Wednesday, December 19, 2012

8 Essential Items to Include in Your How-To Book

You’re writing a how-to or self-help book and you want to teach people something. You want your readers to not only enjoy the read, but to learn something valuable and to immediately put it into practice.

How do you know if you’ve covered all the bases to help your readers maximize their experience with your book? Consider these eight items to include in your how-to book:

Who are you? Here is where you position yourself as an expert. In a previous post, I explain the three questions audiences (and readers of self-help books) ask themselves about you to help them know of your expert status. State your credentials. What education, industry experience, or certifications do you have? How and why did you decide to pursue this line of work? What do you hope readers will learn from the information you share in your book?      

Overview of the book. Do yourself and your readers a favor and clearly explain, in the introduction or first chapter, what your book is about. In addition, mention the types of readers who will get the most benefit from reading your book and implementing the strategies and information included.

Tell me a story. Although your focus is to teach a concept, readers love a good story. Sprinkle in examples and case studies throughout your book. Include stories of how you learned a particular concept or how you assisted a client. Readers can learn from the best practices, mistakes, and successes you share.

Step-by-step instructions. Your book is all about “how to.” Therefore, explain in detail how readers can apply what you are teaching. Give step-by-step instructions, explaining even the most obvious items.

Templates, tables, and worksheets. How-to books are for the “do-it-yourselfers” among us. Give readers the tools to easily begin implementing your concepts. Use charts, tables, worksheets, and other resources that readers can follow or fill in using their own unique circumstances.

Results. Your book might explain a process or system that you have created. It is fine to describe this, but sharing the results readers could expect adds a valuable component to your book. Estimate possible outcomes or, once again, use examples and case studies to demonstrate the results others have experienced by using your system.

Contact info. Imagine that readers might either have questions after reading your book or, better yet, that they might wish to become a client. Be sure to include several ways for them to reach you, such as your email address, website, social media links, phone number, and business address.

Links to online resources. Gone are the days when a reader’s experience ends on the last page of a hard copy book. Including links to online resources – especially those on your own website – further transforms your book into a useful tool. Send readers to a webpage where they can download a form, watch a video, listen to a podcast, read a blog post, or make a comment.

Use these essential elements to help make your next self-help or how-to book even more valuable for readers.

What other elements have you found useful in these types of books?

Anita Paul, known as The Author's Midwife, coaches aspiring authors to write a phenomenal book and helps current authors use their existing books to leverage their business. She is the author of Write Your Life: Create Your Ideal Life and the Book You've Been Wanting to Write, and is the creator of the Write Your Life program, through which she has created a dynamic system to Write Your Book in 90 Days or Less. She has owned The Write Image for 15 years, and has had her freelance articles featured in over 25 publications in the U.S. and Canada. Anita is also the host of "Book Your Success".

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