The Ultimate Guide to Self-Publishing Self-Help and How-To Guides: A Step-by-Step Journey to Success

The Ultimate Guide to Self-Publishing Self-Help and How-To Guides: A Step-by-Step Journey to Success

Every year, millions of readers turn to self-help and how-to guides seeking practical advice, personal development, and expert insights. Whether it’s mastering a new hobby, improving mental wellness, or enhancing professional skills, these books cater to a vast audience hungry for knowledge. For authors, this presents an exciting opportunity. But how do you seize it? This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth look at how to write, design, publish, and market your self-help or how-to guide.

Writing Your Self-Help or How-To Guide

The most successful self-help and how-to guides share common traits: they offer valuable insights, are easy to follow, and resonate with the reader. Start by identifying a topic you’re passionate about and have expertise in. Then, aim to fill a gap in the market or provide a unique perspective.

Use a clear and straightforward writing style that’s accessible to your intended audience. Break complex ideas down into bite-sized, manageable pieces. Include personal anecdotes, case studies, or scientific research to build credibility and engage the reader.

The biggest challenge is usually not the content or writing style – it’s the organization. Does this need to be there? Is this story making a point? Is the chapter developing an argument or just collecting quotes and aimless ideas? Here are some nonfiction book templates that will help with writing, and you should watch this video on writing nonfiction with chatGPT and Sudowrite.

Designing Your Book

A professional-looking book design can significantly impact your book’s success. It should visually communicate the book’s content and appeal to your target audience. Consider hiring a professional cover designer to ensure a polished final product. The interior layout should be clean, easy to navigate, and enhance readability. You can use my nonfiction book cover templates, and Vellum for easy book formatting.

nonfiction book cover templates

Publishing a self-help or how-to guide

When it comes to publishing, you have two main options: traditional publishing and self-publishing. Traditional publishing can offer wider distribution and professional editing services but often involves a lengthy process and the relinquishing of some creative control.

Self-publishing, on the other hand, grants you complete creative control and a higher percentage of the profits. Platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, and Lulu are popular options for self-publishing authors. They offer user-friendly interfaces, global distribution, and various pricing models.

Marketing Your Book

Your book’s success heavily depends on its marketing. Here are a few strategies:

  1. SEO Optimization: Ensure your book’s title, subtitle, and description contain relevant keywords that potential readers might use when searching for books like yours, using free SEO tools.
  2. Social Media Promotion: Leverage social media platforms to engage with your audience, share valuable content, and promote your book.
  3. Email Marketing: Build an email list to share updates, offer exclusive content, and nurture relationships with your readers.
  4. Book Reviews: Encourage readers to leave reviews, as they significantly influence potential readers’ buying decisions.

PS. here’s a list of 1100+ places to market your book.

The Popularity of Self-Help and How-To Guides

Self-help and how-to guides are among the most popular non-fiction genres. They often dominate bestseller lists, reflecting the high demand for practical, actionable advice. According to Google Keyword Planner, search terms related to self-help books and how-to guides generate hundreds of thousands of searches per month, highlighting the immense potential audience for these types of books.

Here are some of the best-selling self-help and how-to guides, known not only for their high sales but also for the profound impact they’ve made on readers worldwide:

Self-Help Bestsellers

  1. “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill: Often touted as the definitive self-help book, Hill’s classic has guided countless readers on the path to success.
  2. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey: This book provides actionable advice on productivity, time management, and positive thinking.
  3. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie: This timeless guide offers practical advice on how to effectively communicate with others and understand their perspective.
  4. “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle: Tolle’s guide to spiritual enlightenment has inspired many to live more mindful and present lives.
  5. “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson: A contemporary take on self-help, Manson’s book presents a refreshingly blunt approach to living a better life.

How-To Bestsellers

  1. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo: Kondo’s unique method of organizing personal spaces has turned this book into a cultural phenomenon.
  2. “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel: This comprehensive guide for expecting parents has been a staple on the bestseller list for years.
  3. “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King: In this guide, King shares his advice for aspiring writers based on his own experiences. Here are my other favorite books on writing.
  4. “How to Cook Everything” by Mark Bittman: Bittman’s exhaustive cookbook provides instructions for literally thousands of dishes, making it a must-have for any home cook.
  5. “You Are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero: A how-to guide on developing a mindset that attracts wealth and financial success.

These bestsellers represent a tiny fraction of the wide variety of self-help and how-to guides available. They serve as excellent examples for aspiring authors looking to make their mark in these popular genres.

Leveraging a Nonfiction Guide for Business Growth

Publishing a nonfiction how-to or self-help guide can be an excellent way to grow your business, boost your SEO, build your email list, and attract paying clients. Here’s why:

Expert Status: Writing a guide establishes you as an expert in your field. This builds trust with your audience and can attract potential clients who value your expertise.

SEO Boost: A well-written guide that addresses common questions or concerns in your industry can help boost your search engine rankings. By incorporating relevant keywords and providing valuable content, your guide can drive organic traffic to your site.

Lead Generation: You can offer your guide as a free download in exchange for a website visitor’s email address. This helps you grow your email list with leads who have a demonstrated interest in what you have to offer. You can then nurture these leads with further content and offers.

Client Attraction: A practical guide can serve as a portfolio showcase of your skills and knowledge, attracting potential clients. The guide’s value can convince them of the potential ROI on their investment in your services.

How to Implement:

1. Identify your audience’s needs: Understand what your audience is struggling with. What are the questions they need answers to? Your guide should aim to solve these problems.

2. Write a useful guide: Your guide should provide actionable advice that your audience can apply. The more practical your guide, the more likely it is to attract and retain readers.

3. Use SEO best practices: Research relevant keywords and incorporate them in your guide. This helps search engines understand and index your content, leading to improved visibility.

4. Promote your guide: Share your guide on your website, social media channels, and email newsletters. You could also consider guest posting on relevant blogs or websites to reach a wider audience.

5. Offer the guide as a lead magnet: Use your guide as an incentive for website visitors to sign up for your email list. This can be an effective way to capture warm leads.

6. Follow up with your leads: Once you have an email list, nurture those leads. Send them valuable content, updates about your business, and offers they can’t resist.

By leveraging a nonfiction guide in this way, you can effectively boost your online presence, generate leads, and attract clients to your business.


Publishing a self-help or how-to guide can be a rewarding journey, both personally and professionally. It allows you to share your knowledge with a wide audience and make a positive impact on people’s lives. By honing your writing skills, investing in professional design, mastering self-publishing platforms, and implementing effective marketing strategies, you can set your book up for success in the thriving market of self-help and how-to guides. Let this be the first step of your publishing journey. Write, design, publish, and shine!

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