Is writing a book worth it? That is a big question.
The simple answer is, yes. Writing a book is absolutely worth it.
You have to be writing for the right reasons. If you’re writing a book for the wrong reasons, you will either burn out, or lose interest fast.
Writing a book (or books) is highly fulfilling, but it is a monumental task for the amount of guaranteed reward.
Because there isn’t much financial reward in writing books, I’m sorry to say. It usually takes dozens of books before an author sees a lot of success.
The good news is that, if you stick with it, there can be a financial reward to writing books. And if you focus on non-financial rewards, it gets even better.
So let’s talk about why you should (or shouldn’t) write books.
- Reasons why you should write a book
- Reasons why you shouldn’t write a book
- The costs of writing a book
- What you can do to make writing more fulfilling
So let’s dive in and discover why writing is (or might not be) right for you.
Why You Should Write a Book
There are many reasons why you should write a book, and why it is fulfilling to do so. I thought it best to start with these, because it’s important to know why writing a book is important.
Because it is. You just have to have the right motivations. These motivations include, but are not limited to:
Writing a book serves as a journey, and one that many take just for the heck of it. The process reveals more about you than you might initially realize.
Writing can be a really useful form of self-expression. And if that sounds like you, then you absolutely should write the book, as it can be super fulfilling.
The only downside to this motivation, is that the result of the written book is (usually) not very commercially viable. So don’t expect to make a lot of money when you are just writing for yourself.
That said, money isn’t always the goal. And that’s absolutely fine.
To Improve a Skill
Writing a book offers an unmatched opportunity to refine your writing skills. Each sentence you write, each paragraph you structure, makes you a better writer.
Your first book might not become a bestseller, but the skills you acquire will enhance your next project and the ones that follow.
Moreover, the discipline of writing sharpens your ability to organize thoughts coherently—a valuable asset in any life scenario.
You will find that a lot of authors don’t start to make a living writing books until they have written 20 or more. That’s not just because they now have a backlog, it’s because, by writing those 20 books, they’ve honed their skills enough that people are starting to really catch on.
For Personal Accomplishment
Holding a completed book in your hands delivers a unique sense of satisfaction. The finished product stands as tangible evidence of your ability to commit to and complete a long-term project.
That achievement resonates in every future endeavor, confirming that you can set and meet significant goals.
Plus, it looks good on a resume, especially if you are writing nonfiction in a niche related to your career.
For Your Legacy
Some authors just want to leave behind a legacy for future generations. Books endure. Your words will influence and inspire long after you've left this world.
If you’ve ever wanted your voice to gain a certain measure of immortality, this could be a good way to do it.
Because You Can’t NOT Write
Some people find writing as essential as breathing. If you feel a compulsive need to tell stories or share knowledge, then you likely don't need external validation for why you should write a book.
You'll write regardless, driven by an internal force that renders the question of “Is it worth it?” irrelevant. For you, the real question becomes, “How could it not be?”
As Part of a Business Strategy
If you're an entrepreneur, consultant, or CEO, writing a book establishes your authority in your field.
Not only that, but many authors use it as a kind of enhanced business card or a lead magnet. It can get potential customers interested in what you do, lead them to your business, at which point you have the chance to sell them on whatever other products/services you offer.
So with that in mind, even if the book doesn’t sell millions of copies, it can still lead to a highly lucrative business.
Why You Shouldn’t Write a Book
Many people start their publishing journey with the wrong motivations. And while it’s fine to want certain monetary or prestige-related benefits, those things shouldn’t dominate your thinking.
Because guess what? There are actually easier ways to obtain these things. For instance, I strongly feel that simply by positioning yourself as an expert in your field and creating content of any kind can work just as well.
But there’s something special about book writing, so there’s no doubt that many of you will take this route. If that’s the case, here are a few motivations to watch out for.
If any of these sound like you, I would ask you to think hard about what you truly want, and focus on that.
To Make Millions
If your primary goal is to become a millionaire, writing a book may not be the quickest or most efficient way to get there. It's not impossible, but the odds are stacked against you.
Self-publishing has democratized the process, but with millions of books available, standing out is harder than ever. Even if you go the traditional publishing route, advances are not what they used to be, and royalties can take a long time to add up.
Moreover, if your focus is money, you are likely to burn out fast, as publishing is a long game, and you will likely not make a lot of money upfront. Instead, money is made by those who deliberately work hard for years.
In short, if you're writing a book to make millions, you might want to reconsider. There are more straightforward ways to aim for financial wealth that don't involve the massive time and emotional investment of writing a book.
To Be Famous
Similarly, if your aim is fame, a book might not be your fastest ticket to the limelight, and it’s just not a good reason why anyone should write a book.
Because if you don’t succeed at getting famous, then what?
Even if you do have a successful book launch, a well-received book doesn't guarantee fame. Plus, fame is often fleeting, whereas the work that goes into writing a book is long and arduous.
If your primary motivation is to see your name in bright lights, you may want to rethink your “why” (see below).
The Costs of Writing Your Book
Before you decide to write a book, we need to discuss the costs. Because there are a lot of costs, and these are what often deter potential authors from writing a book.
But to know if writing a book is worth it, you have to know what doing so will take out of you, and then you can decide if it is worth the cost or not.
Here are just some of the potential costs of writing a book:
Writing a book is a significant time commitment. From the initial brainstorming to writing, editing, and revising, you're looking at hundreds of hours spent. And that's before you get to the marketing and promotion stage.
If you're not fully committed, or if you're pursuing this project with motives that might fizzle out, you risk wasting an immense amount of time.
And time is your most precious resource, because it’s the only thing you can’t get back.
So consider carefully whether you’re ready to make that commitment.
For both self-publishing and traditional publishing, releasing a book will cost money.
Thankfully, there are some easy solutions for some of these costs.
Formatting, for example, can be made a lot cheaper by using a program like Atticus to do it.
Atticus lets you format books with just a few clicks, meaning you no longer need to pay a professional to do it.
Plus, it’s a one-time cost, which makes it a really great option for anyone looking to cut back on expenses.
But that said, your book cover and editing are still costs you will need to have for each book, and that doesn’t come cheap (readers will notice if it does).
So keep that in mind when you’re starting out. There’s a good chance that you won’t be able to earn back what you’ve invested in the early stages.
Perhaps less discussed but equally important is the emotional cost of writing a book.
It's an emotionally draining endeavor that can take a toll on your mental health, especially if you don’t have the proper motivations.
The solitude required for writing, the self-doubt/imposter syndrome that often creeps in, and the stress of meeting deadlines or sales goals can be a lot for an inexperienced writer.
Plus, after all that hard work, if you were hoping to get a lot of good sales, and then you don’t, that can be devastating.
Which is why the next part of this article is about how you can…
Establish Your “Why”
Your “Why” is the big reason behind why you do anything, and it’s crucial to understand what that “Why” is in business.
Relevant to this article, you need to understand why you want to write a book.
Is it for money or fame? Or is it about something deeper.
Now let me be clear. It’s okay to want to make money from your books. But it can’t be the only reason, because that will not end well for you, especially if you don’t make the money you were expecting.
Instead, it’s helpful to find a deeper reason.
And most of us have them.
Usually, our motivations for doing something lies in the intersection of these three things:
What we’re passionate about doing
The skills that we have
Some kind of service that we can give back to the community.
I like to analyze every major time investment I make over these three criteria. Is it something I’m passionate about, is it something I’m good at (or want to become good at), and will it be of use to others?
If the answer is yes, I’m usually closer to finding my Why.
But ultimately, finding your “Why” will be a matter of self-reflection, figuring out how writing a book fits into your broader life or career goals, evaluating the time and resources you have to commit, etc.
Ultimately, if you do decide that writing a book is worth it for you, and you have a “Why” associated with that goal, it’ll be time to start setting smaller goals for your incremental steps to get there.
Because writing a book can absolutely be worth it with the right “Why.”
So…Is Writing a Book Worth It?
After discussing the various reasons why you might or might not want to write a book, and the process of establishing your “Why,” it all boils down to this one question: Is writing a book worth it?
Here is the simple answer:
If your primary motivations are external—money, fame, prestige—then you should proceed with caution. External motivators are often out of your control and can lead to disappointment if things don’t go as planned. And let's be honest, the book-writing journey is not easy and doesn’t go as expected.
On the other hand, if your “Why” comes from a deeper place—personal growth, passion for a subject, a story only you can tell, service to a community or broader audience—then you're on the right path. These intrinsic motivators can sustain you through the ups and downs of the writing process.
While writing a book is rarely a get-rich-quick scheme, it can still be part of a longer-term financial strategy, whether as an enhanced business card, a source of passive income, or a stepping stone to speaking engagements and consulting opportunities. So, even if making money is part of your “Why,” as long as it's not the whole story, you’re still in good shape.
And let's not forget the intangible benefits of writing a book. The sense of accomplishment, the growth in skills and self-awareness, the joy of creating something from nothing—these are rewards that don’t have a price tag but are invaluable nonetheless.
Writing a book is not for the faint of heart. It's a long, arduous journey that demands dedication. But with the right “Why,” it's a journey worth taking.
So, if you've gone through this article, weighed the pros and cons, examined your motives, and your heart still says, “Write,” then I say, go for it.