Archive for the ‘Book Distribution’ Category

To Book Publishers (Traditional & Self) Who Just Don’t Get It

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In reading a response to a discussion I started on a writer’s group on LinkedIn, I was struck with the thought that it isn’t just self-publishers who need to pay attention to the quality of their products. Some very big names are guilty of foisting-off crap.

The kind of food you'll find at Cracker Barrel.

Recently I visited a Cracker Barrel Restaurant with my wife. For those who may not be familiar with Cracker Barrel, it serves southern style comfort food at reasonable prices. We like to go there when we just want foody-food. Nothing fancy.  No cooking with exotic spices like saffron or curry. On the menu will be dishes like meatloaf, country fried steak, and catfish. You can choose your sides from a menu that includes fried okra, turnip greens, and corn. For desert there are various cobblers, pie, and ice-cream. Yum.

Before you get to the restaurant part of the place you have to wend your way through kitschy collections of merchandise that change with the season. My wife loves to peruse their tables of nick-knacks, music boxes, and stuffed animals. Now, as I am writing this it is three days from Christmas, so they were all decked out in a torrent of red and green. Santas and gift items were stacked nearly ceiling high. My eye caught an illustrated book of The Night Before Christmas. The illustrations were beautiful. I wish I could say the same for the book. The workmanship, especially on the cover was a disaster. Both covers, front and back, bowed outward from the spine. It was not only ugly, but made it impossible for the book to lay flat on a table. Here was a book that I wanted to buy, wanted to take home and treasure, wanted to read it to future grandchildren, but I couldn’t get past the cover. This was not an heirloom piece; it was a piece of carnival crap. I looked at the spine and was surprised to see that Simon & Schuster allowed this mess to go out under their banner.

I believe that books are a treasure. They last decades and centuries even. It saddens me to think that the noble business of publishing, especially the giant houses like Simon & Schuster, may be more focused on profit than quality.

I have heard authors complain that their traditionally published books were an embarrassment to them. That the cover designs didn’t truly represent the book, and that cheap cost cutting methods were implemented. Authors who have sold their rights to the publisher have no claim on how the book is manufactured. As for The Night Before Christmas I’m guessing it was sent to a sweat shop overseas to be printed and bound for the lowest price possible, a price guaranteeing maximum profit but sacrificing the honor of the book. I didn’t buy it. I’m hoping no one does. If enough customers reject poor quality the publisher will have to ask why. Why didn’t this book sell?

I plead with self-publishing authors to realize that they have total control of their children. Dress them up in their Sunday best and send them out to play. The day may come when the marketplace will select a self-published book over a traditional one because of the value added that comes from your care.

Greenwise or Green-Foolish (Continued)

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Electronic Communication or Paper What’s Greener?

I promised to continue with the subject of International Paper’s brochure that asks the question, “Are pixels greener than paper?” As I said in my last blog, before reading their information I would have answered, “Of course, pixels are greener than paper.” After all, no trees have to be sacrificed to create electronic blips. Now I see that there is an argument to be made. You may disagree with International Paper, it’s no skin off my nose. I’m only serving as a purveyor of information.  When it comes to hot potato issues like the environment, I tend to run to the middle ground myself. The hostility that surrounds such issues tends to be fierce and in the end neither of the more radical views will prevail anyway. That being said, I think it wise to listen to all points of view so I can find  the middle ground for myself.

The previous post discussed energy use.  From I.P.’s  brochure Down To Earth I quote, “Every decision to communicate has some impact on the environment. For example, whether we email or send a letter, we consume energy and resources. There are environmental trade offs in every choice we make, and there is no simple ‘right answer.’ Effective stewardship requires a careful examination of the larger picture that compares the entire life cycle, from raw materials to energy use and end of life, to fully understand the impact and performance of both electronic media and paper. The facts may surprise you.”

Negative Carbon Footprint

More Planted than Harvested

More Planted than Harvested

In this post we will focus on sustainability. “One of the great things about paper is that its primary raw materials are renewable. The paper and forest products industry replenishes more than it takes and ensures the sustainability of our forests by planting 1.7 million trees every single day, more than three times what is harvested. And the U.S. Dept. of Energy has stated that the carbon sequestered on forested lands in 2006 was greater than the carbon released from harvesting wood over the same period.”

Side-by-Side Comparison

Is it recycled? Paper is biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable. Nearly 60% (57.4%) of paper used in the U.S. is recycled and more than 63 percent of fiber used to make paper products comes from recycled paper. Paper waste won’t kill you unless a skid falls on your head, but that isn’t true of electronics, according to earth 911, “Electronic waste accounts for 70 percent of the overall toxic waste currently found in landfills. In addition to valuable metals like aluminum, electronics often contain hazardous materials like mercury…in 2005 alone, almost two million tons of e-waste were landfilled. While toxic materials comprise only a small amount of this volume, it doesn’t take much lead or mercury to contaminate an area’s soil or water supply.”  There is even a report that says the dust collecting on our computers can be harmful to our health (see CNET). Sources say 150 million PC’s are expected be discarded annually, with only approximately 3.6 percent recycled.

Is it sustainable? The great thing about paper is that its primary raw materials are renewable. In fact, as stated earlier, three trees are planted for every one harvested. We may be in more danger of being crowded out than we are of risking barren landscapes. To create a computer for example “typically requires the mining and refining of dozens of minerals and metals, including gold, silver, and palladium as well as the extensive use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. (DTE brochure)” Plus computers are short lived. A five year old computer is about as productive as a paperweight, which is partially the reason that “electronics have become the fastest growing waste stream in the world. (DTE brochure).

I could go on, but there are massive amounts of information available to anyone who wants to research these matters further. International Paper in their brochure would refer you to the following resources: ipsustainability.com; iplifeoftheforest.com; abundantforests.com; epa.gov; fsc.org; iea.org; pefc.org and sfiprogram.org.

The Author Platform

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Why is a Book the BEST Calling Card?

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Many years ago, in the distant past, even before Willie Nelson had a pony tail, I was working for an advertising agency and had a client who wanted to publish a book. His book was called It’s Your Money, Earn or Burn. Actually, I wrote the title, but that is beside the point. The information in the book is way out of date now, but at the time was cutting edge.

He, my client, and a partner had a business finding and promoting tax sheltered investments. Since then congress has closed most shelters and left many tax payers high and dry. The rules surrounding  acceptable tax shelters from those disallowed were somewhat discombobulated and difficult to decipher. Imagine that–tax regulations being difficult to understand–who wodda thought?

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson

For example there was the famous case of country singer Willie Nelson who followed the advice of Price Waterhouse, one of the top 10 accounting firms in the country. The government disallowed his sheltered investments and the unpaid taxes and fines forced Willie Nelson into bankruptcy.

Get this, the government wouldn’t tell you in advance if a shelter would be allowed or not. You had to assume it would be, then wait for their audit, which could take years. If you guessed wrong–WHAM you paid dearly.

My client’s idea was to write a book simplifying tax shelters for people and leading them away from uncertain ones into those proven. It was an excellent idea, but marketing and distribution became a problem. The Internet didn’t exist in those days so it was difficult to connect with the very small percentage of Americans who were potential targets for his message, but that didn’t really matter.

Why, you might ask.

The very day books were delivered; he extracted a copy, proudly marched down the hall to the offices of another firm, and gave the book to the owner. The owner looked at the cover, turned it over and saw my client’s photo and bio on the back. Volia, instant credibility.

As a direct result of using his book as a calling card, my client secured a contract that paid him more than all of the costs of producing the book. All actual book sales were gravy.

Ask yourself if instant credibility would benefit you. Are there doors currently closed that might open if you used a book to jimmy the lock (metaphorically speaking, that is)? How do you crash through the glass ceiling? Try throwing your book at it. A book can give you more status than any other factor. These people would definitely improve their chances for advancement, better name recognition, and higher earnings if they had a book:

  • Public Speakers
  • Corporate Trainers
  • Presenters
  • Sales Representatives
  • Teachers
  • Executives

Note: Remember that writing a book is only the first step. At that point you aren’t even half-way done. To decide how you will market your book check into The Author Platform. It’s a comprehensive program to teach you how to use the Internet effectively.

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© Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bill Ruesch, Talking Through My Hat with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.