This article is based on my experience with writing and publishing five paperback books, and I'll share that knowledge with you.
I successfully published several books. So I can give you guidelines to help you with yours.
If you have already started a manuscript or are in the initial thinking stage with an idea of what you want to write, then follow along, and I'll show you how to make it into a book with your own inspirational lessons that your readers will appreciate.
Begin With a Short Bio to Show Your Authority
It would be best to start with a short bio telling your reader why they can trust you to have some authority on the subject so they feel confident you offer sound advice.
Knowledge in any particular field doesn't necessarily involve a college degree. You can be an authority on anything merely by having personal involvement with the subject.
Include this information on the back cover as well as in the introduction.
Do Research on Your Subject
Your readers will notice your expertise and appreciate you as an author as long as you don't invent some bizarre explanation for something you’re not sure about. Instead, look it up. Do a Google search to educate yourself.
If you need to quote a section from some other material, include a reference crediting the author and where you found it. Do it professionally by using proper APA Citations.1
Focus on Benefiting Your Reader
Think about how you can write in a way that will help your readers. There are many ways to inspire your readers. Consider the following:
- Write about a true story that helped you learn a valuable lesson.
- Write about a life-changing event that inspired you in some way.
- What challenges have you had that you overcame? How can that help your reader?
- What struggles have you dealt with that you can discuss to make a point?
If you are instructing your readers on solving personal problems, give examples as you discuss solutions.
The best way to engage your reader is to share the struggles you've personally had in life. Then, people who relate to your story will be motivated to keep reading.
These stories can be used as examples to discuss what you had learned and what you did to achieve success. Then you can elaborate on it to teach your reader the same lessons you've gotten out of it.
Explain what went wrong and what went right. Include a discussion of what you learned from it. Make sure not to talk down to the reader. You can avoid that by discussing things in the first person. That is, talk about it as your own interpretation. Then your reader will take it for what it's worth without feeling intimidated.
Keep Notes of Your Specific Ideas
Writing something down helps validate your feelings. It can also serve to show you where you might have remembered something inaccurately.
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I write notes about lots of events in my life and how I feel about them. You'll never know when something you've experienced will become useful to elaborate on for explaining a particular issue. I also find these notes are helpful memory ticklers when I'm working on the actual book.
Your written notes could also be tremendously helpful for including in the content of your book to share with your readers.
Handwritten notes still need to be typed up eventually. So keep an ongoing list of snippets of thoughts in files on your computer. You'll find this handy for later compilation into your book. I found that the notes I kept were a goldmine for me.
Organize Your Thoughts Clearly
To make the most impact, you'll need to be sure to organize the topics you discuss in a logical progression. That will make it easy to follow and understand.
To accomplish that, you may find the need to move things around. For example, after I wrote an entire chapter about a particular subject in my book, and while I was proofreading it, I realized I referred to something that I did not yet explain.
I knew what I was talking about, but I realized that I would lose my reader. I would have overlooked that if I had not proofread it. All I had to do was flip the order of the chapters.
You will find it helpful to proofread your book over and over again. Every time you think you're finished, do another scan. It's worth the effort. Remember that you are writing for the reader. Give them the best of yourself.
Stay Focused on the Subject of Your Title
To hold your reader’s attention, stay focused on what your title is promising.
When I read other people’s books and articles, I sometimes notice that the author went off on tangents. It bothers me when a writer loses me because they started talking about one thing, and suddenly, in the middle of it, they go onto another topic without making their point.
I'm telling you this because it will help give your readers more value when you keep it in mind.
In each chapter, start by explaining what you want your reader to grasp and stick to that subject. Then make sure you give them what they expect in as simple terms as possible.
Of course, there will always be those readers who don't even notice that you went off on a tangent because they aren't really paying attention as they read. People do that. They're just scanning.
Nevertheless, make it worthwhile for those readers who desire to grasp more and learn more. As you proofread, watch for the way you explain things. Is it consistent? Is it on-topic?
Did you give the reader some expectation of what you're discussing and suddenly find yourself talking about something else? Make sure you catch those mistakes.
Eliminate Useless Content
When I proofread my own work, I sometimes find redundant or unclear sections. In some cases, it doesn't even fit in.
When we write, we tend to concentrate on what we're writing and don't necessarily think about how it comes across. That's okay while writing because you want to let your creative juices flow. However, when finalizing your book, it's crucial to catch anything that doesn't work.
Either do some more editing and make corrections, or remove anything that is confusing. As I mentioned earlier, you might need to change the order of your content to have a better logical flow of information. But if you have written parts that don't add value to the rest of the discussion, it's best to consider removing them.
I had deleted many sections of content when reviewing my final work. In some cases, I realized it was just fluff. You don't want to ramble on. Trust me.
Your main point becomes unclear and might frustrate your reader when you go on about something that serves no purpose. So, ask yourself, "Did I need to include that sentence?"
How to Finalize Your Title for a Book That Sells
I mentioned earlier that you need to focus on delivering what is promised by your title. You might want to change your title after completing your content, and that's okay.
If you feel your preliminary version of the title doesn't work well, consider improving it. That's why it's a good idea to finalize your title after you have completed the content of your book. You'll have a better idea of how it works with the content.
The title reflects what to expect from the book. It needs to attract attention. A good title is significant for marketing purposes too. It should include keywords related to the subject but not be keyword stuffed.
You can write a preliminary title as a reference before starting, but you may think of a better title after you have completed your book.
Feel free to work on that after you finish the content. You might create a different title that works better, but make sure it still resembles the promise of what to expect. Remember that your book should provide the information promised by the title, or you will have disappointed readers and get bad reviews.
If you use a publisher, they have personnel who develop a title that focuses on marketing and explains what the book is about in a catchy way. However, if you are self-publishing, then this is all up to you. So, give it the attention that it deserves.
How to Publish Your Book
You have two options:
- Let someone do it for you. You can pay a publisher to create the print image of the pages and design the cover art. Do a Google search for publishers and do your due diligence to determine their honesty.
- You can do it yourself. I use Microsoft Word, which has all the tools needed to format a book. You'll need to be able to design your own covers, including the spine. Any image editing software should suffice. Some self-publishing companies, such as Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing 2, include online tools that help you create the cover and automatically calculate the width of the spine based on the number of pages.
If you decide to self-publish, I wrote a detailed discussion for you in another article: How to Properly Format and Self-Publish Your Book.
Remember the essential details:
- Use your own life lessons to teach others.
- Keep notes of events that occur to get ideas for content.
- Stay focused and logically organize your content.
- Eliminate unnecessary sections of content that don't add value.
- Do research when required to be sure you give your reader the correct information.
- Check it, and re-check it with repeated proofreading.
- Create a marketable title that sells.
You’ll soon be a published author helping your readers with inspiration from your valued life experience.
- "APA Citation Guide" – BibMe™ project by Carnegie Mellon University
- "Kindle Direct Publishing" – eBook and paperback self-publishing by Amazon
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Glenn Stok