Stuck for a recipe, advice about gardening, writing a CV, weaning your baby or selling a story? The most likely scenario isn’t that you will go and buy a book or visit your library – these days the answers to pretty much every dilemma in life lie online. Input your dilemma into Google and you can browse tens of pages of information to your heart’s content.
So is this the end of the ‘how to’ book? Certainly, horticulture expert and author Dr David Hessayon believes it is.
Writing in The Telegraph recently, Dr Hessayon, an authority on gardening who has sold more than 50 million Expert guide books, said: “The how-to-do-it book has lost its absolute supremacy. To write a bestseller now you need to choose something that you can’t look up on Google.”
He adds: “If you have a problem you go on the internet. I pity anyone new coming into writing.”
Dr Hessayon, who at 85 has announced his retirement was talking about his own genre – gardening books.
But our view is the internet isn’t only affecting how to garden books, but any ‘how-to’ book. Whether it’s ‘how to get fit’, ‘how to eat healthily’, ‘how to heal a broken heart,’ discipline your child, look after a pet, get over divorce or save money – we believe non-fiction writers should consider re-thinking book writing plans.
For example if you are considering writing a ‘how to’ book of some sort, it may be worth writing shorter guides on topics related to your subject instead that, for a small fee, can be downloaded from a website.
At the same time – like it or not – we are all used to accessing information for free via the internet. And we all like up to date information to boot.
So research is key and if you are considering writing a book, you would be wise to not only examine books that have already been written but find out what advice is on offer for free online.
Because the key to success is this: If you are still keen on writing a ‘how-to’ book then it needs to be something where information isn’t freely available on the net to succeed.
Even then just writing a book and getting it published is rarely enough – without a website, twitter and Facebook to promote it, a book is unlikely to be successful.