Write a Self-help Book: A Beginner’s Guide.
What are Self-Help Books?
All of us face several personal problems throughout life, and naturally, we seek out help. We look for someone or something trustworthy to help us solve our issues. But more often than that, we feel insecure about sharing our troubles with another human being. This is probably the time when we all first come across self-help books.
Books, written with the intent to help people solve particular problems, are known as self-help books. They instruct readers with tips, tactics, strategies, and methodologies implemented by the writer which helped him/her to solve issues similar to the reader.
The term ‘self-help book’ originated for the first time when Samuel Smiles wrote his best-seller in 1859 named ‘Self-Help.’ With time, Samuel’s book led to a niche of itself in book writing, now known as ‘self-help’ or ‘self-improvement’ books.
Writing a self-help book is not an easy task, but we have a step-by-step process for you to follow and get started on your journey to help people around the world. First, let’s look at some of the reasons people are buying and consuming more self-help books.
Why Self-Helps Books Sales Have Increased
Over the years, the sales for self-help books have been increasing at a steady pace. There are many reasons for this:
- Growing demand for a legitimate source of help: Humans tend to believe that information put down in print or that has been published worldwide surely has to be ethical & trusted.
- Change in cultural, economical, political, and social landscapes: As our environment keeps rapidly evolving, so does our lifestyle. This tends to push people towards exploring topics like health, wealth, relationships, all of which are related to self-improvement.
- Insecurity is a significant contributor to the sale of self-help books: Many times we seek help because we feel inadequate about ourselves in some regard. Some people might be uncomfortable sharing their life problems with a human being and seek out a source of information that is not going to judge them.
Examples of Best-selling Self-Help Books
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist is the story of a shepherd boy Santiago, who embarks on a journey to search for an extravagant treasure. From his home in Spain, he travels to the Tangiers markets and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. This adventurous story teaches us the power to listen to our hearts and notice signs, symbols, and omens along the journey of life.
2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Be it personal or professional problems; Covey has written an all-round approach towards solving them. With powerful insights and stories from his life that teach his principles, he carves a perfect pathway for living. He lays the path for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.
3. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
This book takes you on an inspiring journey of understanding yourself. Tolle talks about reaching within your deep thoughts to discover truth and light that help you gain enlightenment. He teaches you how your mind can be your biggest enemy and how to control it. He goes further by showing readers how to live in the present moment.
4. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Robert Kiyosaki’s book, ‘Rich Dad, Poor Dad,’ is probably one of the most well-known around the world when it comes to wealth creation and management. Kiyosaki tackles the ‘financial literacy’ that’s missing in schools. Growing up, he had two father figures. One who struggled paycheck to paycheck while the other was a multimillionaire; he named them ‘poor dad’ and ‘rich dad.’ It is a book for anyone who has a negative belief system regarding money or the world and wants to develop an understanding of how they can make money can work for themselves.
5. How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Many people consider this book to be one of the most timeless pieces of self-help books ever written. Unlike the mass majority, Dale Carnegie believed that most successes come in life when we can communicate with people effectively rather than with brilliant insights. His book teaches skills that show you how to value people and make them feel appreciated rather than manipulated.
Steps to Write a Self-Help Book:
1. Brainstorming Ideas
The very first step in writing your self-help book is to come up with different concepts. Ideally, you would want to explore problems that you have faced yourself and chart out a path to how you overcame them.
This is the most genuine way to go about the process. It enables you to discover your inner self and give people something that they haven’t read anywhere before.
Writing a self-improvement book is not just about universal tips and tactics, but also about your story.
If you don’t wish to tell your own story, that’s completely fine. You can write a fictional story that assimilates the values & principles for self-improvement that you want to share.
The important thing at this step is not to narrow down, but rather to explore as many possibilities as possible.
2. Choose your Topic
After you’ve noted all the possibilities, now comes the time to decide the final topic you want to write about.
But, the question would be, how do I decide? Here are some things that you might want to take into consideration:
- How much do I care about this topic? The last thing you want to do is write about something that does not resonate with who you are.
- What is the scope of this topic? Am I writing about something that caters to a large and broad audience? Or is it more for a niche audience?
- What are some other books related to the topics I want to talk about, and what different elements do I bring to the table? Why would someone choose to pick my book over others?
Introspecting yourself with the questions above can help you figure out the topic and direction that you want to move forward with.
3. Understand the Reader’s Expectations
The best way to gauge a reader’s expectation is to put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what it would be like if you were the person facing the problems that your book talks about.
Being able to relate to your target audience is very important. Hence, writing about something you have experienced yourself is the safest way to maintain your authenticity; this, in turn, ends up helping you write in a way that people can show empathy towards.
One of the best ways to understand your reader’s expectations would be to research within your social circles and ask people what they would expect out of a book regarding the topic you’ve chosen.
4. Research the Concept
Even though most of your book should be written with your own experience, it is beneficial to research what other people have written on similar subjects.
This enables you to amalgamate your perspectives with what other people have to say, giving you a well-rounded and informed opinion before writing.
Nothing is more dangerous than half-knowledge. As a writer, it should be your due responsibility to fact-check while writing anything objective.
5. Create an Outline
Once you have researched and gathered all the data you need, it’s time to create an outline.
All the pieces of information you’ve gathered is most likely unorganized. Giving it a structure is your next task before you can finally start writing.
Here is a basic and simple structuring guide that you could follow and expand upon as you begin writing:
- Start with the who, what, why, when, where, and how of your book.
- The common problem that your book revolves around.
- Integrate your story of how you’re related to this particular problem or topic.
- The various different approaches you took to overcome these problems or your realizations regarding the topic.
- Inculcate lessons you learned throughout your journey.
Use your story to glue all the elements together and create a smooth flow of events.
6. Write the Book
Finally, you actually start writing your book. Remember that it is not going to be perfect the first time around.
You will make mistakes. There will be errors. It is inevitable. It is all a part of the process.
A tip we would like to give you is not to edit while you write your material. There is an excellent reason why there are two separate positions for ‘writers’ and ‘editors’.
Both the skills require a different kind of effort. Hence it is wise not to multitask and mess up both tasks.
The last thing you want to do is write in the Grammarly editor. You will spend or waste most of your time looking at Grammarly suggestions wondering how you can improve, rather than focusing on getting the writing part done first.
7. Include Real-life examples
Real-life examples are nothing but instances in your life that will help the reader engage, visualize, and relate better with the concepts you discuss.
Stories are definitely the most powerful in engaging your reader. You want to keep them hooked to know and learn more about you.
This creates a strong bond between the reader and the author that you might not even be aware of as an author.
8. Choose the Title
Many would believe that choosing a title so late is counterintuitive. But trust us when we tell you that the most catchy, hooking, or meaningful title often comes during or by the end of the writing process.
We have a vision of what we want to write, but the end product is often slightly different from what you envisioned.
Some titles are very direct and to the point, whereas others are quite short and generate a sense of curiosity within the reader to know more about the book.
9. Get Feedback
The final step before publishing your book is to get feedback from different people, friends, family, colleagues, etc. It would also be useful to seek out someone from your target audience. Let them read the book and consider their review.
Use the feedback you get to make changes and improvements in the book. Even the best authors in the world will never skip this test run to see people’s reactions.
Your book is just like any product that will be launched in the market. It should be tested, sampled, and enhanced accordingly.
Remember not to take someone’s feedback too seriously. Whether good or bad. One person’s opinion doesn’t sum up your book. As mentioned before, do not fail to get your feedback from a good sample size with a mix of people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and upbringing.
10. Choose Publishing Options
Congratulations! Your book is now ready to be published. When it comes to publishing, there are many options that you can choose from: eBooks, hard copies, audiobooks, and more. Ideally, you would want to create your book in the most consumed format, an actual book, and the e-book version. You can later proceed with converting it to an audiobook.
We hope we were able to guide you in writing your very own self-help book. If you’d like any help with publishing services such as editing, book cover designing, formatting, and publishing your book, you can reach out to us.
Pen2Publishing is on a mission to empower individuals with a distinct voice who wish to spread a message that’ll help others.
We believe that your story shouldn’t be confined to the four corners of a room. Your knowledge & life experiences have the power to inspire & create change in someone’s life.
If we can facilitate this change by helping you publish a book/e-book, then damn right, we’re going to do it!