Questions to Get You Going in the New Year

I don't know about you, but I'm not ready for it to be Christmas yet, let alone 2010. This year flew by for me for the most part. Even though most of us are pretty busy the next couple of weeks, it really is a good time to start planning at least for the first part of the year. Take a few moments sometime around New Year's Eve or Jan 1 to think about what you want for your writing, yourself in 2010.

Here are a few questions to help you jump start the planning process:
Do you have a book in mind to start, to work on, to finish?
Do you want or need to take your writing in another direction?
What did you like about what you did with regard to writing/publishing in 2009?
What didn't you like?
Where would you like to be as a writer/author a year from now?
What will it take to make that happen?

In addition to these, Seth Godin posted a good list earlier this week that relate to almost any career/work including writing and publishing a book. Check them out here on his blog.

Whatever those goals, dreams and plans are, it will be my honor to walk with you on your journey. I thank you for reading, commenting and otherwise supporting Publishing Answers in 2009 and I look forward to learning and sharing alongside you in the New Year.

I also pray that you and your loved ones have a most blessed and joy-filled Christmas.
For Unto You is Born this Day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord!

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Shape Up Your Shipping Budget

Whether you publish independently or order books from your publisher, shipping costs will be a part of your budget. Until my most recent order, I never really looked that hard at my other options, I just logically chose to ship to my home office. I also wanted the least expensive option which, unfortunately, was non-trackable.

With my most recent order though, I looked more closely at another option-commercial ground. I discovered it was significantly cheaper than residential ground, and similar to the cheapest option in cost. But how to take advantage of that?

Then the though hit me-plenty of businesses, publishers or not, ship to warehouses, central locations etc. so why couldn't I do something like that? After just a bit more consideration, I realized my husband and I have a friend who owns an insurance office that's in an area where we both go on a regular basis for errands etc.Voila! Commercial location, commercial ground shipping prices. I simply asked permission to use his address and he was more than happy to let me send books to his location.

Of course, at this point I've only gotten a box or two of books per month so it won't effect his daily business. If I was getting some crazy amount of boxes that would pile up, that wouldn't be fair to him and I'd need another solution. In thinking about that as well, if I do get to the point where I need a few hundred books at a time, I have a possible solution for that as well. A cousin owns a tool & die shop and told me in the past that I'd be welcome to use storage space if he has it available (unfortunately since he does mostly auto work, he has plenty of space right now). Even if these options fell through, there are so many people with business connections, I'm sure I could make something work along the same line.

As most of you know, publishers and authors don't have much profit margin on most books. Even if tweaking your shipping options only saves twenty or fifty cents per book, it all adds up and can help the bottom line.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Cool Way to Get Some Attention for Books & Reading

If nothing else, it's a fun example of art and technology worth watching


An Experiment in Book Marketing Worth Following

Seth Godin is known world-wide for his business sense. He doesn't always follow the rules and in fact, he often makes up his own and other people follow him. If you like comfort and "but we've never done it that way before" thinking, you probably won't like him.

However, if you prefer out of the box, creative, what can we do that's different, by all means check him out. His latest adventure involves marketing another new book. One of the "out of the box" plans is that he will NOT be sending review copies to, as he puts it, the few newspapers and magazines that are left or other normal "industry" outlets. He's going straight to the people who will be interested in the topic and who are willing to spread the word. He even involves charity giving which makes it even cooler in my book.

Want to follow along with me? Find all the info on his website Seth Godin.com

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett


Selling Books at Craft Fairs

Over the last few weeks, I tried my hand at selling my new book at a few local craft/holiday shows. Here are some of the high and low points of my endeavors:

High Points
1. My target audience is Christian families with kids ages 5-10 or so, so selling at shows hosted by churches with elementary schools seemed like a logical way to go. Overall, reaction has been very positive and encouraging and sales decent in my opinion for the time frame.

2. One show had door prizes and all vendors were to donate an item. This seemed to generate interest/anticipation because some people put their tickets in before walking the show and then were excited to see and meet me when they got to my table. At least a couple bought the book so they'd have one win or lose.

3. A librarian bought a copy at the most recent show which of course increases the book's exposure way beyond that day. Nice bonus!

Low Points
1. Attendance at the first show was dismal, the second pretty good, the third not dismal, but not great. You never know, that part's never within your control so you have to be prepared to lose money. Not expecting it, but prepared because it does happen.

2.Though most people are prepared with cash, some paid by check and I want to give people the benefit of the doubt. Got my first returned check in the mail today. We'll see if she returns my phone call. (TIP make sure to try to get a phone number if it's not printed on the check).

The last note I have for you isn't really a high or low point, it's just a fact: To have any kind of success at this type of outlet, you must be prepared to hustle (and I don't mean that fun dance you do at weddings :-D).

I'd say 50-75% of my sales have been due to interaction and directly engaging the customer. For example, if they slowed down they were greeted with "Good morning". If they stopped to look or even came close to stopping, I pointed out I was the author. From there, I explained who the book was for and tried to guide the conversation to a sale. Of course, not everyone who engaged bought, but many did who might otherwise not have thought about that person on their list, or who might not have taken the extra time to find out more beyond the cover.

If that type of selling is not your style, you aren't out of the game yet. Find someone who will go with you to do most of the talking. My husband was with me at one show and he's generally even more outspoken than I am so between the two of us, things went pretty well. If you don't have someone to bring along, craft shows might not be for you. At all three shows I saw plenty of vendors leave pretty empty handed because they simply sat there (sometimes reading books etc.) waiting for the customer to make the first move-but they didn't.

Bottom line, if you're up for meeting, greeting and personally sharing your passion for your books and your book fits the right audience (women buying for themselves or family members), I say craft/vendor shows are worth at least a try or two.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett