By Fred Fields
"If you want to sell books and make money, 'how to' sells better than fiction, at least until you're famous." That's what an editor from a book publishing company told me at the South Carolina Book Festival.
She was right about selling more books.
Also, if you're a novice writer, as I was, and know little or nothing about your craft, 'how to' is much less demanding. Your reader is more interested in substance than in form.
So the episodic biography that was expected to be my first offering was tucked away, and I wrote a book about how to play golf, a subject I had studied in earnest for almost sixty years.
The 'how to' book was self-published and listed on the internet. It sold a few copies, but not enough. In an attempt to increase sales, I invested in a course to teach me internet marketing, and the sales multiplied far beyond my hopes and dreams.
Looking at that book now, after two years of learning something about how to write, It's obvious that, although there are some good points to recommend it, the book really is not well written. There is more to professional writing than getting 'A's' in Writing 101.
Now, with more experience and knowledge of the publishing business, I am about to do what most neophytes do, ignore proven good advice. Within the next several months, I expect to publish the biography which was put aside earlier. My hope is that it will sell one-tenth as well as the golf book.
Now, profiting from lessons learned, I know two things that I didn't know at the beginning. The new book will have to be written much better than my first effort. And it will have to be marketed differently if it is to experience even minimal success.