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Reader comments on How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book


I just today finished "How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book."

Again... incredible.I highly recommend it. I wish every American would read it. Their lives would be greatly enhanced.

Sometimes, just one good idea... one gem... will inspire, and lead people to greater success.

I read a lot, and if I find one or two gems in the entire book... I consider it worth my time.

In your books, I am finding one or two gems PER PAGE!

And I'm not an easy reader to please!

Thank you John for all your hard work, your insight, and your dedication to helping people become more successful.


Travis McFee DDS

Thanks again for what you do, John. Thanks for helping me to see deeper.

Regards, Bryan Rush

Hello Mr. Reed,

I just want you to know that I bought the 1st edition of How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book in 2005. It has been one of the absolute most influential and helpful books I've ever read. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to you for my current career success. I'm currently one of the most highly regarded experts in the fitness & nutrition community both online & offline, and that's no exaggeration (among other things I'm the main nutrition advisor of Men's Health magazine). I want you to know that your writing has been a huge reason for the big steps forward I've made in my career over the past seven years or so. I'm at a point where students constantly seek out my mentorship, and I can't help but remember serendipitously running into a book by some guy named John T. Reed, who played a big part in how things turned out for me.

My next purchase will be your book Succeeding, and I very much look forward to seeing what gems of wisdom it will add to the arsenal you've already provided. Thanks again for all you've done - and continue to do.


Alan Aragon

Hello John,

I read your book on self publishing and truly loved it. I am currently implementing the information to help me with my newsletter. I think you should write an accompanying book to your publishing book about setting up your website, using yahoo shopping cart and generating traffic for websites. Just a thoughtfull suggestion. I would like to buy such a book from you.

Thanks John.

Your loyal customer and student,


Dear Mr Reed—

Greetings once more from Australia. Just writing in more for your interest than anything else – but mainly because some recent events over here seem to bear out on an international scale at least some of your predictions on your website and in your Self-Publishing book about the likely destination of the book publishing industry, particularly for the brick-and-mortar chain stores.

Here in Australia, the major chain of bookstores made up of Borders and Angus & Robertson has just gone into bankruptcy. It probably hasn't made much news in the US, but it's a big story over here mostly because of Borders' size and prominence in the chain bookstore trade out here. A full 260 shops across Australia and New Zealand will be affected (i.e. closed or sold.) On the customer side, anybody who was unfortunate enough to have gift vouchers (coupons) from this chain has basically been told "If you want to redeem your coupon, either spend as much cash in addition to the value of your voucher in our stores, or get in line and wait for your 0.02 in every dollar like all the other unsecured creditors." Not much detail in the news about whether and to what degree distributors and publishers have gotten screwed.

Now, part of the chain's implosion can be attributed to stupid business practices: Borders stores had coffee shops in them (Gloria Jeans, no less – US equivalent would be a Starbucks?) and they'd let people browse and read the books in the cafes without buying them, which obviously had some impact on sales both from cheapskates who would treat the place like a lending library, and from damaged book returns and whatnot. It also has a lot to do with the collapse of private equity, because the chain's parent companies as I understand it were loaded up with debt that went as bad as three-day-old fish when the GFC hit.

But it's also been attributed partially to e-book sales and Internet sales in particular. A very quick and superficial survey of the situation can be found here:

Regrettably Amazon is being painted the white knight for consumers in this since they're still doing the old "sell you a buck for 90 cents" thing. One of the things that made Internet sales so competitive were what we call "parallel import" restrictions that are notionally about the Australian Copyright Act but which ultimately come down to protectionism of the Australian book industry. In essence, we pay almost double for a US book over here because an Australian importer can't legally import the book without breaking local intellectual property legislation. That basically pushes people straight to the Internet, where they order their books from overseas for a fraction of the price because they don't count as importers. Retailers here are learning very late and very hard how the Internet changes the entire ballgame.

The other reason I was writing is simply because the arrogance of book store chains seems to be an international thing based on the Borders ecperience. You write very extensively and persuasively about the disgraceful way you and other small publishers were treated by PGW in the late nineties; I got a copy about a year ago.

Well, I uncovered this old(er) news story from 2007 about the way Angus & Robertson (which was taken over by Borders and both of which have now collapsed) decided to treat its small to medium sized publishers in Australia, via a letter, and the response from one small publisher about the book chain's practices up to that point:

In summary, I read the letter from Tower Books and thought to myself "This is the sort of thing that John Reed had to put up with until PGW terminated his contract. Creative accounting; arrogant treatment of publishers; poor stock accounting methods; increasing complexity of bureaucratic forms." And to top it off, they were going to demand that small publishers pay up to six-figure amounts just for the privilege of being on an Angus & Robertson bookshelf. And the result has been pretty much the same as PGW: bankruptcy.

It's almost like you wrote up a list of canaries in the mine for small publishers when dealing with large chains of bookstores.

I don't want to sound as if I'm saying your self-publishing book necessarily applies 100% to the Australian market. It's a much smaller market, for a start, and conditions are different – and you have never said that your book should be taken as gospel across the entire world's book industry, anyway. But the similarities between your experiences with PGW and what basically half the Australian publishing industry is now having to confront are astounding.

Well, maybe not so astounding if you know how large book chains operate, I guess.

Me, I love your book. Even taking adaptation to local conditions aside I'm prepared to risk my time and effort on my own nonfiction book. And in my personal view the book also contains a lot of good advice and insights on basic economics and business management. I've just finished the first draft on my own self-published book, which I intend to self-distribute. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't – but looking at what has just happened to Borders, I'm so glad I decided to be courageous and not follow the rest of the lemmings off the book publishing industry cliff.

Kind regards,

Michael Aulfrey

If it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be a writer today. I'd still be sitting in my government office sucking up to a bureaucrat. So, damn them all, and keep writing. Love the publishing book, by the way.

Rob Torres on Wordpress

I want to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed reading (and sharing) Succeeding and How to Publish. Looking forward to your thoughts on the economy.

J.B. Sinnott

Mr. Reed,
As I have read, I know you appreciate hearing some gratitude from time to time.  I wanted to write to simply say THANK YOU for writing your guide to self-publishing.  I just got it in the mail today, and have already read through the first 4 chapters.  I have a lot of ideas that have come from a variety of experiences in my personal and professional life. But I have had my book ideas shot down by those who promote agents and large distribution.  Your book contains the concise information I need to get the concepts from my head, to print, to sale on my website.

Thank you.
Daniel A. Franz

Comment from John T. Reed, author of How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book,: I just saw a 12/6/09 C-SPAN2 interiew with Joy Hakim, an author of history text books. She made an interesting comment I agree with but had not thought of. She said if a text book cannot be sold in the book stores, it should not be in the classroom. In other words, the book store tests the book’s popularity and readability with readers. Popularity of a book is not the be-all-and-end-all test. God knows many, if not most, non-fiction best sellers are utter nonense. But many non-fiction book store books are excellent. There is no reason why we could not have text books so well-written that they are both accurate and popular with readers.

Apparently, text books today in public schools are politically correct pap. I was disturbed by my son’s text books from time to time when I had occasion to see what was in them. For example, I heard that Thomas Edison was dropped from U.S. public school text books to make room for more blacks and Latino stuff.

I would add that Ms. Hakim apppears unfamiliar with the self-publishing world. I saw in the media in 2007 or 2008 that the number of self-published books now exceeds the number of published books. Great!

So I would revise Ms. Hakim’s rule to say that only books that have been commercially sucessful, as well as checked for accuracy and logic, should be in the class room and that both book store and self-published books are commercially successful. Indeed, book stores are dying so that is not a criterion likely to be useful for very long.

John T. Reed

I owned a niche publishing company in the 1980s and everything you wrote on your ordering page brought back memories of time wasted.
                         As I'm getting back into the business I'm sure there is plenty I can learn from your book.
                       Best regards,
                       David Alexander, author
                       Star Trek Creator: The Authorized Biography of
                       Gene Roddenberry
                       Former Owner: Centerline Press

Thanks Jack I've purchased [How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To Book] and refer to [it] often. ...thanks!!! for making me look great and know, REALLY KNOW what I'm doing!

Buddy Hicks

Mr. Reed,

When I began writing Instant Experience for Real Estate Agents, I had excellent knowledge of my subject matter, but I knew very little about the publishing industry.

Eventually I developed a good manuscript and I sent out three dozen query letters and proposals to publishers. I received several very positive responses and even began the negotiation process with one of the larger and well-know houses. About that time, a friend of mine recommended your book about self-publishing. I had already considered the idea, so I examined your website and ordered your book. WOW! What an eye opener!

I immediately knew that self-publishing was for me. I began stalling the publisher as I searched out editors, printers and how to set up a web site. Before I knew it, my book was ready for the market. I also enjoyed benefits like I did not have to forfeit control, and I make more money with less effort. What a great package!

Please tell your readers that the information gained from your book is a bargain at 100 times the cost. Thank you for enriching my life!

Dave Thyfault

Mr. Reed,
I purchased your How to Write, Publish and Sell Your Own How-To Book and your Succeeding book approximately one month ago.  Thanks to your book, I have begun writing two books.  One on the homebuying process and another on personal finance.  I wanted to commend you for writing two thorough and easy to read books.  
Your How to Write, Publish, and Sell Your Own How-To-Book was an excellent and detailed analysis on how and why to self-publish.  I also want to thank you for writing your Succeeding book.  As a 26 year old who is looking at other careers and settings goals with a wife and child, I am often displeased with the drivel of career and goal attainment books on the market.  Instead of ideas such as "staying positive", you actually offered concrete examples and steps based on your valuable experience.
My wife made the mistake of opening the box of books when they came to the house.  She instantly said "you paid what?  These books are so small!".  After two weeks she began reading the books and realized how valuable the content was.
Thank you very much for your books, they are superior to anything on the market today.
Bradley Martin

Mr. Reed, some years ago, I purchased and read your book on self-publishing and found it to be a gold mine of information.  I have now passed it on to others so I need the new edition.  Your book is well worth while.  

I thought it was excellent.  Actually, I couldn't put it down until I finished it.  It really pulled back the curtain on the book publishing industry.  Your personal experience in this area is invaluable.  It would take the typically naive layperson years of grief to learn what your book tells him in only a few hours of highly entertaining reading.  Best wishes,
John Whiteheart

While I am not publishing a book, I have a website that sells posters that I publish myself.  No sooner was I up and running when I was accosted with "distributor" opportunities.  From the self publishing book, I learned to smell a rat and have simply said that I do not want to set up  potential competition with my own site.  No one has been able to effectively counter that except with scare tactics that I would not be able to make money on my own.   When I curiously ask what the percentage of their take would be, I am usually told an extortionate amount, which they are "generously" offering to me due to my reticence.
I am grateful to have been exposed to these concepts and hope in the future that you will write a book containing more pointers on entrepeneurship from a Harvard MBA point of view.

Thanks and best,
Helene Pitzer

Mr. Reed,

I purchased your How to Write, Publish and Sell Your Own How-To Book in 2006 and read it cover to cover in a matter of a few days. I have long wanted to try and write and sell a book but other commitments always seemed to get in the way. After reading your book I decided I had waited long enough. I was going to write a book, publish it and sell it myself, or at least try. I have recently finished writing what I consider to be an excellent resource for anyone considering purchasing a house for rehab and resale or for their primary residence.
My book is titled 'So You Want To Flip A House' and I have a companion website of that gives an overview of my book. My book gives a thorough overview of items to inspect yourself before hiring a professional inspector. Performing your own initial inspection can alert you to the amount of work required to get the property in shape to sell and to problems in a property you do not want to tackle. Doing your own inspection will also allow you to point out possible issues to a professional inspector you hire which they may have missed. You can also get the inspectors opinion of specific concerns you have when the inspector is still on-site.
Another major benefit from you being able to perform your own inspection is that once you have completed your inspection you will have a viable basis for developing your offer price for the property. The manual shows you how to develop your offer price.
Without your book and its great content, I'm not sure I would have been able to create my own book, publish it and begin selling it myself. I have already developed some ideas for new books I plan to pursue. Thanks for producing such a great resource for all of us.

Kurt Timmerman

Dear Mr. Reed,

I recently started reading your book on writing and self publishing and wanted to thank you for writing it. I appreciate the straightforwards, practical, no-nonsense information and all the trouble it's going to save me in writing and publishing my own books.

I wish you and yours a happy holiday season and continued success!
Drew Baye

Thank  you for notifying me about the 2nd Edition of your book.
I used some of  your advice from the 1st Edition of How to Write . . .
and it  helped me immensely when I wrote and published my book.
Now I am selling  it on the web with some success.
See: <>   (That's my book!)

Jo Myers

Mr. Reed,
Your Self-publishing book has already given me the luxury of thinking and acting with the economy of effort of a pro.

Thank you,
Terence Gillespie

Your book has been indispensable in writing my resource book.

Many thanks,

Denice Breen

Your books are proving one of the highlights of my day. I occasionally read some of the Succeeding book to my teens – easier for them to get it from you than from dad. The book on writing is generating confidence in me every time I read it.
David Hagni

I really liked your book it was very inspiring for me. Many of the tips in your book relate to the way I need to run my internet startup company. Thanks for your writings keep up the good work. Thanks
Chris Miles


I ordered 3 of your books (Succeeding, How to Write, Publish and Sell Your Own How-To Book, and How to Buy Real Estate for at Least 20% Below Market Value) and I want you to know that they are high quality and very valuable to me. I intend to put some of your real estate ideas to work for me when I invest back in the USA this fall.
I also write professionally and you are one of my inspirations. Thanks for your fresh, no BS, chock full of helpful info books.
Nalini Indorf Kaplan

Hello, I received your book yesterday and read it straight through in 4 hours (did not use the index, because the book read so nicely and was so interesting). I feel transformed. I have already bought a Dvorak keyboard. Thank you for making every paragraph pertinent. I feel jammed with information.

I can't tell you how many ways if affected me (compared to the ONE and one only thought I got from my discounted rich dad poor dad). For example, on the side, I have a new website with friends selling fun greeting cards and didn't know it had to be registered DUH!!! Thanks again for the enlightenment on book writing. Wendy Hurley

I saw an article in who-knows-what magazine last year about what to do with $1,000. Maybe it was Kiplinger's or some other. Anyway, I've had the bug to write a book for a long time but wasn't sure how I was going to go about it. I always wanted to write one, but wasn't sure where to start.

Flash forward to a few months ago. I'm in the middle of writing my book to compliment my finance classes for the Pre-Cana workshop and I see this write-up from this real estate guy bashing the info-mercials on how supposedly easy it is to make a mint in real estate. A real grump. I say, "I like this guy." I do a little web search and bang, there he is - John T. Reed.

Not only does he really know his stuff, it turns out he wrote a book about self-publishing. I bought it. It's fantastic.

So I'm halfway through writing my book and his arrives. I devour this thing in one evening. I search online for a book manufacturer, per his suggestion, and I'm off to the races. I wasn't sure how I was going to go about the whole thing, but he lays it on the line nice and firm, with no b.s.

In a nutshell, all you need you already have, a computer. Start writing. I highly recommend Reed's book for anyone who wants to write, and after reading his outline, you'll be surprised how little author's make off each book when a traditional publisher has control over the process. Typical situation: $30 book nets the author $5 - 17% profit margin. This guy admittedly sells fewer books, but his profit margin is 85%, or $25/book. Mine is going to retail for $16.95 because it's small, but it's a start and the hard part is already done - the writing. Traditional publishers, and all the book stores like Amazon, Barnes& Nobles, etc. have the capability to lower the price and therefore your margin if the product isn't moving. If the product doesn't move from my garage, well, it's only taking up space on my garage, oh, and the extra $25/year for the extra space with my webhost, big deal. No discounts, ever, and it'll always be in stock.

I'll have a link to PayPal and people can use existing paypal accounts or pay by credit card. I'll handle shipping via USPS Priority mail, which will get tacked on to the order at the site. I've got all the web pages written, I'm just waiting for the books to arrive.

Jack D. Stevison, Jr., CFP(R)

Mr. Reed,

I'm re-reading your self-publishing book and enjoying it even more the second time. I even ended up switching completely to the Dvorak keyboard, much to the chagrin of anyone else who tries to use my computer. Thank you for the time and aggravation your book is currently saving me.

Terence Gillespie

“This step-by-step guide to self-publishing a how-to book is clear, well organized, and very readable. Providing its reader, presumably a layman to the publishing world, with a firm foundation of the entire process from writing and editing to marketing and promotion, the book cleverly begins by discussing the more traditional method of publishing and explains both the benefits and disadvantages of the self-publishing path.

“The manual seemingly touches upon every situation that will arise, including printing matters, book layout, starting a website, and managing a publication’s distribution. The author’s incorporation of his personal experiences throughout the various stages of a book’s production proves helpful for any novice. Where other texts are vague or abstract, these real world examples place the author’s ideas in a context all readers will understand.” review by Kevin Wisniewski in the January-February 2006 Small Press Review

I love what you have to say about self-publishing, publishers, book stores, the “Soup-Nazi,” and customers. Your words confirmed my decision to self-publish. My book is doing well, especially after got a Wall Street Journal mention two weeks ago.

Dan Otter