Archives for April 2014

9 Questions Every Author Should Be Able to Answer

Below are nine questions every first-time author should be able to answer before you start writing your book.

You may think some of the questions do not apply to you. For example, let’s say you’re writing your memoirs just to share with your family and you don’t want to sell it to anyone else. If we were having lunch together, I’d ask you, “Why do you think that what you’ve learned and accomplished in your life would be of interest only to your family? Couldn’t others benefit from hearing your story?”

So try to answer all of the questions, expanding your vision about who may want to read your book and the impact it could have.

This exercise will help you focus your thoughts about yourself, your message, your audience, and how you will reach that audience. A side benefit of doing this exercise is that you’re considering questions an agent or publisher will ask if you want to submit a book proposal.

This exercise will take you from twenty to sixty minutes. It’s a worthwhile investment that you will easily gain back throughout the writing and publishing process.

The questions are below, but I’ve also put the questions into a Word document for you: 9 Questions for Authors.

  1. Why are you writing the book?
    (What is your passion or motivation and what is the book’s purpose?)
  1. What is the book about?
    (Summarize in one sentence. Then summarize in one or two paragraphs like you would see on the back cover of a book.)
  1. What transformational effect will the book’s content have on the reader? What are your book’s benefits from your reader’s point of view? What do readers learn? What solutions does it provide?

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God Speaks through Dreams, and He Wants to Speak to You

Find solutions you need during the day by just falling asleep at night.

Find solutions you need during the day by just falling asleep at night.

Everyone dreams every night, and your dreams can be an amazing source of encouragement and direction. Maybe you don’t remember them when you wake up, but if you pay attention, dreams can unlock the solutions you need while you sleep.

The excerpt below is from chapter eight of What Your Dreams Are Telling You: Unlocking Solutions While You Sleep by Cindy McGill and me, published by Chosen Books. The book is a positive, encouraging, insightful look at the language God uses to speak to us while we rest.

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Nebuchadnezzar the Great lived from 634–562 BC and ruled over one of the most powerful periods in Babylonian history. He is known for building the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. He also conquered Syria and Egypt (a rare and amazing feat) and destroyed the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, sending many Jews into exile. The Bible contains two detailed accounts of this ancient leader’s dreams. These historical events are a remarkable case study of a leader who received clear direction and warning dreams from God and what happened as a result. The accounts give evidence that God sends dreams to guide and warn world leaders, regardless of their religious loyalties.

King Nebuchadnezzar had only been on the throne for a couple of years when he was given a dream so astounding in its scope that it covered the rise and fall of world powers from the time of his rule until the rule of a Kingdom at the end of time. It is no wonder that trying to figure out its meaning worried him and kept him awake at night! He called together all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers and wise men in the kingdom to help him sort out the dream. The king must have thought that interpreting the dream would be too easy for these guys—they could make up anything once they heard it. But he was looking for accuracy, so he demanded that the dream interpreters tell him not only the interpretation, but also the actual dream itself. If they could not, he threatened that he would give the order to cut them to pieces and burn down their houses. Terrified by the king’s unusual demand, his interpreters replied,

There is not a man on earth who can tell the king’s matter; therefore no king, lord, or ruler has ever asked such things of any magician, astrologer, or Chaldean. It is a difficult thing that the king requests, and there is no other who can tell it to the king except the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh. —Daniel 2:10–11

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8 Questions to Help You Choose What to Write About for Your Book

Most of the people I work with come to me knowing the topic and title of their nonfiction book. But some struggle to figure out what they want their book to be about.

If you’re unsure what you want to write about, or if you think you know your topic but want to make sure it’s the right one, these questions can help you determine what topic is the best for you.

8 Questions to Choose Your Book’s Topic

  • What is your passion?
  • What are your key life messages (themes and values that are important to you and seem to be central in your life and conversation with others)?
  • What expertise or experience do you have that if shared could help others?
  • What are people asking for from you? What is your expertise or experience that people trust?
  • What topics have you taught on or shared with others in the past that have resonated with your audience?
  • What services or information do you provide that could be summed up in a book instead of having to say the same thing over and over again?
  • What are current needs in the marketplace that you could address effectively with credibility?
  • What topic could advance your mission or cause if a book was available? 

You Gotta Find Your Sweet Spot

Years ago I saw a graphic contain three circles that overlap in one area called your “sweet spot.”

What's your sweet spot?

What’s your writing sweet spot?

I’ve found this graphic to be a helpful guide in choosing what topics to write about. Each element—passion, expertise, and financial reward—is essential if you want to write a great book with some kind of compensation. If each element is present, you have a sweet spot for writing.

If any of these are absent, there is a gap and a risk.

  • Without passion and love for your topic, your topic will feel academic and will lack life and appeal for the reader. Think about a teacher or professor you’ve had who knew his stuff but presented it with no energy or excitement. You don’t want to do that.
  • Without you having some kind of expertise or experience with your topic, you have low trust and credibility with your audience. This does not mean you need to have decades of experience to have credibility. But you do need to be seen as a trustworthy resource by your readers as one who knows more than they do about the subject.
  • Without a financial benefit, writing is just a hobby. Hey, this is totally ok. Many people choose to write solely for posterity, sharing only with family and close friends. Or maybe it’s a free resource you offer to others that will have a pay out in other tangible ways. But if you do want some kind of financial compensation for your effort, you have to think about the profitability of your project.

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