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How To Write A “How-To” Book In Five Easy Steps

Do you know that what you know can make you money?

Many of the top-selling books on the market today are "How To" books. Our society devours instructional manuals about everything from relationships to dieting to crafts and cars! The best news is that e-books, which involve little-to-no cost to publish, are a prime vehicle for selling "How To" information.

Writing a "How To" book is easy, if you divide the whole into a number of parts ... and work on each one at a time.

1. Pick a subject

What do you know that others don't? You'd be surprised how many things you know how to do that others would love to learn. For instance, a few years ago, I won a Lemon Law suit against a major automobile manufacturer. Afterwards, I wrote a "How To" article about my experience for a national magazine, and they paid me $1,000! Surprisingly, many people haven't got a clue about how to file such a suit, what defects are covered, and how to get help. I'm now planning an e-book on this topic.

Business "How-To" books are usually top sellers. However, a lack of business acumen shouldn't stop you. Browse online bookstores, like http://www.booklocker.com and http://www.amazon.com to see successful "How-To" books on every conceivable subject. People don't just want to make money-they also want to learn how to accomplish goals and become proficient at hobbies.

2. Make a list of five things you know how to do.

Remember, even if there are experts on the subject, plenty of others don't know where to begin. Here are some examples:

Animal training, such as teaching tricks or even potty-training your cat; Crafts, such as needlepoint, crochet, knitting; Childcare, such as raising five children and staying sane, vacationing with kids; Thrift shop buying; selling old stuff on consignment; holding a yard sale successfully; any type of arts, such as painting, collage, playing an instrument, writing when you don't even have an hour a day, selling your paintings online, etc.

Look at the some non-fiction best seller lists to see what's hot in the how-to genre these days. See:

www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/new-for-you/top-sellers/-/books/
www.nytimes.com/pages/books/bestseller/index.html
www.barnesandnoble.com/gateway/bestsellers.asp
www.booklocker.com/

After creating your list, try to find a niche. For instance, my e-book, How to Become a Technical Writer, is geared to those who have not yet had their first job in the field, after research uncovered that there were few, if any, books that targeted this market.

3. Write an outline

Writing an outline (even in your head) is essential, but the outline is not set in stone. Getting your ideas on paper will spur you to write the book. It's just filling in the blanks. Although I was overwhelmed about where to begin on the subject of breaking into technical writing, noting the various components (Categories of technical writing, tools you’ll need, etc.), gave me a road map.

4. Research your subject

You will, of course, want to locate facts and figures about your "How To" book subject. One of the most valuable aspects of e-books is that they allow the reader to link directly to the Internet from the text. So, if you are writing a "How-To" book about paper airplanes, you will want to include links to web sites on subjects such as the history of paper airplanes, relationships to real airplanes, paper airplane contests and records, and other books. The more resources you give your readers, in addition to your own knowledge, the more satisfied they will be.

5. Write the book

You don't have to write the book from start to finish in that order. That’s the bliss of "How-To" books. You already know the ending! In fact, I often found myself creating new chapters as I went along. To begin, pick the easiest chapter to write from your outline. Remember, you already know this information, and are simply passing your knowledge on to others. You don't have to create it out of thin air!

I want to make an additional comment about publishing your "How To" book in e-book format, if not exclusively, then in addition to (or even instead of) a print version. You can easily update and edit an e-book. And, you should update annually. I cannot think of a subject that will not require the addition or deletion of information annually (e.g., a new web site containing great information, a link that no longer works, etc.). This means that some people may actually buy your book again, if the new information is valuable enough!

The best way to start writing your first "How-To" book is to get started now. So, go ahead and use the information you know to help others, while enhancing your writing career!

Submitted by:

Susan Bilheimer

Susan Bilheimer is the author of How to Become a Technical Writer (http://www.becomeatechnicalwriter.com), a step-by-step guide to breaking into the field. Susan also writes about women's issues, such as perimenopuase (http://www.perimenopausesupport.com). Her media kit can be found at http://www.perimenopausesupport.com/peri_site/mediaroom.asp.




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