How to Sell Books

Fred Fields, Symposium faculty member and author of a ‘How To’ book about golf, and to date, has sold over 10,000 copies. Fred has another in the works, “How to Profit by Being a Gentleman”, which he hopes to publish in early 2014.

On the TV show Newhart, which was the one where Bob Newhart was an innkeeper, Bob’s primary source of income was writing. According to the basic plot, he wrote “How To” books as a profession, and he made enough from his writing to buy the inn and semi-retire to running it.

When I started writing, I was expecting to write a biography of my cousin Charley. Charley is a very interesting guy. He built a five hundred dollar investment into a one hundred fifty million dollar-a-year business. He’s had a heart transplant and a kidney transplant. He got a quarter of a million dollars selling four acres of land he didn’t know he owned. And one night, while he was driving down the street, a body fell in front of his car.

These kinds of things happen to Charley all the time. He’s led a very interesting life, and I thought that might make a good book. 

In preparation for starting, I decided to go to the Book Festival in Columbia, visit some of the seminars, and see what I could learn, and I was taught one important fact. “How To” sells better than fiction, unless your name is Stephen King or Elmore Leonard.

So I decided to take the advice of those in the know, and wrote a book about how to play golf. I had over half a century of playing golf, and by studying the game, had learned secrets that got me into games with the big boys. Even though my skills were severely limited, I could score way better than my abilities. 

Here are the results:

  • A book written pretty badly with almost no skill or craft.
  • Sales of over eleven thousand books and Kindles
  • Earnings of over $21,000.

 If you want to write something that people will read. If you want to write something that will put money in your pocket try “How To”. Heaven knows there is a J.K. Rowling. But there’s only one.


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