This article is based on my experience with writing and publishing five paperback books, and I'll share that knowledge with you.
You had a lot of personal experiences, and you want to help others with what you learned. If that's the case, stay with me on this journey.
- I’ll explain what is involved with writing the content for your self-help book.
- I'll give you an understanding of the value of your work for readers.
- I'll show you how to put your ideas together and the structure to use.
- 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 you're saying. 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. Write From Personal Experience
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. However, it could be helpful if it is used correctly to reinforce a point you are trying to make.
6. 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
If you are genuinely thinking about becoming an author, you might try writing online articles first. 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.
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.
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.
Now That You Have a Portfolio of Content
You may find that authoring online articles is a better path. I learned an important lesson 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. But once you have a portfolio of online articles, you can choose to create a book from your content if that is your decision.
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.
© 2011 Glenn Stok