The writing process varies and is unique to each writer. I do a lot of prewriting – thinking, journaling, jotting down thoughts all over the place in various notebooks or computer. Then I take these thoughts and start giving them some kind of working title/subtitle, structure and direction. Finally, I start writing a rough draft.
Your writing process may be different – and that’s great! We need to find a process that works! However, I highly recommend that whatever your process is that you take this one prewriting step of creating value statements.
What are value statements? Value statements let your readers know the value to them of reading your book.
There are two reasons value statements are important.
First, for you the writer value statements provide direction when you’re writing. They’re a bit like a very informal outline, or if you don’t like that outline word, they’re like a map of the main points of your book.
Secondly, for the readers value statements communicate what’s in it for them if they read your book. They want to pick up your book, read the back copy (where value statements are often found), and have an idea if your book will help them.
Another way to identify value statements is to imagine your readers’ felt needs. In other words what do they feel and what do they need? Readers today are looking for results and for their needs to be met.
Let’s look at examples of value statements from one of Lysa TerKeurst’s books.
Note there are a couple of sentences of lead in, and then the bullet points below are the value statements.
The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
By Lysa TerKeurst
(From the back copy of this book)
Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you
- Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
- Escape the shame and guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
- Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom-based decision-making process.
- Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.
Now let me give you an example of the thinking process to develop a value statement.
I start with my title and subtitle, What a Husband Needs from his Wife: Physically, Emotionally and Spiritually, both giving me the main direction for my book.
Then I begin to think about some of the points I want to communicate to my readers about what a wife needs to know about her husband’s needs. I know many couples get hung up on the communication issue.
So I start with the word communication. Then I ask myself: What does a husband need when it comes to communication and what does a wife need?
I answer: A wife and a husband both want good communication, but their communication styles are often very different from one another. This difference often leads to conflict.
Then I ask: Why does a couple need good communication in marriage? Another way to think of this, So that what will happen?
I answer: A couple needs good communication so that they feel close to one another and connected. And it prevents fighting and conflicts.
So now I write some lead in, and then I write a value statement based on answering these questions.
“Melanie will provide practical and biblically sound ideas to help married couples understand how to grow closer as a couple. She will show you how to
- Use communication tools to connect in a way that brings closeness instead of conflict.
So, now it’s your turn! Use these notes and examples as guidelines. Most books have 3 – 5 value statements.
I promise it is worth the time and effort to create value statements. As you write your book, you’ll find value statements to be an invaluable map, pointing your writing in the right direction and providing a way for you to stay on course. Ultimately, value statements help your book deliver the content your readers want and need.