How to set (and achieve) the right goal for your nonfiction book

So, you want to write a nonfiction book. Maybe a business book, a how-to book, a self-help book, or a memoir. But why? Why isn’t something that every author asks themselves. But they should, because why you’re writing a book determines what you write. So, let’s consider your aims and goals as an aspiring author and the best way to meet those goals with your book. 

Goal #1: The bestseller 

The why: There is nothing wrong with striving to get a bestselling book. In fact, it can do wonders for your career or business. It shows that you’re an authority on the subject and can lead to speaking engagements, exciting opportunities, and more. Plus, it’s nice to say you’re a bestselling author!

The how: If you want a bestseller, it’s not enough to just hit “publish” and hope. You need a strategy. Thankfully, there’s a formula behind getting a bestseller and it involves understanding what readers want and what Amazon wants. Publishing is a commercial business, so it’s about researching and marketing as much (if not more than) it is about writing. 

Goal #2: The storyteller

The why: You’ve had an extraordinary, shocking, or unbelievable life and want to share your life story with the world. Or you’ve had some incredible and unusual experiences in life that you think people would love to read about. So, you want to write your life story i.e. a memoir. 

The how: Honestly, people don’t want to read about someone who has lived a normal, average life.* So, think about the experiences that have made your life different to the mainstream, ordinary lives of most people. What makes your story stand out? What have you experienced that most people haven’t? *If your life has been ordinary, then consider writing a hilarious comedy memoir instead

Goal #3: The helper

The why: Above all else, you want to help people. You want to make the world a better place. You want to make people’s lives better. And part of the way you’re going to do that is through a book, perhaps a self-help, personal development, leadership, psychology, wellbeing, or philosophy book.  

The how: To truly help people, you have to understand who you’re try to help and how best to help them. And no, you can’t help everybody in a book. Focus on the type of people you’re trying to help, understand their problem(s), then write your book as the solution. Set your author ego aside and focus on the reader, because the book is for them, not for you.

Goal #4: The authority-builder

The why: If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, then having your name on a book goes a long way to proving your authority in your subject area and increasing your industry credibility. It makes you more trustworthy and reputable, opens doors, and helps you upsell to other products.

The how: Take your industry knowledge, unique experiences, and specific know-how. Turn it into a simple, concise guide for people who want to find out more about your subject area. Make it easy to understand for people with limited experience in this area, and not too long. Show that you know your stuff. Self-publish on Amazon. Voilà! 

Goal #5: The legacy 

The why: If you want to leave a legacy for your family, children, or future generations, then writing a book is a wonderful way to do that. Imagine being able to read your ancestors’ life story? Or reading about the first time your grandparents met? 

The how: If this is your goal, then think about the type of book that your family would love to read. Often, this might be your life story i.e. your personal memoir. In this case, your book is unlikely to become a bestseller unless your life has been very unusual (see #2). Instead, it’s about sharing your personal story with those who know and love you.

What not to do

As you can see, what you write and how you write it really depends on why you want to become an author. It also determines what you don’t do. If you want to leave a legacy, then it’s probably a waste of your time researching the ins and outs of Amazon. If you want a bestseller, don’t publish without a marketing plan. If you primarily want to help people, then don’t start writing before you’ve figured out who they are and what would genuinely help them.   

What next?

Once you’ve determined your goals, you can start planning what you’re going to write. If you’re not sure how best to achieve your goals—especially if they’re to help people or get a bestseller—then you would benefit from coaching or an editorial critique. I can help you crush those goals, so get in touch today. If you’re confident how to meet your goals of leaving a legacy or telling your story, but you need some final polish, then you may need editing. I have a team of editors who can get your book up to scratch.

Ready to start?

If you’re ready to write your nonfiction book but don’t know how to get started, then I have good news for you! You can write a nonfiction book in just 30 days, and I’ll show you how in my brand-new e-book. It’s only 30 pages, so it won’t take you long to learn, and it’s completely free! So, why not challenge yourself to write a book for NaNoWriMo? You can download the e-book here. Time to get writing!