How-to books are the staples of the non-fiction market. These books offer the reader a method for doing or making something.
Publishers always welcome fresh ideas and good writers with new takes on a topical subject. Successful how-to books present a new idea at the right time and they should be innovative.
It is even better if a writer with an established audience and a strong social media following writes it. The author could be an expert in the field – or a celebrity. If you have a promotable personality, a strong idea, an engaging voice and good timing, you may be a perfect writer for this genre.
It is true that people want to know, but they don’t always want to learn. So your job as a how-to author is to make learning engaging and readable.
- Present your manuscript in a visually appealing, well-formatted, easy-to-read manner.
- Allow your personality to shine through. Write in your own distinctive voice. Don’t try to be anybody but yourself. [Suggested reading: 7 Choices That Affect A Writer’s Style]
- Give your readers things to do along the way.
- Include jokes, cartoons, anecdotes, and tips to make the read fun and to engage the reader.
- Supplement text with illustrations.
- If your book is about teaching a skill, do it in a clear, concise step-by-step fashion.
- Your tone should suit your subject.The best how-to books often have a down-to-earth, amusing tone. [Read 155 Words To Describe An Author’s Tone]
Tips for submitting your book
In an ideal world editors want a viable idea, an established market, and a credible writer with marketing experience.
The first thing you have to do is write a book proposal. A query letter is not enough for this genre. Your proposal should include a cover page, a table of contents, a chapter-by-chapter outline, information on why your book is marketable, and information about yourself. [Tip: Most non-fiction books are 40 000 – 50 000 words.]
Good luck and happy writing!
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© Amanda Patterson
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