How to Write a Self-Help Book Guide

How to Write a Self-Help Book Guide

Our books will bear witness for or against us, our books
reflect who we are and who we have been….
By the books we call ours we will be judged.”
― Alberto Manguel

I’m a self-help book junkie.

I started reading them in my early twenties, and I’ve never stopped.

As soon as I finish one, I’m ready for the next. They’re like fries that way. Except without the guilt – in fact, they leave me on a high. When I read a book in which someone has figured out one of the many problems I’m facing (emotional, spiritual, psychological, financial, business, writing), I begin to feel the stretch of an emotional muscle; the flicker of light inside me as someone illuminates a path through my tunnel of darkness.

Self-help books help us solve problems.

They’re glorious because there are as many ways to solve a problem as there are human natures and perceptions. That’s why every single one is different – because as the poet Mark Nepo writers, ‘If I’d experienced different things, I’d have different things to say.’

A self-help book is a wise guide by someone who has already walked the path I am stuck on. They point out to me where I am stumbling. They tell me stories that show me how others healed, worked through the pain, survived, overcame. I put one down, and I sigh. “I will get through this problem. I see it can be done.”

But there are good self-help books and there are poor ones.

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What distinguishes a great self-help book from a crap one?

I’ve analyzed the hundreds of self-help books I’ve read and worked out that there are two fundamental issues an author must address, and that, for each of those, there are eleven areas an author must tackle to ensure the book does what it’s meant to do.

And I’ve created a guide for anyone who is writing or who wants to write a self-help book called How To Write A Self-Help Book – ingenious title, right? But the first lesson of a great self-help book is just this – keep your message simple – make sure your book tells people what problem you are solving for them in the title.

I break the process down into reflection questions, structure, storytelling, methodology and I share my framework for writing a well structured, engaging self-help book that shares your insights in a way that turns the personal into the universal.

Because if you’re going to take the time to help people, make sure you write the best book you can. Your book can – and should – change people’s lives.

We all have life experience and wisdom to share. We’re all wiser, braver and more talented than we know or give ourselves credit for.

So, here’s a question for you: what do you know about (life, love, failure, health, parenting, divorce, marriage, fitness, money…. or anything you’ve gained great experience or insight in) that you could pass on to others? And what if you put it in writing as a gift to others?

If the idea excites you, you can purchase my How To Write A Self-Help Book Guide here for $19.95 which will walk you through the process, step by step.

So many of us have hidden insights and wisdom that remain locked inside us. By writing a self-help book, you gift these treasures to others and leave a legacy.

How To Write A Self-Help book will show you how to turn your lived experience into a meaningful narrative that serves humanity. I don’t know of a better way to honour the life each of us has lived.

My hope is that this guide makes the process easy, exciting and accessible to you.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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A couple of years ago, I wrote a book to help other writers get their story into the world called Your Story: how to write it so others will want to read it. My aim for it was modest – I was going to self publish it, and it would be a gift to the writers I mentor and a few on my mailing list who would like to come on retreat with me, but can’t for some reason.

My agent in France read the book, liked it and offered to try find a publisher.

‘I’m only interested in Hay House in America,’ I told him. ‘And I’m not waiting two years – it has to come out next year.’

This was a cheeky conversation, because despite at least three attempts (including a trip to the US in 2008 to try and secure a US literary agent), I haven’t been able to get my books into America. In fact, a few years ago, I completely let go of the American dream. As authors, we imagine that someday we’re going to be ‘discovered.’ That a publisher will swoop down and rescue us. We will be the next J. K. Rowling. But we grow up. We realise no-one is coming to save us, and that we’re in charge of our own destinies.

 

Your Story - How to write it so others will read it - out now

In this no-excuses book, written for aspiring writers and emerging authors, Joanne Fedler shares her original techniques, frameworks and strategies for life writing to ensure that your story connects with readers and doesn’t bore them to switch to Facebook scrolling.

In the spirit of mature making-my-own-shit-happen, I went ahead and invested a huge amount of money into self publication and I didn’t care if I didn’t make it back, as long as the book got into the hands of a few people and helped them figure out how to write their stories.

So here’s how the Universe works: on the same day on which I paid the last installment on the book, my agent came back to me with the news that Hay House in the US had made an offer to buy the rights to the book.

This is exciting news. Not just for me, but for all of us. Because of what it’s revealed about how the algorithm of manifestation works: we have to be 100% committed to ourselves, and we have to be 100% unattached to the outcome. And if the universe plays favourites, it picks what we offer in service to others, over what’s driven by ego.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

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Writing Is Also About Erasing (On Editors)

Writing Is Also About Erasing (On Editors)

Before I became a published author, I didn’t like editors. I couldn’t bear the thought of them, with their red pens and their pursed lips, their eyes like crabs across the page, just looking to pinch at my text with their editorial pincers. I used to be terrified of having my words taken away from me as if each one was a precious child. I also had this ego-thing going on – that this was my art, my work, my creativity, and how dare some editor make decisions about something so lofty, so magical and mystical? Looking back now at my inexperienced self, I can understand this fear, and even feel compassion at my editaphobia. See, editing brings up our deepest anxieties about being good enough and having to let go.

Here are five things I’ve learned about editing, which may change how you feel about the process:

Editorial feedback is not a comment on our self-worth

Our words often make us feel vulnerable and exposed – we all feel a little naked when our writing is handed over to someone else to look at. But as writers, there comes a point where we have to get over ourselves. Writers who become successful authors have to learn to differentiate between feedback on our writing and on who we are. If a piece of writing is rejected, we are not worthless. If our writing needs work, we are still worthy of love. Over-identification with our writing is a mismanagement of the boundaries between our work and ourselves. At some point we just have to understand that though we are fabulous, lovable and wonderful people, our writing may need some work.

Editors are our allies – they are our ‘good’ readers

A good editor is your ally – she is there to help you make the text the very best it can be. An editor has an advantage of not being so close to the text that she cannot see what ‘works’ and what ‘doesn’t work.’ An editor is looking through the eyes of the reader – sometimes as writers, we lose sight of the reader, and believe that everything we’ve written is relevant and interesting. The editor will look at what we’ve written in terms of whether it serves the story. Not everything that is important to the writer is necessarily serving the story. We need the editor’s eye because it is objective.

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

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Editors help the text to breathe by making spaces for the readers’ interpretation

Many of us overwrite. We use too many words and clutter the text. This is not because we are bad people. All writers lapse into word litter. Sometimes, if we are able to exit the right writing brain and enter the left, analytical brain, we are able to do this kind of editing on our own writing. But it’s much easier to have someone do it for us.

Editorial feedback helps us prepare for horrible reviews

We all get them – on Amazon and Goodreads and peoples’ blogs. Reviews that are downright nasty, ratings that are mean and comments that are hurtful. Writers need to be tough. We will never please everyone out there. We have to find our market and write for that market. We have to find our tribe of readers and as long as they enjoy what we do. We cannot worry about what the trolls are saying.

Editing helps us to learn to let go

We are naturally attached to our writing, given how deep and hard we have had to work to produce it. But we cannot get precious about our writing – it’s just writing. What gets cut can be re-used. Our brilliance will return. Beautiful sentences will re-appear. Nothing is ‘lost’ when we let something go. Creativity is an endless self-generating fountain. We need to learn to trust that.

May all your erasures make space for what is still to come.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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