Glenn Stok authored five books and received achievement awards from Yahoo, Ezine, and HubPages. He shares his knowledge in this article.
I’ll explain what is involved with writing the content for your self-help book. I'll show you the structure to use, and I'll even give you a template to follow.
The first step is to organize an outline because that will help you concentrate on the content of your writing. You can provide answers people may be searching for by discussing your own life experience and what you learned from it to help others benefit.
Use a Simple Flowing Structure
You need to have a well thought out plan of what you want to achieve with your book. I'll discuss writing an outline to accomplish that.
You need to keep your potential readers in mind and have a clear idea of how you want to inspire them. So give some thought to what you want to discuss.
When you write your book, think of it as if you were talking to another person who you are trying to help with some issue they might be having. Write in the same way you'd be talking, but use proper grammar and punctuation, so your finished product is reader-friendly.
I like to do that while I'm writing, but some writers want to get everything typed up quickly and work on cleaning up grammar and other errors later. If that works for you, that's fine. Just don't forget to do it before considering your book complete.
When creating your book, remember that you need to organize the material in a flowing manner. First, by introducing the issue, then making your point, followed by as many examples as you can write about to help your reader grasp the importance of what say. Keep that simple structure:
- Introduce the issue.
- Make your point.
- Give examples.
- Pull it Together.
Create an Outline to Organize Your Thoughts
You need to present your thoughts in a meaningful, orderly, and logical way. An outline will help you do just that, while at the same time helping you stay focused.
A logical flow of thought is necessary to get right. It helps the reader understand all the points you are making. In some cases, you may even be developing a complex idea that involves building on a discussion. So don't go off on tangents. Stay focused on making your point as you discuss things.
I discovered that some people like to skip around as they read. In some cases, that caused them to miss important points the author was trying to make. Therefore, it's essential to consider this. The reader may not always follow the same flow of your content. How do you compensate for that?
A solution I use is to refer to prior content so that the reader knows they may have skipped something important. So, if they did skip around, they'll know to go back and review a prior section that's crucial to understand something that may be a complex issue.
We can’t help everyone, but at least we can give an easy-to-follow experience to those readers who are motivated to learn something.
Once you have an outline, follow the five steps that I discuss below. That will help to make sure you include all the necessary items that help tie everything together.
Steps to a Complete Self-Help Book
1. Set the Stage
Introduce the issue. Give a scenario of a life situation to which your readers can relate. Try using your own experiences. That makes it easy to come up with an example.
2. Give Explanations
Give examples and elaborate on your thoughts and feelings about the scenario you are using to provide supporting information.
3. Use a Logical Flow and Stay Focused
When I wrote my self-help book, I maintained a focus on the central theme, just as if I was writing a novel. I kept a logical sequence flowing. If I found myself running into a diversion, I reworked it.
4. Express Your Opinion
People thrive on opinions. They search for other people's opinions all the time. If you show some authority on your subject matter, then your opinion will count even stronger, and you’ll have your reader’s attention. Showing authority on a subject can be as simple as having had experience with it.
5. Pull it Together
In the end, pull it all together with a conclusion that leaves the reader satisfied that they learned something. Make sure you leave the reader with some knowledge or ideas they may not have had before reading your book.
How to Develop Your Content
Consider Writing Content Online First
Take advantage of writing small segments of 1000 or more words online before attempting to put it into a book. I wish I had done that. After I published my self-help book, I thought of new ideas and better ways to say things. However, it was too late. Once a book is published, it can’t be changed.
I did it backward, having published a book before writing articles online. I wish I knew about the flexibility of writing online before I completed my book. It would have given me a chance to test various topics first.
Online publishing also includes the ability to get analytics reports from Google. These stats give you a good indication of how useful your written material is to your readers. From that data, you’ll get an idea of what subject matter you’d want to use in your book and what might be a waste of time.
Motivational and Inspirational Book Topics
If you know of a particular topic that you have a lot of experience with, you should consider sharing your knowledge. You can write about many things that will inspire and motivate others.
See how many other authors are considering each of the following topics. When you make your selection below, you will see the results of others. That may give you an idea of what to avoid because it's a saturated subject, or you may find one that you hadn't considered yet.
How to Get Published
You don't need to think about that yet, but there are many ways to get your book published.
- You can pay a publisher to do most of the work for you.
- You can send manuscripts to publishers, but there is a lot of competition with this method.
- You can self-publish and get it listed on bookseller sites such as Amazon.
Two venues that I had used for self-publishing are Lulu and CreateSpace. They both provide online tools to upload your content and create book covers.
You'll have time to think about how to publish once you finish your book's manuscript. For now, put your best effort into creating a book that's beneficial to your readers and one worth publishing.
Questions & Answers
Question: I'm 28 and I've pretty much failed at and gave up on practically everything, such as messing up my studies of the one thing I was passionate about. I also dealt with several family losses, eating disorders, and substance abuse. This last year I learned to accept myself, and I want to write a book about it. Should I write a motivational book given my life expeirence?
Answer: It sounds like you have a lot to offer your readers based on your personal experiences. I am sorry to hear what you went through.
If you are genuinely thinking about becoming an author, you might try writing online articles first. I would suggest HubPages.com — that's where I publish my articles. It pays better than selling books. You need to write quality content that provides useful information that readers are searching for online. If you focus your writing on that, you’ll do fine. But in all honesty, it takes a lot of time and work to begin making money.
The main point about writing online is that you’ll learn what people are looking for as a self-help guide. Reader response will also help you fine-tune your writing. Then, if you decide you want to write a book, you can go on to that step. However, you may find that authoring online articles is a better path.
Another thing I can say that I learned from my own experience: A book cannot be changed once it’s published, but online articles can be updated and improved as you see fit over time. I find that to be a better choice over book publishing.
Either way, getting back to how you described your life, I think you have a lot to offer. You should definitely give a writing career a shot.
Question: I'm a fourth-year social work student. Would a student, such as myself, qualify to write a self-help book on government education, or do I have to first gain experience in the field to write?
Answer: Anyone can write a book, but doing it well and marketing are the issues you need to understand. The more you can demonstrate your credentials and experience in the field you’re writing about, and the better you are at explaining things in written form, the easier it will be to sell.
Of course, proper spelling and grammar are crucial. Books, as well as online articles, won’t sell unless they offer value to the reader.
I would recommend starting by writing articles online. Once you have a portfolio of well-written content, you can continue writing online to make money, or you can compile all of them into a book.
Residuals from online content are easier to achieve since you get paid from advertisers. People doing Google searches don’t need to pay for the articles they find, but books don’t make money unless the reader is willing to pay for it.
My books don’t make as much money as my online articles. That has been my experience. However, if you’re in a position to travel and make presentations in libraries and bookstores for book-signings, you could make it feasible.
Question: If I am going to write my own story, is it considered self-help or non-fiction?
Answer: Writing about your own experience can be used as an example when writing a self-help book. But you need to do it right. If it's all about you, then it might not provide useful information to the reader. It could be helpful if it is used to reinforce a point you are trying to make. And, yes, it is considered non-fiction.
© 2011 Glenn Stok
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 08, 2020:
Abhijeet Gawai - I'm glad my statement made an impression on you, and motivated you to help others by writing about and sharing what you've learned.
Abhijeet Gawai on August 08, 2020:
This made me think about writing a self help book. The line you used, "We can't help everyone, but at least we can give an easy-to-follow experience to those readers who are motivated to learn something," melted my heart.
I came to know how an author can change the life of readers by using the power of the word. I am fond of reading books, but I want to publish my self help book on a very specific topic which I could not find elsewhere.
I appreciate your important guide to lead a way. Thank you.
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on July 31, 2020:
LeeAnn - I hope you are into your recovery stage. Since you're not sure which way to go with writing about it, you might want to consider writing articles online rather than a book. You can publish in "Patient's Lounge," one of the niche sites that would be the right place for your story. I have several articles there.
The advantage is that you can publish individual essays, with each one focused on a specific part of your experience. That way, you get to see what works best with people searching for information on the internet.
After that, you could put all your articles into chapters of a book, or you might want to leave it online where it probably will get more readers. Either way, you own your content and can do what you want with it.
Good luck. I'm sure your story will be helpful to others who are going through the same experience.
LeeAnn 7050 on July 31, 2020:
I am interested in writing a book about my breast cancer journey, but I have only just begun my research on which way to tell my story. Right now, I am researching online writing and self-help/inspirational books. I haven't done much research on the other side yet. I have, however, seen where one is more beneficial than the other and could help lead to the other, I'm just struggling with the way I truly want my story to come out, and be happy with the way it's presented and told.
Martins Daniel on April 10, 2020:
Wow! This is a lot sir, thanks so much. Trust me, you answered so many of my questions, doubts and confusions about writing. Thank you greatly.
Nigel Issei M on April 02, 2019:
Hey Glenn thanks for the post I am a seventeen year old and I was planning to write a self help book. My points are all there but I was stuck and didn't know what to do. I think I am going to try and write on Hub Pages first to improve myself. So thanks for that. :)
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 21, 2012:
Jo, I'm glad you found this useful. It looks like you and I are on the same wavelength. We both enjoy writing in a way that is inspirational. I appreciate your feedback and sharing. Thanks.
Jo_Goldsmith11 on March 21, 2012:
Really cool and a very good read. I followed some of your suggested steps when I was working on my first book One Life's Journey. It is a non fiction biography of sorts. It is filled with inspirational messages and poems too. I know what you mean about once it is printed that's it. You can't go back and correct or change a thought. I think I did pretty good for a first timer. The other two I am currently writing will be more polished. I voted up and shared. :) Take care and I wish you inspiration for your next one! :)
Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on October 19, 2011:
Ania, I see you just started on HubPages a few weeks ago and you're doing well already. So if you want to write a book too, go for it! I'm sure you'll have a great one. Welcome to HubPages.
Ania L from United Kingdom on October 19, 2011:
Hmmm, you made me thinking. I've never thought about writing a self-help book but after reading your hub I became tempted. It's probably one of those things to try in life. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Hattie from Europe on April 03, 2011:
Thank you Glenn, I appreciate the inspiring thoughts from you, yes that is my ultimate goals to write a book! One that is inspiring and helpful! Will have to look for yours because I do enjoy reading them as well! :)