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What’s your message?

What IS a message (AKA proposition) for your book? And how the heck do you come up with one?

I like the way industry guru Jane Friedman puts it. As an author you have to answer two questions about your book: So what? And who cares? Your message is the answer to the first question, so what?

It’s the big idea that drives your book, expressed in a sentence or two that highlights how unique it is. It might be the 10,000-foot solution to the reader’s problem. When people ask, what’s your book about? it’s your answer.

Don’t know how to find the answer? Start with a brainstorming session on paper and list all the main points of your book—as if you were describing it to someone for the first time. Revisit your goals: why are you writing this book?

Now answer these questions:

● What big message do you want to spread with the book?

● What is the fundamental solution, shift, change, approach, or idea you’re proposing in the book?

● What aspect of your book or idea will be unique or different from other books on the same topic?

For more help with message statements, try spotting the message in other nonfiction books you have loved or that have been very successful: it’s often in the descriptive copy on the back cover, or even a subtitle or “sell line” on the front cover.

Why does message matter? Summarizing the whole of your book in one single sentence can force you to refine your ideas into one essential proposition.

Devising your message is also the easiest way to see if you have a book at all. Why? Because it immediately lets you "test" your book idea to see if a reader would be engaged.

As you’re writing your manuscript, your message helps you make critical decisions about what content to include or leave out.

In a nutshell, your message is a guide rail for almost every decision you make about your book. Your message will keep you right on track.

Find out more about the How To Write a Successful Nonfiction Book course here:

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