I recently read John T Reedâ€™s How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book.
His website is not pretty, but his writing is great. I suspect he can only get away with such a non-pretty looking site design because he was well established long before the web, & he does not use words like non-pretty. He would just say disgustingly ugly or something like that.
Onto the book review:
- He says to sell a book you need market for the idea (although it is hard to test the absolute demand) and a desire or interest in the topic. You also need enough credibility or experience with the topic to write a book on it, and an anger toward the books on the market in said topicâ€¦either they are dated, biased, or incomplete.
- Many people are bad writers because they water down their voice.
- John says you do not need much skill to write how to books, so long as you can write like you would talk.
- He talks about writing making you a member of the press and talking to people as member of pressâ€¦donâ€™t be afraid to try to contact the right people.
- He goes in exceptional depth about why it is best to sell books direct via your own website (sell a branded product instead of competing against yourself as a commodity in an unneeded arbitrary long supply chain).
- He goes into great depth about customer service and why he stopped accommodating problem customers. One area I do not fully agree with him on is that he says higher prices lead to more complaints, which seems to be an inverse of my experience thusfar.
His book is only 128 pages, but is fairly information dense. He whinges on about a few things, but most of it is great useful information from many years of experience. Well worth it's cost of about $35 after shipping.
- Presents an overly simplistic view of how search engines work based on his own experience. He had about 20 years writing experience building up his personal brand before he took to the web. He also has many shady guru review / hate articles on his site which act as great link bait to improve the overall authority of his website. His site is well established, as is his reader base, so his experiences probably are not going to match Joe average publisher if they are new to the publishing process. He would do well to also research or also mention [cough] books on SEO.
- He states search is his primary means of driving new sales, and openly admits that he has little understanding of how search engines work (a claim which may have something to do with an associated lawsuit for him outranking someone for their name in Google). While normally rather in depth information he states rather lacking stuff in this area.
- He fails to mention pay per click marketing at all, which is huge for how to book publishing, and may even prove useful to find the right topics to write on or how much demand there is for a topic BEFORE you even write the first word. If he is recommending that search drives the bulk of your sales surely he should mention how to research market volume?
- He does not mention the social aspects of the web, and probably does not realize that link popularity from his review articles helps pull up his site rankings for other terms as well. Those review articles also drive sales as well. I only found out about his name because his Rich Dad Poor Dad review was mentioned in a WebmasterWorld thread. I like John's writings well though, and I bet he would sell 2 or 3 times as many books as he does if he also ran an associated whingeblog. He has the perfect writing style to pull it off.
- While his blunt this-is-me language probably helps convey his message well and is the voice of his writing you canâ€™t help but be offended by at least one thing if you read through a whole book of his. He makes fun of the Spanish language, the French, and presumes guilt on the part of all people in jail, which is either a strong display of ignorance or arrogance. I suppose I canâ€™t fault him for his voice, but I think sometimes he goes over the top with it to get his point across. His points are in many cases valid though. For example, he is not a fan of special consideration customers. I have grown that way too, as most of the people who ask me to special accomidate them are the people who never pay, bounce checks, or reverse charge. There is no reason to give people better customer service for being bad customers.
- He also has a rather plain website, which can work. He also mentions that some people may need more graphics, but I think most people could not pull off a site as "non pretty" as his unless their writing is of an exceptional caliber. Put another way, I think I would only have about 5 to 10% of my current income if I created my website around his design and structure
In spite of the negatives I just mentioned I still think his book is a great book. If you add his book to a web savvy person with a deep interest in a topic you should be able to do really well.
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