Many motivational books are a global success, with the New York Post listing James Clear’s Atomic Habits at the top of their to-read list for 2023. This iconic motivational book was published in October of 2018, but to date has over ten million copies sold. If you’re looking to get into the motivational genre, you’ve picked a genre that readers gravitate to.
In this article, I share the various aspects of motivational books, including what they are, how to conduct your research, who to choose as your target audience, and a seven step guide on how to write your book. Let’s jump right into it with a definition!
Table of Contents
What Is A Motivational Book?
A motivational book is a written guide with the purpose of providing readers a distinct path to accomplish their goals. There are some books that readers love so much that they stay on the top of book lists for years. Consider Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, listed by Inc. as their number one pick.
Covey’s book is motivational because, like James Clear’s, he includes the following:
- Identifies his readers' problem areas
- Provides context around these issues
- Lists step-by-step ways to overcome them
Motivational books are crucial because the author takes the perspective of a personal coach. However, because their training is in book form, they can coach millions of mentees without ever meeting them. In this way, the genre of motivational books has tremendous possibilities for lasting impact. So how do you write one?
How To Research
Writing your motivational book starts with research. There are several key areas you will need to study to enhance your awareness of your topic and build your credibility:
- Research the issue you want to discuss
- Study the various demographics who struggle with your topic
- Obtain a deep understanding of your specific target audience
- Learn what style of writing will best help them succeed
Depending on your topic, your research will take various formats. You may consult scholarly articles, journals, other motivational books, professionals in the field, or thought-leaders who can provide a unique perspective. Whatever form your research takes, always remember to cite your sources.
Who To Write For
The audience for your motivational book will be the people who have the most to lose and the most to gain. When choosing your target audience, it’s helpful to apply the same rules you do when choosing your fictional protagonist. Ask yourself the following:
- Who is struggling the most with this issue?
- Who would benefit most dramatically from reading my book?
- Who has the most at stake if they don’t read my book?
Once you identify your audience, it’s time to write!
How To Write Your Motivational Book
Follow the seven steps below as a guide to help you get started.
#1 – Establish Your Credibility
Nonfiction relies on the author’s credibility and expertise, and motivational books do so to an even higher level. Be sure to establish your credibility early on, but don’t worry, you don’t need to have a doctorate to write a motivational book. What have you overcome that provides you with the right perspective to help others? How will your experience aid your readers?
#2 – Write To Your Reader’s Pain Point
Once your reader knows they can trust you, it’s crucial to immediately call out what they currently struggle with. Refuse the shortcut of writing around the issue and instead, write with boldness. Write to communicate the following:
- State their struggle
- Show that you have the answer
- Provide the steps they need to take
Next up, writing style.
#3 – Use Fiction Writing Techniques
Stories keep readers on the edge of their seats. And while motivational books are nonfiction, this doesn’t mean they should be boring. How could the following rules upgrade your story?
- Show, don’t tell, how your answer helps
- Tell a story instead of just stating facts
- Include the five senses
Implement fiction writing techniques to take your book to an entirely new level.
#4 – Don’t Just Identify Pain Point, Provide Answers
Your audience likely knows what they are struggling with. “I can’t get in shape.” “I’m too busy to start my own business.” “My past defines me.” What they need you to do is show them how to overcome these difficulties.
Everyone’s story is unique, but you can equip your readers with concrete steps. Make sure your answer to the pain point is generalized enough to help your entire audience, but specific enough you provide action steps they can apply individually.
#5 – Share Your Story
There’s nothing quite as uncomfortable as reading a book by someone who has never struggled and is telling you how to be better, is there? I encourage you to take a come-alongside approach to your writing.
Rather than keep your trial and errors private, share them for the good of your readers. This will encourage them and also develop reader-to-author loyalty. For a great example on how to do so, read James Clear’s book, mentioned above.
#6 – Under Promise, Over Deliver
If you open your YouTube app, you’ve probably seen click bait dominating your screen. Titles such as “6 Pack In 1 Week” or “Start A 6-Figure Business In 2 Months” get clicks, but do they provide lasting results?
You should take time to title your motivational book appropriately, but remember the importance of integrity. Look at the following titles:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- How To Win Friends And Influence People
- Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance
These are each real titles that both tell the reader what the book discusses and how they can change as a result. However, the titles under promise and the content over delivers. Imagine if Covey had used this title instead: My 7 Steps To Effectiveness In Any Situation.
First, it takes the effort off the reader. Simply read my book and succeed, is the underlying tone. Second, it over promises. Instead, Covey went with The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and his book has changed countless lives, all while maintaining integrity.
#7 – Consider Trialing Your Topic
If you feel uncertain that the premise of your motivational book will resonate with your audience or wonder if you are targeting the right audience, consider a trial run.
Do you have a website? Write a three part series of blog posts on your topic and see what reaction you get. Do you have a YouTube channel? Post a video that covers the overview of what your book would be.
Do people want more of this type of video or blog? You’ve likely hit the nail on the head. Well done! If you don’t get the feedback you hoped for, try targeting a different audience or finessing your topic until it reaches the right people.
Prepare To Make An Impact
Motivational books are a powerful tool for inspiring people to change, individuals to grow, and communities to thrive. Consider the amount of impact between the two books Stephen Covey and James Clear published: Millions of lives changed.
Today, their books still sell, influence, and help readers make positive changes.
This said, take your time settling on the pain point you want to discuss and the audience you believe most needs it. It’s worth the time investment. When you combine the right theme with the audience most ready to receive it, massive impact is likely closer than you think.
And don't be afraid to ask for help! A book writing coach can prove to be an invaluable asset and key support person during your writing journey. Here at SelfPublishing, we work hard to pair our authors with the perfect coach for them – helping them go from aspiring to published authors!