’m tired of copy and pasting the same email excerpt. I’d like to give it to them with more detail, in a more polished presentation…maybe even sell it to non-clients. How do I turn it into a book?”)
First things first, you need a manuscript. It can be formal in style, or can be a casual “talk story” memoir. You can write it yourself or hire a writer to assist you. If you’re hiring a professional, don’t expect to go cheap. You get what you pay for. If the writer doesn’t know you, they’ll need to spend a good amount of time interviewing you or transcribing your recorded story. Historical background research may be appropriate. Talk to the writer — do they expect to see their name on your book as a credited writer or editor? Are you OK with that? If your book will be sold in retail markets, be sure that you have an understanding with the writer regarding sales income — was the writing done as a “work for hire,” paid in full in a one-time fee, or will you be splitting book revenues? If you want to hire a professional but do not have friends or family who can connect you with one, talk to us. While our Legacy Isle packages are geared toward those who already have a manuscript, we can create a custom quote for those who need writers. Once we have your manuscript, we’ll assign an editor, dedicated to your project, to give it a final polish. They’ll read it with an eye toward ensuring that it represents you well as an author.
When you envision your printed book, what do you see? Is it hardcover or softcover? Does it include photos or illustrations? Are those in color or black and white? All these decisions influence your choice of package, and how much money you’ll need to spend. When you think of the style of your book, what comes to mind? Is it formal or casual? Our designs are based on templates, but there is a good deal of flexibility in them. When you select a design, make sure it resonates with your envisioned style — tilted images and sans serif fonts give off a more casual vibe than squarely aligned images and serif fonts. A pastel color theme may be very pretty, and perhaps pink is your grandmother’s favorite color, but if your book will be about the challenges she overcame in her life, a more somber color scheme would be more appropriate. Our Professional Package options allow for a custom cover — you’ll need to articulate to our design team the look you want. Think of color palette, fonts, concepts that convey the message (industrial vs. organic; clean and modern vs. cozy and inviting) and look for photos to share with us that are in the style you want.
Finally, you need a clear idea of what you intend to do with your finished book.
- Is this a personal memoir you want to share with only family and close friends?
- Do you plan on selling this book in retail channels (online, bookstores, other types of stores)?
- Do you control or have access to retail channels where this book can be sold (family or friend’s store or business)?
- Do you want to use this book as a fundraiser?
- Are you a professional who plans on giving away or selling this book as part of a promotion or at speaking engagements?
Once you’ve identified what you want to do with your book, you’ll be better equipped to select the appropriate publishing package. Some of our packages are geared toward individuals and families who are looking for a professional keepsake to chronicle their history. Other packages are meant for professionals who will need larger books or inventory, and possibly retail distribution.