What’s your book really about?

So you’re at a party and a new acquaintance asks ‘So what’s your book about?’

Should be an easy question right? But out comes the waffle:

Um, well, it’s about podcasting, and how it shouldn’t be that hard to host, except that we let our mindset get in the way and then we underrate ourselves…

So, it’s a style guide, but it’s not about having a huge wardrobe, it’s about knowing your style archetype and…..

Well three years ago I decided to go vegan and I really wanted my kids to do it too so I did this cooking course, and well the book is everything I learned cooking only vegan recipes for a year.

And as you watch the other person go all glassy-eyed, you feel the blush rise and you would rather be anywhere than standing there, clutching your wine glass and feeling like your book is the stupidest idea ever.

Defining what your book is really about and figuring out how to articulate that in one or two powerful sentences, is one of the best things you can do for your writing journey.

  • It will help you stay on track. You’re not going to get distracted by all the things you could say – you can easily decide what goes in and what stays out.
  • It helps you define your audience. When you know who you are writing for and what they are struggling with or curious about, it’s much easier to deliver a book that meets their needs
  • You can talk confidently about your book from the get-go. That makes it easy to promote your book while you are writing, so by the time you press publish your audience is already waiting and hungry.
So how do you define what your book is really about?

Every non-fiction book is making a case for something. You could be trying to persuade your reader to apply your system, follow your approach, embrace your ideas, adopt a mindset shift or make a lifestyle change.

Maybe you’re sharing a personal journey that could inspire your reader to believe in new possibilities. Or perhaps you’re sharing a fresh take on an old topic, to try and persuade the reader to try a new perspective.

Either way, you’re making the case that you have a solution, or can light a path forward for the reader.

So how do you define the case you’re making?

Step One – Identify the problem or question at the heart of the book

What is the question you will answer or the issue you will explore in your writing? Let’s look at those examples again

  • How do I develop the skills and confidence to become an engaging podcast host?
  • What is a personal style and how do I find mine?
  • How do I go vegan and bring my family along for the ride?

Step Two – What are you trying to teach, show or reveal to your reader?

  • The simple mindset shift that can empower anyone to become a confident and engaging podcast host.
  • My simple seven-step system defines your personal style, so you can look good and feel good every day.
  • Easy tips and tricks to help even the busiest families adopt a vegan lifestyle (even if they’re on a budget).

Step Three – Put those two answers together, and there’s your case

  • My book reveals the simple mindset shift that can transform anyone into a relaxed, confident and engaging podcast host.
    I share my seven-step framework for developing your personal style, so you can look good and feel fantastic, everyday.
    My book shares simple tips and tricks to help busy families discover how affordable and easy it is to go vegan.

So what happens if the question you are addressing goes beyond the individual reader and addresses a global or societal issue?

Maybe you want to write about the gender pay gap, look at radical solutions to climate change, challenge diet culture or highlight issues caused by lack of diversity in the workplace.

In this case, your book might not be able to present a solution to this problem, so your goal might be to start or contribute to the conversation. You might want to challenge an existing paradigm and present ideas for a new one.

In this situation, you could articulate your case like this

  • My book challenges the idea that the gender pay gap is purely a women’s issue and argues that pay transparency is not only good for all of us, it’s good for business.
Need more examples?

Here’s my interpretation of the case made in a couple of well known books:

  • The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr Brené Brown makes the case that if we want to live a wholehearted life, we must accept that we are enough.
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman makes the case that to have a happy marriage, each partner must understand how the other expresses and receives love.
  • The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod makes the case that the right morning ritual could transform your whole life for the better.

So what case will your book make? If you need help identifying the case you plan to make, I’d be happy to help. Click here to book a free mini session and let’s chat about your project.

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