You Can Make Money Writing About Shit

March 6, 2009

You can make money writing about anything, from shit to straw house building. So, even if your topic is strange, or obscure, you can still turn it into a book and sell it.

In “Damn – Why Didn’t I Write That?”, Mark McCutcheon lists a huge number of non-fiction books that have sold well. And if you check out the examples below, you can see that it’s possible to make money writing about some weird stuff:

Worms Eat My Garbage by Mary Appelhof:
Writing this self published book on composting was a great money maker for Appelhof. She sold an amazing 100,000 copies.

How To Live With A Neurotic Dog by Stephen Baker: 60,000 people were happy to pay good money for advice on dealing with their crazy pets.

Polish Your Furniture With Pantyhouse by Joey Green:
Ok, I’ll admit – I’ve used socks to dust (it’s more fun). But I would never have expected 85,000 people to buy this book.

Are You Normal? by Bernice Kanner Can you believe that 100,000 people wanted to know the answer to this question and Kanner made plenty of money reassuring them?

How To Make Your Man Behave In 21 Days Or Less Using The Secrets Of Professional Dog Trainers by Karen Salmansohn: 147,000 barking mad women bought this book.

How To Shit In The Woods by Kathleen Meyer:
1,500,000 people wanted to know how to go to the loo outdoors. Apparently, the book tells you how to go, no matter where you are and what you’re doing. And it even shows you how to take your shit home with you. See, I told you if was possible to make money writing about shit.

Gone With Grits by Diane Pfiefer: I’ve never understood the fascination with this icky sounding American food. But Pfiefer realised the potential to make lots of money writing about it. 400,000 people love grits so much, they bought this self-published book.

When you consider that the average non-fiction book takes 3 or 4 months to write, some of these writers make a lot of money for the amount of time they spend writing. And many will have gone on to sell more copies of their books, since this list was put together.

You can see the rest of the list and learn how to write and publish your own non-fiction books in: Damn! Why Didn’t I Write That? How Ordinary People are Raking in $100,000.00…or more Writing Nonfiction Books & How You Can Too!

Have you considered writing non-fiction books? Are you surprised that you can make money writing about such strange topics?

Related Reading On This Site

How to Write An Ebook In 7 Days

The Secret To Writing A Successful & Outstanding Blog
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6 Killer Writing Tips
What Is Your Responsibility As A Writer?

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33 Responses to “You Can Make Money Writing About Shit”

  1. Barbara Swafford on March 6th, 2009 7:25 pm

    Hi Catherine,

    It is amazing what books people buy, isn’t it? One thing I did notice is they all have catchy titles so that becomes the first “draw”. It would be interesting to read a few of these and see if the content makes them worth the purchase.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..What If I Run Out of Things to Say?

  2. cathlawson on March 6th, 2009 8:10 pm

    Hi Barbara – The titles do draw you in don’t you. The one about “how to go”outdoors book surprised me most. It seems such a weird topic for a whole book.

    Like you, I would like to be able to preview the content first. Can you imagine going into Waterstones or somewhere and asking if they have that one in stock though?

  3. Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach on March 6th, 2009 8:29 pm

    Ooooo! I remember “How To Live With A Neurotic Dog by Stephen Baker: 60,000 people needed help on dealing with their crazy pets” from gosh, 30+ years ago! I especially remember the last chapter:

    Title: Can a Neurotic Dog Be Cured?

    Content: No.

    I’m still waiting for someone to write, Sneeze Your Weight Off. Just think of the infomercial it could make…. :)


    Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach’s last blog post..Great low carb forums for beginners and experienced

  4. Marelisa on March 6th, 2009 11:06 pm

    Hi Cath: I often see things and think to myself: why would anyone buy that. And yet there are people who will buy it. It’s really funny that so many people are walking around wondering if they’re normal :-)

    Marelisa’s last blog post..Ebook: “How to Be More Creative – A Handbook for Alchemists”

  5. Jannie Funster on March 7th, 2009 2:29 am

    How to shit in the woods?? How can anyone NOT know how to do that? Geez, what’s next? “How To Breathe?” :)

    I intend to strike it REAL REAL BIG with my funny tpos someday. Typos, that is.

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Seriously Weird!

  6. Vered - MomGrind on March 7th, 2009 3:54 am

    Very surprised! I never considered writing a non-fiction. I am now intrigued. I’ll add it to my “someday” list. :)

    Vered – MomGrind’s last blog post..Modern Art: Sometimes I Just Don’t Get It

  7. Andrew on March 7th, 2009 4:27 am


    The book about worms sounds interesting.

    I read a couple of books about worms about ten years ago. At that time, I was giving serious thought to the idea of breeding worms in my backyard (actually, the backyard of my parents) for a hobby and extra cash.

    For the record, I never went ahead with it. After my auntie tried it and found that she had been seriously mislead by the promoter of a worm breeding scheme, I decided that it smelled like one of the worst ideas ever.

    Andrew’s last blog post..Employee rights and responsibilities part 11: How big is the gender based pay gap?

  8. Cath Lawson on March 7th, 2009 12:44 pm

    Hi Andrew – My skin is crawling as I type. I guess you would have bought a book like that then. Bnd I’m glad you didn’t go ahead with it. Aside from it sounding so yucky – I know someone who set up a worm breeding business and things went wrong.

  9. cathlawson on March 7th, 2009 1:01 pm

    Hi Barbara – I didn’t realise the book had been around so long. But I should have guessed you might have bought it.

    Now the sneezing diet would be pretty fun. If Atkins will sell, anything will.

    I guess a lot of people just read those diet books and don’t follow. I bought a blood match diet book once and as soon as I read that folk with my blood type weren’t allowed coffee, I gave it away.

    Hi Mare – It’s kind of scary isn’t it? I’m going to see if there’s an Amazon preview – I’d love to know what kind of stuff is inside it.

    Hi Jannie – I thought it would just be one of those gimmicky titles until I read the Amazon description. It’s amazing that 1,500,000 didn’t know how to shit outdoors.

    I think you could write a funny book on just about anything and it would sell.

    Hi Vered – When you look at these titles it sounds like a lot of fun doesn’t it. Maybe you could write a humourous book on what the legal system is really like – I would love to read something like that.

  10. Betsy Wuebker on March 7th, 2009 1:44 pm

    Hi Cath – I’m with Jannie – do people really need to be told about how to shit in the woods? Just ask a bear, or the pope for those who mix their metaphors.

    What about How to Write a Non-Fiction Book about Something so Preposterous You’d Never Guess it would Sell. I’ve had so many careers I’ve thought about doing exposes on several different industries: the personal injury legal machine, the garment business, nightmares real estate school doesn’t prepare you for, etc.

    What about pitfalls in personal relationships? “If a jerk has a job that doesn’t mean he’s dynamic – you’re just comparing him to the last loser you dumped” “Your relative will keep guilting you into financial bailouts as long as you keep giving in” “If you keep listening to crap about yourself, you’ll come to believe it” “Hanging around assholes makes you exactly what?”

    I can see now that I’ve missed an enormous amount of opportunity! Who knew? We’d all better get to work! :)

    Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..MORE PHOTOGRAPHY GIGS LIKE THIS ANYTIME

  11. Jannie Funster on March 7th, 2009 2:20 pm

    Here’s your tagline as I see it…

    “How to kick ass in business and still smell like a rose.”


    “Sucessful ass-kicking in business & life.”

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Seriously Weird!

  12. Jim Gaudet on March 7th, 2009 2:36 pm

    Nice, your posts seem to come over very positive. I think I will start on my how to live great and work less…

    Jim Gaudet’s last blog post..Earthquakes (How to monitor earthquakes in your area)

  13. Miguel de Luis on March 7th, 2009 3:22 pm

    I only see a potential danger: reputation.

    I mean if you are considering to become a recognized literary writer, you might hesitate to write:

    “How to earn one million dancing naked on the streets”

    Yet God created the pen name for a reason :) (and somebody will uncover it once you become famous, count on that).

    Miguel de Luis’s last blog post..SWOT Kaizen for the rest of us

  14. T Edwards on March 7th, 2009 4:38 pm

    If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times…there are no bad products, only bad marketing. I am convinced that these seemingly unsellable publications sold well because the authors were very good at finding their markets. In this great big wide world there is a market for EVERYTHING. The key is to find it and sell it something. I’m off the write a book: “How to make farts smell like hot baked chocolate chip cookies”.

    Thanks for the tip on the book…I’m definitely checking it out.

    T Edwards’s last blog post..Top 10 Ways to Beat the Recession

  15. Sara on March 7th, 2009 8:17 pm

    Cath — You gave me my laugh for the day. It’s hard to believe these books actually sold the number of copies they did. I like the one “Am I Normal” and “How To Make Your Man Behave In 21 Days Or Less Using The Secrets Of Professional Dog Trainers.”

    Also, the comments left by others added to my laughter. This was a post I needed to read today because laughter is very HEALTHY. Thanks :~)

    Sara’s last blog post..Online Dating: The Rejection Letter

  16. cathlawson on March 7th, 2009 8:27 pm

    LMAO Betsy – I would love to read some of those expose stories. There’s too much false crap around promoting mediocre industries and too many people are getting screwed.

    And your personal relationship tips sound a whole lot more useful than some of the ones I’ve read in the past.

    Hi Jannie – I’ll think about those. Another problem is that until I get a bit better at using photoshop I need something that will fit into the space my existing one is in.

    I was getting advice on another blog from a branding expert and he says I need to come across as more of an anarchist. I’m still trying to figure out a way to do that without upsetting the majority of my readers.

    Hi Jim – Thanks. I’m looking forward to reading that. Living great and working less sounds like a bloody good idea.

    Hi Miguel – That’s a really good point. It would be hard to get folk to take your literary work seriously, if they knew you’d written, “100 Questions To Ask Your Goldfish”. I guess a pseudonym would save a lot of writers from starvation.

    Hi T – that’s so true. There really does seem to be a market for everything. Normally, I would have said your book idea was ridiculous but after reading about the rest, it will probably be a bestseller.

  17. cathlawson on March 7th, 2009 8:30 pm

    Hi Sara – You’re welcome. I’m glad it made you feel better – laughter is always good. Imagine being in a relationship with someone who actually saw you reading the dog trainer book. I doubt whether you’d need it anymore.

  18. John Hoff - WpBlogHost on March 8th, 2009 1:28 am

    Hi Cath. This is freaking hilarious!

    I love, “How To Shit In The Woods”! That’s great. Now why didn’t I think of that hehehhee.

    Actually, there is much truth in what you say. You can write about anything and you’re almost guaranteed someone’s into it.

    John Hoff – WpBlogHost’s last blog post..Welcome To WpBlogHost and My Blog’s New Home

  19. Robin on March 8th, 2009 2:35 am

    Hi Cath – so funny!

    I’ve had a book about head lice published, and another on cockroaches – guess they are not that unusual topics, really, for the school market.

    I don’t think i would want to write a book about physical immortality – the blog platform suits my personality better.

    Robin’s last blog post..The Journey, With Brandon Bays

  20. cathlawson on March 8th, 2009 5:03 am

    Hi John – I’m betting it was the first of it’s kind. Can you imagine the agent’s face when she got the query for that one on her desk?

    Hi Robin – You’ve written a whole lot of books. My son loves anything about creepy crawlies and stuff.

    I think a book on physical immortality would be brilliant and probably also a first. And you could still blog.

  21. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work on March 8th, 2009 3:32 pm

    This makes me think that I take my writing far too seriously. Obviously many folks do judge a book by it’s cover and they do buy shit. I’ll never buy a Dummies book because I don’t like the inference. But look how many millions have been sold.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work’s last blog post..How To Get the Best Career Advice

  22. cathlawson on March 8th, 2009 4:21 pm

    Hi Tom – I’m beginning to think the same. Maybe, instead of writing stuff to try to help folk, we’d be better off writing something really wacky.

    I used to feel the same way regarding Dummies books. I eventually bought the accounts and divorce ones but I only glanced through them.

  23. Kelly@SHE-POWER on March 9th, 2009 12:35 am

    I agree with Barbara. catchy titles do seem to work well. I still can’t believe the sales of some of these books though. This is quite inspiring. Makes me re-think my stance that I don’t know enough about anything to write a non-fiction book. I must know something, surely!


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..Love finds its way to the Oscars

  24. cathlawson on March 9th, 2009 10:57 am

    Hi Kelly – It does seem like the title is important. I’m betting that if you sat down and made a list, you could come up with a heap of subjects to write about. What about your backpacking journey in Mexico for a start – I’m betting that would make interesting reading.

  25. wilhb81 on March 10th, 2009 7:15 am

    In this case, I totally agreed with your thought, Cath. As the old saying, “One man’s trash might become another man’s treasure!”…

    Even the Sh*ts can be used as compost as well!

    wilhb81′s last blog post..The Useful Business Tips 19: The Ultimate Ways to Get The Most Out of Training!

  26. Cath Lawson on March 10th, 2009 12:58 pm

    Hi Wihlb – That saying is so true. Still the stuff folk buy never ceases to amaze me.

  27. Kim Woodbridge on March 10th, 2009 6:01 pm

    How to Shit in the Woods should have been written on poo poo paper

    Kim Woodbridge’s last blog post..Eating and Drinking With WordPress Plugins

  28. Jason Cohen on March 10th, 2009 10:22 pm

    I *did* write a non-fiction book, about (get ready!) lightweight peer code review techniques, data, and advice.

    Yeah, really exciting.

    Instead of selling the book outright, I used it to promote my software. 33,000+ copies later, we’ve sold a lot of software.

    Just goes to show, there’s also more ways to make money from books besides selling them. You can also sell yourself, or a product.

    Jason Cohen’s last blog post..Double your productivity without more work or stress

  29. Trade Show Guru on March 11th, 2009 2:49 am

    Hey Cath,
    Another great post title, and a very funny post.
    Still, I’d have to disagree with your title (in general), and I thing 95% of the blogs and websites on the internet prove my point! :) ~ Steve, the trade show guru

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  31. John on April 3rd, 2009 3:33 pm


    That sounds like an exciting topic to me! Maybe I need to get out more :-)

    Fascinating post Cath, I’m off to buy the book!

    John’s last blog post..The Apprentice 2009 (UK) Episode Two

  32. Maya Smith on May 4th, 2009 5:42 am

    Most of the research papers I’ve done are on topics that I know are very peculiar but interesting. This is to drive enough “traffic” to my papers. Essay writing has been a part of my daily habit and it seems that everyday, my love for the written words grows bigger. I know that with writing, anyone can live a happy and comfortable life – it’s just a matter of showing your love for the written words plus an improved writing skill and a positive attitude towards work.

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