What’s Your Mission Statement?

October 4, 2012

A lovely woman asked me on Facebook what I thought an author’s mission statement should be. It caught me by surprise because I’ve never given any thought to an author’s mission statement. Having never heard of it, I wondered what that meant. I mean, businesses have mission statements, but authors? Ours is:

Our nonfiction books are about going from ordinary to extraordinary. We publish personal journeys with socially relevant themes: stories about everyday people who end up doing extraordinary things due to a pivotal event that alters their perspective about life.

As a psych/sociology major from back in the early Jurassic Era, I’m intrigued with how people react to challenges. Face it; life is challenging, and I like tapping into stories about people who persevere against all odds. I like stories that make me think, make me a better person, and make me remember their stories long after I finished their book. I call it “scratching my soul.” And that’s what our books do.

It lays out who we are and our general philosophy behind the types of books we publish. When I have my author hat on, I write because I have an idea that’s burning so hot that if I don’t feed the beast, I won’t sleep, eat, will drink heavily, suffer gout and bleeding from the gums, and experience overall crankiness to the point where my family will drop me off at the nearest freeway underpass with a dollar bill pinned to my vest. I admit that my need to write is a wholly selfish endeavor, and I don’t consider anyone else when barfing out my story on cyber paper.

A mission statement implies something else – a contract between you and those you serve. Wikipedia defines a mission statement as:

A statement of the purpose of a company or organization, its reason for existing.

The mission statement should guide the actions of the organization, spell out its overall goal, provide a path, and guide decision-making. It provides “the framework or context within which the company’s strategies are formulated.”

So this lovely woman’s question on Facebook got me to thinking. Should authors have a mission statement and give a nod to those they serve, or is an author’s writing endeavor simply an intersection of create and provide – and that writers owe their readership nothing?

Would you writers have better focus if you had a clear vision of your reason to exist as a writer? Would you write more clearly if you understood your goal (and please don’t use “publication” as your goal because, really, it doesn’t demand excellence – not with the plethora of DIY)? What is your strategy?  Is your reason to exist for the sheer love of writing, or are you using your writing as a form of therapy?

Given the types of books that we publish, I see LOTS of manuscripts that appear to be therapy sessions rather than a book that will change lives and make people think. Maybe these writers didn’t have a mission statement and, therefore, lacked a clear purpose of their book’s goal.

So how ’bout it, dear readers? Do you feel authors should have a mission statement? Have you thought about what yours would be? I know this has given me some food for thought, so thank you, Paulissa, for making my synapses fire a bit harder today.

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