What It Takes to Write a #1 Best Seller
 
Hundreds of thousands of new books are published every year.
   
Most are self-published and sell less than 500 copies in their first year (and fewer each year afterward). Less than 10% will get picked up by a major publisher, less than 1/10th of a percent will ever make a best seller list, and less than 1/1000th of a percent will ever hit the #1 position on any best seller list.

So how does an author get "lucky" enough to have a #1 best seller?  Ask Glenn Shepard that question and he'll answer it with this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

"I'm a great believer in luck. The harder I work,
the more luck I have."  


Glenn self published his first three books in the nineties. Then in 2005,
John Wiley & Sons in New York City came calling.  

Wiley is a 200 year old giant in the publishing industry.  In the 1800's, they published such literary legends as Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hans Christian Andersen, and Charles Dickens.

Today, they're the world's largest publisher of medical, scientific, academic, and business books. They have also published 490 authors that are
Nobel Laureates, in every Nobel prize category (Literature, Economics, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Peace).

They also own the
For Dummies series, J.K. Lasser tax and financial guides, Webster's New World™ dictionaries, CliffsNotes™ study guides, Frommer's™ travel guides, and Betty Crocker® and Weight Watchers® cookbooks.

So how does a self-published author in Tennessee get "lucky" enough to be discovered by a giant publisher in New York City? Back to the Thomas Jefferson quote:

"The harder I work, the more luck I have."  

Wiley was looking for an author to write a book on how to manage problem employees, and Glenn was racking up the miles doing 150 seminars a year on how to manage problem employees.

But it wasn't a given.

Even though an executive editor at Wiley sought Glenn out, he still had to submit a book proposal and convince a publishing committee to choose his over thousands of others. To help with his proposal, the executive editor at Wiley sent Glenn the proposal from another author he had discovered and published. That author was Larry Winget, and the book was
titled Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life.  

Patterning his after Larry's, Glenn's 4,000 word proposal earned the approval of  the publishing committee. He then made this promise to his executive editor:

"I won't be the best writing or best selling author you've ever signed, but I will be the most dependable."

But that turned out to be much easier said than done. The manuscript had to be at least 60,000 words, and Wiley allowed only four months to get it completed. This meant it had to be done while Glenn was on the speaking circuit full time.

In order to keep his promise, he wrote non-stop from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day that he wasn't speaking, including weekends and holidays. On seminar days, he wrote from 4:00 a.m. till 7:00 a.m., did his seminar, travelled to the next city, and then wrote till 9:00 p.m. every night.

His first book with Wiley was
How to Manage Problem Employees. It was not a best-seller, but sold well enough that they offered him a second publishing deal.

 

His second book with Wiley was
How to Make Performance Evaluations Really Work.  It was also not a best-seller, but sold well enough that they offered him a third publishing deal.  



His third book with Wiley was How to be the Employee Your Company Can't Live Without. For this one, he got the CEO of Office Depot, Staples, Cessna, Ruby Tuesday, 1-800 Flowers, and Famous Dave's to endorse the book before it went to print.  



And how does one get "lucky" enough to have the CEOs of six of America's best known companies endorse your book? Wiley tells its authors to spend 25% of their time writing the book, and 75% of their time marketing it. So again, back to the Thomas Jefferson quote:

"The harder I work, the more luck I have."  

Glenn sent his finished manuscript to 68 CEOs, asking them to endorse it. He was turned down, or never heard back, from 62 of them. That would have been discouraging, but he had another role model he looked to for inspiration Thomas Edison.

Edison failed 10,000 times when trying to invent the light bulb, so Glenn figured he was ahead of the curve. In the end, it didn't matter how many times he failed. What mattered was that he succeeded in getting the endorsements of six CEOs, and that became the centerpiece of the marketing campaign for the book.













After months and months of marketing and promotion, and with a little help from fellow author Mark Victor Hansen ("Chicken Soup for the Soul"), Glenn was locked and loaded when the book was ready for release.

Then at the last minute, along came an 800 Pound Gorilla nobody saw coming – Hollywood.

Timing is everything in the publishing industry. Nothing is ever left to chance. Books are always released on Tuesdays, and blockbuster movies are released right before long holiday weekends.

When Glenn's new book was ready for release, the competition at the top of the charts was even stiffer than it normally is. A book titled “The Da Vinci Code” was being made into a movie with Tom Hanks, another titled “Marley and Me” was being made into a movie with Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson, and another titled “Eat, Pray, Love” was later made into a movie with Julia Roberts.

When asked how a then-unknown author in Tennessee can compete with the power of Hollywood, Glenn goes back to the Thomas Jefferson quote:

"The harder I work, the more luck I have."  

He pulled out all the stops, and reached out to every author, publicist, and promoter he could find. He did non-stop radio interviews, sent promotional copies to book reviewers at every major newspaper in the U.S., and even went on a book signing tour at his own expense, driving from Miami to Minneapolis.



The result was that his sixth book achieved what over 99.9999% of all books ever written will never achieve  –  It became a #1 Best  Seller.

When asked by a reporter how it feels to see your book top the charts, Glenn answered:

"Anyone who says grown men don't cry has never had a #1 best seller. Writing a book is like giving birth. You put your heart and soul in to it. It's an extension of you. it's your baby. To know that the world loves your baby is the greatest feeling on earth."

Glenn's books have been published in seven languages around the world. The following is a partial list of his international publishers and distributors:


As of 2017, he had written 647 published articles, 13 DVD programs, and recorded over 300 CDs through his Priority Club.

Managers, supervisors, business owners, and HR Directors in 23 countries now subscribe to his weekly newsletter, "Work Is Not for Sissies".