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Self-help/self-improvement Books

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As a writer, I'm constantly seeking new challenges.

Recently, I began to consider the possibility of writing a self-improvement book. Why? Although I have no psychological or managerial credentials (I'm a journalist by trade), I simply live a happy, balanced life based on rational principles grounded in reality. It would bring me happiness (and profit) to share my life principles with others. I see so many people around me who suffer unhappiness based on incorrect premises. It simply doesn't have to be that way. To paraphrase Ayn Rand a happy life is ours, it's real, it exists.

My question for this august forum:

What books would you find helpful in improving your lives? What specific topics are not being covered well in the current alphabet soup on the literary self-help menu?

One topic I'm considering is fear and anxiety. My fellow thirty-somethings seem paralyzed and separated from happiness by baseless qualms about the future and their family's security. We could discuss the many factors inherent in the trend but suffice to say; fear mongering is America's real pastime.

Am I on the right track? I value the diversity of Objectivist opinions available here? I can envision a book somewhat like Craig Biddle's "Loving Life" but with a more in-depth study of (to borrow a nasty Reality TV reference) the Fear Factor.

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What books would you find helpful in improving your lives? What specific topics are not being covered well in the current alphabet soup on the literary self-help menu?

The problem I've found with self improvement books in general (and believe me, I've wasted plenty of money on them) is that they treat the symptoms, not the problem. If you're depressed because you have a self-esteem issue, they tell you how to not feel depressed but they don't tell you how to raise your self-esteem.

That said, I would like to clarify what exactly it is you seek to accomplish. Do you simply want to expand on existing philisophic literature by tackling specific issues such as fear and anxiety or are you attempting to cross over into helping people with their psychological problems a la Dr. Phil?

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What is really needed is a book that shows people how to apply Objectivism. There are at least two key elements in moving from understanding Objectivism into doing Objectivism (that I've identified in the last 20 seconds of thinking):

1. One must learn to think in principle. Non-Objectivists rarely think in abstractions, they almost always deal only with the concretes of the range of the moment.

2. One must learn what introspection is, and how and when to do it.

If you've got more, feel free to add them.

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What is really needed is a book that shows people how to apply Objectivism.  There are at least two key elements in moving from understanding Objectivism into doing Objectivism (that I've identified in the last 20 seconds of thinking):

1.  One must learn to think in principle.  Non-Objectivists rarely think in abstractions, they almost always deal only with the concretes of the range of the moment.

2.  One must learn what introspection is, and how and when to do it.

If you've got more, feel free to add them.

Agreed. I wonder if the reason Ayn Rand didn't write a book about these herself was because she believed them to be self evident.

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1.  One must learn to think in principle.  Non-Objectivists rarely think in abstractions, they almost always deal only with the concretes of the range of the moment.

Even Objectivists sometimes fail to think in terms of principles; hence my tirades about argument-by-example. It leads to all kinds of fallacies. Maybe we need a book about how to argue something effectively.

2.  One must learn what introspection is, and how and when to do it.

A book on the process of introspection might indeed be helpful. Even taking an accurate look and saying, "what is my mind doing?" can be incredibly difficult for a beginner.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Even taking an accurate look and saying, "what is my mind doing?" can be incredibly difficult for a beginner.

Along the same line...questions to ask oneself that I found helpful in "Philosophy: Who Needs It?"

What do I feel? Why do I feel it?
Edited by dawn_w
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Great SN, RoarkLaughed! How about an Objectivist book on humor, to show the people who say Objectivists don't have a good sense of humor. The topic of humor is rarely discussed intellectually, and the research into its nature is scarce. You could actually potentially contribute something substantial to science and Psychology if you explore that topic, err, seriously enough.

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RoarkLaughed, I think the major thing you want to think about when writing this book is how much you specialize within your subject. In my opinion, the book should focus on some particular aspect of self-help, or even a subspecialty within that particular aspect. I think your book will be of significant value if people can see its practicality just by reading the title. Something that focuses on a concrete application of self-improvement will be far more interesting and practical than, say, Ten Tips on Self-improvement. I think you should try to grab people's attention with something like, Self-improvement and Business, or Self-improvement in Sports, or Self Improvement and Dating.

The reason I bring up specialization is because I've noticed in my amature book selling adventures, that books that are too general tend to be flops, while those that focus on a particular aspect within a field tend to be very successful. Take the subject of sports, for example. A general book about sports will never do as well as one about golf. A general book about golf will never be as successful as one about swing tempo. And a book about swing tempo during putting will always do better than one about the regular old golf swing. I hope this helps.

--Maile Greene

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Another thing to consider is that self-help is a crowded market in the book industry, so it might be questionable whether it would actually be profitable for you (considering how much you would have to invest initially to create it). Also, I am curious how you would differentiate this book from others out there... your market will have to be more broad than just Objectivists in order to make much money, and self-help books are a dime a dozen precisely because of how our culture has turned toward apathetically seeking answers handed down from on high. If you speak to Craig Biddle I would be curious to find out what markets his book is making it into (since it is written for the laymen) and whether or not that has been profitable for him. I sincerely doubt it.

Another thing I wonder is whether self-help books are indeed ineffective and if the market is ripe for the arrival of some major breakthrough, or if the individuals buying them (the majority anyhow) simply don't act on what they have read. I would argue the latter.

Perhaps I am being a bit hasty to suggest this is all in all an unprofitable idea - but from the standpoint of a consumer I'd be curious to see how you would attempt to sell this book to me. I can tell you a few self-help books I have read and found helpful and a bit about their content and organization:

The Goal - Goldratt (written as a fiction story with application of principles dealing with goals and focus for work and life)

Flow - Mihaly C. (methodical, somewhat hierarchical in organization, discussion)

7 Habits - Covey (methodical, organized linearly)

-Danielle

(p.s. I don't check this site often enough, if you want a direct response you might want to email me at [email protected])

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