A Special Report  
 
How to Write a "How-To ..." Book
 


 
 Creating a how-to book is easy and it's a great idea for promoting yourself or your business. You can write the book and either give it away free or put a price on it to gain an extra bit of income.

Here is a step by step process on

How to Write a "How-To ..." Book
and Promote Your Business
by Nicole R. Murphy

    Step One: Brainstorm the things you know how to do.

    Absolutely anything can go on the list. For example: If you've got a pet, do you know how to train them, or how to pet proof your home or your garden? If you've got children, you've probably got a plethora of how-to ideas there: how to get them to eat their vegetables, how to get them into a routine, how to get them to bed on time every night, how to develop good self-esteem in a child.

Your job will absolutely have given you a number of skills that you can share with others.

And you may have had experiences in life that will make a great book: how to travel from one side of the country to the other on ten dollars a day, how to enjoy the college years and still get good marks, even how not to chat up the opposite sex.



   
    If you aren't the type of person who can confidently write "I can do these things", then ask those near and dear to you what you can do. You might be surprised by the things people consider important.

    Your wife might point out that you are a safe and considerate driver and you simply thought you were just following the rules of the road! Your daughter might point out that you were fabulous at keeping the channels of communication open during her teen years and you simply thought you had a great kid!

    Write until you can think no more. Then put the list aside for an hour and go for a walk, or cook dinner, or tidy the lounge room, or supervise your child's homework. You'll probably find at the end of the hour, you've got more ideas.

    Now, choose one that you feel absolute confident you can explain to another person. You know that thing inside out and back to front. It should also be something that you love, so you aren't going to be sick of writing the book half way through. If you're passionate about your topic and really want to tell people how to do it, you won't have any problems in finishing the book.

       Step Two: Write down a step by step list of how to do it.

    This needs to be as detailed as possible. You might need to actually do the thing you are writing about to remember all the steps involved.

    For example: If your how-to book is on driving skills, actually get the car out and take it for a spin. If you are going to explain how to parallel park, do it a few times. Focus on exactly what you are doing at each point. When do you start to turn the car in? When do you start to straighten it? How do you position your body for the best view? When do you use the mirrors and when do you look over your shoulder? Have pen and paper with you and jot down what you are doing.

    If it's not something you can get out and do there and then, like a book on how to cheaply and easily move house, write down your list and then leave it for an hour. Do something to occupy yourself for that time, then return to the list and look at it with new eyes. Have you included every step involved?

    Don't leave a step out, thinking it's too simple or people should work it out. It's tempting to go "Of course, everyone will understand that you need to take the cap off to check the radiator." It's best to assume that you will be explaining this to a person that doesn't have a clue and so you will need to write down everything.

    Include a list of all the materials needed to complete the task. Don't leave a single thing out. If they need to write things down, put "You'll need a pen and pencil." If they are going to have to make phone calls to research the best schools, write "You'll need a phone book, a phone, pad and pencil" at the top of the list.

            Step Three: Take each step and write at least one
                          paragraph explaining how to do it.

    First, consider exactly who you are aiming the book at. If you've got a great C++ program that you want to share, you aren't going to be explaining it to a person who's just bought a computer. If your how-to book is about how to choose the right computer and programs for an average home user, you aren't going to have programmers buying the book.

    By doing this, you'll establish whether you need to explain every single aspect of a step or whether you can assume they have some background knowledge.

    Write each paragraph, making them as detailed as you can. Keep the writing in short paragraphs of only a few sentences at a time. This makes it easier for people to read and take in information. Make sure the information is presented in order, so the reader isn't confused with things like: "Put the onions in the pan. Chop them up."

Write as though you are verbally explaining it. Don't worry about trying to sound serious or important. The reader needs to understand what you are saying and the more casual you are, the better the chance of that happening.

    If there is a lot of technical information in your how-to, like names of tools, create a appendix at the end of the book to explain them all.

            Step Four: Create a diagram to go with each step.

    Some people learn better from pictures than from words. Even if they don't, a simple diagram will enhance their understanding. It doesn't have to be a brilliant piece of art. The simpler the diagram is, the easier it will be to understand.

    If you don't feel confident about drawing the diagram, find a family member or friend who can do it for you. It will be worth the effort because it will add a great deal to the book.

           Step Five: Give the instructions to someone you know
                   who cannot do the task involved.

    Test your book and make sure it's easy to understand and follow. Don't help the tester, just let them follow your instructions and watch them. Note down anything they do wrong or anything they seem confused about. Afterwards, ask them about their experience.

    Based on what they did and said, re-write the relevant steps.

    Step Six: Write an introduction to the book.

    You need to explain why this skill or process is useful and why your description will help the reader achieve it. This is your chance to explain why you are writing this book and what qualifications you have. You don't need a university degree. Writing "I've been in business for myself for three years" in the introduction to a book on how-to sell yourself is all the qualification you need.

              Step Seven: Design a cover for the book.

    You can do this yourself. Make it simple and eyecatching. Put the title and your name on the cover and then use a bold design or colour choice to make it stand out. Perhaps one of your diagrams will make a fantastic cover.

    For the back cover, put a simple description of the book. "

This book will tell you how to water proof your bathroom. It includes a step by step guide and a list of the tools you will need. You'll find yourself able to do your own water proofing after reading this book."

                                     Step Eight: Publishing

    You need to decide whether you are going to give the book away or if you are going to sell it. If you are giving it away, you can probably get away with putting it all together as a word document and using an auto responder to send it to anyone who wants it.

    For better production quality, I would suggest you convert it to a PDF. There are some free or cheap PDF converters available on the internet. You simply load the software then use the print option in your word processor to convert the document. Put it on your auto responder and you're away.

    If it's any longer than five pages, I would suggest you zip it. If you've got Win Zip, you simply open the document in Win Zip and zip it. A good idea is to make it automatically unzip at the other end, since you can't guarantee that your customer will have Win Zip. Again, put it on the autoresponder and off you go.

    If you want to sell it, you'll need to get an account to accept credit cards. There are a number of providers on the internet and most have programs that will actually guide you in setting up a shop front to sell your product. If you've already got such an account, then you'll easily add your file to your existing shop front and you're away.

    Your other option is to look into electronic or print publishers to publish and sell your book for you. If you've only got a small booklet, this probably isn't the right option for you but if you've got a large work that covers a really important topic, it could be worth your while to get someone else to do the printing and selling work for you.                                        
    Follow these steps and at the end, you'll have a good, useful tool for other people and a great tool for promoting yourself and your business.
          

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About The Author
Nicole R Murphy is a writer and copyeditor with several years experience. She can help you put the finishing touches on your writing by correcting the copy and offering advice if you so wish. Try her free trial at: www.yourbestwork.com   (Member of i-Cop)
                                  
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