“How to” books are always popular with readers and one you can’t go far wrong creating. When done right, they promise the reader to take them from their current situation to the promise your book title gives them.
Another benefit of ‘how to’ books is that they allow readers to go through the motions of learning a skill or talent in the comfort of their home and at their own pace.—It’s up to you to deliver on that promise and that’s what we’ll look at today.
When it comes to planning your ‘how to’ book (like a tips book) it’s got to follow a logical pattern and structure. You want to take a beginner from where they are, to where they want to be with the least confusion.
When it comes to deciding on what content to add to your book, consider the following…
Photos – Will you need these to provide proof of your claims? Before and after photographs of people who’ve been successful with what you’re teaching? Not only are they a great way visual testimonial, but they’ll give your reader confidence that you know what you’re talking about.
Diagrams – Although your audience is going to read your book, some people are more visual learners. Providing diagrams and illustrations not only helps to get your point across faster than text, but they can also reinforce what you’re teaching. Do you need to create some for your book?
Text Instructions – Although your book will of course be text, will you need to break complicated procedures and actions down into a simple step 1, step 2, process?
From where you are right now, it’s easy to assume that everyone’s on the same level as you. They’re not. Because of that, you may need to break actions down into the smallest steps that a beginner will need to take.
Also consider a glossary of terms section. Does your audience know what every acronym, slang word, or insider term means? Although a small thing, this can be very helpful for beginners and make your book more helpful to them.
When it comes to your book layout, have you given any thought to how you’d like it to look? What font are you planning on using? Will that font look alright on an e-reader? And what about your bullet points and steps, are you going to use a ‘A, B, C’ format, or a ‘Step 1, Step 2,’ one instead?
Of course, when you’re starting, these things probably seem like something that you should be looking at further down the road but by giving some thought to it now it’ll help with planning your book layout.
Same goes for headings and subheadings. Have you considered the font you’ll use, the size and weight you’ll give it? Will any tips or ‘important to remember’ sections have a unique layout or font that’ll make them stand out to your reader, so they’ll pay attention to them and not pass them by.
And what about your chapters? Will you end each chapter with a highlight reel of everything that was covered? Will there be a summary or question section? Will you need to leave white space or white pages for your reader to add notes or do the exercises in the chapter?
What about the knowledge level of your reader? Should you set aside a beginner’s section in each chapter? One where any beginner can get what they need, but that a more experienced one can skim by and not get bogged down in stuff they already know?
When it comes to chapter break down, how much are you going to cover in each one? You maybe be tempted to cover more than one action, but is that too much? Although one action per chapter may give your book a high chapter count, covering too much in each one may leave your reader feeling overwhelmed. You may need to give this some thought to this before you begin.
Book Layout—Structuring Your Book
As you’re well aware, each book must follow a set structure. Not only does it help you, but it helps your reader know where they are in your book. What your book requires…
Foreword–This can be an introductory paragraph or chapter, or additional pieces like testimonials, reviews, or word from a well-known person in your niche. Although most people skip by this content, it helps to frame your book in a positive way before the reader begins to read your book.
Introduction–This section should contain what your book is about and what they’ll learn from reading your book. Not only does it show your reader what they’ll gain from reading your book, but it also saves others from reading a book with information they already know. You may need also need to mention any equipment, software or anything that your reader will need to get their hands on to get started.
Chapters–Like earlier in the foreword section, a chapter summary before you begin allows your reader to not only get excited by what they’re about to learn but also if they need to read this chapter. Not only is this a great time saver for more advanced readers in your niche, but it helps you to nail down what you’re going to talk about and not go off on tangents or ramble on on things that don’t need to be covered.
Finishing Up–While you can do this at the end of each chapter, you should dedicate part of your book to reviewing what you’ve taught. Here you can add testimonials, additional information on others that followed your advice, and also a pep talk before your reader leaves your book.
Because no matter how well you write your book, there will always be people that will lack confidence that they can do what you’ve shown them or have the ability to do it.
While all the above aren’t compulsory, working on the layout of your ‘how to’ book before you begin is well worth doing. Not only does it give you a firm road map of what you’ll need to tackle in your book, but it helps to break everything down into simple bite-sized action pieces you need to take.
Best of luck with your book!