If you’re wanting to write a book and publish it, these are some of the top questions you’ll need to be prepared to answer. By getting clear on these questions, you’ll come across as more professional, credible, and even interesting.

1. What is your book about?

Your goal with this question is to be able to answer it in 2 sentences or less. If you don’t, you risk coming across as unprofessional (because you can’t succinctly explain it) and uninteresting (because if you can’t even explain it, then what tells me I’ll enjoy it?).

Here are a couple quick “formulas” to help you to neatly package up your pitch, because that’s basically what this is:

Play around with these and see what you can come up with! If anything, they’ll give you a good starting point for briefly and accurate explaining your book(s).

2. What inspired you to write it?

This is your opportunity to tell your story! In fact, this is the question I most love asking authors; who wouldn’t like knowing the backstory to what could potentially be the next bestseller?

There are a few approaches for answering this question in a compelling way:

3. Who is your ideal audience/reader?

Ideally, you would have the answer to this question before you’ve even started your book. If you’re already halfway through or more, you don’t necessarily need to start over. But by understanding early on who it is your writing to or for, it will naturally shape your language and marketing.

If you’re not sure where to begin with this question, one way to determine your ideal reader/audience is to look up similar titles to yours on Amazon and take note of the types of reviews those books are getting. Who are they from? What are their praises and/or complaints? Where did this book find them in life? That will give you a lot of insight into who your book will attract later on.

4. What genre is your book?

Keep this as simple as possible. That’s probably the biggest thing I can say on this. Of course, your book might melt into other genres depending on its complexity, but ultimately, you want to be able to say that—at its basic form—it is a ____.

Similar to the previous point, I recommend looking up similar titles on Amazon and see what kinds of genres/categories are listed under “Product Details” if you’re not totally sure. That will give you an idea as to which one your book belongs to.

5. What makes your book unique?

Your answer will vary depending on whether you’ve written a fiction or nonfiction because each accomplishes something different.

6. What will your reader learn or experience?

If books are the longest form of pleasure and entertainment, people deserve to know what they’re getting into. This is an especially important question for debut authors to consider since they don’t even have a history of writing successful books, which is something both readers and agents may consider when considering your book.

Try writing a back cover description of your book in 2, no more than 3, paragraphs.

Again, look at similar examples on Amazon and see how they’ve written their descriptions, preferably those that have been written hybrid or traditionally; it will look more professional.

7. What are your “comp” titles?

“Comp titles” is actually short for “comparable titles”, and it’s often times the easiest way to describe your book to others (hence the examples I gave in #1).

If you’re planning on pitching your unpublished book to agents or small publishers, I would come prepared by putting together a good list of 10. This also helps them gauge the potential success of your book, especially if you’re a debut author, so be sure to pick books that have been successful, but not those that have been #1 New York Times bestsellers. That’s the catch: you don’t want to look like you’re comparing yourself to Stephen King if you’re a first-time horror/thriller novelist.

8. What does your version of ‘success’ look like?

So, so, so important to identify as early on as you can. Are you #1 on Amazon? A USA Today bestseller? Did you sell 1 book? Did you get a physical placement in a brick-and-mortar shop? Are you planning on publishing it for the sake of publishing?

There really is no wrong answer. Your answer is reflective of your own reality, so whatever you choose to set your sights on is specific to you and only you. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “should do’s”, so use your answer to this question to ground you in your authorship journey, as well as any decisions you make.

You want to be able to look back on (or forward to) everything with satisfaction.

9. What are your strengths/weaknesses as a writer?

This is a question from the perspective of an editor and/or agent. They may or may not ask you this question specifically, but it never hurts to know the answer to it. In fact, I learned about my own strengths and weaknesses by hiring a developmental editor for the first time last summer in 2022.

I was initially a little hesitant about it because (a) they can be expensive and I was a recent university graduate, and (b) I didn’t know if it would be worth the investment. But the deciding factor for me was something I read that essentially said it’s a great way for new writers to know how their writing lands with someone else.

A cheaper, more attainable route is also acquiring beta readers or joining a writing group. I highly recommend the latter if you’re just starting out on your writing journey. You can also see if your local library has any services or programs for writers, they can be a phenomenal resource.

10. What are you hoping your book accomplishes?

Publication may be your ultimate goal, but the day your book releases is actually the first day of its life. So what do you want to see happen with this new book? What do you want to get out of calling yourself an author?

You can use your new book to grow your audience, possibly secure an agent for your next book (depending on its sales and overall success), get more podcast placements, pivot into a new niche if you’re nonfiction, the list goes on. Really this question allows you to think toward the long game, something not many people do.

What do you want to have happen after the “happily ever after?”

BONUS QUESTION: Why are you the one to write this book?

This question targets nonfiction writers most specifically. Let’s say you’re writing a book on a new kind of financial structure for America’s public school system so they can have more money. What qualifies you to write it? Were you a teacher? A consultant? Did you go to college? Have you received any recognition for other publications you’ve written? Did you work with school districts for a time?

If you aren’t positioning yourself as an expert, then people will have a hard time believing you and taking you seriously as an authority figure.

⭐ Let’s keep the conversation going! Email me at lauren@laurenericksonofficial.com 

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