Everyone has their ‘thing’.
It’s that frustration when you know how something should be done, but you see people doing it wrong. Why don’t they get it? What’s stopping them from understanding where they’re going off track?
When I worked in marketing many years ago, my bugbear used to be seeing businesses advertising the things their customers didn’t really care about, and neglecting what they did. My husband grew used to me muttering to myself as we walked past our corner cafe. This had a sign outside pronouncing their ‘hot and cold food’ offering, rather than their friendly service and delicious pies.
Aargh! It’s so obvious!
If you work as an expert in a particular field, you might have felt this too. Maybe you’re more patient than me, but when this frustration reared its head more recently, I decided to do something different about it. Muttering wasn’t going to cut it.
And that was to write a book.
As a judge at a book awards for 3-4 years running, I twice judged the personal development book category. Being a ghostwriter of several such books, I figured I knew what I was looking for in a transformational guide.
It turned out that I did know, but that I didn’t find it. Or rather, not in the majority of books that were entered.
There were a small number of excellent personal development books, and they were a pleasure to read. But I found that the majority shared the same three flaws:
- They told their readers what to think and do, rather than leading them to see that change was the only option that made sense
- They didn’t make it clear why their authors had the credentials to give advice, so their readers didn’t have good reason to trust them
- They didn’t translate their guidance into actionable steps, so readers were left with theory but no practice
Surely, I thought, these authors can see what they’re doing wrong? Why isn’t it as clear as day?
I mulled on this for a while, then suddenly it came to me. Why not write a book about how to write a self-help book? I’d already written one about how to write a business book, so this would be a sister guide (Yes, I realise that writing a book about how to write a book is a bit ‘meta’).
While doing my research on what else had been written already, I was surprised to learn that, while three or four similar guides had already been published in this niche, they were either of poor quality or out of date. There was nothing useful for the budding self-help author to guide them on their unfamiliar and perilous journey from coach or therapist to published author.
It didn’t seem right that these authors were expected to undertake the huge and complicated task of putting their expertise into words without any help. No wonder the books being published were of such a variable standard.
Two years later, the result was How to Write a Self-Help Book, which was published in September 2023. I’m very proud of it but, like the mother of a new-born baby, am still getting used to the idea of it being mine.
Over to you. Are you an expert? Do you help people for a living? And could you spread your expertise more widely through a book? It’s a brilliant, low-risk way for people to get to know about you and what you do.
If you decide to embark on this task, please don’t be afraid to ask for help. It could be reading a book like mine, or working with a coach or ghostwriter. Because writing a book is no walk in the park – in fact it’s more like climbing a mountain. And it’s a lot easier and more fun if you have someone to accompany you on the journey.
Ginny Carter is a bestselling ghostwriter of over 25 books, a book coach, and an award-winning author in her own right.