There are a lot of self-help books in the market and a decent number of them are best sellers. One reason for the popularity of the genre is that self-help books have transformed the lives of millions of people around the world. Have you ever thought of writing one? In this article, I will show you how to write a self-help book that has the potential to be a best seller.
Why Should You Write a Self-Help Book?
People read self-help books because they want to improve a certain aspect of their lives. Self-help books can help build a greater sense of confidence. People turn to these books because they want to learn new skills, have more successful careers, or simply become better at what they do.
Many people find themselves lost and unable to determine their life’s purpose. Grabbing a book that will help you be successful in life seems like an obvious first step.
After more than two decades, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is still wildly popular because people resonate with its process of personal and interpersonal growth, and many claim it has had a lasting impact on their life.
Stephen R. Covey was like you: a business leader.
How to Start Your Writing Process
As I mentioned in my article, How to Begin a Book, there are five steps to beginning your masterpiece:
1. Find a Safe Workspace – Find a comfortable spot where you can be yourself and write down your innermost thoughts.
2. Research Competitive Titles – Browse the web for books in the niche you are targeting to gain a better perspective on your market.
3. Create an Outline – Make a list of your topics and subtopics. Plan the sequence in which you will introduce your topics. Visualize the journey your readers will take when reading your book.
4. Plot Your Schedule – Based on your outline, set a target completion date for each chapter of your book. Do not set arbitrary dates because you may end up pushing them further. You want to establish a firm deadline for finishing your manuscript.
5. Begin to Write – Once you have planned and outlined your book, write your first chapter. Do not self-edit while writing. You do not want to get stuck on your first paragraph for hours. After you have written your first sentence, keep it going.
Here are some additional points to consider when starting your writing process:
- Research – Who is your audience? What kind of information are they looking for? While you can easily think of generic answers to these questions, it’s important to research your target market. I mentioned above that you should find competitive titles. Look at data from Amazon, Google, and various social media platforms. Find out what worked and what didn’t for these books. Who reads them? Check their demographics, social status, location, and any other relevant information you can gather.
- Choose a Strong Title – The first thing readers see is a book’s cover. The most important element on the cover is the title. A catchy title will not only get a prospective buyer’s attention, it will inspire them to buy the book and read it. Here is an article on how to choose your book title.
- Keep Your Paragraphs Short – People look to self-help books as a guide, so you want your readers to find their way around your book easily. Use short paragraphs and structure your book so a reader can conveniently go back to a topic when they want to review something.
- Establish Your Credibility – Before you read a book, you want to know that the person who wrote it is an authority on the subject. Readers will want to know your credentials and professional expertise, so establish who you are not just in the author bio section but on your marketing campaigns as well
Additional Writing Tips
Now that you know how to prepare for writing your self-help book, here are some writing tips that can make your book not just helpful, but enjoyable as well.
- Start with a Captivating Story – Draw the reader in from the very first sentence. Use anecdotes from your own life or interesting stories about people your readers can relate to. You can lead with a laugh by writing a funny opening, or keep the reader hooked by starting with a thrilling story. The point is, you want your reader to be engaged from the very beginning.
- Include Exercises – After each chapter, provide an activity or exercise to help the reader apply what they learned. The best way to design exercises is to start at the end. What skill or competency should your reader gain after reading your book? Your activities can be as simple as those in Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life, which gives the reader a point to ponder, a verse to remember, and a question to consider in each chapter.
- Do Not Overuse Quotations – This is your self-help book, not someone else’s. You are the subject-matter expert, so offer your advice. If you quote others excessively, your book would look like a collection of other people’s best practices, and that will undermine your authority. Your self-help book is not an anthology.
- Talk to the Reader – Make your readers feel you are talking to them, that your words are guiding them. Avoid using “we” because your readers are not learning this information along with you. They are learning it from you. Don’t say: “We need to be diligent about observing the trends in the stock market.” You already did this, you were successful at it, and now you want your reader to do the same. Instead, say: “Be diligent about observing the trends.”
- Use Casual Language – People read self-help books because they seek guidance. It is not helpful to use long, complicated sentences they might need to reread several times in order to understand.
- Use Active Voice – Instead of saying “The best way to build a mining rig for cryptocurrency is by…”, use an assertive, action-oriented statement like “Build your mining rig with multiple GPUs.”
- Provide a Game Plan – Offer your readers clear, actionable items. Numbered steps and bulleted lists are easier to absorb than lengthy narratives.
What to Avoid
- Imposing Your Beliefs – You can’t just state your beliefs and expect readers to accept them. You have to gain their trust if you want to convince your readers that your book will help them become successful. Share your story to help them understand why they should follow your guidance.
- Cliches – As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are tons of self-help books. Rehashing old ideas or repeating tried-and-true formulas are risky, as you may end up with a run-of-the-mill book. Offer readers something new or reinvent what’s already out there. Do not be afraid to question or disrupt the status quo.
- Condescending Tone – Treat your readers as your equals. No one wants to feel they are being lectured or spoken down to by an author. Instead of preaching, use a compassionate and friendly tone.
Deciding to Write
Now that you have a better idea of how to write a self-help book, what are your thoughts? Business leaders like you have all the ingredients to publish a best-selling self-help book. So, what’s keeping you?
I have worked with a lot of authors and most of them initially told me they simply did not have time to sit down and write 1,000 to 2,000 words a week. Some of them even admitted they do not have a knack for writing.
Those business leaders are now best-selling authors. Do you want to know how that happened? They outsourced their book creation process to Leaders Press.
Let’s have a chat and discuss how you can turn your thoughts into a Wall Street Journal/USA Today best-seller in the self-help niche.