Memoirs and self-help books have many similarities, but there is one precise distinction—a self-help book focuses primarily on helping the reader achieve something, either in their personal or business life. But, for your book to find success, you have to develop a powerful narrative that inspires your reader on a deeper level. These five techniques will help you find ways to make your self-help books more intriguing.
1→Engage your readers with a compelling story.
Though your first priority should be to your readers, you must first tell stories that engage them. This means, of course, that you will need to be comfortable with sharing your personal story to show them how you found a way to pull yourself through those challenges and obstacles. One of the reasons why this is so important is it takes your readers on a journey that proves you have every right to consider yourself an authority on the subject. For instance, if a fitness expert is teaching obese readers how to adjust their lifestyles to live healthier lives, it would add something more to the reading experience if they got to read how the author conquered her own struggles with obesity or excess weight. You can imagine how ineffectual this book would be if all it did was lecture readers on how to change their lifestyles.
2→Give your readers an easy-to-understand action plan.
If someone purchases a self-help book, they are obviously looking for help to solve a problem in their life. Theory is well and good to accomplish this, but you will add more value for your reader if you can walk them through how to achieve success for themselves. One easy way to accomplish this is through giving them a small task or set of tasks to do at the end of every chapter.
My self-help book, Red Flag Conversations, is a creative journaling book for emotional abuse survivors and victims. So, at the end of each chapter, I give them a journaling activity to complete before moving on to the next topic. It can be as easy as this—if a journaling prompt works well for your content—or you could ask them a set of questions at the end of the chapter to help them apply what you’ve taught them so far.
3→Weave strong emotion into your narrative.
What do you want your readers to take away from the book? Think about how you want them to feel and weave that emotion within your story and help you provide throughout your self-help books. Put yourself in your readers’ shoes to explore how you felt of the beginning of your journey. Think about the emotional experience you lived through that inspired you to take charge and make changes in your life. Recreate those feelings throughout your narrative, and you’ll be able to lead your readers on this same journey.
4→Consider the buyer’s journey you want readers to take after they’re finished reading your self-help book.
To write great self-help books, you should provide your readers with all the tools they need to solve their problems or go down a path of healing. However, if you’re building a business around your book, it’s likely there’s a call to action you hope they’ll take after they’re finished. That could be as simple as leaving a review, or maybe you have a coaching program that could help them further in their goals. Whatever that journey is, you’ll want to weave pieces of that into your narrative.
Some self-help authors go right for the jugular by actively selling to their readers within the chapters, but readers pick up on this style right away. Your readers came to you because they want to learn something, and if your book is heavy with advertising-speak, then you’ll turn them off right away. If you want them to purchase something later, make smarter choices about how you led them to their decision.
5→Include resources in your self-help books to keep your readers actively engaged with you after they finish reading.
This has a positive effect both on your brand as an author and on your self-help book. When you provide much more value than your readers originally paid for, you can leave a lasting impression on every new reader who purchases your book. And, if you’ve done the work to create a lot of regular content for your readers, then those new readers will likely keep coming back to your website. This is a huge win for you because you can continue to market services and future books to them, along with enticing them to sign up for your email marketing list.
After all, if you’re currently writing a self-help book, you probably don’t intend to offer only the one book and stop there—at least, not if you want to have a long career as an author or an entrepreneur. With this first (or second or third or fourth) book, you’re setting up a great magnet to keep your readers with you for many years to come.