I’m writing a book. So what?
“Find out how you can be the envy of all your friends and save the planet with the right kitchen tap!”
Potential client: “I’m writing a book.”
Me: “So what?”
PC: “How rude!”
Me: “No, really, so what?”
The conversation got much better from there! No, really!
“So what?” isn’t meant to be a rude question, though I admit it can and does frequently get me into trouble. Thankfully, I’m so charming, and usually thousands of miles away, that I haven’t had a smack in the face yet ;-)
Why do I still ask the question, frequently, multiple times in a conversation?
Because it’s vitally important…
Do you remember Writing Waste #8: Writing the wrong book where I said you needed to answer two simple questions to make sure you were writing the right book? Here they are again:
Answer two simple questions
- What’s in it for the reader?
- What’s in it for you?
You knew those two questions were too simple, right? Here’s where we complexify it up a bit and get all emotional!
Create a So What? chain until you get to the real, emotional, visceral reason for writing a book.
There are two people involved in “writing a book” — the reader and the writer. You need to ask the “So what?” question for the reader and for you, the writer. It’s your responsibility to create a So What? chain before you even begin writing.
Here’s an example for your reader:
Here’s a book on kitchen taps that I’ve lovingly written for you — so what?
You’ll know what tap to buy — so what? (* split chain here)
You’ll use less water — so what?
You’ll feel better about yourself, you’ve done your bit for the environment.
It’ll look trendy with your new kitchen — so what?
You’ll be the envy of all your friends and feel proud.
Here’s an example for you the writer:
I’m writing a book — so what?
So people will know my name — so what?(* split chain here)
So they’ll buy my stuff — so what?
I’ll make more money — so what?
I’ll be able to provide for my family — so what?
My family will be healthy and happy and I’ll feel good about myself.
They’ll share my details with other people — so what?
I’ll get more referrals — so what?
I’ll be able to help more clients — so what?
I’ll feel like I’ve achieved my ambition to help 1000 people buy the right taps.
You might notice that the chains end when we get to an emotion — emotion is what makes people move. You need emotion for yourself and for your reader to get movement from where you are now A, to where you and they need to be, B.
Without emotion there is no movement!
In the diagram below read upwards from the bottom of the chains to find the feelings that motivate movement…
You can have as many branching chains as you need. You might have 10 or 12 — that’s OK! Some chains might end in the same emotion — that’s OK. What’s important is that you do this with an inquisitive, open attitude — it’s not just an exercise — you have to give a shit about the outcome!
So What? chains can become messy — that’s good!
If you are honest, thorough and a little bit OCD about this you can create an awesome list of reasons for why you should carry on writing the book if writing gets tough (and it might). You can use your own so what chain to e-motivate yourself to keep writing.
You’ll also have a useful list of things that must go in the book to satisfy the reader and a great list of emotional bullets for the back cover: “Find out how you can be the envy of all your friends and save the planet with the right kitchen tap!”
You might also find there are other ways (not just writing a book) that you can satisfy these emotional needs for yourself and your reader.
PS: I’ve used this So What? method for about 100 years (maybe 20, it just feels longer) and it first appeared in our The Gorillas Want Bananas book that I wrote with my brother, Joe, when we were running a marketing company.
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