As a publicist, whenever I write a column, I am always looking for the sexiest way to present my material, because people catch fire with enthusiasm and sexiness. But sometimes the plain vanilla—back to basics—is the what I am called to share. Whether you have been traditionally published or have created your own imprint Who, Why, and What are the key questions.

There are controversies over when to address these questions. What’s the timing? Do you begin answering these questions before you write the book, while you are writing the book, or when you are setting up your marketing plan? I suggest that being mindful of answering these questions while you are writing the book is the most successful plan. And then failing to answer the questions beforehand answering them when you are setting up your marketing plan becomes essential.

Have you asked yourself these questions: Who are you to write this book, why are you are writing this book, what is the book about? And guaranteed that when you have answered those questions you will know who are your readers and why.

Who Are You?

When we set up a media kit for our authors, the first question we list on our interview question sheet is: Who are you? Why should people listen to you? Ideally, you have credentials or connections to the field. Or another way of looking at this: Why does your voice matter? Because every voice does matter. Today, we can stand up and be proud of our intelligence, wackiness, insight, or intuition. And knowing who we are is a big part of defining who we are writing for.

Here’s a simple exercise. Quickly write down eight ways of how you define yourself. There are no wrong or right answers.

What did you learn?

Why Are You Writing This Book?

There are several reasons to write a book, you are passionate about your material, want to create a literate platform for your business, you want to learn more about the subject material, or you hope to reach the New York Times bestseller list with your first book. Even if the reasons are that the subject fell in your lap or you were assigned it by your editor, you have to know why you are spending so much time in front of your computer or on your pads of paper to work so hard to finish the book.

This may sound counter-intuitive but are you being vulnerable and personable with your material? By sharing yourself with your readers, you will develop a loyal fan base. Even if you are writing a manual on a particular disease or how to repair a motorcycle, somehow making yourself human makes you and your material more relatable.

One of our current clients has written, The Chiron Effect, which combines her vision for healing with a desire to be on the NYT Bestseller list. Another one of our clients, Laugh to Death: My RX for Dying Well with ALS, is completing her deceased husband’s mission to see his book published. Another client, Flying with Four Legs, had an extraordinary lifetime experience with her dog and wanted to share the story. What’s your purpose?


Here’s another exercise – quickly write down, without thinking about it, what are your five reasons for writing this book? There are no wrong or right answers.

Now, have you written down your intentions or maybe created a vision board for where you want your book to go?

What is the Book About?

This may seem like a no-brainer because you seemingly have to know what to write. However, have you asked yourself if you have stayed on course and are true to your main focus? Over my 20 years as a publicist, I have all too often seen books that drift from their title. And when an author strays I, the reader, lose interest. Meandering may be sweet for a romance novel, but terrible for a how-to book. Always hold the image of your reader in your mind when you are writing the book and when creating the marketing plan.

Building a loyal fan base is the key to being a successful author and writer. By thoroughly answering these questions you will be clear about what you are writing, who you are, why you are writing the book, and then you can be positive about your marketing plan. And with a comprehensive marketing plan, you have a much greater chance of becoming a success.


© Mari Susan Selby, August 2018

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