Monday, March 18, 2013

How I Became A Writer

I've always loved books and learning. My dad was a great influence on this. At 10 years old in the early 1900's he would shine shoes to get money to order electrical engineering courses from the American School. He went on to become a highly successful electrician and electrical contractor. Dad taught me at a very early age that if I wanted to learn how to do something, all I had to do was study.

I would buy "how to" books on every topic imaginable. "How to Build Muscle" by Charles Atlas; "The Lazy Man's Way to Riches" by Joe Karbo; "How I Turned $1000.00 into a Million Dollars in Real Estate" by William Nickerson were just some of my early acquisitions. I bought "How to Build a Computer" long before the PC was even thought of.."

Buying "how to" books went on for years. One day I ran across a book by Dan Poynter called the "Self Publishing Manual" I thought, this was the best thing I'd ever seen. "You mean I could actually create my own book?", I thought. This really excited me.

At the time I owned an entertainment firm in Washington, D.C. called Prankmasters. We custom designed practical jokes. One of the acts I did was an Over-the-Hill preacher routine for people turning 40, 50 or 60. The routine was hysterical and I had hundreds of funny lines about getting older. That was when "Do it Yourself Over-The-Hill Birthday Parties" was born .

I followed the instructions in the Poynter book and started creating "how to" books on things I knew about. I found that how to books are much easier to both write and sell. I quickly wrote, "How to Make Money in the Novelty Telegram Business" and "How to Start a Practical Joke Company". All of these books are still selling 18 years later.

This lead to one of my flagship books "Wake 'em Up!: How to Use Humor and Other Professional Techniques to Create Alarmingly Good Business Presentations" . After the Internet came along, I found that not only could I research my own ideas easier, but that I could research and write books on things I didn't really know about. As long as the information I was compiling was credible and helpful to people, there was no shame in putting together other how to books. That's when "Instant Eulogies" and "101 Nice Things to Do After the Funeral" were born and "Wedding Celebration Speeches" and "Wedding Celebration Toasts" came along and the "Greatest American Speeches" four volume set. These E-books have consistently earned over $100,000.00 a year since 2002. I added "How to Save a Fortune on Your Wedding Reception" a few years later.

All along the way I was gaining quite a reputation as a successful Internet Marketer. Besides writing books I was producing and selling tape, CD and DVD programs on the Internet. This lead to the E-book "Click: The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Marketing for Speakers" . The success of this e-book lead to John Wiley and sons approaching me to write "The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Marketing for Small Business.

Once you get pretty good at writing books and making money with them other deals start to pop up and you have a better chance to use your success to stimulate more success. A super publicity lady names Joan Stewart "The Publicity Hound" approached me about collaborating on another large e-book. She was great with the details of getting free publicity and I had built quite a career using media marketing. Our deal was that she would do all the writing and I would provide lots of publicity stories and information and I would also do the marketing of the book for the first year. That's when "How to Be a KickButt Publicity Hound" was born.

After the success I saw with the publicity book, I thought, "hmmmm. I didn't have to write one word of this very substantial book and it's still selling like crazy and everybody is making money . . . I think I like this." I had used some freelancers before on writing the eulogy and wedding books, so I wasn't entirely unfamiliar with the idea of other people providing content and doing the work. I wondered if this would work for products other than books.

I called up a friend of mine Steve Hart who is a professional magician and pitched the idea. He jumped all over it and was born . . . a DVD set. Steve came up to my house and I videotaped him demonstrating and explaining magic tricks. I packaged the product and we have a joint copyright.

I owe quite a bit to Dan Poynter for being my initial motivation that I could write and sell books. "How To" books are my thing because they are really easy to sell and also because they're easy to write. They don't have to have intricate plots and character development.

Besides books, I write lots of material and record videos that are sold to my students in the form of a mentor program and a public speaking training site

I hope my story helps you get excited about writing and selling your work. Thanks to Joel for coming up with he idea for this site.