by Angela Lauria February 10, 2024
Many aspiring writers yearn to learn how to write a good book. But chances are, if you’re a first-time author, you have some blindspots about how to write a book that truly makes a difference .
Passion alone cannot pave the path to bestsellerdom. Impact requires understanding readers’ deepest struggles and requires more from you than simply showcasing your writing prowess.
Here are five tips to help you write a bestselling book that will truly make a difference.
1. Identify Your Ideal Reader
Most people start by thinking about what they want to write. But if you want to learn how to write a good book, an impactful book, start by thinking about who is going to read it and why they would bother.
In 2007, I bought two books that changed my life: If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? by Brooke Castillo, and Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck. I was going to fix my marriage by getting healthy and finding a job I loved. I was 315 pounds, was just fired from a my dream job, and I knew my marriage was on the brink of collapse.
And here’s the thing… I didn’t just spend $20 on these books. Over the course of a few years, I spent between $15,000 to $20,000 with each of these authors—retreats, workshops, one-on-one coaching, certifications. I was committed to leveling-up my life. The day I bought their books, I started a loyal customer relationship with them.
You see, most authors focus on the wrong things: sharing the information they possess and book sales.
Martha and Brooke, on the other hand, weren’t. Their main focus was on me, the reader. They were focused on building a life of service—in service—to people like me who were deeply in pain.
If you make a commitment to your reader, to serve her (or him) above all else, then you can attract readers.
Books attract those who need your message.
2. Know Your Uniqueness
Many people worry that what they have to say isn’t original, but look at the bestsellers, very few are totally unique ideas. What makes them sell is your voice. Cultivating your personality on the page is key to sales.
Once you know who your reader is, your book can become a love letter to them, from you. But to write this love letter, you must know yourself and the role you will play for the reader.
Consider Brooke Castillo. When I bought her book, I was 315 pounds overweight and convinced that if I just lost more weight, my marriage would be saved. I was her ideal reader because I had the problem she helped people solve. But who was Brooke in all of this? She wasn’t my friend, my boss, a wordsmith, or a coach. She decided, before she wrote her book, that her job was to coach me through my problem.
You must decide: Who are you to your reader? A sage? A teacher? An investigative journalist helping them discover truth? Getting clear on your identity grounds the reader-author connection essential for crafting a truly resonant message.
For example, one author I worked with aimed to blend neuroscience and the Law of Attraction. Her skeptic readership forced her to resist defaulting to the role of expert or cheerleader. Instead, she landed on investigative journalist. “You and I, dear skeptic, will explore this fascinating frontier together!”
Defining your uniqueness is about finding your distinctive authorial voice and perspective. Let this voice shine through as you support readers along their journey.
3. Invest in Experts
There isn’t a single author who hasn’t had help with their book. Have you ever read the acknowledgements page in a book? There is a reason they are so long. You are unlikely to be the first person in history who does it alone.
Hiring help provides accountability and helps fill in knowledge gaps (blindspots) that you have. And you know the thing about blindspots, right? There’s a reason you can’t see them.
Chances are, unless you have already written a handful of bestsellers, you actually don’t know every single thing you need to do in order to write an effective book. Investing in experts is a way to stay accountable, or risk abandoning your readers. Sometimes it’s as simple as hiring an editor or a formatter. Sometimes it’s bigger, like investing in a book writing coach.
Either way, don’t give up on your reader just because the numbers scare you. If you invest in the right help, the return on investment will be greater than your fear.
4. Do It Your Way
Your job as an author is to discern the difference between good advice and being a copycat. Success flows from your ability to navigate between your creativity and leveraging industry best practices.
5. A Vision Board Isn’t Enough
It’s nice to want success as an author, but “good vibes only” doesn’t cut it in publishing. You have to show up ready to both write and market your book.
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, market my book? Won’t my publisher do that for me?”
Most first-time authors think their job is to write a masterpiece, fire it off to a publisher, and then find a comfy spot on the couch where they can watch the paychecks rake in as their publisher does the heavy lifting. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
The truth is, publishers cover the upfront cost of editing, design, formatting, and proofreading. They get you shelf and table space in bookstores, provide B2B marketing to get you into brick and mortar shops (airports, book stores, grocery stores), handle the distribution, and lend you credibility while fielding in-bound request.
Your job, as the author, is to handle all of the marketing. It’s your job to book the interviews, buy ads, schedule your book tour, and more.
If you want to be a bestselling author, a vision board isn’t enough. You’ll have to do the work.
How to Write a Good Book
When writing a book, it can be easy to fall prey to the misconceptions of the literary world. An advance from a traditional book deal won’t buy you a new Porsche or a villa in the south of France. And writing a book without help will only get you as far as your awareness can go.
If you feel truly called to write a good book that truly changes peoples’ lives, to help those suffering, you must do it with a servant’s heart. Success flows from serving your ideal reader. Success flows from investing in others who have walked the path before you. And success comes from feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Stay focused on serving. The rest will organically follow.
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