Today, there are hundreds of enterprising men and women who write simple research papers (known in the mail order trade as FOLIOS) and sell them by mail. In the pages that follow, I will show you how you can do the same. I will show you how to select a subject, how to research it, how to write it, how to get it printed, and how to sell it.
I'll show you the four ways to sell it. If you are new to folio selling, I will show you which of the four ways would be the best for you. I hope you will read what follows very carefully and very thoughtfully. THERE ARE NO CATCHES. I have nothing more
to sell to you (unless you want to read some of the other folios which I have written.) I hope the information which follows can be of real benefit to you. That is why I have written it!
Exactly What is a Folio?
A folio can be called a booklet, a pamphlet, a report, a newsletter, a guide, an instruction manual, a plan, a manuscript, etc., etc.. A folio is simply an easy-to-understand manual which shows the reader "How To" do something that he does not already know how to do. Most folios show the reader...
How to start or expand a hobby
How to develop new abilities or qualities
How to start a new business or expand an old one
How to prepare for a new career
How to make or save money
How to solve personal problems
How to spend leisure time
A well written folio is authoritative, factual, and helpful. It should be written in simple, easily understood language. It can be anything from a brief two-page mimeographed report to a professionally printed book bound in a hardback cover. People who purchase folios by mail are interested in the information they contain. Seldom do they care what brand of paper the information is printed on.
What Kinds of Folios are Now Being Sold by Mail?
Pick up almost any magazine at a newsstand that carries classified advertising and you will find ads written by people who are selling their folios by mail. Here are sample ads from magazines lying here on my desk.
"Be secure, confident, successful! Learn the secret of personal power $2.00"
"Secrets of the Spirit World! Only $.60 postpaid!"
"Traffic Tickets? Beat them, step by step method. $1.95
"Fluorescent Tubes rejuvenated at no cost. Instructions $1.00."
"Ten Wonder Working Prayers. Enrich, strengthen your life! $1.00
"Why grow old and die? Li Chung Yun lived 256 years. You could,
too! Learn how - $2.00"
"Guide to Witches covens - $2.00"
"Learning Bridge? Send $2.95 for small 20 page guide."
"Learn the secret of making every pair of slacks you sew fit
perfectly. Only $1.00."
"Enjoy camping inside your Volkswagen. Do it yourself Plans -
"Homemade Cheese! Hard, soft, and cottage! Make it yourself!
Easy. Delicious. Complete Instructions, recipes $1.00"
"Toronto Area Job Opportunities - $1.00"
"Ship in Bottle. Instructions, Drawing. $1.00"
If you can produce a "How to Do it" manual that is NOVEL, INTERESTING and genuinely HELPFUL, you can do what the advertisers above have done. You can print it yourself and sell it by mail!
What Should You Write About?
You should write:
only on subjects that really interest you, and
on subjects that you already know something about.
For example, if you just love to cook, write a folio on cooking. If people like the first folio they buy from you, they will buy other folios in the future, as long as they are on the same basic subject. If you write on a subject that really does not interest you very much, you will be bored to death by the time you get to your third folio!
Ask yourself "what do I do with my spare time?" Write a folio about THAT!
How Do You Research the Folio?
Make yourself an expert on the subject! Talk to friends and neighbors. Ask questions. Read books, newspapers, and magazines on the subject. Ask you librarian for suggestions. As you read, keep notes on everything. When you have read everything you could lay your hands on, sit down and study your notes. Read them very slowly and carefully. Then lay the notes aside and think about the whole subject for a day or two. You will be amazed at what your mind will do with the subject if you have researched it
How Do You Write It?
Here is a tip form a professional writer. Sit down and pretend that you are a person who knows absolutely nothing about the subject. Write down FIFTEEN QUESTIONS that such a person might ask you. Then write out, in your own words, the answers to the fifteen questions. Do not try to be literary! When you are finished, lay it aside for a day or two.
Then re-read it with a read pencil, crossing out all unnecessary words and sentences, inserting a new point here and there. REWRITE the whole thing, and you will be amazed to discover that you folio is ready to be published!
How Do You Get It Printed?
Type it as neatly as possible on 8 1/2 x 11 WHITE typing paper. Single space it, leaving two lines between each paragraph. Take it to a local PHOTO-OFFSET printer who will make a few hundred copies for you, very reasonably, usually within 24 hours. If you have more than four pages, have it printed on both sides of the paper. It will lower your printing costs slightly, and it will save you extra postage in the future. To give your folio a professional touch, have it printed on canary yellow, pink, or light green paper.
How Do You Sell It?
There are 4 ways:
Direct from Ads in Magazines and Tabloid Papers. If economically possible, sell it for $1.00 or $2.00 per copy. (Occasionally $3.00). Write a brief, eye-catching classified ad asking those interested to send their orders directly to you. If your ad is novel, believable, and of genuine interest, you will be surprised at how many people will do this. If your folio is about stamp collecting, advertise it in the stamp collecting papers. If it is about Astrology, advertise it in the Astrology magazines - to do otherwise is fatal. Be sure to run your ad in at least three issues. If you have never sold folios by mail, I sincerely suggest you use this method.
Advertise for Inquiries. If your folio is quite elaborate and must be sold for $3.00 or more, use this method. Write a brief, tempting ad describing your folio, and offer free details. Then mail literature describing the folio to those who answer the ads. Don't expect more than one inquiry in ten to buy it from you.
Here are ads placed by folio writers in a recent issue of the National Enquirer, who use this method:
"Never Won anything? Anyone can win sweepstakes contests! Free details."
"Troubled? God can help! Free information."
"Overweight? I lost 53 pounds. Easily. (Permanently!) New Method. Information Free."
"Make money clipping newspapers at home spare time. Details Free."
Direct Mail. If you have written a folio showing how to get inventions patented, you could purchase a list of amateur inventors, and mail your sales literature to each individual on the list. If you are lucky, you'll sell your folio to about one person in every twenty-five. Direct mail can be very effective for experienced mail order operators, but it is usually far too costly for the beginner. It can easily cost you several hundred dollars for each one thousand letters you mail.
Selling through Agents. If you are willing to sell your folio in small wholesale quantities, or if you are willing to drop-ship folios for mail dealers, then you might find this the most effective way to market your folios. Below are so me ads placed by folio writers in a recent issue of Specialty Salesman.
"Sell Health Books Mail Order! Write"
"Sell Books by mail. Complete dealer set-up, $.25"
"Sell Books by mail! 400% Profit!"
"Free Newsletter! Sell Books by mail. We wholesale, drop-ship."
Some of the above ads have been running ten and twenty years, indicating that this could be a very successful way to market your folios.
500 New Folio Ideas!
Over the past two or three years, I have been jotting down ideas for folios that could be developed and sold by mail. I'm now printing the whole list for your use. I honestly feel that any idea on this list could be marketed by mail, if a person had the ambition and ingenuity to develop it.
You are free to use any idea on this list. I have not checked to see if any of the titles have been copywrited. If they have, create a new one. Also, you are free to change the titles around to suit your own situation. For example, "Summer Jobs in Nevada" could become, "Summer Jobs in New York City." I'm sure you get the point.
The all-time best selling product in the mail order industry is the simple two to three page "How To Succeed" reports such as this one. Most of the time these reports are priced at $2 each and offered as series or packages of reports.
When I started out as a freelance writer the market for such services was a bit different than today. Most freelance writing then was "on spec" - you wrote something, a story or an article, then peddled it.
Your novel sits unfinished, waiting for a burst of inspiration to send it out to be typewriter and right to the top of the best seller lists, right? You are not alone. Thousands of would-be writers are waiting as well.
This is the "real" Money Maker in the Mail Order business - the basic "How To" Report. It's something anyone can produce, and with all the proper ingredients at the right time, you can become independently wealthy!
According to Howard Penn Hudson, publisher of The Newsletter of Newsletters, "there are at least 100,000 professional and amateur newsletters in the United States--some estimate as many as 500,000--and they are read by millions of people."
Whatever amount you come up with for the price of your book, remember that advertising expense will usually take 50% to 60% of your selling price if you are to promote your book properly and get into the mass market.