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Writing a How to Book

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How to” books are always popular, especially if what they are demonstrating is currently trending.   Look at the Dummie series of books.  What a brilliant idea!  (ie. Auto Repair for Dummies, Networking for Dummies, Bridge for Dummies, Sailing for Dummies, etc.) I read recently that there are 286 different books for Dummies available!

People love the promise of a book that is magically and instantly going to simplify something complex (or that they find complex)... a book that will act like a patient tutor and walk them through to success.

Planning your How to” book in a logical way, so that your structure and chapter breaks feel logical and consistent.

You will want to decide in adance if you need:

  • Photos
  • Diagrams
  • Just text instructions

Consider in advance: 

  • Fonts, font sizes, colors and weight for your elements.
  • For example, are you going to use:

a) The alphabet in your point indicators? Or 
Numerals?
 (1)

  • How big will your Sub-Headings be?
  • Will you leave room for notes, if your reader wants to transfer the book to her 
computer or buy a hard copy version of it?
  • Is what you’re demonstrating too small to be accurately shown?

More importantly answer these questions:

  • Exactly who are you going to teach?
  • What do they want to know?
  • What level are they at?

Break things down simply, so that you are demonstrating/explaining no more than one topic per chapter.

For example: One way of planting a garden in Chapter One; another method in Chapter Two.

The only exception to this is if you are writing a comparison; in which case each method would be presented and demonstrated in exactly the same fashion.

We can't stress this enough: SIMPLIFY EVERYTHING!  Simplify everything down to its basic essentials. If you find yourself going off on a tangent or demonstrating an alternate method, remove that section and put it in another document for another day.

  1. Finish with any general instructions you want them to know up front.
  2. Tell the reader why this will be beneficial. In other words, what they will get out of your book.
  3. Explain what your reader is going to be able to do, after finishing your book.
  4. Start out with a Foreword, Introduction or Introductory paragraph or two.
  5. Start each chapter by telling the reader what she is going to learn in that chapter.
  6. Remember that any graphics or diagrams you include will be viewed on a small mobile reader. Make sure they are as simple, uncluttered and large as possible. (Go for the ultimate close up!)

When you have finished demonstrating and explaining your topic, make sure that you finish by summarizing what they learned and remind them how it will benefit them.

Congratulate them on their good sense in using your book and learning easily, and let them know where they can get more of your books.

And therein lies the kicker...if you are writing a how to book, why not plan from the start, a series of How To books.

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