Conference Faculty Blog – Fred Fields

After spending forty years in the construction and property management business, I retired in 1998. For three years I sat around being bored, until one evening I got a call from the man to whom I had sold my construction business.

“How do you like being retired?” he asked.

“I hate it”, I answered. “I have nothing to do, I’m not contributing anything to society. I’m bored, and I’m not making any money.”

” Glad to hear it.” he replied. “How would you like to go into the outdoor lighting business? There’s only one landscape lighting business in town, and he really needs some competition.”

“Sounds like a good idea,” I said. And that’s how we started American Outdoor Lighting.

It was a pleasant part time job for me, doing about fifty lighting jobs a year. It was light labor, made decent profits, and we enjoyed a modest success.

That was until the Recession of 2008. In hard times, the first thing people are willing to give up are expensive non-necessities…like landscape lighting.

We went from a job a week, to two jobs a year, that fast. Luckily, we had no inventory and no overhead, having worked out of a home office. Also, we had only ordered  supplies and inventory as the jobs were sold.

So, it was back to retirement.

Then I saw in the newspaper that there was going to be a book festival downtown. It was free. It looked like fun. And it looked like something I might be interested in, being an avid reader, and also having considered writing as a pass-time.

The book festival turned out to be more than I expected.

I had thought of maybe writing a biography of my cousin, a sort of “Auntie Mame” character. But at a seminar given by three publishing house editors, learned that unknown authors do much better with “How To” books than with story books.

So I gave up on the biography, and wrote, over the next couple of years, in my spare time, a “how to” book on golf.

Two years later, upon completing the golf book, I went to another book festival. There I met a lady who told me about the SCWW, and I met another lady who offered to teach me how to market my golf book.

I joined the SCWW, and learned what an incompetent writer I was. But I’m happy to say, “how to” books do sell well if they have information the public wants, even if not written too well.

I have since finished my cousin’s biography, and will market it sometime later this year, but I don’t expect a best seller.

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