What Does a Self-Help Author Do?

YaShekia King

A self-help author is a professional who writes books that teach readers how to improve various aspects of their personal lives. Self-help topics include such topics as how to deal with extreme anger, cope with anxiety, or make a marriage relationship work. Writers in this industry essentially gather information about their chosen topics and put together detailed guides that offer tips regarding how to deal with these topics.

Self-help authors give advice on various life topics, often drawn from personal experience.
Self-help authors give advice on various life topics, often drawn from personal experience.

One important duty of a self-help author is to complete research on the self-help topic on which he or she plans to write. For example, a self-help author who wants to write about how to deal with depression or low self-esteem completes interviews with field experts such as psychologists, therapists, and other self-esteem trainers. The writer can also interview individuals who have struggled with personal problems and overcame them with professional assistance. Looking up findings from relevant research studies in trade journals or in news articles is also part of the job description of a self-help author. Authors in this field additionally write down their own experiences and observations to include in their self-help books.

Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem in adults.
Excessive criticism by parents while growing up can lead to low self-esteem in adults.

Actually writing the book is a major task that self-help authors perform. To do this, he or she puts together a written outline explaining how many chapters or sections the book will contain and the topic for each. For instance, a self-esteem book could be broken down into separate chapters that address comparing oneself to others and physical image insecurities. The outline essentially is a detailed blueprint of how the content of the final copy of the book will look.

A self-help author might use their personal story to inspire others.
A self-help author might use their personal story to inspire others.

A writer of self-help books edits and revises the self-help books he or she writes as well. Editing involves reading through the book manuscript and spotting errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The author at this point also re-reads sentences, phrases, and paragraphs to determine if rewording and reorganizing parts of the book will make a point more clear. Reading the book from the vantage point of a new reader will ensure that the content is written for the appropriate target audience. In addition, self-help authors actually hire professional proofreaders and copy editors to offer suggestions on how to improve the communication of the content.

A writer of self-help books also edits and revises his books.
A writer of self-help books also edits and revises his books.

Yet another critical duty that a self-help author performs includes finding a company to publish the book. The writer either chooses to self-publish the book or to submit the manuscript to a major publishing company of nonfiction books, following the company’s guidelines. For instance, some publishing companies require authors to submit a manuscript that is typed in a particular font and to be formatted a specific way. Getting the manuscript published for the masses to read is the chief goal of a self-help author.

Self-help authors might give people tips on goal achievement.
Self-help authors might give people tips on goal achievement.
Self-help books might help people to organize their lives.
Self-help books might help people to organize their lives.
Self-help authors can empower victims of abuse.
Self-help authors can empower victims of abuse.
Self-help authors may organize support groups.
Self-help authors may organize support groups.

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Discussion Comments

Mor

@MrsPramm - The Celestine Prophecy is often put into the self help section but it is technically a parable in novel form, the way that The Alchemist is. If someone is a gifted enough writer that they can inspire readers through a biographical or fictional parable then they might well be able to get a publishing deal, in spite of not having a platform. I would rather point to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as an example though, as it is very well written and still considered a real classic, while the other two examples are rather light on the craft.

But a non-fiction self help guide will almost always have to be written by someone with expertise, like a psychologist, because otherwise there's no reason for anyone to take them seriously.

MrsPramm

@Ana1234 - The author of the Celestine Prophecy was turned down by dozens of publishers and ended up selling self published copies from the back of his car for months before he got a deal. And he ended up being a huge bestseller, so I don't think that having a blog is the only way of going about this.

If you have something that should be said I think you will find a way to say it.

Ana1234

With the internet being so ubiquitous these days I think most self help authors start out as bloggers in some shape or form before they end up with a book deal. This helps them to refine their techniques as well as build an audience and to see whether they have something the world wants to hear about.

That's definitely the first step I would tell any aspiring self help authors to take. If you can keep up a regular blog and grow an audience then you might have a chance to get published. Without it, I'm not sure it's possible.

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