Five Steps To Writing Your First Self-Help Book
by Brian Cormack Carr
I self-published my first self-help book How To Find Your Vital Vocation: A Practical Guide To Discovering Your Career Purpose And Getting A Job You Love last month. In the first week after its launch, it made the Amazon UK Kindle careers bestseller chart.
If you’re considering writing a nonfiction self-help book, it’s probably because you have some experience you’d like to share with the world, or a service you’d like to showcase in book form. Writing a self-help book is a fun and rewarding way of getting your expert knowledge out there, and the process has never been easier. Here’s how to get started:
1. Pick Your Niche and Your Book Topic
To make sure your audience can find your book, you have to target it to the people who really need it – your niche market. Are you writing for men or women, young people or older people, folks who are employed or unemployed? Perhaps your niche is really specific and you’re going to write a book to help female police officers to develop their management skills so that they can move up the career ladder – if so, your niche is women police officers who want to develop their management skills so that they can move up the career ladder.
A niche can be broad or narrow, but it must be defined up front – writing a book for “everybody” is likely to create a rambling, untargeted book that generates few sales. The key to finding your niche is that it’s not “out there” it’s “in here” – you are your niche. If you’ve walked the path, you’re writing for others who are on the path behind you, or who haven’t even started onto it yet. So – who were you before you learned about what you’re going to write about? There’s your niche!
2. Solve Your Ideal Reader’s Problem
Don’t be daunted by the thought of writing to a large audience. Write for one single person – the person who most needs your book. Following on from the example above, imagine one female police officer who loves her work but wants more; who knows she needs to get some management experience so she can move on, but just doesn’t know where to start. See her in your mind’s eye? Good. Write for her.
3. Choose Your Keyword-Rich Title and Subtitle
Increasingly, new self-help books are first found online – so it’s important to make your title easy to find. Make sure the title and subtitle include plenty of keywords that are important to your niche market – the kind of keywords they’ll be searching for.
How To Find Your Vital Vocation: A Practical Guide To Discovering Your Career Purpose And Getting A Job You Love may not be the snappiest title in the world – but it’s keyword-rich, instead. Hidden in that title are the keywords and phrases “purpose”, “career”, “job”, “vocation”, “job you love”, “career you love”, “finding a job”, “getting a job”, “discovering your purpose”, “find your purpose”, “how to find a job” – and quite a few more.
4. Include Some Interactive Elements
Readers of self-help books are looking for practical solutions to their problems, and many of them will want to feel that they’re able to make progress soon after starting the book. Don’t make them wade through lots of reading as passive recipients; involve them in the book as soon as you can. In How To Find Your Vital Vocation, I introduce interactive written exercises in the book’s introduction, and clusters of self-coaching questions starting in chapter one.
5. Don’t Wait for Permission to Get Published!
I chose the self-publishing route because I wanted to get my work out into the world as soon as possible. I got professional help with editing and cover design and have published the eBook through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords (with the paperback to follow shortly, courtesy of Amazon’s Createspace).
I didn’t have to wait for an agent or publisher to “approve of” my book or to give me permission to become a published author. I took that leap myself, and now How To Find Your Vital Vocation is available worldwide. The tools available to prospective authors today are amazing, and the opportunities endless. Make the most of them.
So – what will your first self-help book be about?
Brian Cormack Carr is a writer, certified career coach and chief executive of BVSC The Centre for Voluntary Action, one of the UK’s leading local charities. He trained in personnel management with Marks & Spencer plc and gained an MA (Hons) in English Literature and Language from the University of Aberdeen. Brian has nearly 20 years of experience in the fields of personal development and leadership, and has helped hundreds of clients, readers and workshop participants to find fulfilling work and a renewed sense of purpose.
Genre – NonFiction / Careers
Rating – G