7 Tips To Help You Write A Publishable How-To Book

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.

Seven Tips

  1. Present your manuscript in a visually appealing, well-formatted, easy-to-read manner. 
  2. 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]
  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. 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 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and Twitter. 

© Amanda Patterson


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