If you have gone through a problem and successfully overcome it, you may want to consider helping other people overcome the same issue by writing a self-help book. Self-help books aren’t the most difficult to write, but they can be challenging for some. So, this article discusses how to write a self-help book.
How to Write a Self-help Book – Step by Step
The following are six steps to follow to write a self-help book.
1. Identify the Problem You Will Help People With
If you are writing a self-help book, you intend to help people overcome a problem. For example, you could be writing something extremely practical, providing step-by-step advice; or writing a story or analogy that helps people solve a problem.
This is what a self-help book is about—helping a reader overcome an obstacle or problem in their life. Therefore, you first need to identify the problem you will be discussing. One piece of advice is to try to limit the scope of the problem you will be writing about because you want to avoid being too general.
General problems mean general solutions, which often don’t help people. People want specific answers to problems so that they can follow the advice in a step-by-step manner. Also, you must understand your target audience, who they are, what they need in terms of their problems, and what they can realistically do to overcome them.
Of course, you can create a book of advice for people, but if it’s not actionable advice they can incorporate into their lives, it will be relatively useless.
For example, you could write a book about anxiety, which is general, with a better idea being to write a book about overcoming anxiety without medication. Your problem needs to be specific, and it needs to be the focus of your book; you need to offer actionable and actual solutions to said problem.
2. Build a Relationship and Trust with Readers
When writing a self-help book, you must gain your readers’ trust and develop a relationship with them. In other words, who are you? Why are you qualified to talk about this problem? Do you have an experience that will allow you to provide accurate and reasonable advice to help overcome this problem?
Your readers need to know who you are, your experiences, and why you are qualified to help them overcome a problem. In addition, they need to trust that you know what you are talking about, or they’re never read your book. If you don’t have your readers’ trust, even if they read your book, they might not follow your advice.
If you have spent your life traveling, writing a book about parenting will make no sense, especially if you don’t have any kids. However, writing a book about parenting, having kids, or being a teacher with experience qualifies you to write a self-help book in your readers’ eyes.
People want advice from those who have overcome those issues because this lets them know that the solutions you provide work.
Then, think about the style and the structure of your writing. This means having good punctuation and grammar and a style of writing that connects with the reader and seems authoritative.
However, speaking down to your readers is something that may quickly turn people away. Therefore, sound authoritative and convincing without making people feel they are stupid for not knowing what the solutions to their problems are in the first place.
3. Remember That You Are Telling a Narrative
One mistake many make when writing self-help books is rattling off a list of advice. Instead, remember that when writing a self-help book, you should be telling a story or creating a narrative.
You want your self-help book to be well-structured and follow an organized manner, just like the plot of a fictional story. So, start by creating an outline, followed by a rough draft for every chapter. Then, ensure your paragraphs logically flow from one to the next and that your chapters build on the previous chapters.
Start with a good introduction that will tell readers what the rest of your book is about, with the first chapter then talking about why the problem is so complex and the more minor issues related to the problem. Storytelling, anecdotes, and analogies are excellent ways to get started.
Many people will start using analogies and stories that aren’t directly related to the issue, which can distract the reader from the main problem.
Remember, you don’t want to diverge from the issue too much, just like you don’t want to develop too many subplots when writing a fictional story. Only include things in your self-help book that help the reader overcome the issue.
4. Offer Clear and Concise Solutions to the Problem
One issue with many self-help books is that they don’t offer clear and concise solutions to the problem under discussion. Being too general is an issue many self-help books suffer from. If your solutions are too vague, people will get frustrated.
Nobody wants half-hearted solutions they must determine themselves. Therefore, your solutions should be clear and concise. You don’t want to provide theoretical advice; instead, offer actionable advice people can execute in their lives. Your advice may be theoretical at times, such as using anecdotes and analogies, but it should be precise and closely related to the topic.
Moreover, you should provide evidence that it works. Your readers need to know your advice has merit and has worked in the past to overcome the problem. This is no different than publishing a scientific paper without having done the research to back up your conclusions.
One idea is to summarize your solutions to specific problems at the end of each chapter so that readers know exactly what they need to do.
However, you don’t want to start branching off too much and offering solutions to problems you haven’t addressed at the beginning of your book. Remember, you must identify specific issues and provide specific solutions. Being vague will not help your readers.
5. Have an Informative and Attention-Grabbing Title
The content of your self-help book is essential, but it must start somewhere, and that’s going to be with the title. It must have a title that is both attention-grabbing and informative to get people to pick up your book in the first place,
Most self-help books have a title that grabs the readers’ attention, with a subtitle that alludes to the problem and the solutions. One method is directly addressing the reader to create an instant connection with them.
Moreover, consider using authoritative statements that convey the problem and solutions. You can also use words that help elicit emotions and moods because people are often swayed by their feelings. That title should interest people in your book.
6. Always Cite Your Sources
Self-help book writers often forget to cite their sources. You must always give credit where it’s due, which means acknowledging all of the influences that have contributed to your work.
You can expand on ideas others have had, but you must credit the people who had the idea, to begin with. If you don’t, your work could be considered intellectual theft, which is unethical. Plagiarism is never acceptable.
The Bottom Line
If you follow the steps we have provided, writing a self-help book should not be too difficult. If you have a problem, specific solutions, and evidence to back up your writing, your book is more likely to be published.