In our previous post, iUniverse looked at three crucial aspects of writing self-help books, and today we continue with more helpful guidance.
Include anecdotes and experiences from other people. Stories about yourself are of course very important, and may be your chief resource! At the same time, your book becomes more convincing if there are anecdotes from other people’s experiences. These need not be people that you have met – you can get the stories from reading.
You should also make sure to use some quotes from authorities in psychology or related fields. One writer who excels at this is Tal Ben-Shahar, in his books Happier and Being Happy. Ben-Shahar consistently backs up his ideas and theories with statements from other experts and academics.
Provide both short-term and long-term advice. One of the criticisms against self-help books is that they promise too much, too fast. Titles like “A Quick Guide to Happiness” or “Change Your Life in Three Easy Steps” give the impression that the genre lacks a serious approach to dealing with serious problems. Hence, it is important to be honest with readers and say that the journey to living a happier life is not accomplished in a day, a week, or even a month – it is a long-term endeavor that requires patience and hard work. (The other components are up to you!)
Still, we admit that the typical reader browsing in the self-help section wants some assurance that a book will provide some short-term help as well. In this busy day and age, people do not want to wait for answers to their problems. So along with your long-term plan, include some short-term tips for how people can initiate self-improvement. This can include exercises, dietary changes, and mantras that they can say to themselves every morning.