Seven Tips for Writing How-to Books

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How-To Books

These are the staples of the non-fiction market. Publishers always welcome fresh ideas and good writers with new takes on a subject. How-to books must present a new idea at the right time. They must be innovative. They must be written by a writer with an established audience and a strong social media following who is either an expert or a celebrity. The author should have a promotable personality. They need to have a strong idea, an engaging voice and good timing. People want to know, but they don’t always want to learn. So your job is to make learning engaging and readable.

Seven Tips

  1. Present your information in a visually appealing manner.
  2. Allow your personality to shine through.
  3. Give your readers things to do along the way. 
  4. Include jokes, cartoons, anecdotes, and tips to make the read fun and to engage the reader.
  5. Supplement text with illustrations.
  6. If your book is about teaching a skill, do it in a clear, concise step-by-step fashion.  
  7. Use a down-to-earth, you-to-me tone. The best how-to books have a distinctive and amusing tone.

Tips for submitting your book

Remember that editors want a viable idea, an established market, and a credible writer with marketing experience. 

Book proposals are used to sell non-fiction book ideas. A query letter is not enough. As with most non-fiction books, you will have to market your book. You do this by compiling a proposal that contains a covering page, a table of contents, a chapter-by-chapter outline, information on why your book is marketable, and information about yourself. Remember that most non-fiction books are 40 000 - 50 000 words. Make sure your proposal reflects this.

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Amanda Patterson by Amanda Patterson

Amanda is the founder of Writers Write. She creates innovative, results-driven communications courses. Her signature course, Writers Write, specializes in the teaching of fiction writing. More than 180 Writers Write students have been published. Send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za if you want to find out more about this course.

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. To find out about Writers Write - How to write a book, or The Plain Language Programme - How to write for business, email news@writerswrite.co.za  

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