How to Write a Helpful Self-Help Book: 7 Key Steps

Filed in Writing Tips by on August 25, 2023 0 Comments

man reaching hand out with palm up, how to write a self-help book

Whether you’re an expert in your field or just have a passion for helping others, self-publishing a self-help book can be a rewarding experience. For a self-help book to be helpful for readers though, it needs to hit some key points. Your back cover copy needs to clearly identify the issue your book will address and your content needs to make it easy for readers to put your advice into action in their own lives.

Here are seven key points every self-help book needs for it to be helpful:

1. Identify the Issue Your Self-Help Book Will Address

The first step in writing a self-help book is to clearly identify the issue you want your book to address.

  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • What question are you trying to answer?

Once you’ve established the issue, start researching and gathering information to help you write your book.

2. Establish Your Credibility

Establishing your expertise and authority in your field is another important aspect of writing a self-help book.

To do so, share your own experiences and qualifications in your author bio for the back cover and the Introduction of your book. If you’re unsure how to do this, find examples in other books within your topic.

You can also include real examples and case studies that illustrate your points. Plus, you’ll want to cite relevant research and sources that support your ideas to further boost your credibility and add depth to your book.

3. Share Stories

People often relate better to stories than they do to abstract concepts. Take the time to craft a narrative that not only delivers valuable advice, but also engages your readers.

To do this, share personal anecdotes and examples from real life. These stories should illustrate your points, make your book more relatable, and inspire your readers to take action.

4. Provide Specific Steps Readers Can Take

People who read self-help books want quick answers and actionable steps they can do to improve their lives. These readers are looking for guidance and inspiration, and you want them to find it in your book.

One of the advantages of reading a self-help book is that it not only provides readers with practical steps they can implement to enhance their lives, but it also empowers them to take control of their well-being.

Readers should gain valuable insights and strategies from your book to address the issue they’re facing, which can be the catalyst for their personal, transformative change.

When writing a self-help book, be sure that the steps you provide are clear, concise, and easy for readers to follow.

Include activities or exercises readers can do in real-life situations to apply the concepts discussed in your book. This makes your book practical and give readers a sense of accomplishment as they work through your material. Your goal is not just to provide information when writing a self-help book, but also to motivate and inspire readers.

5. Cite Your Sources

The ideas you present in your self-help book must be backed up with factual research and solid data. Substantiating your thoughts with additional sources allows readers to gain a deeper understanding of the material.

Use a variety of factual sources to support your claims, such as academic journals, books, articles, and even interviews with experts in the field.

When it comes to adding sources to your material, follow these steps:

  • Use quotation marks around words that are not your own and reference the person you’re quoting.
  • Follow standard source citation guidelines as outlined by the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS).
  • Save and organize all necessary citation information for every source you use.
  • Establish the bibliography or works cited section of your manuscript as you write to ensure you don’t forget to include any sources.
  • Use a tool like EasyBib to help correctly format your sources to CMOS.
  • Remember that proper source citation prevents plagiarism issues.

6. Use a Great Book Title

Your book’s title is the first impression that readers will have of your material, and it can make the difference between someone picking it up or walking past it.

Choose a title that will not only grab potential readers’ attention, but also effectively convey the essence and message of your book. A great title can give your book an edge over others in a crowded market. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from others (Hint: Poll your social media community).

7. Add Something Extra for Readers

One way to make your self-help book even more valuable to readers is to offer additional resources that they can’t find anywhere else. Here are three ideas:

  • You could provide a free workbook that guides readers through the steps outlined in your book, so they can better apply the concepts to their own lives.
  • Offer access to exclusive online resources like videos, podcasts, or webinars that further explore the topics covered in your book.
  • Provide a personal consultation with a select number of readers and give them the opportunity to ask questions and receive individualized guidance based on their individual circumstances.

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About the Author ()

Erika Bennett is the Content Manager for Xulon Press. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade and her passion is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands. You can also find her writing on

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