BLOGGER: MICK SILVA
WRITING YOUR PROPOSAL FROM YOUR HEART GOAL
I’ve helped dozens of authors sell and publish books and I use a very simple form which is on the front page of my website (micksilva.com/define-the-vision). When people come to me for editing or coaching, at the beginning of the process I have them fill out these 10 questions, starting with the last one:
“In 100 words, share why you wrote this book. What does it mean to you personally?”
The purpose of this question is to cut through all the fluff and stuff and get to the heart of what will make people pick up your book over the millions of others out there. Your strongest competitive advantage is how truthfully and succinctly you can answer this question and summarize your passion for your project. All of your other proposal pieces—your pitch, your positioning, your audience, your comp titles, your marketing materials—are secondary and derive from this.
A big reason Mount Hermon has become the premiere conference for Christian writers is not because of its fluff and stuff, but because they know their why. And their long legacy shows their leadership attracts a high caliber of writers who know their why.
I’ve seen this over many years attending and watching the writers who succeed and stand out. Such writers spend time crafting their why, and gotten to know their ultimate goal. They’re interested in the why of others, the masters and the soon-to-bes. But most of all, they remain solidly attracted and attached to that primary motivation, their deepest heart goal.
Focus on the Heart
Everything they do emanates from and is an extension of that heart goal.
And whether you’re an aspiring author or a world-class writers conference, that heart goal requires a bedrock commitment to digging deeper than surface-level and initial impressions. That’s why people will be attracted and dedicated to you, not simply to your products, but because you reveal a process. Namely, a process of refinement.
So seek your why diligently and commit to refining the statement of your goal until it’s clear, concise, complete and uniquely you. It needs to offer the best glimpse into what makes your work remarkable.
The remaining answers will follow—your summary, audience, felt needs, the benefits, market potential, comparative books, even your qualifications—those other sections every proposal needs. Endorsers and those critically important partners you can call on will also be those who share that heart goal.
This is the best advice I can give. Research other successful authors’ heart goals. It may not be obvious at first, but it’s there. This isn’t just being smart; it’s vitally important for success. Then, keep refining until you land on the best way to express yours.
Borrow the Best
I suppose I think I write about this a lot, but maybe it’s not enough. Especially in learning to write your books, proposals, publicity pieces, and even blog posts and Facebook posts, you’ve got to learn to express your heart goal by learning how others express theirs.
In the same way you can’t just read the books that made you want to write yours, but have to pick them apart piece by piece, you also have to find what went into the posts and proposals and marketing of your favorite authors that makes their stuff work? What makes it so attractive and “sticky?”
I guarantee it’s the way they’ve learned to crystalize and express their heart goal.
What has happened to our sense of adventure in this spoon-fed culture of ours? Everything’s how-to’s and “short cuts” but nothing is really nailing the core of how to be a successful author. I don’t know, but I think that’s because no one wants to hear you just have to read others’ successful examples and learn it yourself.
I’m not being particularly original here. Isn’t this how authors have succeeded for ages? You read and then you copy and in the process, you find your own way. I think it’s clear that’s how all those teachers and guidebook writers found their material that they’re now trying to package for you. But what they can’t give you is the self-satisfaction and deep value for these insights from actually discovering them yourself.
It may be that this is a difference between successful writers and the rest. Maybe the successful writers know which tools and tips and secret methods to value more because they discovered them from their own indigenous sources.
If that’s true, maybe learning our heart goal from our deepest why could help us find freedom, instead of focusing on more teaching and training, simply to write more.
And ultimately, through refining to express it better, we might come to know our true selves more fully, to simplify and return us to our first love—that original experience of a better, more fulfilling way.