Locking in the ‘Why’ Behind Your Book

Amy L. Bernstein
3 min readSep 18

Authors need clear reasons for framing a message

Cover image provided by the author

As a book coach, one of the first questions I ask prospective and new clients is: Why do you want to write this book?

Such a simple question that seems to answer itself. By the time you decide to write a book, surely you already know why.

Surprisingly, many aspiring authors have only the vaguest idea why they want to write their book. On the nonfiction side, their response often consists of broad platitudes, such as:

To share my story.

To help others learn from my mistakes.

To make money and get noticed.

There’s nothing wrong with any of these reasons — but they don’t dig nearly deep enough to provide answers to fundamental questions: Why this book? Why now? Why you?

Writing a nonfiction book is often a long, deep, difficult, and complex journey that entails considerable research, a ton of structure and organization, and a painstakingly clear point of view.

As the saying goes: Easier said than done.

So if you don’t understand your why in the first place, chances are you won’t get through the process of outlining, let along writing, a sellable book. You need a why that’s strong and meaningful enough to sustain you through this process.

Which brings me around to my own why.

My first nonfiction book will be published next year, and it exists because I began with a strong why.

Working with writers, editors, and coaches around the world, as well as other “creatives” in theater and fine arts, inspired me write Wrangling the Doubt Monster: Fighting Fears, Finding Inspiration (Bancroft Press, 2024).

My intention is to help artists of all stripes come to terms with the feelings of self-doubt that hold them back from making their art — from starting, finishing, or sharing original work that reflects their passions.

And of course, I wanted to help myself, as well. Exploring the topic of self-doubt helped me to wrestle with my own frequent, keep-me-up-at-night doubts about a lot of things — including writing this book!

Amy L. Bernstein

I write stories that let you feel and make you think. Fiction, essays, poems. Whatever the moment — or zeitgeist — requires. More at https://amywrites.live.