Self Help Books for Dummies – The Title and establishing credibility

Now that we have picked our topic, the next, equally important, step is to pick a catchy title for the book. There are several self-help brand names, and unless you have been specifically employed by those brands, it’s a good idea to steer clear of titles that end with the words “for dummies” or start with the words “an idiot’s guide to”. However, it may be a good idea to cater for the section of the market that these books ignore and launch your own “for geniuses” brand. Because lets face it, nobody really likes being called a dummy do they? And you don’t want to be a nobody now do you? Like any good title a little pun never goes astray. Catchiness is also important, but believe it or not, this doesn’t mean your title needs to be short and punchy. Think of the books you’ve seen at bookshops in the last year. Which books had the longest titles? That’s right, the self-help books. Titles need to grab attention. They need to speak to the potential reader on more than a superficial level. They need to make a connection with the average bookshop browser, a connection that says, “you really want to buy me.”

The three big rules for writing a successful title are:
1. Don’t insult your reader
2. Be as catchy as possible
3. Less is not necessarily more

So a good title for our book about getting into the fresh fruit juice industry might be – “The big squeeze – a genii’s guide to creating your very own fruit juice franchise”

Establishing Credibility
It’s important that a self-help author establishes their credentials early on in the piece. Self-help writing is one of the few times in life where having lots of letters after your name is actually an advantage. If you have no really fancy qualifications, don’t worry. There are a few really easy solutions. There are several online “universities” offering diplomas for just 12 easy payments of $39. If that is beyond your financial means or you just don’t have the four weeks to wait for them to mail your certificate there is still hope. Simply legally change your name from ‘Joe Smith’ to ‘Joe Smith (B. Fruit Juice Studies, hons, Dip Bus Man, OBE)’. It’s always nice to award yourself a couple of prestigious awards. While a knighthood may seem a little pretentious, an order of Australia or other fancy award looks impressive and nobody will really question its legitimacy. Now that you have your new identity and your credibility is established, it’s time to start writing.

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