How To Sell Your Book Better Than Tiger Woods Can Hit a Golf Ball

by Wendy Keller

Getting your book published is a little like buying a new desk and getting it delivered in a 4” tall cardboard box: some assembly required. Many would-be authors dream of the day they’ll receive a six-figure advance, cavort gleefully around their living room and wait for big royalty checks to roll in while the publisher slaves over their book’s marketing and promotion.

The successful authors you’ll meet in this article didn’t do a lot of cavorting in the beginning. They had to do some assembly first. Through integrity and hard work (that awful phrase everyone wants to pretend isn’t hidden in the words “successful author”) , mingled with a dash of good luck, they achieved their goal of being very successfully published.

Stephen King, mega-bestselling author, is often asked how he became successful. He replies, “I write. Writers write, painters paint, gardeners garden. You do your work. You keep focused on the goal.” The colloquial version of his admonition is tossed out to new writers when they ask, “How do you get your first book published?” The truth is “Butt In Chair”, which is to say, if you aren’t dedicated enough to write it, it will never be published, guaranteed! 

My agency teaches a two-day book proposal writing workshop that gets people published. We take all the risk out of writing the proposal because we force writers to finish it in just one intense weekend. Yet many people who call and insist they “really want to be published” won’t even take the time to spend one weekend achieving what they claim is their dream! How much of a dream can it be if it never leaves the dream stage? “Butt in Chair” is the first principle of being sold! See the dream, walk your talk, do the work, reap the benefits! Haven’t we all heard that before? It’s still true, and it applies to being published.

“I was a school teacher when I got my first break,” Char Margolis says. Char is now the celebrity psychic intuitive you see on shows like Larry King and The View, and just about every Good Morning show in a major city in America. We sold her first book, Questions from Earth, Answers from Heaven which weighed in with a hefty six-figure advance. 

She told us, “I started this program for Easter Seals, helping handicapped kids. A radio station had me on to promote it. Off air, the producer asked me what I did for a living. I said, “I am a schoolteacher and a psychic intuitive.” I offered to do a free reading for him. He was so amazed, I got on the show twice!” 

After almost 100,000 hardcover books sold in a year, plus her own network television show in the works, Char credits her success to “keeping solid, respectable and ethical in my industry. I didn’t go for the easy money when the Psychic Hotline wanted me. There is no better security than a long history of a good reputation.” 

In the classic 1899 book by Orison Swett Marden , “Character: The Grandest Thing in the World”, he said, “no [one] can achieve far-reaching influence without a fair mental balance, with great strength upon many sides.”

Integrity, focus on the goal and effort are crucial to success as an author. At an NSA convention once, Mark Victor Hansen took a much-folded piece of paper out of his wallet and showed it to me and other bystanders. “This is my goal list,” he said, showing us his treasure. He stays focused on how to sell more books every day and devotes enormous psychic energy to it.

Megalithic Mark Victor Hansen/Jack Canfield book selling success isn’t far off for celebrity spokeswoman and QVC hostess Cherie Calbom. Cherie’s six books boast over 2.7 million in print! Cherie is known worldwide as “The Juice Lady”. The home electronics giant Salton-Maxim builds special juice machines with her name on them. She sells thousands of books in just a few minutes of TV time. Cherie’s success is profound by any standards, but even more when you know how she got there.

Years ago, Cherie was beaten and left for dead by a burglar. Crushed bones and barely breathing, Cherie pulled herself through her own blood to a telephone. 
In the physical and psychological pain she endured, Cherie begged God for healing. She stumbled across the benefits of fresh juices, and she knew as she rapidly recovered that she had found her calling! Now she’s America’s leading female spokesperson and author on the benefits of juicing.

But how did she go from a hospital bed to best-selling author status? Cherie said, “I kept my faith. In myself, in my destiny, in God.” She also did the work. She spent time learning about juice, nutrition, book publishing, marketing, and how the industry works. The result? My agency just sold another of her books. It came with a big enough advance to buy a house for cash in most parts of the USA!

A book starts like a seed, as our own Jim Cathcart, author of The Acorn Principle, discovered. The seed is nurtured, cared for and grows in the fertile soil of mental effort and open mindedness. Jim said, “Open- mindedness means leaving yourself open for ideas to find you. I interview lots of people and look for different perspectives. I try to get as many challenge to my point of view to see if it holds up. Jim paraphrased Emerson, “If what you believe won’t stand to criticism, it is not a belief, it is something you are using a shield to protect your lack of belief.” What is true about your message? It may be you find out what you thought was a great book idea is not. The completed book could be a whole different message than you started with!”

An idea for a book needs to come to the author’s soul and reflect a real need in the culture. Successful books never begin with the question “What will sell best in the market?” Even a business book needs to represent something the author is truly passionate about. George Silverman, NSA member, marketing consultant to Fortune 100 companies, had his first book The Secrets of Word of Mouth Marketing, (a book every author should own) just released from the highly prestigious American Management Association. He exults, “I love honest marketing! I think marketing is getting people products that enhance their lives. Word-of-mouth marketing is the most powerful force in the marketplace because it means people are talking honestly about what they got from your product, book or service.”

Getting people talking about your book begins with the four marketing pillars of Radio, Television, Print and Internet. You must make and deliver on your promise to the reader, and literally “put the words in their mouth”. To do that, you must first determine what the essence of your offer truly is, and then broadcast it in all you do. 

To find this essence, Silverman advises, “Ask yourself “What’s exciting about my book?” followed by, “Why is that so exciting?” all the way back to the root of your excitement. Identify the most outrageously extraordinary thing about your book. People only talk about the extraordinary – extraordinarily bad or good. Most stuff is in the middle. If you don’t give people something special to talk about, they talk about things like sports. You are always competing with Tiger Woods! Are they going to talk about you or him? If you want them talking about you, you had better give them something extraordinary to talk about!” 

Raleigh Pinskey wrote a book that is extraordinary about telling others how to FIND something extraordinary in what they have to say and then market it. Her must-have book, 101 Ways To Promote Yourself, surprised everyone with its incredible success. Raleigh is a renowned marketing guru, publicity expert and the former publicist for Blondie, Sting, McCartney, KISS, David Bowie and others. The publisher, who had no faith in it in the beginning, printed only a few thousand copies in mass-market format at a low cover price. But as sales neared 100,000 two years after release, thanks exclusively to the author’s consistence, persistence and insistence, they re-thought this dynamic author, and re-published the book in trade format. It sells even better now! “The only way somebody is going to know that you have a good book is if you tell them. The way that you tell them is every way possible!” she said.

Good marketing starts with you. You are the vehicle the drives your success as an author. You must determine and maintain pure focus on your intended outcome. Being clear on your message, its benefit to the reader and how intensely you want to share it are the principles of success for any book. 

Wendy Keller
Keller Media, Inc.
Literary Agency & Speakers Bureau
23852 West Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 701
Malibu, CA 90265 USA
310.857.6828 voice
310.857.6373 fax.


Want to write a book? Go to Rita’s web site and click on The Writer’s Room. Take a look at Rita's The Procrastinator's Guide To Authorship: Stop Putting Off Your Success. Find a free article about writing proposals in The Writer’s Room

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Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook and The Clutter-Busting Handbook, is a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide. She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is

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