Friday, January 19, 2024

Self-Help Stumbling Blocks and How to Overcome Them #4: Insufficient Materials

Having a great idea for a self-help, psychology, or spirituality book is one thing. Having enough material to write that book--in the form of research, anecdotes, thought experiments, and personal stories--is quite another.

Many times, writers set off on an epic quest to the top of the mountain, only to discover that they only packed enough snacks to make it to the bottom of the tree line.

Stumbling Block #4: Insufficient Materials

If you dashed off Chapter One, outlined Chapter Two, made a few notes for Chapter Three, and have a blank page for Chapter Four, you either have insufficient materials to do your book idea justice, or you may simply not know how to expand the materials you do have into a book.

Although self-help, psychology, and spirituality books vary in length, 30,000 words is usually the minimum, with 40,000-50,000 words much more common. Many first-time authors feel frustrated and confused when they type out their epic book idea, only to find themselves running out of material after five or six thousand words.

Expand Your Scope

Is the scope of your book too limited? For example, let's say your first idea is to write a book about conquering insomnia by cutting out caffeine.

If your entire message is "stop drinking coffee and you'll sleep better," it's no surprise you'll have a hard time writing a compelling full-length book, no matter how much research you bring in, or how many anecdotes and case studies you share!

If you expand the scope of your book to be about the benefits of cutting out caffeine, you can now write about lowered anxiety and lower blood pressure, not just better sleep. 

An experienced ghostwriter (like me!) can help you find an appropriate scope for your book.

Once you've established the proper scope for your book, you can apply these techniques to each chapter to make your material go further:

Break Things Down

Can the actions in your book be broken down into smaller steps? Can the overarching principles be broken down into a set of concepts? 

Give Examples

Are you supporting your main points with enough anecdotes, case studies, thought experiments, and other examples? Are you building a convincing case for your arguments, or just stating them and moving on?

Bring In Research

Are you sharing pertinent and reputable research that supports your point? Are there interesting studies your readers might want to know about?

When you find the right scope, and apply simple techniques to get the most out of your material, you'll never have a hard time hitting your word count again.

Are you writing a self-help/psychology or spirituality book? Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me, and we'll chat about ways to maximize your book's potential to change readers' lives.

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