Glenn Stok authored five books and received achievement awards from Yahoo, Ezine, and HubPages. He shares his knowledge in this article.
You might be here because you already have a manuscript near completion, but you're concerned that you left out important details. Or you didn't start yet, but you have a good idea of the subject you want to write.
I published several self-help books, so I can give you guidelines with tips to help you complete and publish the book you're working on to share your own advice.
While working on your book, always keep in mind that you need to present an authoritative characteristic so your readers feel confident that you offer useful advice.
Let's Get Started
It would be best if you started with a short bio telling your reader why they can trust you to have some authority on the subject. Just one sentence should do it, and it's a good idea to include this on the back cover and the introduction.
If you are instructing your readers on solving personal problems, give examples as you discuss solutions.
One of the best ways to inspire someone is to share the struggles you've personally had in life. Readers can relate to that if they've had similar struggles and feel they can benefit from your book.
Always Keep Notes of Specific Thoughts
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.
Handwritten notes, although useful, still need to be typed up eventually. 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 throughout time were a goldmine for me. Sometimes when we write something down, it either validates our true feelings or shows us where we might have gone wrong. These thoughts are tremendously useful for sharing with your readers.
Share Your Self-Awareness
Think about the events in your life that you found were difficult.
- 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?
These events can be used as examples to discuss what you had learned and what you did to achieve success. 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. Don’t talk down to the reader, but rather, discuss these events in the first person. That is, talk about it as your own interpretation. Your reader will take it for what it's worth without feeling intimidated.
Organize Your Thoughts Clearly
To make the most impact, you'll need to concentrate on making the topics of your book well organized. Your content should be easy to follow and understand.
As you work on your book, you may find the need to move things around. After I wrote an entire chapter about a particular subject in my book, I realized that 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 two 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 your work.
Stay Focused on 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 put you above the competition if you write logically. Discuss one thing at a time, and it helps to keep it simple.
In each chapter, start with an introduction to what you want your reader to grasp, and 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. I do it sometimes. 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 sections that are redundant or unclear. In some cases, it doesn't even fit in. It happens.
When we write, we concentrate on what we're writing and not thinking about how it comes across. That's okay while writing. Let the creative juices flow.
However, when finalizing the book, it's crucial to catch anything that doesn't work. Either do some more editing or take it out. 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 fluff. Trust me.
Your major point becomes unclear and might frustrate your reader when you add fluff that serves no purpose. Ask yourself, "Did I need to include that sentence?"
Do Your Research
If you're writing about something you’re not sure about, don't invent some bizarre explanation. Look it up. Do a Google search and educate yourself. You'll become an authority on the subject, and your readers will take notice and appreciate you as an author.
If you quote a section from other material, include a reference crediting the author and where you found it. Be professional by using proper APA Citations.1
Create a Book Title That Sells
I mentioned earlier that you need to focus on delivering what is promised by your title. I put this section near the end of this article because 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.
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 that relate to the subject but not be keyword stuffed.
You can write a preliminary title as a reference before you get started, 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. Give it the attention that it deserves.
Where Should You Publish?
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, offer 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 you want to self-publish and create your own book, 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.
- 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 others with a book your readers will value with self-improvement ideas unique in your own way of presentation.
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