Made in America

Genre Focus: How-To Books

We’re living in a DIY world. From Pinterest fashion to Youtube cooking tips to good old fashioned books, people are constantly looking for the latest tips, tricks, and ‘life-hacks’ to either learn a new skill or improve their daily routines. Though this new DIY attitude has made it a heck of a lot easier to pick up woodworking on a whim, it also means writing a How-To book has become all the more competitive. So, if you’re planning on writing one, here are some tips to help:

1) Pick a subject

The first step to writing a How-To book is honing in on a subject. When it comes to this genre, the more specific you are with your subject the better. There are a lot of How-To books out there so you need to make yours stand out. For example, there are a lot of different books to teach you how to play guitar, but Mastering Jazz Guitar in Three Easy Steps is both specific and simplified version. If you have a broad idea, try to take it one step further by narrowing it down. This may even lead to several book ideas.

2) What makes you an expert?

When you’re choosing a subject, make sure its one that you have some experience with or some expertise within. If you’ve spent your life as a woodworker, for example, then writing g a how-to book about woodworking makes sense. People want to get advice on a subject from someone they feel is an expert. No one wants to read a how-to book on building rockets by someone that’s never built one.

Group of people reading

3) Who is your audience?

This step should be relatively easy to figure out. When choosing your subject, think about who you envision as your audience. Because, while you do want to be specific with your subject matter, you don’t want to be so specific that there is virtually no audience for your book. For example, a book about how to play basketball will have a market, but a book about vegans who play basketball likely won’t.

4) Outline

Next–and this is crucial–make sure you outline your book before you start writing. Outlining is merely a suggestion in most cases, but when it comes to How-To books, it’s essential. This book should be a step-by-step process regarding the subject matter where the reader gradually gets better at the task as they go. This means your book needs to be ordered perfectly so that it’s not taking large leaps in the level of difficulty, leaving frustrated readers in its wake.

Woman Researching

5) Research

Even if this is a subject that you know a lot about (and it should be at this point) make sure you do additional research. This involves factual accuracies as well as field testing. The last thing you want is for another book to be doing exactly what you’re doing, but better. Make sure you’re telling your readers the best methods. In addition, once you’ve finished your first round of writing, grab a friend or two and see if they can learn the required subject matter from your book. If not, they may be able to point out areas that need reworked.

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