Compulsive Reader Grows Into Compulsive Writer


I loved to read as soon as Miss Fisk my first and second grade teacher taught me the basics of the alphabet.

One of my earliest memories is going to a church rummage sale. I spotted two old, hardcover Oz books for sale. I was too young to buy them myself, and by the time I got my mother back to that table, somebody else had already bought them. I pitched such a fit my poor mother had to go hunt the buyer down and convince them to sell her the books.

The summer after the third grade, I won the public library’s summer reading contest.

The Love of Reading Easily Shifts to a Love of Writing

At the age of nine, I realized I wanted to spend my life giving people the same thrill of reading great stories. I wrote several pages of a novel in the style of my favorite writer, Edgar Rice Burroughs. (Best known as the creator of Tarzan.)

I often didn’t enjoy the experience of attending school. I didn’t like the sitting still and listening to the teacher. But I did love the reading and writing.

By age sixteen, I returned to writing short stories, especially science fiction and fantasy. I read all the how-to books at the library and bought every issue of THE WRITER and WRITER’S DIGEST.

Those magazines printed articles on plot and character, but also articles on how to write articles for magazines, so I read them too. Because I read everything I could on writing.

I soon realized the many hours I spent seated at my typewriter every night struggling to come up with and arrange words for my science fiction stories also trained my brain to arrange words to communicate via nonfiction.

I Can Write Anything Once I Know the Subject and Format

Newspaper articles require the inverted pyramid.

Academic articles want to have a thesis statement in the first paragraph.

Feature articles can have varied structures, but the subject matter must be tied up at the end, preferably in a way that hits home to the reader.

SEO articles require keywords and associated subject words (for Latent Semantic Indexing).

So, in those far-off days I wrote articles for science fiction fanzines. I wrote book reviews for fanzines and my local newspaper. That newspaper also published my feature article on a local writer who had made the bestseller list, Thomas Scortia.

I Published Three Short Stories in Professional Magazines, but Couldn’t Get My Novel-Writing Career off the Ground

Life happened. I got a college degree in Accounting. I got married. I went to work for the Social Security Administration.

My government job gave me a lot of experience explaining complex subjects to poorly educated people. I also did a lot of writing on that job.

And, because I spent lots of time dealing with retired and disabled people, I got a lot of real-world experience and knowledge regarding financial and health subjects.

I asked at least ten thousand or so people how their medical conditions affected them on and off their jobs. I guarantee you I spent a lot more time with them than their doctors.

In the mid-nineties, discouraged at my failure to sell my latest novel but wishing for more money, I stumbled into the wonderful of network marketing, biz opps and Internet marketing.

I still didn’t make a fortune, but I gained invaluable knowledge about Search Engine Optimization and content marketing. I could write and sell my own information products, including Secrets of Changing to a Computer Career. To support it in the search engines, I wrote hundreds of articles for the website, and others for the article directories such as Ezine Articles.

Stories that Sell: Copywriting

I also studied copywriting through the American Writers and Artists (AWAI) and other courses:

The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting

The Masters Program for Six-Figure Copywriting

Copywriting Genius: the Master Collection

Matt Furey Seminar on Email Copywriting

Secrets of Writing Blockbuster Financial Market Controls

Secrets of Writing for the Health Market

Web Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts

Matt Furey Seminar on Email Copywriting

Secrets of Writing for the Catalog Market

Secrets of Writing High Performance B2B Copy

Copywriting for Nonprofits: How to Write Inspiring Copy for the Fundraising Market

I absorbed as many other copywriting books and programs as possible. That included attending the Persuasion in Print seminar put on by Kenrick Cleveland, Harlan Kilstein and John Carlton.

I wrote my own products and sales letters and email autoresponder sequences for those products: Secrets of Changing to a Computer Career, Beat the Flu and Income Investing Secrets.

The first two are no longer available as Clickbank products, but the second still is:

Income Investing Secrets sales letter

I Focused on My Own eBooks for Kindle and Other Platforms

I now have a number of books available as ebooks: “Income Investing Secrets, “Beat the Flu,” “REITs Around the World,” “Stock Market Investing for Beginners,” “The Immortality Pill,” “Master Limited Partnerships,” “Bring on the Crash” and “Relax to Lose Weight.”

They also have paperback editions, audiobook editions from Audible and iTune, and translations in various languages.

Along the way, I learned about self-publishing on Kindle and the other ebook platforms, plus Print-On-Demand CreateSpace and ACX for audiobooks. I know how to format for all these platforms.

Read my guest post on Joe Konrath’s self-publishing blog.

Articles, Blog Posts and More

I have written articles for various sites and subjects across the web. That includes a pamphlet for a service videotaping interviews with elderly people to preserve their living memory and a chapter on measuring ROI from social media for a book on social media.

Years ago I was writing an article on the rules of thumb mortgage bankers used to gauge whether an applicant should be approved or not. That including ratios for their income to the price of the house, current debt levels and so on.

I came across an article by somebody in the business lamenting how all these rules were being thrown out the window. Instead, lenders were approving almost ALL application, with no reference to even the most common sense standards.

It shocked me, I admit. I’ve bought two houses, in the 20th century, and both those applications were carefully scrutinized.

I’d have been even more horrified had I known that Wall Street whiz kids were packaging these high risk mortgages, packaging them, and selling bundles of them as investments to banks and funds all over the world.

And by 2008 the situation would trigger the second greatest financial crisis in the history of the country.

I’ve written a number of blog posts, and recently switched the blog on this domain to a blog on baby boomer retirement health and finances from being a fiction author blog.

Two posts for LinkedIn’s Pulse:

How Much Money are Popular Writers Leaving on the Table?
Does Amazon Want to Take Over the World’s T-shirt Market? I Certainly Hope so

Amazon and eCommerce

In April 2015 I joined the Amazing Seller Machine to learn about selling physical products through Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program. I joined through the leading affiliate, and so received a lot of additional training. That included attending their live event in Las Vegas in July 2015.

Thanks to that, I know and understand the Amazon product listing page: title, bullet points, description and search term field.

The search term field contains the keywords. Customers don’t see them, but they signal Amazon’s A9 search engine what your product is about.

They should be included in a product page listing optimization, because you need a balance. The most popular relevant keywords so your product comes up in searches. And of course they must sell customers.

Words in the title and bullet points also count as search terms, so you balance the three things. Get your best keywords. Use them in title and bullet points. Put remainder in search term fields.

Description is 2000 characters that’s a mini sales letter or extended catalog description. Good headline. Make product sound good. Give guarantee etc.

But based on all Amazon sellers I know, words in description aren’t used for Amazon search engine.

It’s also the weakest selling tool because many people don’t read them. Still, some do, so you want it to read well. And be formatted with the paragraph and bold tags so it’s not one long paragraph as you see on so many product pages.

Some people disagree, but I believe it’s best longterm to keep your title and bullet points within the legal limits. I know many products cram in the keywords, but I think Amazon will be cracking down on that.

Also, those things look weird to customers. They don’t understand why a title or bullet point is a long paragraph. So maybe you come up in more searches, but you put off many prospects.

I have a client I wrote about 60 to 70 product listings for. I can’t give out her identity, however, just as I wouldn’t give out yours.

Now It’s Your Turn

You have many stories that need telling.

Stories about you and how you created your product or service.

Stories about your product or service.

Stories about your customers.

Stories about your prospects. They want to know about themselves. That’s how you prove you have their best interests at heart.

Business owners have many stories to tell, but they’re usually not writers.

Your stories may need to take the form of salesletters, emails, blog posts, articles, product listings, press releases, case studies or white papers.

Just let me know how I can help you help your prospects.


Rick Stooker