If you think you have no topic and nothing to say, here are seven ideas for coming up with a book you can write fast:

  • Get interviewed
  • Interview someone else
  • Write a list of ‘ways to’ or ‘resources for’ etc.
  • How to i.e. ‘How to learn Twitter in a weekend’
  • Quotes
  • Hints and tips
  • Articles
  • Resource file

‘How to…’

The ‘how to’ structure is the most widely used for non-fiction books because it is the perfect way to organise information you are going to teach.

Often, even if the title does not include the words ‘how to’ they are implied in the title of the book. Famous examples of ‘how to’ books include How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers, where the words ‘how to’ are suggested in the title but not written.

The problem with the ‘how to’ structureteaching

There is one niggling little issue with this structure and it is this: it is very loose.  Unlike other structures like lists and interviews or quotes, the structure is dictated by the way in which the writer teaches the subject.

If you have been struggling to come up with a topic, the ‘how to’ factor will help as it will focus your mind on what you can help someone to learn how to do or understand better. Using the ‘how to’ will bring some topics to mind and you will probably then begin to think of the steps or method you need to follow to achieve the result implied in the title.

You may not come up with as snappy a title as Susan Jeffers, but the fact that the words ‘how to’ are in the title will draw in anyone looking for a solution to a problem they are experiencing.

The challenge of writing the ‘how to’ book

The fact that the structure is loose means you have more choice as to how you present your material. This may be liberating or debilitating as you will either relish the freedom or freeze in the face of so much decision-making.

The easiest way to handle the ‘how to’ is to work out the key factors needed to succeed in achieving whatever it is your book is teaching or take a step-by-step approach. Now, some ‘how to’ books naturally have a method or process that they can relay, but some do not. If there is no clear method you may find the ‘key factors for success’ approach easier to manage.


You may need longer to develop a ‘how to’ book for the simple reason that it is less rigid in its structure. If you are clear that you have something you can teach your readers and that you are confident you know well, this may be a good choice for you. If you are feeling confused about your niche or you lack confidence in your knowledge don’t begin a ‘how to’ book. Opt for an easier structure like the quotes, list or tips formulas as they will be far easier to control.


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Deborah Taylor
Deborah Taylor

Hi, I'm Deborah Taylor and I'm a publishing consultant and book-writing mentor. I work with established business owners who want to share their message by writing a book but are struggling to get started (or finished). I help them write, publish and launch a stand-out, attention-grabbing book that will raise their profile, reach more of their ideal clients and grow their business. I am a trained editor with over 15 years' publishing experience with major blue-chip UK publishing companies such as Hodder & Stoughton, BBC Books, Cassell and Pearson. I have produced books on every subject under the sun and with professinals and experts from a wide range of professions, from chefs and gardeners to life coaches and career consultants. I would love to help you write a book you love and that will raise your profile, attract new clients and bring you exciting new business opportunities.