Forums » Marketing for Writers

'How to' books

    • 8 posts
    December 3, 2015 6:15 AM PST

    I was looking at a book recently that the title tells me is about how I can sell a million books. I don't want to identify the book because I don't want to be unkind to a fellow author. However, it made me think. The kindle sales rank for this book which came out just under a year ago is 1,710,869. That is not good. In fact it is very poor. So the obvious question is: why is this book not selling a million if the author knows how it is done? Are we flooded with these 'how to' books from people who don't know how to?

    This post was edited by Fran Connor at December 7, 2015 8:19 AM PST
    • 8 posts
    December 7, 2015 7:44 AM PST

    You nailed it. I always think the same thing.

    I see these same books promoted via Facebook ads and elsewhere, even in emails that I never recall signing up for, and want to post a reivew that says "Really? Sell a million books when your rank is in the basement?"

    If they were selling even a book a day that sales rank would be under 100,000 in the Amazon algorithm.

    I think for some of those books they just churn out dozens of titles and hope to sell a few here and there for a steady sales stream.

    Still, no value in my opinion.


  • December 7, 2015 8:48 AM PST

    In college I enrolled in several creative writing classes. Every one of them was taught by an instructor who required the purchase of his or her course manuscript about how to become a published author. This was when vanity presses where prohibitively expensive, so when someone said they wanted to become an author, they meant selling their manuscript to a traditional publisher or magazine.

    By the third class like this, I realized the only thing these instructors had ever published were these how-to books on the basics of writing and the theory of how to get published.

    That's not to say that there wasn't some solid advice in there, but I later found that the best advice came from genre authors themselves, from editors, or from agents working in well estabilished agencies writing about the dos and don'ts of getting great writing noticed.

    One of my teachers primary claims to fame was that she had once had Clive Cussler as a student. She brought him up several times during the semester, told the story about how the clever way he got his agent, and became quite successful, I guess to give herself more credibility. But nothing about her story really had anything to do with her interaction with him as a teacher. Just that he attended her class.

    After I published a few short stories in genre magazines, I contacted her for advice on finding an agent for a novel I'd completed. She never replied. I guess she got my thirty bucks for her creative writing textbook and that was that.

    I imagine her now as one of the people writing those "Sell a Million Books" books on Amazon.



    This post was edited by Christopher Holliday at December 7, 2015 8:49 AM PST
    • 2 posts
    May 26, 2016 10:54 AM PDT

    I agree with the sentiment here. A lot of these how-to books are written by people that do not know how-to, otherwise they would be doing so. I guess it is nice that people want to share the secret of their success, but I feel that often it is not success they are sharing but some poor marketing trick they are applying to try to hoodwink others.