Whether you self-publish your book or seek a book publishing contract, writing a self-help book will boost your credibility and visibility as an expert. Why not give it a try?

To get started writing your book, use the basic structure of a great self-help book. This structure will take your reader on a self-help journey from problem to solution:

1. A definition of the problem the reader is facing, with reassurance that this book can address that problem (covered in the introduction and chapter one)

2. An explanation of how the reader, like so many people, came to have this problem (typically a chapter or two)

3. What the reader needs to know in order to begin the process of solving the problem (this can comprise a considerable chunk of the book)

4. The "action plan" for solving the problem. Here's the self-help, practical information on what to do. These chapters might include exercises, charts, quizzes, and lists. They may include "keys" to use or "steps" to take.

5. The "troubleshooting and maintenance" section, which helps readers understand how to continue implementing the action plan in especially challenging circumstances and over the course of time. It will address how to get back on track if the reader has slipped into her old habits, and ways to achieve support from other people.

At the end of the book comes any back matter: You might include a list of resources, a list of further reading, a bibliography, an index, a glossary, checklists, templates, or lists the reader would find helpful.

As an exercise, take out two or three of your favorite self-help books and see if you can identify these basic pieces. Has the author mixed up the order a bit? How many chapters are devoted to each section? What helpful back matter has the author included?

Once you have outlined your self-help book, you can focus on the actual writing. Make sure that you use headers, anecdotes, and snappy chapter titles. Keep your chapters to reasonable lengths. More than 6,000 words can be tiresome for the reader. Also, try to limit the number of chapters to between 10 and 15. If you're writing a mini book of under 45,000 words, you might keep the chapters to 3000 words each, have fewer than ten chapters, or both.

If you become stuck in the writing process, you might consider hiring a developmental editor to guide you or a professional ghostwriter who can ghostwrite the book for you. Keep in mind that if you want to sell your self-help book to a publisher, you will need a high quality book proposal regardless of whether or not your manuscript is complete. Professional freelance editors, literary agents, and publishing consultants can help you create a proposal that will impress a book publisher or improve one you have created on your own.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy Peske is a professional ghostwriter, developmental editor, and book publishing consultant who has ghostwritten, coauthored, and edited many bestsellers. A member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Nancy has been in the book business since 1987 and assists would-be authors in achieving their dream of creating a published book. Visit http://www.nancypeske.com for more information about how she can help you get your book written and published