Seven Ways to Add Value to Your Self-Help or Business Book

When you’re working on a book, the question, “Will people actually want to buy this?” inevitably comes up. Although in most cases this is your inner critic trying to sideswipe your creative efforts, the question is valid. Will people actually see the value in the information you’re providing? Will they want to spend their money on your book?

The answer to these questions often lies more in packaging the material than the material itself. You can add value to your book, and enhance its marketability at the same time, by adding features that can’t easily be found anywhere else, and then using them to appeal to your audience. In most cases, these added features aren’t hard to find and create. You probably have the information ready to go; you just need to know how to work it into your book.

To make your informational product more marketable, consider the following seven ways to add value to your book.

  1. Add a list of online resources Compiling a list of online resources that pertain to your topic and supplement the information you present in some way will give your readers a place to go to find more. For example, if you’re writing a book about dieting, add a list of Web sites that post healthy recipes. This strategy is simple enough to do because you probably know of several resourceful sites that relate to your topic, and it adds value to your manuscript because it saves your readers the time of searching recipe sites online.

  2. Add a list of books that supplement your information This strategy works in the same way listing online resources does; it adds value by saving your readers time and guesswork, and it’s easy enough for you to do because you probably read all the books on your topic while you were researching your material.

  3. Even creating a bibliography of all the sources you used in your research increases the perceived value of your book because readers can see where you formulated your ideas and concepts. It makes you and your expertise more trustworthy. And a bibliography or list of additional books makes your book more resourceful.

  4. Add diagrams Not all people learn and retain information in the same way. Some people can read and understand new information, but some learn best through visual aids and representations. You can add value to your book and make it easier to use for a broader audience by incorporating graphs, charts, diagrams, and other visual aids that clarify and reinforce your main ideas. If you want to include visual elements in your book, talk to a graphic designer about how to create them and incorporate them into your material.

  5. Add profiles People add color and character to every story, therefore adding profiles of people who either work in your industry or have successfully implemented your strategies to your book is a great way to make the information come alive for your readers.

  6. If your book is about running an online business, then profile successful online entrepreneurs. Ask about their inspirations, successes, failures, and advice for your readers. To find anecdotes for your book, search your client database first-satisfied clients will be happy to help. Then you can advertise online for more stories by posting an inquiry on your Web site for viewers to submit their personal experiences.

  7. Add checklists at the close of each chapter If you really want your information and ideas to stick with your readers, then adding a checklist of main points at the close of each chapter, or even at the close of each subsection, is a great way to accomplish that goal and add value at the same time. To create a checklist, just identify your main points and assemble them in a list using bullet points or numbers to designate each item. Aim for three to five items for each chapter.

  8. Checklists are easy to create and work into your manuscript. Plus, they are a marketable feature in a book because people like to receive new information in an easy-to-swallow format. Checklists that summarize your main ideas also make it easy for readers to refer back to your book later.

  9. Add exercises or worksheets If your material warrants doing so, you can take the checklist idea a step further by closing each chapter with a quick list of questions or activities for your readers. These can be activities you use in your own work, strategies you teach your students, or exercises that you create especially for your book. Readers will like the ability to apply and practice your information and concepts immediately after reading it. Then, you can compile the entire list of exercises into a bonus download that drives traffic to your Web site, or expand it into a workbook later.

  10. Add an index How many times have you been relieved to find an index at the back of a reference or how-to book? An index is a very user-friendly characteristic for a how-to, educational, or business book to have – it makes your information easier to find and apply quickly and without a long search. If you want your book to be perceived as a resource, then an index is a worthwhile addition. Some computer programs can create indexes, or you can hire an indexer to do it. The extra step will pay off for your readers and for you.

  11. Your Book’s Value If your goal is to create a valuable resource that your readers can easily use, then these seven strategies will help you accomplish that goal. Although they may not all be appropriate for your material, you can choose the strategies that best suit your and your readers’ needs.

When your information is easy to find and apply, readers will refer back to it time and time again. Incorporating one or more of these seven features contributes to your book’s perceived value and marketability. And when readers see value in your information product, they willingly open their wallets and buy.

?? Copyright 2009 Melinda Copp

— Melinda Copp helps aspiring self-help, business, and nonfiction authors write and publish books that establish expertise, attract clients and opportunities, and share their message in a compelling way. Visit for a free copy of her Write Your Book Quick-Start Mini E- course.

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