In the hope of selling books many of us offer talks to various groups and partake in Q&A sessions. It is right to be skeptical about advice dished out by authors, as there are few substitutes for reading, writing and hard work, but there remains a great demand for creative writing courses and so called workshops. Regarding these, do any of you have a foolproof session plan for leading such a practice? Maybe you have a tried and trusted method of engaging and enlightening a group?

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I once was asked (begged is more like it) to teach a 6-week fiction writing course at a community center. Actually wound up doing it a couple times.

I wasn't really sure what I could offer that the participants couldn't find on their own online, so I went with the simple idea that at the end of the 6-weeks, they'd have a complete and polished short story to send out (if they desired).

Did the same for a non-fiction magazine writing course. We actually wrote query letters and articles (without knowing the results of the queries) in the six-week period.

Of course, I have no books to try to sell, and mostly taught them to help a friend who was a new director of a community center and trying to bolster the center's programs. I made a few bucks, it was fun, and maybe I even helped one or two people.

That said, I've long thought that if selling books is the goal, an author is far better off rather than doing book signings, to instead speak before writing groups, writing clubs, reading clubs, classes, etc., and be sure to have some books on hand to sell.

OR do your book signing at the Barnes & Noble at Wolfchase in Memphis, TN, and let me know. Then I can tell mom and she'll buy a book and talk to you out of fear that one day it will be her little boy standing there all lonely at the table. I honestly don't think she's ever walked past a poorly attended book signing without stopping to buy the book and chat for a little bit.

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