How To Write A Self-Help Book That Transforms Lives: 8 Expert Tips

Sarah Rexford
April 05, 2024 | 8 mins

Top Posts

9 Free Book Templates for Authors [+ Outline Generator]
How to Write a Book in 12 Simple Steps [Free Book Template]
Setting of a Story: 8 Tips for Creating an Immersive Setting
Literary Elements: A List of 21 Powerful Literary Devices

You're here because you're wondering how to write a self-help book that actually makes an impact.

And you're in the right place.

Learning how to write a self-help book effectively can help your author career thrive, boost an existing business, and change thousands of lives for the better. Because what is a self-help book if it doesn't help people!?

With so many self-help books in the market, writing one in a way that truly stands out is crucial to its success.

If you clicked on this article, it’s likely that you want to know how to write a self-help book because you have plans to pen one in the near future. Or perhaps you've already started writing a book. Maybe you only have a very faint book idea and aren't sure whether you should follow through with it (spoiler: you should).

No matter where you find yourself in your writing journey, you can use these tips for how to write a self-help book to level up your initial rough draft or manuscript. 

In this article, I break down how to write a self-help book into eight simple steps, using tips that deeply impact your readers and, ultimately, transform lives. While the success of your book can never be guaranteed, learning how to write a self-help book in a way that connects with readers is foundational.

Need A Nonfiction Book Outline?

What is a Self-Help Book?

A self-help book is a book written to help people improve a certain aspect of their lives. What is a self-help book meant to help with? It could be anything from boosting your confidence to making a productive morning routine to organizing your house.

It doesn't matter what a self-help book is helping you with, as long as it helps and inspires you!

Why Should You Study How To Write A Self-Help Book?

The self-help book market is a thriving industry worth $10.5 billion as of 2020. That’s right, billion, not million. With these types of numbers, studying how to write a self-book is not just a good choice. It’s a no-brainer. 

Everyone has learned something in their life that they can teach to someone else – they just need to learn how to write a self-help book properly first.

So let’s dive into our top eight tips that will better your chances of standing out, impact your readers, and ultimately, reach your audience the way they most need it.

8 Actionable Tips for How to Write A Self-Help Book

If you want to learn how to write a self-help book, these are the tips you should follow:

1. Choose A Niche Topic

Self-help is a massive genre. You can find self-help books for anything from cooking basics to how to leverage your habits for massive success.

To stand out, you need to go deeper. You need a very specific subgenre or niche.

Writing about cooking healthy meals for a healthier lifestyle is not a bad self-help idea, but try taking it a step further: What about cooking healthy, vegetarian-friendly meals for busy lifestyles?

Instead of writing a general book about yoga poses, why not write one on easy-to-do yoga stretches and practices for post-surgery patients?

See the difference? In each of these examples of self-help books, one is broad, and one is focused.  

Whether you’ve already drafted your book or have just started writing, make sure you identify your precise niche to narrowly target your intended audience.

2. Layer In Your Unique Credibility

Never underestimate the power of your credibility. To continue with the healthy eating example, let’s say you chose to attend a four-year college, worked three jobs while taking full-time classes, and let your eating habits slip during those busy years. 

Now, you’ve graduated, have a successful career, AND have completely transformed your eating habits. You’re healthier than ever, and bonus, you have your undergraduate degree in nutritional sciences.

Your credibility isn't always just about your credentials. It includes your personal journey, experiences, and transformation, too.

Layer these details throughout your book to establish your credibility and create a stronger connection with your readers.

3. Use Personal Anecdotes (Sparingly!)

Let's build on the credibility bit, because it can overlap with your personal story a great deal.

Many self-help books are also books about a true story. Yours! This is definitely one way to write a book no one else can.

It would be simple to present yourself as the hero of your story. After all, you’re the one who had the experience.

But that would turn writing a self-help book into a memoir or autobiography. Instead, keep the focus on actionable advice. Choose to come alongside your reader, use nostalgic writing or personal anecdotes that don’t always show you as the hero, and share your story as supplemental fodder to the steps you ask your readers to take. 

Remember, a writing a self-help book is about helping your readers, not a personal memoir, so use your anecdotes only if they truly benefit your readers or will inspire them to take action.

And if you're considering writing about perseverance, bear in mind that the same principles hold true for how to write about perseverance.

4. Focus On Structure 

When learning how to write a self-help book, structure is paramount. It drastically impacts how your readers digest your material.

First and foremost, you need to ensure you are sharing steps in a way that they can be followed. For example, when we write about how to write a nonfiction book, we begin with prewriting strategies such as mind mapping, outlining, and then writing a rough draft.

If we spoke about those steps in a different order, it would be difficult for our readers to understand which step to take next.

You may also want to include next steps, homework, or questions for discussion at the end of each chapter. Below are a few ideas for structuring and writing a self-help book:

  • Follow a chronological timeline and take your reader on a journey 
  • Open with the dream life your audience wants and then show them how to achieve it
  • Focus on small goals throughout the manuscript that work together to lead to the ultimate goal 

Have fun with your structure and feel free to play around with various options. 

5. Know What Your Audience Knows

Understanding exactly what your audience knows (and doesn't know) about your topic is likely one of the biggest contributors to book sales and successful self-help book launches.

If you aren't meeting them where they're at and saying things that resonate with what they want, they won't pick up your book.

Work to avoid laying foundations your audience will view as juvenile or obvious. But at the same time, don’t push your audience too fast or make too many assumptions about what they know on the subject.

This may seem difficult to balance, but it comes down to deeply understanding your audience and their unique problems.

Related: How Much Money Can You Make From Writing a Self-Help or Business Book?

6. Repeat, Rephrase, Reframe

Most people need old lessons repeated to them in new ways more than they need to learn something new.

For instance, most people understand that establishing positive habits is crucial to a healthy, successful life. 

If you’re familiar with James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, you know he took this knowledge, repeated it, rephrased it, and reframed it in a way that landed him a spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Today, his estimated net worth is $8 million.

People thrive on repetition. 

Want to know how to write a self-help book that leverages this technique? Practice saying the same thing in different ways, and experiment with different verbs and nouns to keep your writing interesting.

Related: Improve Your Writing with This Free Tool

7. Provide An Achievable Goal

A list of tips for how to write a self-help book would not be complete without mentioning the importance of achievable goals. One aspect I believe helped James Clear succeed so massively with Atomic Habits was his focus on small, achievable habits.

The emphasis on realistic goals is important for how to write a motivational book, as it helps readers feel empowered to take action and experience tangible progress, fueling their motivation and belief in their ability to achieve their larger goals.

The same goes for any self-help book, no matter how niche.

Audiences want to feel empowered so they can go live empowered lives. Self-help is about teaching individuals how to help themselves move forward. This means the goal must be achievable.

All goals take some level of effort, but you want to make sure you are pushing your readers toward something they can implement and start to see change from in the next 30 days.

8. Be Actionable

I've mentioned this multiple times throughout this guide, but it bears mentioning once more.

The goal of learning how to write a self-help book is learning how to write something that people can – and feel inspired to – take action from.

These steps should be ones they can take today, tomorrow, or this week. And should include clear directions.

For example, if your book focuses on harnessing creativity, what is a step they could take today? 

If you write about starting a side hustle as a stay-at-home mom, what are some helpful steps you could provide for already overwhelmed mothers?

Or, let’s say you want to provide teenagers with ways to start investing early. Most teenagers don’t have much financially, let alone thousands of dollars to invest.

How can they take one small action today that will impact their lives in a decade?

Share Your Influence, Leave A Legacy 

Everyone has a unique story to tell, and those stories have the ability to change lives.

You read this article not just because you want to learn how to write a self-help book but because you feel driven to help people.

When someone poses the question, ‘What is your legacy?', you are eager and ready to share your meaningful response.

You likely have some level of influence or credibility, or have transformed your own life in a profound way, which is why you chose to learn how to write a self-help book. The more you fine-tune how you write your book, the more potential it has for influence.

If you’re eager to start writing your book today, use the free resource below to help you start your nonfiction outline. This nonfiction book outline can help you reach your end goal (aka: a finished, impactful manuscript) faster.

Need A Nonfiction Book Outline?

Read This Next
More Self-Help Posts

Join the Community

Join 100,000 other aspiring authors who receive weekly emails from us to help them reach their author dreams. Get the latest product updates, company news, and special offers delivered right to your inbox.