Welcome to my guide on writing, editing and publishing your own self-help book in less than a month. Listen to the podcast episode or read the article below.
Read on for the exact actions you can take to be a self-published author in 30 days or less.
So many people want to write and publish a book these days. However, they don’t have the confidence to actually do it, don’t believe in their abilities, don’t know where to start, have doubts and fear failure, think others will make fun of them and no one would take their new endeavor seriously.
Well, guess what?
You can do it. Even if you’re not a writer, or an expert in any field, or even if you don’t really like reading.
Truth is, everyone carries at least a few books in their head. We’re complicated individuals, have been through a lot and are one of a kind.
If we decide to share that with the world and present it in a way that the publishing industry will approve, we can even make a fortune and be a full-time author.
My journey to publishing books started with writing for fun here at Let’s Reach Success. Then, I began freelancing. Later, I was earning over $4,000/month from blogging.
Never before has it been so easy for anyone to self-publish an eBook.
All you need is a laptop and a PayPal account. That’s what you need for any kind of initial digital business by the way.
A lot of effort, time and patience will be needed, though. Unless you decide to hire someone to write it for you but then you won’t have written a book of your own.
First of all, you need to realize that you’re able to do that. You may start from zero – with no experience, no information on how to do it, not knowing what to write about, and not being sure whether you’ll ever finish it. But that’s okay.
As it is with every other process, you’ll need to breathe deeply and just focus on the first step. Once you take it, you can move onto the next.
Writing a novel is a hard thing. They’re long, you need to follow the plot all the time, to make hundreds of notes and remember many little details that will need to be mentioned again later in the book.
Also, it’s not an easy thing to sell as people aren’t directly looking for it, and don’t actually need it.
But if you’re a newbie, just want to try things out, have something to share with the world, want to see if writing is your thing, or wanna teach through writing, the right direction for you is personal development.
The self-help industry is huge and people will always have the same issues – those discussed in the bestselling books – so that’s an evergreen market.
Also, it’s the easiest genre to write.
You may assume that it’s not your thing simply because you haven’t tried it, or because you’ve seen many step by step processes and hacks taught in self-help books but haven’t experienced results.
There’s much more to self-improvement than that.
Now, here are some of the topics you can write about inside your first book:
50 Self-Help Topics Everyone Can Write About
1. goal setting;
2. unleashing your potential;
3. changing your habits;
4. doubling productivity and beating procrastination;
5. organizing and prioritizing your day;
6. improving your relationships through acceptance and compassion;
7. learning how to be grateful;
8. changing your approach to life;
9. getting over the past and embracing the future;
10. getting things done in less time;
11. taking responsibility for everything that happens to you;
12. making money online;
13. finding your purpose in life;
14. making peace with yourself;
15. replacing negative thoughts with positive ones;
16. learning how to avoid distractions and focus on what’s important;
17. dealing with anger and anxiety;
18. curing depression;
19. living a healthy lifestyle;
20. how to stop being lazy and learn to take action;
21. creating freedom in business and life;
22. having morning and evening rituals for maximum productivity and success;
23. how to stay consistent;
24. finding motivation;
25. becoming emotionally independent;
26. turning your whole life around with one action every day;
27. the characteristics of happy people and how to become one;
28. how to build self-esteem and be super confident;
29. time management;
30. unleashing your creative genius;
31. making wise choices;
32. making plans and creating strategies for everything;
33. being purpose-oriented;
34. leaving a great legacy;
35. finding inspiration in daily life;
36. learning how to simplify everything;
37. dealing with rejection;
38. managing your money;
39. practicing self-control;
40. increasing your willpower;
41. improving your memory;
42. stress management;
43. learning to say ‘no’;
44. starting a blog;
45. overcoming shyness;
46. doing what you love for a living;
47. spiritual development;
48. how to forgive;
49. dealing with grief;
50. fixing relationships.
Of course, you’re not an expert in almost any of these. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have the experience and knowledge to publish a whole book on the subject.
The idea is to identify one or more of the problems people have and try to help them by giving them the needed information, a step-by-step plan on how to fix it and what to expect, encourage and inspire them.
Fortunately, all of the self-help topics above are evergreen. So if you write a book now on any of them, it will still be useful a decade from now.
How long should your book be?
Many are wondering how long a good self-help book needs to be.
I’d say that 10,000 – 30,000 words is the acceptable range for personal development eBooks these days.
That’s nothing, seriously!
If you’re a blogger, it’s like 15 – 20 different posts. You can even write them as separate articles and then combine them into a book.
People’s attention span is really short. They need to be entertained and get bored easily. That’s why you need to keep it short when it comes to theory and defining their problem at the beginning of the book. Then dedicate the next pages to practical advice and exercises, real-life examples and lists of steps they can take.
If you can make it to 40,000 words, good for you! But you don’t really need to. 20,000 – 30,000 is perfectly fine for a writer who wants to cover every important aspect of a topic.
Here’s a quick guide on how to write and publish a self-help book:
Preparation: What to Do Before Your Start Writing Your Self-Help Book
1. Choose a topic.
To publish your own book, you’ll need to pick a niche first. Go through the 50 non-fiction topics I shared above and choose one now. Make sure you’re passionate about it. Otherwise, it will be pretty boring when doing your research and creating the content.
2. Be specific.
With so much competition and people who don’t really know what they’re looking for, you need to be clear what your book is about and need to choose a small niche, not a whole field.
Too many books have been written already on confidence – hacking it, improving it, etc. But if you want to be more specific you can write for women/men/employees/students/writers/business owners/etc.
That will help you stand out from the crowd and will let you be found from that exact audience.
You can read my interview with an Amazon bestselling author here. He shares some good tips on the preparation process of writing and publishing a book.
3. Think of a headline (you may change it later).
It should be:
• clear and to the point;
• SEO-friendly (meaning it should include keywords people are looking for already so that you can be sure there’s demand for this exact topic);
• it has to show people what the book is about and what they can expect from it;
• must be written in a way that evokes emotions (use power words).
4. Write a subheading.
Think of the subheading of your new book now and write it down.
5. Create the outline of the book.
Make a list of its main parts, chapters and their sections.
Even write down some main keywords and phrases that will later tell you what to write about in each section.
6. Know exactly who you’re writing for.
Make a profile of the ideal customer.
7. Define the problem, pain or desire this person has and let your book solve it.
That’s also what you’ll focus on when promoting it.
The best way is to really try to get inside the head of the potential reader and think like them.
Then your call to action, sales page, copy, description of the book, introduction, etc. – they will all be written directly for them.
8. Make a list of important questions connected to your topic.
Then let different parts of the book answer each.
9. Do your research.
Read a book or a few, and many, many posts before you start writing. You can also listen to podcasts or watch videos or take courses, of course.
While learning, take notes. They will later be the foundation for new ideas and inspiration.
You can’t rely solely on your knowledge and experience. They are what will make the book unique, of course, but you also need to know what experts say, how others see the same thing and what step-by-step guides are already out there.
Don’t forget to check forums, comments on blogs, Quora, Reddit and social media to see what the people you’re targeting are complaining about and discussing.
Because it’s one thing to try to guess what their biggest problem is, and it’s another to hear it directly from them.
How to Write Your Own Book
That’s the hard part or at least it’s what scares people the most. When it’s time to write the content, many aspiring authors lose hope and want to give up. Or if not then, maybe after they’ve written a few pages or a chapter.
But that doesn’t need to be the case.
For me, for instance, it’s the most pleasant part.
And I know many people who say they hate writing, simply can’t do it and find it dreadful, but who haven’t actually tried to just put pen to paper and start writing without thinking too much.
The main problem with people who don’t sit down and write the book they claim they want to publish is that they are scared.
They are afraid of failure, afraid of disappointing themselves and others, afraid of getting bored and leaving an unfinished project behind, and the consequences after that.
But that’s ridiculous if you think about it!
You’re doing this mainly for yourself. Then for all the people you may touch and hopefully help. Then for the chance of making an extra income and growing your brand.
So forget about others, forget about failure. It’s not really an option.
True failure comes only when we give up.
As long as you keep writing, you’re still on the way to success.
As for some people’s desire to create a bestseller, that’s quite a mission considering the number of books that are being published every single day and the inability to do proper book marketing without any initial capital.
But you’ll still be a published writer and will help and inspire people no matter how good or bad your book is. As long as it’s useful, to the point, the result of hard work and vision, and as long as it’s edited and formatted correctly, it will be out there.
So, my point here is, start writing your own book once you’re done with the preparation part (which can take less than 3 days).
Now, let’s see some basic rules to follow for your writing process:
10 Writing Tips to Help You Be a Better Writer
1. Use shorter paragraphs.
Each must present one main idea – otherwise, it gets confusing and harder to read.
2. Add interesting elements.
Include quotes, great intros, personal stories, stats, real-life examples, exercises, etc.
3. Don’t think about editing while writing.
One of the main things to remember when writing your own book and before publishing it is to just get the content out there and think about editing later.
4. Set a daily goal.
If you don’t push yourself a bit, you’ll never finish the book.
There are so many unpublished books (great ones too probably) all over the world that have been waiting for years for their authors to find the momentum and get back to them…
Don’t become one of them! People need your book. You can change someone’s life with it.
The best way to have some discipline and organization is to set deadlines and have a daily number of words or pages or a set amount of time that you should spend writing no matter what.
Some people know what their most productive part of the day is. My best advice for them is to include 60-90 minutes of writing in it and commit to it every day.
Others may want to finish just a section of a chapter each morning. Or write 1000 words throughout the whole day.
Whatever it is, set a goal and stick to it. The first 3 days will be hard. But over time, you’ll let go of that resistance and will be able to write for longer periods of time without feeling tired or overwhelmed.
5. Avoid wordiness.
Make sure each point makes sense – your content has to present only valid information as well as justified ideas.
6. Always go for the simple choice.
Don’t use difficult or longer words. You don’t really want people to open Google and look up a word while reading, right?
7. Go for short sentences over long ones.
8. Always keep your ‘why’ in mind.
You wanted to write that book for a reason. So define your purpose (be it helping others, making money, starting an online business, wanting to be able to call yourself an author, etc.) and always think of it when you feel upset, lose motivation or don’t know what to do next.
It will be your driving force.
9. When writing, speak directly to the reader.
10. Summarize each chapter in the end.
That’s a great way to remind people of what you were talking about as some of them may have got distracted, to emphasize on the most important points in the chapter, and to share some final thoughts before moving onto the next one.
Editing and Proofreading: The Art of Being Your Own Critic
It’s time to be realistic, admit your mistakes and fix them. Also, there will be times when you’ll feel like something must be there. But in fact, it’s just too much and half of the text needs to be removed.
Let’s define the difference between these two processes first, as they are both an important part of the whole writing-and-publishing-a-book process.
The Difference Between Editing and Proofreading
Editing (which goes together with formatting) includes reviewing and changing your text so that it’s correct grammatically, makes sense, is to the point and all unnecessary information is deleted, and that the quality is increased.
Proofreading, on the other hand, comes after editing. It’s when you’re reviewing the final draft of the book and want to make sure that it sounds, looks and feels good and there are absolutely no errors.
It’s a good idea to give the copy to an editor as no one can do a better job than them, or at least use a great online proofreading tool like Grammarly. But it’s not hard to do it yourself either if you’re serious about self-publishing a book in less than 30 days.
You just need to spend a lot of time fixing errors and rereading the whole document (which can get quite boring and exhausting).
Here are some tips and rules to follow about the 2 processes:
Editing & Formatting
Over the years, after following many publishing guidelines and trying to answer the requirements for a digital product to be accepted and readable on all devices, I’ve made a list of the main changes you need to make to your manuscript.
Write the content of the book in a Word document for Windows or Pages for Mac, and upload the file to a publishing platform such as Amazon.
With a quick Google search, you can find the formatting guidelines for an eBook and paperback. They are different for Windows and Mac so make sure you only read what applies to the operating system you’re using.
Here are some important steps to take (in Word) in order to be able to sell your product to everyone:
1. Copy and paste the whole text into a simple Text document.
Save it. Then paste it into another Word document, which you’ll now save as Word 97-2003 Document.
Now, go to it and that’s where you’ll make the changes. You can delete everything else (but it’s a good idea to keep the Text document just in case).
2. Turn everything into Normal style and set its parameters.
One of the most important things to remember is that you won’t be editing directly the text of the document (except for bold and italics later). For this purpose we’ll use the Change Styles option, and will create one Style for the body of the manuscript, one centered style for different parts of the book like the front matter, and 2-3 heading styles for the different sections.
So let’s dive into it:
For the font, you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman, Arial or Calibri. You might also wanna use also Tahoma, Verdana and Garamond.
Just be careful not to mix many different fonts. Choose one for the Normal style now (which is the body text), and one for headings, subheadings and front page (which will be in another style that we’ll create later).
The best font size is 12 so stick with it.
You can use 11 too, or 13 or 14. But keep in mind that when reading on Kindle for example (Amazon’s eBook reader) you can choose your own size and even change other parameters.
But 12 is still the preferred one.
There are two main types of paragraphs: the block paragraph (mainly used for non-fiction) and the first line indent. Both should never be mixed in the body or elsewhere.
There’s a chance you can use the block paragraph method for the body text and then the first line indent for the front and back matter. But what I’ve always been doing and has worked well for me is to stick to the block paragraph throughout the whole book.
That means that you’ll set these parameters in the Normal style now, and then when creating the next styles, they will be based on Normal (there’s a drop-down menu to choose such an option).
So when you’ve opened the window where you’re able to modify the Normal style, you click Format and then choose Paragraph.
And in order to make it block paragraph method, you’ll need to do the following:
In the indentation section, choose Special: None.
For spacing: Before: 0; After: 6; Line Spacing: Single.
3. Find and Replace.
Now’s the right time to find some extra spaces you may have created by clicking the Tab or the Space button more than 1-2 times.
That may cause your text to appear on different pages or to be completely messed up on a certain device.
Here’s how to fix these:
Press Ctrl+h so that the searching box appears on the screen.
In the ‘Find what’ field write ^t and ‘Replace with’ nothing (it means you should leave it blank).
Then in order to check for 4 or more consecutive paragraph returns (which is considered a mistake in the whole document and won’t be allowed for uploading and publishing by some of the major retailers) do this:
‘Find what’: ^p plus 4 spaces.
‘Replace with’: ^p .
Do this for 3,2 and even 1 spaces. Then when proofreading you can add one whenever needed (after a heading for example so that it can stand out).
4. Create a new style: Centered.
It must be based on normal (which means it’s using the block paragraph method), centered, check the Automatically update box, use a bigger font size (and a different font if you want) and use it for the Title of the book (and whatever else you’ve included on the front page like copyright, author name, subheading, etc.)
5. After the front page, and after each chapter, add a manual page break.
And add a paragraph return before and after it, just in case.
6. After the front page, add ‘Table of Contents’.
Do it manually, just write down all the chapter and section names, each on a new line.
Later you’ll make it clickable with bookmarks and hyperlinks so that everyone can go to whichever one he wants instantly.
On how to do that, check online as it’s different for each version of Microsoft Office, and it would be much easier with screenshots.
7. After each chapter, add ‘Back to top’.
That’s another thing you’ll want to make clickable so that everyone can go back to the beginning of the book.
8. Chapter headings.
There’s already a ‘Heading 1’ style so you can just go and change some things there.
My advice is to keep the color Automatic (which is black). Make it bold, centered and bigger.
Go to Format/Paragraph and use the block paragraph method. Now apply it to each chapter heading.
Do the same with subheadings by changing a bit the ‘Heading 2’ style.
9. Add a back matter.
Call it something like ‘Acknowledgements and Contact’.
Give credit to external sources, say thank you to people, give links to your others books or your blog. Tell them where they can find you on social media and how they can contact you (give an email address). Give credit to photographers if you’ve used images.
10. Save it as a PDF file.
Last but not least, the last step of editing your first self-help book is to save it as a PDF.
Now your job is to read the whole document again, and again, and again.
That’s right! 3 times!
Just to be sure.
When doing that, I rely on Grammarly. It basically does the work for you. If you haven’t checked it already, I highly recommend it. The free version is more than enough to edit and proofread your documents.
Be really careful the first time as you’ll have to look for all kinds of mistakes – grammar, punctuation, formatting errors, spelling. And if something’s wrong or just can be improved a little, go back to the Word document and fix it.
In the end, save it again as PDF and you’re ready to move to the next steps of publishing your first book.
Some more tips on editing and proofreading your new book:
• read it out loud;
• don’t edit while writing;
• try to see it from someone else’s point of view;
• make it understandable;
• use bold, italics and underlined to present important points;
• use Grammarly;
• after proofreading 3 times, send it to a friend (or a few) and ask him to give honest feedback;
• leave the manuscript aside for a few days, then go back to it with a fresh perspective;
• eliminate distractions while doing that and be completely focused.
Two things I didn’t talk about are the price (there’s really no right answer about that and you’ll have to check how your competitors are doing to see what works best), and the cover of the book (I make it myself using Canva but you can use a software, a designer or just buy a nice image.)
Here are some more things about writing and publishing your self-help book you should keep in mind:
• I want to say it one more time – you don’t have to be an expert, you just need to know more than the average person.
Even if you’re starting from scratch and are completely unfamiliar with the topic you want to write about, you can still do your research and create a great book. (But it will take a lot of reading and thus more time.)
• To make it unique, write about your own experience.
Mention things you’ve seen, experienced and learned that can be helpful. Share your opinion, be creative and think of ways the reader can put all this into practice.
• Add a compelling introduction in the beginning of the book.
Say who you are, what your story is, what made you write the book, how you came up with the idea, how it’s different from the other self-help books out there and how it can help the reader.
But keep in mind that the person has probably already bought the book, so it’s no place to promote it. Just let them know what they’re going to read and how they may benefit from it.
• People are all about quick and useful info that they can use immediately without too much effort.
Keeping that in mind, you can break everything down into small, actionable steps. Tell them exactly what to do each day, where to start and what to expect.
• Love every part of the journey of writing your own book.
All the aspects of the process of writing and publishing a book for the first time and in 30 days are a journey, an adventure you’ve decided to take that has a purpose. It’s meaningful and this way you contribute to the world.
Also, the moment the reader opens your book is the moment you’re taking them on a journey. They’re now on a quest to a better self, following the path you created for them, learning what you know, listening to your opinion and spending an hour or a few of their day to see how you can help them.
Appreciate that. Their time is limited and they can’t take it back. So it’s your duty to make it count. Don’t forget that while writing or even editing and promoting your new book over the course of a month.
It will help you feel content even when on the verge of giving up.
If – instead of doubts, fears and insecurity – you’re full of gratitude, peace and joy, your book will turn into an inspiring reading.
It’s your turn now!
Open that blank document and draft that outline, think of a title, start doing research. All these are easy first steps you can take in order to set yourself up for the writing sessions in the following days.
I hope this guide on writing and self-publishing your own book in the self-help niche in less than a month was helpful. Pin the image below to share it with others who also want to publish a book soon.