3 Questions That Can Get You Into Trouble

“There are no right answers to wrong questions.” 
– Ursula K. Le Guin (pictured above)

In 2009 I spent several months in Germany and fell in love with rock climbing. This new addiction led me to run onto Ebay and buy climbing gear that I’ve never used. Why have I not used it? Because there are no places nearby where I can use it! I asked where to get a great deal on climbing gear…but I didn’t ask the larger question that I really should have: where can I find a great climbing wall or outdoor climbing location near my hometown?

This post is about helping you avoid a pitfall like mine.

Question #1-How do you write a book?

This question triggers a list of to-do items that walk you through the process of writing a book. But I’ve found that most people who ask this question become frustrated or even mildly annoyed when I follow up by asking questions of my own:

  • Who do you want to write to?
  • Why do they need the information in your book?
  • Where do they currently go for information?
  • What other books are there on your topic, and what separates the successful ones from the unsuccessful ones?

The frustration comes in because they are thinking that I’m slowing them down and putting up a roadblock between them and their goal of writing and publishing their book.

In reality, I’m shifting their question to focus on the first question they should be addressing before asking about the writing process: Am I prepared to write a book? Learn more about what it takes to write a book from this post.

Question #2-How long does it take to write a book?

There are hundreds of sources on the web, some free and others are yours for a fee, that will gladly show you how to write and publish a book in a certain number of months, days, or even hours.

I would imagine that some of you might ask, “how could you write a book in a few hours, when there are authors who spend years on their books?”

The common ingredient in all of the books that talk about writing your book in 90 days, 30 days, 7 days, 1 day, or even 11 hours, is this little secret…these writers know exactly who they are marketing and writing their books to, they know exactly what those readers value in an information product, and they have designed a formula that allows them to efficiently connect their product to their reader’s needs and desires.

So instead of trying to calculate how long it will take to write a book, focus on answering this question: What does my target audience need and how would they like that presented? Use the Quick Start Marketing Guide to help you answer this question.

Question #3-How do I publish my book?

This is certainly a straight forward question, but one with a narrow focus that could limit your success. The term “publish” simply means that you are making content available for people to access. Although you think you have written a “book,” you have really written “content” that can be published in a number of ways:

  • as an e-Book
  • as a Slideshow Presentation
  • as an Audio Series
  • as content for a Seminar
  • as content for a Speaking Engagement
  • as content for a Course/Bootcamp/Class
  • as the starting point for a Membership Site
  • as content for a new radio/podcast series
  • as content for a new TV/YouTube series
  • as content for a Play
  • as content for a Movie Screenplay
  • and the list goes on, and on, and on…

So instead of trying to focus on the process of publishing a book, focus on answering the question: Which format(s) is my target audience most likely to engage my content with?

What other questions can you think of that may limit the quality of the information you get back? 

Image shared through Creative Commons license of Wikimedia Commons.  Photo taken by Hajor, 15.Jul.2004. Released under cc.by.sa and/or GFDL.

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at DanielleFetherson.com.

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