Skip McGrath – The Virtual Peddler

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

eBay has always been a great place where the little guy or gal could start an online business with very little risk. But that has changed. So I wrote The Virtual Peddler to show folks all the ways it is still possible for the average person to make money online without a lot of risk or cost and without buying any expensive programs. I show the reader what kind of products to buy, how to source products locally and which online venues to sell them including eBay, Amazon, Craigslist and others.

Tell us something about yourself.

I spent over 30 years in the corporate world, lastly as a Director of International Marketing for a Fortune 100 company. In 1999 I discovered eBay and basically just started playing around with it –selling things we had collected and had around the house. I also started buying and selling used books on eBay. After a year it was starting to turn into a real business, so my wife quite her job as a travel agent and came home to work full time on the business. After a couple of years I wrote my first book about eBay, The eBay Power Sellers Manual (now out of print) and eventually wrote others including Titanium eBay, The Complete Idiots Guide to eBay and Three Weeks to eBay Profits. After two more years I quit my job and we have been doing this full time since. We now sell on eBay, Amazon and from 3 websites.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote The Virtual Peddler out of frustration selling on eBay. I have been selling on eBay for 11 years and they just kept making it more and more difficult for the new seller to succeed –especially with new merchandise. I wanted to show beginning sellers that you could still sell on eBay if you focused on used and vintage items and that there were other venues such as Amazon, Craigslist and other free classified sites to sell on where you can make good money.

How did you choose the title?

I kept coming up with dopey titles. One day my wife came up with The Virtual Peddler

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

I gave up on the published book world after The Complete Idiots Guide to eBay. I now self-publish exclusively and it is far more profitable.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I had no idea I wanted to write. My entry into writing was more or less accidental. During my early days on eBay there was a lot of get-rich-crap being sold on eBay. So one night after a couple glasses of wine, I sat down and started writing The eBay Power Seller’s Manual –a simple “how-to” book about selling on eBay. The first version was 49 pages long and we had it printed at Office Depot. I put it up on eBay for $19.95 and it sold over 50 copies the first week. Over the next few months I expanded the book to about 70 pages and raised the price to $29.99. It continued to sell –eventually selling over 2000 copies the first year.

One big issue facing eBay sellers was how, what and where to find goods to sell on eBay. So my next project was The Wholesale Buying System, a manual about the wholesale industry and how it works and it included access to a website where I listed hundreds of legitimate wholesale sources that will work with eBay sellers. That book is still in production and since 2003 it has sold over 20,000 copies at $47 each.

Then in 2005 I was at eBay’s annual convention, eBay Live, where I met an editor from McGraw Hill. That got me started writing for the traditional published book market. I hired an agent and ended up writing four books.

Do you have any writing rituals?

Yes – when I am doing a project, I block out an hour a day for research and doing chores such as capturing screenshots or learning about new tools. Then I spend about two hours after dinner doing the actual writing. My British daughter-in-law, Lissa, is my copy editor and fact checker. I send her an outline when I get started and then send her chapters three or four at a time as I finish them. When the book is finished, I send an electronic copy to a few of my long-time loyal readers and get their inputs and suggestions, then do a final re-write.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

This book was especially interesting because over the years I have gotten deep into using sophisticated methods and third party tools to keep my business profitable. In the Virtual Peddler I had to go back to my roots and do –and write about, a simple, low-tech approach to making money online.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

If you mean this book –not much. I pretty much have a system down that works and I am a big proponent of not fixing something that isn’t broken. But if you mean the whole writing experience, I wish I had written a traditional published book sooner as I learned so much working with professional editors and copy editors that would have made my books better sooner. My early books were full of grammatical errors, long convoluted sentences and typos. Since I offer a money-back guarantee on all my books, my return rate was as high as 5%. As my writing skills improved that went down. Today it is less than 1%.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

I love to read about politics and current events, especially Finance. As for fiction I am a fan of adventure thrillers a la Tom Clancy, Daniel Silva, WEB Griffin and Clive Cussler.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

My next few books will be about Amazon. I am in final editing of How To Make Money With The Amazon Affiliate Program, and just getting started on The Complete Amazon Marketing System –a detailed training course about building a full-time business on Amazon

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

If you don’t have solid writing skills –learn them. But don’t let that stop you from writing. There are plenty of freelance editors and copy editors out there that can help you get published. Also take the time to discover your writing voice and once you find it stick with it.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

My market is the business opportunity market. My books appeal to stay-at-home-moms, folks who have lost their jobs and folks who have retired and need extra income.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

I sell all of my self-published books from my website, My published books are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other bookstores and outlets. I have recently started another venture aimed at retired and retiring baby boomers called The Official Geezer Guides –a series of books to help retired folks supplement their retirement income. That site is at We now have three titles under that imprint and are working on several more.