Writing a self-help book or collaborating with a ghostwriting partner on a how-to book is a great way to scratch all kinds of creative itches. Perhaps you’re really good at a particular craft, sport, profession, or art and would like to share your knowledge. Maybe you’re an outstanding cook with recipes you’ve collected over the years, or you would like to share business and leadership skills you’ve perfected. Even if a topic is not readily apparent to you, there are tips and techniques for writing a self-help book that can help you get started.
Let’s start with the basics:
Learn a little about the self-help market
Self-Help and How-To represent is the most popular genre in the book industry. Before you set finger to keyboard or share your idea with an established ghost writer, it’s a good idea to understand the self-help market to avoid pitfalls later on. There are many published resources on this topic that can help you determine the level of interest for your particular subject matter as well as opportunities for getting it published.
The audience comes first
If you’re trying to flesh out an idea for a self-help book, think first about the audience you’re trying to attract:
- Is your subject matter interesting? (this may require some outside opinions to reach an objective decision)
- Will the topic be able to hold their attention over the course of many pages and even chapters?
- How popular might your topic be and how big an audience can it realistically attract?
- Remember also that some of the best self-help or how-to book have a very targeted audience
The importance of outlining
Some budding writers might feel the urge to simply start writing, assuming the words will flow and an interesting story will unfold. However, it’s easy to get sidetracked. If you’re new to the writing business, an outline can help you stay focused and on track. Starting with a detailed table of contents will help you quickly determine how long and specific your book might get. For each chapter, write a brief summary paragraph to provide guidance once you get to working on the actual chapter content. Remember – one topic per chapter!
Even if you collaborate with a highly published ghost writer, creating a self-help book presumes that you are an expert on the subject matter. Share your credentials. Let the reader know why you are the best person to write on your particular subject. If need be, add authority to what you state with third party evidence to prove that what you’re recommending will actually work.
Promote, promote, promote
No one will read your self-help book or how-to if they don’t know about it. Regardless of how you get it published, you’ll need to promote it to build visibility and interest. One of the easiest ways is through social media – open a Twitter account, start a Facebook page, join appropriate professional and interest groups on LinkedIn, offer to guest post on relevant blogs – these are all ways to wave a big flag that can attract attention for your self-help book.
Writing a self-help book may be easy for some, harder for others. The truly interesting thing, though, is that everyone has an interesting topic or subject matter inside them. They just have to find it. If you’ve been thinking about writing a self-help book or how-to, go for it. Chances are you’ll find it fun, satisfying, and rewarding.
If you’d like professional help in writing and publishing a self-help book, we’d be happy to help you at Mark Graham Communications. Visit us online at www.markgrahamcommunications.com, give us a call at 303-777-4155, or drop us an email.