The easy answer to why do people write books is – because they want to.
The real, honest to goodness answer is a bit more complicated.
People have varying reasons for writing a book. In a general sense, the writing of a book is a project based in passion. A novel writer has a story that she just has to tell; a poet gathers his thoughts and writings and puts together a book of poetry; a business professional makes the decision to share his expertise. All of these are reasons for writing a book, but the one reason for writing a book that transcends all others is… a foolish one.
The ONE Reason Most People Write a Book
Most people I meet say they want to write a book to become rich and famous.
Let me correct that, most people say they want to share a story or their vast experiences in life, and that writing a book is their release, and that they are sure once the book is written, publishers will beat a path to their door, and their book will be a best seller, and this will make them rich and famous.
You see how one thing leads to another and another until… the author has become rich and famous, and can now go on speaking tours throughout the country (or the entire world) commanding great fees and addressing large audiences and basking in the glory of having written a book.
Let me disabuse you of this idea, right now. Writing a book is not a means to wealth and fame. It might be. Your book might be the next best seller on whatever list is most important to you, but it probably won’t be. Your book might attract millions of readers, and pad your bank account with millions of dollars, but it probably won’t. Your book might generate the kind of media attention that gets you on Ellen, or your favorite local news station, and then your favorite national news station, but it probably won’t.
Oh the Anguish! Oh the Rudeness! Oh the reality!
I don’t say these awfully rude things to insult you or to discourage you or to make you angry. I say them because they are true. The vast majority of books written will not go on to be “best sellers”. They will not garner millions in royalties. They will not make their authors rich.
And yet, they are almost all important books to write. I use the term “almost” because yes, there are books that I wish the author had not written. I will not go into why or what it is about these books that makes me cringe, I will merely say not every book that is written, should be written.
Now that we’ve finished with that, let me go on to talk about the books that have been written, or will be written, that are important and worthy of both the author’s time and the reader’s time. This, despite the fact that these books are not on the international or national best seller lists. Honestly, best seller lists be damned! Plenty of writing never strives to be among the best sellers, and is still far more excellent than writing that has achieved said best seller status. I have read my fair share of best sellers and closed the cover of the books only to wonder, Why? How? Why, again? Not all that glitters is gold, if you know what I mean.
The Delight of a Good Story, Well-Told
Stepping away from the best seller table, let’s peruse the shelves of our local book store, or even more excitingly, the shelves of our local library.
What delights await us there? The vast majority of books we will see are from authors we have never heard of. These are serious writers. These are writers who had a story to tell, and told it. It matters not that one book is a business book full of advice on how to be your own lawyer, or that another is a saga of another world where the Queen has four eyes. What matters is the story. The well-told story.
In your book, your story needs to be authentic, interesting, and have some sort of moral. “The moral to the story is…” we hear our English teach intone, senior year in high school. He likes to give away the answer because he is very smart. Smarter than the silly 17 year olds sitting before him paying rapt attention (well, I paid rapt attention in English class, in high school).
The moral of most business books is – you can do this, too.
The moral of most novels is …more complicated because the human condition invites a long, serious discuss on morals as presented in novels.
Make no mistake, here. Your book is welcomed and necessary, if you truly have a story to tell. And, it doesn’t need to be a best seller. It needs to serve its audience. Do that, and you will have a success with your book. You may even create a successful writing career. One where your readers love you, and the rest of the world … doesn’t even know who you are.
Riches and fame are not why authors write books
I applaud all writers but especially those who tackle the writing of a book. It’s a big task. It can take a year or more out of your life. The rewards are many, or few. It all depends on your commitment to the written work, to the story. Until you become a household name, and yes, I think some of you will become a household name, but not all, you should write your book with a slave’s devotion to the reader. Come to think of it, even after you become a household name you should write with the reader in mind, at every moment.
Your book is not yours. It’s not for you. It belongs to the readers. This is why I often turn away possible clients. If you come to me all full of yourself and your story, and you tell me your goal is to get on Dr. Phil (which is a separate worry – why do people air their dirty laundry on Dr. Phil?), and to garner amazing speaking engagements where you will charge big bucks, because your book is going to be a best seller, I will wish you all the luck in the world and send you on your way.
Why do people writes books? Because there is a story inside begging to get out.