Successful non-fiction books have a balance to them. They don’t just give readers dry facts, intense feelings or a list of action steps for self improvement. If a book was all facts, it would be as entertaining to read as the phone book. If it was filled completely with feelings, the experience of reading would be an emotional roller coaster. A book filled just with lists of things to do would be dull and uninspiring, providing no context or explanation why the recommended action steps are important.
To create a book that is both enjoyable to read and creates a positive change in the lives of your readers, seek to balance information which will appeal to the head, heart, and hands of your readers.
Head – Involve the minds of your readers by providing facts, statistics, case studies, results, and concrete information about your topic. This information will speak to the logical, left brain of your readers.
However, when you provide facts, share them in an interesting way. Readers are too stressed to spend time with boring books. You can make your facts interesting by expressing them crisply, linking them to things the reader really cares about, and providing new information that sparks further thinking for your readers.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, and other best-selling books, writes about factual, scientific material in such an engaging way that readers can understand the material easily and feel inspired to learn more.
Heart – To appeal to the heart of your readers, enhance your writing with stories, motivational quotations, and information that produces an emotional reaction from your readers. This emotional content will appeal to the creative, right brain of your readers and help them remember the facts more easily.
Do this thoughtfully and monitor the intensity of the emotional journey you provide for your readers. If you produce very intense emotions in the beginning of your book, give your readers a break by producing a more gentle emotion in following pages.
Mix up the emotions just a bit to provide variety. For example, in the book, Flunking Sainthood, author Jana Reis tells touching stories about her failures when living spiritual practices. She also sprinkles in some humorous stories as well so the reader alternates between a giggle and a sigh of shared pain.
Hands – Give your readers something to do with the facts and feelings in your book. Create action steps, journaling exercises, or suggest concrete physical actions that will help your readers implement what they’ve read immediately. Getting your readers to move their hands or bodies to do something during the course of your book will help them to integrate what they are learning and create results for your book.
Many authors who write in the personal development or self help arena do this naturally. One example is Byron Katie, who provides worksheets for readers to complete, both in her books and on her website so that readers can complete her signature process, The Work. Completing the worksheets is a much more powerful experience than simply reading about it.
When you balance your book to appeal to the head, heart, and hands of your reader, you will create a book that teaches, inspires, and motivates your reader.
What more could any aspiring author ask for?
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