One of the worst things you can do is write a book without a purpose. Your Purpose Statement is the foundation of your nonfiction book. It defines your mission and describes your job as the author: to deliver your audience to realize the purpose of your book. It’s clear, concise, and specific. And it’s the can’t-do-without-it guide for everything you’ll write.
The Purpose Statement is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a statement—a single sentence, not a paragraph—that states what the book will accomplish for its specific audience.
If you want your nonfiction book to make an impact, it must perform an action. If what you’re thinking about writing doesn’t deliver your audience to realize the purpose of your book, then leave it out.
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 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.
Here are a few examples that my clients wrote:
Example 1—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).
Example 2—Craig Hughes, The Self-Driving Company: The purpose of this book is to inspire small business owners who are spread too thin, cash-strapped, and feel trapped by their business to take action that moves them from their current allconsuming, handson approach to the freedom of a self-sustaining enterprise.
Let’s break it down:
The purpose of this book is to inspire (action–part 1) small business owners who are spread too thin, cash strapped, and feel trapped by their business (audience) to take action (action–part 2) that moves them from their current allconsuming, handson approach to the freedom of a selfsustaining enterprise (result).
Example 3—Terry Lammers, You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know: The purpose of this book is to show (action) business owners who are seeking an exit strategy (audience 1) and people who want to purchase a company (audience 2) the critical steps and the resources needed to buy or sell a company. (result)