I love meeting people who want to write stories. But you know what I love more? Meeting people who want to write stories that have a purpose, which is something I stress in my book writing courses. I recently heard a podcast, and the speaker suggested that not everyone has one true calling. She dubbed people who have many interests and talents as multipotentialities. She said that living in a society that asks “what do you want to be when you grow up?” can have a detrimental effect because it makes people feel they have to commit to one thing forever—and that many of us don’t have one “one true calling” or one purpose. Interesting.
I know what it’s like to go through life doing jobs that were never suited for me in the first place. (Yes, I was once the owner of an asphalt paving company!) But I do believe that we were all put on earth for a purpose. It’s no different when writing a book. You must focus on the purpose of your book. It’s the only way you will impact your audience and make a difference in their lives.
Give Your Nonfiction Book a Pointed Purpose Statement
The Purpose Statement for your book is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a statement—a single sentence, not a paragraph—that states what your book will accomplish for its specific audience. If you want your book to make an impact, it must perform an action.
Here’s a fill-in-the-blank formula that will help you craft your Purpose Statement:
The purpose of this book is to do ___action_____ for _audience_____.
What do you want your book to do? Hard question. Maybe it’s easier to explain what you don’t want it to do: You don’t want your book to raise awareness. Seriously.
You might think, I think I do want to raise awareness. Actually, you don’t. If you write a book to raise awareness, you miss an opportunity to change lives, save lives, or transform society.
You could write the most captivating, awareness-raising book in the world, but at the end, your readers’ response will be, “Well, that was interesting. Now I know about that.” Then they’ll shut the cover and promptly forget about it. Or maybe it will stick with readers for a few days, and they’ll think, “Somebody should do something about that.” But that’s as far as it will go. In the end, you’ve spent your time, energy, emotion, and money to write a forgettable book.
You want to create change in a specific, targeted audience, and you can use this formula to write your Purpose Statement:
The purpose of this book is to _action_ for _audience_ so they can result.
What change do I want to invoke in my readers? Change implies action.
Here’s an example from one of my clients:
Nancy Nelson, Lessons from the Ledge: The purpose of this book is to guide women in crisis to dig into their resilience, to push past the pitfalls, and to reframe the pain so they can thrive instead of merely survive.
Let’s analyze Nancy’s Purpose Statement in light of our formula:
The purpose of this book is to guide (action) women in crisis (audience) to dig into their resilience (result 1), to push past the pitfalls (result 2), and to reframe the pain (result 3), so they can thrive instead of merely survive (result 4).
Your Purpose Statement is the foundation of your book. It defines your mission and describes your job as the author: to deliver your audience to realize the purpose of your book. It should be clear, concise, and specific. It’s the guide for everything you’ll write.
What about you? If you or someone you know is ready to tell your story with purpose, please contact us and we can help you enroll in a book writing course today!