puzzled looking ladyWhat will my reader get from my how to book?”

Don’t begin writing your book without answering this question.

If you’re writing a how-to nonfiction book, you’re not writing to entertain your readers. They’re looking for information. They want answers to their questions and concerns.

When you make a list of the benefits your how to book will deliver, you do two things.

  1. You put together a rough outline of what will be in your book.
  2. When you use these benefits to promote your book, you’re making a promise. You must deliver if you want your book, and any future books, to sell.

Keep this idea foremost in your mind: People who buy and read your book are investing money, time, and attention to what you write.

If they want a quick answer, they can go to YouTube.

If they want a more detailed answer from your how to book, they can come to you.

They are doing something for you when they buy your book. You need to make sure that you are doing something for them.

Practicality Is Key

General and unfocused information doesn’t benefit your reader. Ask yourself what they will be able to do after they’ve finished reading the book.

plan start work tiles

As an example, you’re going to write a book about how to start a small business on a shoestring. You’re basing it on your own experience of doing so and on your career in coaching others in this kind of start-up.

This background gives you strong credentials. It also gives you the opportunity to draw on real-life experiences, yours and those of your clients. Your descriptions of these experiences can provide a template for your readers.

Make a List for Your How To Book  lightbulb in hands

Think about the actions that helped you and your clients. When you write the rough  draft of the list of starting a business on a shoestring, make it free-flowing. Write down every idea you can think of.

  1. Thorough market research. You checked out the competition. You evaluated the need for your product or service. You determined your ability to supply it at a competitive rate.
  2. Alternatives to spending money. You decided to learn how to build your own web site. You learned how to write effective copy. You also learned how to make attractive graphics.
  3. Learning from others. Prior to launching your business, you joined online small-business owners discussion groups. You networked; you built connections.

My intention here isn’t to make a complete list but to give you an idea how to write one for your book.

Review the List

Let it sit for a day before coming back to it. I call this process “marinating”. When you do, weed out repetitive ideas. Add new ones. Ask yourself objectively if what you have is strong enough to make a valuable book. Would you as a novice entrepreneur get value from the benefits offered?

Be honest. Don’t get discouraged if you realize that your book needs more to give it substance. Read additional books on shoestring entrepreneurs. Do these books present ideas that you can use? By that, I mean can you adapt them and illustrate them through your experiences?

Show the list to those who know you well and who have experience as entrepreneurs. Find people who are interested in building a business on a shoestring and ask for their feedback. They may come up with topics you had not considered, and will make your book a better rounded product.

If after doing these things, you return to your list feeling inspired, add to it. Once again, show the list to others.

Build the Book Before You Write It

Above all, don’t get impatient. The more careful and meticulous you are about building your book’s foundation, the easier the writing part will be.

And your chances of success will also be much greater.

Pat Iyer - Editor, author, ghostwriter, book coach

Pat Iyer

Pat Iyer wrote 59 books, and she’s got a lot more to share.  Connect with her by requesting a session for brainstorming. Reach her at patiyer.com/contact.