You’ve got a book inside of you that is aching to be born. Fantastic!

Let me ask you this…”When you picture your book in your mind’s eye, what does it look like?”

Is it a memoir that tells about your personal life struggles in story form? Or is it a self-help book that tells about your personal life struggles in an instructional manner? It needs to one or the other, not a hybrid. There are no book shelves for “mem-help books” or “selfmoirs”. No. The market demands that you write either a self-help book or a memoir.

This is a difficult choice to make for many writers. But it’s critical, if you want your book to sell, that you write a well-constructed memoir or self-help book. The goals of both genres may be similar-to help and inspire people with what you’ve learned out of your struggles. But the writing and the promotion are very different.

A great memoir stands out from the rest because it speaks to the emotions and experiences of other people in story form. You need to develop the skills of an outstanding story teller with takes drawn from your life. You need to amaze people with your artful writing style and turn of phrase. Your book will need a well constructed story arc with a satisfying (although not necessarily happy) ending.

A self-help book is another animal altogether. Granted, a well-written self-help book speaks to the emotions and experiences of other people. But readers expect the truths to be distilled in easy to digest chunks that they can immediately apply to their own lives. They want something new, an expectation that memoir readers do not necessarily expect. Memoir readers want to be inspired. Self-help book readers want to be informed.

Promotion of these two kinds of book differs as well. A memoir can be promoted much like a novel-based on the quality of writing and the charisma of the author. In contrast, a self-help book author who wants to sell copies is required to build a strong author platform. Through a website, blog or both, competitive authors give online advice and support and engage with those who have overcome the same adversity you’ve mastered.

Both genres intent is to help people-but in very different ways. Not only is the writing and book structure different, but perhaps more importantly, promotion differs. With your genre clearly in mind, you can write, publish and promote a book that is highly competitive in the market today.

For a FREE copy of my newest workboook, Make Your Hook Sizzle and Sell, a $17 value go to

Are you having trouble finishing your book? Carmen Berry, MSW can help! She is a New York Times bestselling author who authored, co-authored and ghost written over 20 books with top publishers including Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin. Carmen’s clients can avoid making common-sense blunders that many first-time authors make.She works with aspiring writers who love helping people such as mental health professionals, educators, medical professionals, pastors, fitness experts and craft enthusiasts.

What could this same kind of success mean to your career?