There is a baseline message for every successful self-help book. In short, it says to the reader: “You can’t live without this. It will help you achieve what you want to achieve and get exactly what you want to get.”
This message is exactly what the reader wants to hear and expects to hear, and that is the beauty of it. Remember upfront that whatever “self-help” tool, lesson, or product you are writing about, your reader wants to be convinced that your message will aid them in changing their lives.
A commercially viable self-help book is not fluff. If all you have is fluff, you might want to think about writing a different book. Your reader has a goal; your job is to present practical and practicable tools to reach that goal.
At Mark Graham Communications, we believe a step by step layout of your self-help message serves three purposes:
One, it gives the reader a sense of hope that the tools or lessons you are promoting – whether they are health related, relationship related, business related or otherwise – can be taken in small, very do-able steps. Perceiving each step as a “win” is important to the reader. It is motivating.
Two, this step-by-step presentation also makes your book easy to read. In fact, the formatting for self-help books is nearly as important as the content.
Three, showing your methodology in a step-by-step format – for whatever problem you are solving – makes it easy for your reader to follow and to implement.
At Mark Graham Communications, we also understand that solving a problem or selling a message is best served by the well-conceived use of “redundancy.” Yes, we are suggesting very strongly that repeating your message as well as recapping the tools or lessons you are championing is an important technique in effective self-help books. Tell your reader, then tell them again.
A well-written self-help book is circular, and it is imperative to close the circle, not once, but twice if not three times. Yes, you may alter the wording or tweak the presentation, but repeating your message is a must. Remember: this isn’t fiction; this is self-help and overemphasizing the “help” part is what your book is all about.
Finally, the best self-help books are spiced with anecdotal material. Every tool should be brought to life by an example. Every lesson should be illustrated by a story. You want your reader to say, “Okay, I get that. I see how that worked. And I can do that too.” All of a sudden, your tools and lessons have become interactive and relatable, and those are the key to getting your reader to take action.
Time to get started.