You’ve finished a complete version of your manuscript after countless hours of work and mental effort. You’re ready and eager to thrust it into the next stage of actually become a published book. You’d like to think it’s about as perfect as you can make it on your own.
But is it really?
You’re probably flat-out tired of working on it. Mental exhaustion is perhaps your biggest roadblock to revising your manuscript any further. But if you’re aware that there’s room for improvement—the opportunity to raise your manuscript’s quality a few notches higher—all on your own—what could give you the creative energy (and fresh vision) to accomplish that?
Here are eight simple exercises to help you find that energy and vision. Go through the suggestions listed below, and write your response to each one.
1. First, simply re-clarify exactly what your book is, at present. As briefly as possible (no more than a paragraph), describe your book as if answering a quick question about it from a curious acquaintance. Be sure to mention the specific target market for your book—the ideal or typical reader you’re hoping to reach.
2. Re-clarify also your personal objective (or sense of mission or calling) for what you hope this book will accomplish. Capture this in one sentence, maximum.
3. Now, from the perspective of that typical reader, state why this book is needed. What personal needs or longings will your book meet in this reader’s life? Respond as fully as possible. Expand your perspective as you imagine your target reader’s typical day or week.
4. With this wider understanding of your reader’s needs, dreams, and desires, list every idea you can think of for helping your manuscript more fully address those things—which are invitations for you to speak into your reader’s life.
5. Now look into the future. Imagine your reader having read your book (in its revised state). How will this experience actually change your reader’s life? Think of as many ways as possible—transformations, adjustments, awakenings.
6. Next, think back to your manuscript’s current state. In what specific ways can you more clearly promote and motivate these kinds of life-changes for your reader? How can you more profoundly inspire, instruct, challenge, exhort, heal, comfort, encourage, revive?
7. Now allow yourself to get philosophical. Your manuscript probably focuses on a particular slice of truth, a portion of genuine reality that’s part of a bigger overall picture. Think of other nearby “slices” of that larger reality, ones that probably have some level of interaction or relationship with your book’s topic.
How could you expand your book’s content into some of these areas, to make your book more wholistic, more organically intertwined with a larger share of truth and life? Of course, you don’t want to blunt the sharp clarity of your book’s focus. On the other hand, expanding your book’s message into a wider context of life and truth can help strengthen its lasting impact.
8. Finally, look at yourself. What are the most important and profound things about who you are—and your own life history—that have prepared and qualified you to write this book? How can these things be more fully expressed in order to serve your book’s message? How can you make it more personal, in a truly engaging way?
THOMAS WRAY is a veteran book editor and writer, with four decades of full-time work in book publishing, focusing on Christian books. Clients include Richard Blackaby, Tony Evans, John MacArthur, and Andy Stanley.