What's the Point of Your Idea?
The next thing that you do after you know who your ideal reader is and why you're gonna reach them is you ask, what's my point? What's the point? And this is a thing that I say all day, every day, all the time, to every writer (laughs). What's the point, what's the point, what's the point which is another way of saying, why should we care? What are you even saying? What are you even talking about? And you have to be able to answer that when you're writing non-fiction, when you're writing fiction, anything. What are you, what is your point? What do you want people to walk away from this feeling or believing? What do you really want them to know? And the way that we do this is we just simply ask that question in the Ideal Reader Worksheet. I want my reader to go from this to that. That's it, that's it. So an entrepreneur, you want your reader to go from this to that. Like what is it? If you're a dressmaker, you want them to go from feeling frumpy to feeling great. If you're a yoga instru...
ctor, you want them to go from feeling you know, tight, to feeling limber. If you're, you know, whatever it is you want that transformational process boiled down to its essence, just that little, tiny thing. And if you look at best-selling books that are out there, they all do this and they do it right from the title. So, I picked I picked three books, sort of random books off my bookshelf to show you what I mean. So, The $100 Startup. Reinvent the way you make a living, do what you love and create a new future. It's pretty clear what the transformation is. You can start a business on very little money, and make a new life for yourself. You are a badass at making money, master the mindset of wealth. This is a great book I just read, and it's fantastic. And what she's promising is exactly what it is, is change your mindset and become better at your relationship with money. The life changing magic of tidying up. The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Massive best seller. But look at how, even in the title, the transformation is very clear. You're gonna go from somebody, you're gonna change your life, because you clean up your house. Like, it's all baked in there. And that transformation is what we wanna get for you. When you know your ideal reader, then you wanna know what transformation are you going to take them through. So here is, in a few minutes we're gonna bring on Audrey who is a client of mine who is in the middle of her process of writing a book, so we can see the work that she has done. But her book, this was her transformation. She said, I want my reader to go from wondering why their kid is so happy at summer camp and then, the second part of that, to knowing how to establish in their homes the habits and tactics we use at camp to build up independence and lift kids up. So she wanted to write a book about summer camp. And she's a summer camp director. And what she noticed was that all the kids cry when they leave camp. They cry when they come to camp, because they're scared and they're afraid, but she said what she really began to notice, and again, this is what I talked about with Dan Blank is listening and noticing. She began to notice they cried when they left. When they had to get on the bus and go home, they cried even harder. And she started getting letters from parents saying, what did you do with my kid? She's so happy, that like, I live with her, I've been trying to get her to you know, be more independent or whatever, and you had two weeks with her and she comes back happy. Like, what did you do? And she began to listen to this, and listen to these people and speak to them, so she got clear on that ideal reader. Then she got clear on their transformation. And the book that she is writing is called Bringing Camp Home, Parenting Secrets from 30 Years at Summer Camp. So, same thing as the big, famous books we looked at, you can see the transformation right baked in here. You can see how this works, right from just the title. Is if you get that sense in there, it is a powerful thing. And one of the things I frequently do with my clients is I make them land on a working title that they love. And sometimes we go through 15, 20, 25 versions 'till we get a working title. Actually, Audrey's working title was Happy Camper. And so we worked with happy camper for a long time. She actually sold this book to a traditional publisher and this was the title that they wanted, because they wanted to be really clear that this was for parents at home and not about summer camp. So they tweaked the title to be this. But having a working title can really help you codify your idea. So, what I would love to do is just take a little time if you guys are willing to throw your title ideas at me and let's just see if you got it together. And we can bring some in from the Internet if people out there wanna share their ideas as well. We have a little time to get this together. So, I love your hand shot up so fast, so let's hear your title idea.
Yoga Beyond the Mat, 12 Sutras of Patanjali to Discover Your True Power.
Okay, that's so great. Yoga beyond the mat, I love that, that's a great title. Can you guys see that? Like, you get it right? Everyone's nodding, do you see that? (laughter)
I'm gonna watch later on.
Like you'd instantly get it. Oh, yoga beyond the mat, like it's visual, I understand it, it's great. Then the subtitle I really like the specificity of the 12. My question would be, who's your ideal reader? 'Cause I don't know the word you're using. So if you want your ideal reader to be someone who knows that word, that's good. If you want it to be bringing people in to somebody who doesn't know that word, you might wanna think about that word. So do you know, can you talk about your ideal reader?
People who currently practice yoga in the studio, or young people who have heard of yoga, but haven't practiced it. So I guess I'm leaving them out.
'Cause they wouldn't know anything about patanjali or the yoga sutras.
That's right, and just to be super blunt. (laughs) I don't wanna say a bad word on air but people are stupid, and by that I mean, people are busy, they're rushed, they don't have time, they don't have mind space, you know what I mean, they're whizzing by and if they see a hard word (laughs), they're gonna be like, ahhh, I don't know what that means. So you want your subtitle to invite them in the way it sounds like your practice invites them in. So I would think of a way to maybe take that word out and say what that word is to you or means to you or does. And then, can you tell me the very last phrase of that subtitle?
To discover your true power.
So I love that, isn't that great you guys? So we're like yoga beyond the mat, we're gonna do something, 12 somethings to discover our true power, like yeah, I want my true power. And that feels like next level yoga. It feels like not what we typically hear which is you know, get into your own head, become more limber. It feels like what you're doing, which is a next level thing. I think this is fantastic. I would just work on that.
Hard word (laughs), I mean, that's why I hate saying people are stupid, but I mean I just know this from being an entrepreneur myself, people whiz through your web page. They don't read anything, you know, you're like, it's right on there, how come you didn't see that? It's because they're busy, they're this, they're that and if you notice in your own life, I notice this is my own life, whenever I call customer service representative or can't figure out, nine times out of 10 they're like, it's on our website, if you go to this page, and you're like, oh yeah, I'm the stupid person. (laughs) But I think that's great, thank you for sharing that.
You can work with that for sure and one other quick thing about that. Your, the 12 steps starts to inform what the structure of your book is gonna be. And I really like that in a working title, because now we can start to structure it. Are there questions from the Internet?
Well, not questions, but we've encouraged people to, of course, share their working titles as well.
Let's hear 'em.
So here's a great one. Okay, Financial Aromatherapy.
Whoa, is there anything else that goes with that?
Yes, it's long so I don't know if you wanna write the whole thing down, but it's Using Essential Oils in Your Financial Life to Successfully Reduce Stress, Clear Money Blocks, and Welcome in More Prosperity.
Oh my gosh, this is amazing. That is amazing, do you guys see why it's so good? Do you instantly see? You can instantly see what it is, who it's for, and she or he has that, is there more to it?
Well no, I just wanted to shout out the name, I forgot it, the author is Laura Sicilia.
Laura, killin' the game. So, what I love is, she's got that what it's gonna do for you. It's gonna stress, something with money, and then the last one was great.
It's going to successfully reduce stress, clear money blocks, and welcome in more prosperity.
Prosperity, so this is so cool. So she's gonna talk to people who probably know something about essential oils, who probably are into them already because I don't think you're gonna go to essential oils like if you're having money problems, and you're not already into essential oils, I don't think you're gonna be like, oh that's the answer for me. So she's kinda circling around who it's for. She tells us exactly what it is. And she tells us the transformation that we're gonna have. It's really cool, and when you think about the skills I talked about that an entrepreneur has, this person must be doing this work. She must understand that there's a market for it. She must know exactly who this customer is. She's hitting all these things, right. And she's gonna, her title is gonna suggest a structure, just like the yoga book, to how this is gonna play out. Maybe those three things in the subtitle she promises are gonna be three sections of the book, or maybe she's gonna go through the essential oils one at a time, I love this. So, you don't even have to do anything besides get a great title and subtitle to start seeing how this works. Your knowledge of the market, your knowledge of your reader, bringing it all together, it's fantastic. Let's have another one.
Is there gonna be any bad ones? This is amazing.
Alright, here we go. This is it's from Enque who says, Fit in or Stand Out. And then subtitle, Use Your Talent When it Matters.
Okay, fit in or stand out. Use your talent when it matters. Okay, so not that there's anything bad. It's all just in progress. But that one, I'm sorta like, I don't get it, is it fitness? Is it, so fit in or stand out. Use your talent, what talent? And who am I and who's it speaking to? It's a little vague, right, it's hard to picture, it's hard to see. I get the transformation. I'm gonna use my talent to stand out, but I don't know who it's for, that's what's really missing, is, who is it for? So I would urge that writer to get more specific, even if all she's got is a title, get more specific. And if she does have a whole book already written, that's just a cue, get more specific on your title and maybe, in your next revision, in the work itself, get more specific as well. They all go together, it's that iterative R&D process they all go together.
So after you told Daymon, there was no academic words, I committed a cardinal sin, 'cause my first title was, Strategies of Legitimacy, Saving Astrology's Reputation, which might not make any sense. So I changed it to, Everything You Know about Astrology is Wrong, and How to Get it Right.
Wow, okay, whoa, read the first one. (laughter) Did you just do that here?
Well, I think fast, but yeah. I've been thinking about this for 20 years (laughs).
Okay, do the first one so we can hear, because what she just did, she went from like, eh, to like, whoa.
Well my favorite title that I've been stuck on like attached to for three years was Strategies of Legitimacy.
I have no idea what that means, who it's for, or what it is, why I should care. I'm like, I'm not buying that.
I feel like a Muppet, like wah-wah-wah-wah, wah-wah-wah.
And then, Everything You Know about Astrology is Wrong is the point, so then, if you make me make a subtitle, it's How to Get it Right.
Love it, I love it. So say the new one.
Everything You Know about Astrology is Wrong and How to Get it Right.
That's so great, it's so great. So, you might be speaking to people who maybe have dabbled or know a little bit or maybe think Astrology is, did I say the wrong thing?
'Cause I was Astronomy, Astrology. Astrology is wrong, maybe they're doubters, so you're trying to bring people in, yeah?
Just people who don't know that much about it. They think newspaper horoscopes, which is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more history and complexity, so a lot of people think, well it doesn't work 'cause the newspaper and it's like, that's only a hundred years old. There's an entire book to tell you what else is there.
I love it, it's so good, I love it. Okay, let's have one more from you. Thank you guys for sharing, this is so good.
The Heritage Cookbook Project. Documenting America's Rich Cultural Mosaic Through the Lens of Family Recipes.
Wow, say that again.
The Heritage Cookbook Project. Documenting America's Rich Cultural Mosaic Through the Lens of Family Recipes.
I mean, I would buy that book right now. (laughter) That is so cool, do you guys get that, do you see that? Right, everyone's nodding, you can't see them, but they're all nodding. So what we, we get a picture, a heritage cookbook but you're capturing stories, you're capturing recipes passed down, you're capturing I imagine regional, like that's just the coolest and I think you said before class you're a photographer.
That's just the coolest ever, I love it. You guys are good at this. So everybody who hasn't shared, I want you to put yourselves through that process. Is it clear, is it specific, does it paint a picture? Does it hit an ideal reader? That's gonna be the ticket, the whole answer to bringing your readers in. So what we're gonna do now is, I wanna talk a little bit about the writing process once you've got your idea. How it's gonna play out. And I'm gonna go through this material fast, but the downloads are available for you to study later. So, managing your writing project is just like managing any other project. You wanna break it down into parts, so that you can go through the process very carefully. So this is the map that we use at my company, Author Accelerator, which shows you the writing process, and basically, you start here doing what we've just done. What's your point, what's your genre? Who's your ideal reader? What other books are out there? You commit to the book and you move through this way. You design a structure for the material. I always say write 50 pages. If you write 50 pages, you're not writing a blog post anymore. Now you're writing a book. So 50 pages is a great goal to shoot for. Then you step back and you check on a macro level how am I doing, am I doing what I promise in my title? Am I doing what I promised to my reader? You might revise on a micro level, which is more the little word level. Then this is all just, write 50 more pages, write 50 more pages, write 50 more pages. You just do it in chunks. And this process is showing the revision process, which is that circular, iterative, you go around until you get it right. You give it to people to read. You get it all done. And then you're ready to publish. So that is a super fast version of the way that the writing process goes, but it's just to show you it is a process. You break it down, anybody can do it. If you can run a business, you can do this. The next thing is, the publishing universe. There's so many ways that you can get a book published. And whether or not you are writing something that's appropriate for traditional publishing and agenting, or you want to go the independent route and self-publish, there's a lot of decisions that go into this for an entrepreneur. But one rule of thumb that I can give is, if you have a captive audience already, in other words, let's say you speak all the time to rooms like, I have a client who's a corporate, he's a comedian, so he's like the warm-up guy at corporate workshops. And he's in a room 200 times a year with a thousand people. So he sells his book in the back of the room. Why would he go out to a publisher, because somebody at a bookstore in Kansas is gonna be a hard sell, but he's got this captive audience all the time so it made total sense for him to self-publish his book. That's one kind of rule of thumb for an entrepreneur, is if you have a really captive audience, you might not want to give up the percentage to a traditional publisher, who's gonna take creative control, tell you what to do, dictate a little bit more what's going to happen. On the other hand, you might really like to be in bookstores. You might really have a book that's going to have a wide appeal. That would be a reason to go with traditional publishing. So you can download these maps and study them a little bit. It's a whole big process, which way to choose, but it's not something that should stop an entrepreneur from publishing. If you just don't know which way to go, that's like an hour-long consulting call with somebody to help figure it out. That's not a reason not to do it, or to think this is way too complicated. I don't wanna know the world of publishing, that's like, not my thing. Those are not reasons to do it. It's easy to break this down and figure out what's right for you, so I just wanted to show these to show what the process is and to break it down, but not to let this stop anybody from publishing a book. That's like saying I'm not gonna launch a website 'cause I don't know how to code. You know, you just hire somebody to code. It's not, that's not what should stop you.