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Selling Your Book Can Be A Snap

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I, Bill Ruesch, have a confession to make. Although I’ve been in and around printing for some 35 years, book publishing is comparably new to me. You see, I did something that most Americans (somewhere around 80% wish they would do) I wrote a book. Actually I wrote four, one non-fiction, two poetry, and a novel, but that is beside the point. My novel would be my break through book. It  is a children’s fantasy story set in the fictional 1950’s small Florida town of Burns. It’s called The Whistlin’ Salamander. The thing is, I didn’t know what to do next.

Does that seem odd to you? I don’t mean to imply that I don’t know how to get a book printed. I could do that in my sleep. What I didn’t know was how to get it published. So, I turned to the Internet and bought several books on the subject.  I found tons of information on the business from landing an agent, to wooing a publisher. Publishers, for the most part, I was advised, won’t even look at a manuscript that hasn’t been presented by an agent, so I tried, and tried, to find an agent.

I learned about query letters. I came up with what I believed was a dandy, and made sure it was letter perfect. Agents, I read, have zero tolerance for grammar or spelling errors. I found out that different agents required different numbers of pages to sample your manuscript, and that I had to scrupulously follow every instruction or risk immediate rejection. I was very certain that they would love my letter and the submitted pages would be hailed. In my daydreams agents competed to sign me. That was the fantasy. The reality–not so much. Not only didn’t anyone bite, they didn’t even nibble.

What next, I thought?

Aha! An old friend Karen Christoffersen, I recalled, had worked with Richard PaKarenCul Evans author of the best-selling Christmas Box. Maybe Karen could help me. I called Karen and she told me that they were working on a program to teach self-publishers everything they needed to know through a practical hands-on method. At the completion, authors would receive fifty copies of their bookstore-worthy book printed, designed, edited, and proofread. That sounded like a good idea, but I already knew how to get all of the production things done. What I needed to know was how to sell my book. The great-agent-chase convinced me that traditional publishing wasn’t ready for me yet.

Karen introduced me to Phil Davis PhilDavisthe owner of ZDocs a digital printing company specializing in short-run books. Phil, being the savvy entrepreneur that he is, had created a course to teach authors how to use the Internet to establish or increase credibility, and to sell books. He named the course T.A.P.The Author Platform. I told Phil about my quandary and he gracefully allowed me to study TAP with the proviso that I would report back to him anything I didn’t understand. Hey, I could do that. Through The Author Platform I learned the importance of creating a blog. Viola, that’s what you are reading now. I learned about social networking and you can find me on Facebook , Linkedin and Twitter, I found out that through social networking you can reach thousands of people with your sales message in less time than it takes for one person to walk into a bookstore, pickup your book, and look at the jacket.

I’ve been practicing the principles Phil teaches in TAP.  I now know that self-promotional activities are challenging. They take time, they take energy, and they require all of your creativity. How well does it work? In just a few months I’ve become connected with amazing people all over the world that I could never have met in 10 lifetimes otherwise. My network gets stronger everyday. The more I learn the more I realize there must be thousands of people in the same boat as I was, authors stuck  somewhere along the path between writing a book to successfully selling it. My need became the incentive to develop The Red Hen Association of Self-Publishing Authors. You can read the manifesto, which is just a fancy way of saying vision and purpose by clicking here.

I’ve heard sad stories of garages full of self-published books that don’t sell because the authors don’t know what to do once they have them. I would heartily recommend The Author Platform as an excellent way to begin. It costs a little money, but compared to the cost of just storing unsold books, it’s a pittance. Knowledge truly is powerful.

Bargain With Life for a Penny…

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Many years ago there were three young ambitious friends. They met while working for a small start-up business newspaper. One went on to get a Masters in Marketing. Another created a newsletter business. And the third became a printing sales rep.

Time passed and they lost track of one another. The one with the Marketing Masters Degree jumped  into direct marketing and began to create a name for himself. He was invited back to his home town to start direct division for the largest advertising agency in the city. The newsletter guy struggled but kept afloat. The printing rep found out how to make a prosperous living by securing good customers, and taking good care of them. He did well.

All three had different business philosophies. Mr. Marketer believed in charging top dollar for his services. The newsletter guru believed in being the lowest priced, and the print rep felt the real answer was somewhere in-between. Being the highest priced would drive some customers away, but being the lowest would create disrespect. When it’s all about the lowest price, someone will come along and find a way to shave off a penny or two. Price is a very shaky foundation to build on.

Fast forward a few more years. The newsletter man lost his business and moved away somewhere  to the Northwestern United States. The direct marketing guy teamed with another well-respected direct marketing entrepreneur and discovered  that he could charge even more than he previously thought was over-the-top for his services. And the print rep steadily built his customer base seeing  year-by-year increases.

Eventually, the Marketing fellow, sold out his business to his partner and began an affiliate Internet business. He caught the wave at the beginning and has been very successful. The print rep became a self-employed printing broker and began making more money than he had ever seen before, not as much as his friend, but pretty comfortable nonetheless.

Today, the newsletter guy has been off the radar for too many years. Hopefully he is doing well. The Internet affiliate master has a big office with many people working for him that do mysterious things on the Internet that even he doesn’t pretend to understand. He drops in from time-to-time just to satisfy himself that all is well and count his big bucks. “It’s a tough job,” he acknowledges, “but somebody has to do it.”

The printing broker is still doing well, but has definitely seen a drop in business because of the Internet. He is concerned about the future of the printing industry and his place in it. Maybe a little late he decided to enter the fast paced world of the Internet. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. He’s now on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. He’s learning terms like SEO, Links, Widgets, and Plugins. He’s writing blogs, books, and developing training materials to help printers, customers, and prospective print brokers become more successful in their businesses. In short, he’s reinventing his career at a time, he thinks, when he should be resting in a golden hammock.

What’s the moral of this story? If you bargain with life for a penny life will pay no more. There’s a temptation during tight times to cut prices. If you own a company your salesmen will all whine that, “Our prices are too high–we can’t compete.” Don’t give in to this cry, because it is very difficult to raise them again after you have established a low water mark. If you compete on being the lowest price you may as well start making your bankruptcy plans now.

What about the middle road? The middle of the road has its dangers too. That’s where the traffic is the highest. It is very difficult to establish your own identity when you are in a flock of me-too’s. Long-term success depends on splitting off from the pack and becoming your own person, or company. Be unique and find a way to charge more for your services than the going rates.  Sock some of it away so you’ll have extra dollars to take advantages of opportunities that may come your way. Maybe you too can catch the next big wave and beat me to that golden hammock.

Something Out of the Blue

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Something totally unexpected came right out of the blue. You know that this blog has been going on for a short time, three weeks or so. I have been having a great time writing and my wife tells me that my style is engaging. But, you know wives, they, unless they’re mad at you, will say anything to keep their men happy. Since my wife works in the same office as I do, and since our chairs are back to back, and she could look over my shoulder at anytime to see what I’m writing, I have to be careful. Instead of flattery I could get a knock on the side of my head.

Anyway, back to the unexpected thing. I started this blog in the hope that I could pass along information I’ve learned over the last nearly forty some odd years in the printing business. I’ve thought about creating seminars and workshops to help companies do a better job buying printed materials. I’ve written and rewritten and am rewriting yet again a book I call Getting Stuff Printed. Forever writing, never publishing. Actually I did, years ago, have a publishing contract with a local firm, but before they got around to my book they went out of business. Rats! The easiest thing I’ve done so far is writing this blog. I love it. I thought that the blog as well as connections established through social sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, would bring me into contact with people who need my wisdom and are willing to pay for it. So far, there hasn’t been much traffic in that area, but I got a phone call today that totally surprised me. I got an offer to write a blog for someone else. They like my style and feel that it is compatible with their existing blog. Can you imagine that? I started this in an effort to expand my print brokering business and instead I’m becoming a writer. Will wonders never cease? I hope not, wonders are what makes life worth living.

The other thing is that I am seeing hits from the far corners of the globe. Who would’ve thought that an age would come where someone sitting in an office in one of the less populated states in the union, could write about things happening in his daily life and someone thousands of miles away would check in? Did they find they find something in my business that relates to theirs? Can what I do in Utah have any relevance to what happens in printing in China? I guess so, and it seems so weird that it freaks me out. I will have readers that I will never meet, and who’s paths will never cross with mine if not for Web 2.0. It is a different world and I hope a better world. Maybe if we someday come to understand that we are the same in many ways, that my problems in my printing business are the same here as in France, or the Philippines, then we can back off just a little and not have so much to be angry about. After all, it was the invention of the printing press that started shrinking the world. Web 2.0 is just the next evolution. I wonder what the next one is.

The Easy Way To Reach Bill Ruesch
He's available to help you with any of your printing, or publishing needs. Please contact him if you need a book, marketing materials, or anything else printed. His thirty-five years of experience, and thousands of happy customers is your guarantee of satisfaction.

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Successfully Market Your Book
learn how to sell a ton of books with The Author Platform A practical, easy to use, Internet marketing education in four simple-to-follow modules. Contains everything you need to know to make your self-published book a smash.
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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.