Author Advocate, Brittany Lavin, November 8, 2010:
Curtis Seltzer was raised in Pittsburgh, Pa. He began writing when he was in eighth grade and while his parents were pleased that he liked writing, they didn’t know what to do to develop his interest. When Seltzer was in 11th grade, he took second place in an art-history writing contest. Seltzer also wrote a column for a community weekly through his high school newspaper. In college, Seltzer edited a humor magazine.
“I’d been voted second funniest in my high-school class, so humor writing -- or what passed for it -- was an itch I’ve had from the beginning,” Seltzer says. “You either have the writing itch or you don’t.”
Seltzer learned to write when he edited a coal-mine, safety-and-health newsletter in Washington, D.C. in the late 1970s. A former AP White House correspondent and speechwriter for Robert Kennedy in 1968 edited his newsletter. In six weeks, Joseph Mohbat showed him how to write short, clear, declarative sentences.
“That was the craft that I needed,” Seltzer says.
Seltzer had been investing in rural land since the early 1970s. He started becoming knowledgeable about the subject and began consulting with land buyers, helping them research property and analyze these investments. He spent six years researching and writing How To Be a DIRT-SMART Buyer of Country Property (Infinity, 2007), which is a how-to guide for buyers of all types of rural real estate. Seltzer wrote it to establish his credibility in the subject field, and as a way to “monetize” what he knew.
Publishing DIRT SMART allowed him to maneuver himself into making a living “from the middle of not much of anywhere.”
Seltzer admits to being actively hostile towards most current book marketing. He doesn’t like social media or cell phones. He uses his two columns as a form of marketing. His column, “Country Real Estate” is self-syndicated to about 600 news outlets, blogs, companies and individuals. The weekly column he writes for Landthink has a much wider audience. He writes about 95 percent of Landthink’s content. His website, www.curtis-seltzer.com, is also a necessary marketing tool. It posts fresh content every week or two and is a portal into his consulting.
Seltzer has this advice for authors and writers: “Ebooks are a growing fact of a writer’s life. I’m considering formatting DIRT-SMART and LAND MATTERS as ebooks, but the cost seems out of proportion to the product. Nonetheless, doing it is the only way to test the concept empirically.”