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How to Write a Self-Help Book Outline

This world is a very complicated place. It can be stressful and frustrating. Many might wish to seek out professional help to cope with these issue, but cannot afford the costs of therapy. What is the next best solution?Purchasing self-help products that can be immediately applied to a personal life. 5.7% of all consumer books purchased in any given year are self-help books, resulting in an industry that brings in $10 billion or more each year.

Knowing how to write a self-help book outline can help you be able to take your experiences and wisdom and put it into a meaningful format. Then you can write out your content in a logical manner, providing others like you with the help that it needs.

Here is what you’re going to want to do to create that outline.

#1. Make sure to break everything down into manageable steps.

Self-help books are useful because the advice can be readily implemented. That advice must be relevant, easy to understand, and something the average reader can do on their own to create results in their lives. This means your outline must break down the end goal into manageable steps.

Think about your average staircase. There might be 9-14 steps in a home that take you from one floor to the next. Each step is its own goal in your self-help book outline. As the reader takes each step, they move forward to their end goal. This does two things: it allows the reader to see their progress and it makes your advice feel relevant because there has been successful movement.

#2. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself.

The goal of a self-help book is to create efficacy. This means a tangible result can be achieved. This means it is a good idea to keep revisiting the core ideas of your narrative to reinforce the changes or choices that need to be made.

Now that doesn’t mean every outline point should be the same topic, just restated in a different way. It does mean that each chapter can revisit important core topics in a meaningful way. The goal is to create an outline which encourages reader familiarity once the actual writing process begins.

#3. Use examples that most people are going to understand.

In the movie Defending Your Life, Rip Torn’s character Bob Diamond tells Daniel Miller, played by Albert Brooks, that he was stuck and couldn’t make it in time for Miller’s hearing. “Don’t treat me like a moron,” Miller says in the movie. “Try me.”

“I was trapped near the inner circle of thought,” says Diamond.

“I don’t understand…” says Miller.

“I told you,” Diamond retorts.

When an author speaks to a reader in a self-help book, they must use examples which most people are going to understand. This is because one of the keys to unlocking success for the reader is the ability to visualize the changes or choices they will need to make to reach their goal.

As part of the outlining process, make sure to include certain examples that help to reinforce the key points you’re trying to make. You don’t want the examples to overwhelm your narrative, so use the outlining process to insert them into key areas where you really want to drive your core ideas home.

#4. Find the inspiration.

You’re not trying to win a gold medal when you write a self-help book. You’re trying to inspire others to become an Olympic champion in their own way.

Of course most self-help books discuss life improvements, such as weight management, coping skills, or how to negotiate a better wage at work. The goal here isn’t to keep identifying the problems that your reader segments already know about.

The goal is to help readers believe they can overcome the problem your book identifies. They want to see how you’ve overcome a problem so they can repeat the process. This is what your outline will help you to cover.

You’ll be able to inspire others by outlining the exact steps you took to deal with the identified problem being discussed in your book. And, just as with your core thoughts, you can keep revisiting these inspirational moments throughout your book.

Outlining a self-help book is almost the same as outlining any other type of manuscript.

The focus of each key point is the only difference. Instead of trying to entertain, you’re trying to inspire change in readers so they believe that new choices can be made. When you focus on these four key areas, you’ll be able to create an outline that will let your self-help book do its job effectively.

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Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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