Rescue Your Unfinished Book

Top Tip 4: Check your book topic is right

Previously, I listed 10 top tips to help you get back on track with your book. Whether you are grappling with your structure, your topic or your content, these tips will give you some insight into how to solve the problem. Here are the top tips again:

Top Tip 1: Get feedback, preferably from a professional editor
Top Tip 2: Create a book plan so you know whether you have the right content
Top Tip 3: Check the structure works by looking at the contents list
Top Tip 4: Check your subject is right for your business and for you as an author
Top Tip 5: Work out where this book fits in your business
Top Tip 6: Make sure you are clear on your key points
Top Tip 7: Create a new writing schedule so you can begin writing regularly again
Top Tip 8: Finish writing before you start revising and editing
Top Tip 9: Focus your book if you have too much content
Top Tip 10: Add more detail if you have too little content

Below are the details of the fourth tip on what you can do to get back on track with your book. If you are struggling with your book, it’s possible you need to look at what you are writing about to check your book topic is right.

what nicheWhen I say ‘right’ I mean right for you as the author (it is a subject you are qualified to write about and that you want to write about) and right for your business (for example, that the topic is not a red herring or an inappropriate topic given the current focus of your business).

There is more to your book topic than a subject to write about, though. You need to be saying something as well – passing on a message or putting forward an argument. If you don’t do this, your book becomes too generic and lacks direction. The reader has no reason to keep on reading and possibly to even buy in the first place.

The other pitfall when choosing a topic is to go for a subject that seems worthy but that bores you silly.

Sometimes your topic or what you are saying about your topic unravels as you write. The process of writing is exploratory and sometimes you find that as you start writing you discover counter arguments to your original theory or argument. This is very unsettling and can completely knock you off course – after all, the topic for your entire book starts to come under fire when this happens.

Believe it or not, these realisations and doubts that the subject or message of your book is not quite right is a good thing. It means that in the process of writing your perspective has shifted and you have started to see complexities that you were previously unaware of. As you deal with these issues, you will realise how much expertise you offer and you will make your book stronger and more rounded for the reader.

Far from ignoring information that runs counter to your argument, you can find ways to discuss it and point out what you believe about it. This makes you far more credible as an author as it shows that you know what you are talking about.

How to check your book topic is right

The easiest way to make sure you are on the right track with your book topic is to ask yourself a few simple questions:

  1. Is this topic going to showcase an area of expertise that you want to focus on selling as part of your business? There is no point showing what a great project manager you are if you don’t want to sell your expertise as a project manager.
  2. Do you have the appropriate level of knowledge and experience to make you an author of a book on this topic?
  3. Are you able to express an opinion or point of view on this topic that you are able to defend?
  4. Is the topic of this book going to allow you to create related products and services so you can develop a product pathway?
  5. Are you interested in this topic or are you bored by it? If you’re bored, your reader will be too!
If you're not interested, your reader won't be either
If you’re not interested, your reader won’t be either

What to do if you think you have chosen the ‘wrong’ topic

It can be difficult to admit that you have started writing a book about the wrong topic. If you have just started out with your book – whether writing or simply planning – this realisation isn’t too difficult to accept as you can adapt your ideas before you have done too much work.

However, if it is the wrong topic and you have done a lot of work or written a lot of words, it can be difficult to take the decision to revise the project and the book. If you do decide to make changes, you need to be sure of your decision otherwise you could end up being torn between your two (or possibly more) solutions so you end up getting completely stuck.

Book topics are rarely entirely wrong. Usually, they appear wrong because as you write you realise that there is a gap in your knowledge or you start to have doubts about how marketable the book is or how relevant it is to your business. In other words, there is usually an underlying concern or worry that arises suddenly as a result of the work being done on the book and this causes us to become stuck.

Taking a few days away from the book or seeking support or feedback from someone who is qualified to help (a coach or mentor is best) can help to unravel these fears and get you writing again. Having fears and doubts during the writing of a book is completely normal – every writer experiences them, even the most experienced. However, it is how you respond to those moments of uncertainty that will determine whether your book remains unfinished or gets published.

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Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.