Posts Tagged ‘Self-publishing’

What’s Next–Debtor’s Prison?

Saturday, September 26th, 2009

Okay posts on printing and Self-Publishing are going to have to wait once again. It seems that the last post, We Sure Swallowed the Health Care Lie, I seriously stirred the pot. If you go back and read my post and the attached comments, you will find that sentiments are all over the place. The truth is we don’t know what to do about the corporate Godzilla’s wreaking havoc in our lives. We know who they are, and there is plenty of finger pointing to go around, but our backs are against the wall and there isn’t a rescuer in sight.

Does this sound a tad dramatic? It is, but unless we see the monsters for what they really are we won’t muster the will to fight them. Tracy commented on my post, and I quote, “I emphatically agree with you regarding your views on health insurance…perhaps because I, too, am self-employed and have been for 31 years. My Blue Shield plan just increased about 3 months ago by 22% and is going up another 18% in December (when I enter a new age bracket). I worked in the housing industry and my income is down 90% while my health insurance will have increased 40%. I have been charging my health insurance premiums since January of this year because I am afraid to cancel it because, as you stated, it will be impossible to get health insurance then. Something has GOT to change!”

Tracy’s example is representative of the trouble many of us are finding ourselves in; let’s look at the the history of the unholy trio: US Congress, Health Insurance Companies, and the Financial Industry; and discover the careful step-by-step path that led us into this unconscionable position.

  • 1920’s Health Insurance created by Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
  • 1929 estimated annual average health care expense for American families totaled $108.00.
  • 1933 Federal Government passes Glass-Steagall Act wherein “banks, brokerages, and insurance companies were effectively barred from entering each others’ industries, and investment banking and commercial banking were separated.” Post by Kitty Wampus
  • 1940′s saw the entrance of commercial insurance companies into health insurance  after seeing the success of Blue Cross/Blue Shield (source EHNet).
  • 1960 Health Care expense rose to an average of 6.6% of a family’s annual income. It was no longer a luxury–it was now a necessity.
  • 1973 the last year middle-class and poor Americans saw an increase in real earnings–only the top 20% saw gain–the bottom 80% has been stagnant for 36 years.
  • 1980 congress passed Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control which broadened lending powers and banks rushed into real estate lending and speculative lending.
  • 1980 Ronald Reagan elected president, took office 1981 (note: Regan didn’t start banking deregulation).
  • 1981 Economic Recovery Act spurred a boom in real estate.
  • 1982 Garn-St.Germain Act authorized money market savings accounts in banks and savings and loans. Seriously undermining their security.
  • 1999 President Clinton, Republicans agree to deregulation of US financial system effectively nullifying all of the protections of Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.
  • 2001 Health care insurance premiums risen three times more than wages. With company health care the average person paid $2,827.00 including premiums and deductibles. Health Reform.Gov
  • 2005 Bankruptcy laws changed to protect banks at the expense of customers. Banks who encouraged consumers to participate in reckless free-spending credit card lifestyles feared to face the results of their own actions.
  • 2006 Average spending on health care including premiums and deductibles rose 30% in five years to $3,744.00. For those without company sponsored group insurance the costs were even more. HealthCare.gov
  • 2008 ushered in the biggest financial failing since the Great Depression. US Government offers bailout money to head off economic collapse. Banks promise to renegotiate home mortgages, instead raise credit card interest rates by double or more

So here’s the bottom line as I see it:

  1. The way to unimaginable wealth is to create and market a product that becomes a necessity, like cigarettes and cocaine. The health insurance industry did just that. How? By allowing costs to spiral up. Since medical providers have had unrestrained ability to charge outrageous fees, i.e. the ten dollar dose of Tylenol, ancillary costs and services have skyrocketed too. Who now can afford treatment for even simple procedures without insurance? Furthermore, should a policyholder contract an illness or suffer an injury while covered, their options of changing insurance companies becomes impossible. Pre-existing condition clauses keep people stuck. Drop your insurance with a pre-existing condition and you may never qualify for coverage again.
  2. The financial industry has manipulated the government into lifting all of the protections that were implemented to prevent the collapse experienced during the Great Depression. What happened? Is it any surprise that the country is experiencing a deep recession? It is okay with the CEO’s because they take their bonuses whether the company makes money or not. It is the workforce and small businesses are hit hardest. Big banks are recovering nicely because of bailout money, higher credit card charges, and tougher bankruptcy laws.
  3. People like my commenter, Tracy, find themselves charging their rising
    New & Improved Card

    New & Improved Card

    health insurance costs on credit cards that can, and do, double interest and fees without restraint. If she can’t find another way to pay those usurious interest rates and outrageous policy premiums she will lose everything she has.

  4. Congress, the health insurance, and financial industries have us just where they want us. We have become slaves of the system just as surely as blacks were plantation slaves over 200 years ago. If you want proof, just try to get away without paying income taxes. Go to a hospital without an insurance card. Refuse to pay exorbitant credit card fees. Do all of those things and see what happens.

What’s next, debtor’s prison?

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.

Here’s a POD, There’s a POD, Everywhere a POD POD

Friday, August 28th, 2009

First what is POD? This is really confusing. There are iPod’s for music, pod casts for recording, pea pods, pod people from the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Printing on Demand (pod).

Since I’m a print broker and this blog concerns itself with printing, publishing, and [other] observations you could guess that the pod I’m concerned about is Printing on Demand. By the way, that’s a darned good phrase. Whoever came up with it should write political slogans, you know, the kind of things that sound good but have no real substance. After all, if you wanted something printed why not have it done on demand?

I DEMAND PRINTING NOW!

I DEMAND PRINTING NOW!

“My good sir, I demand my printing.” Wha? What does it mean? The phrase by itself is meaningless, but it has impact. It lets the customer feel that they are in charge by being able to demand it. How often if life do we get to demand anything? Demands usually cause trouble, but here’s the printer giving you permission to DEMAND something. That’s refreshing, don’t you think?

First, printing on demand is a misnomer. It is not a printing method at all. The method is called digital. Think of POD like the term quick print. Quick printing is offset printing utilizing faster turnarounds, smaller runs, and cheaper methods, like using paper plates instead of metal. There is no printing process called Quick Print. And there isn’t a printing press called an “on demand.”

Digital printing burst onto the printing scene just a few years ago. The computer industry spawned it, and in fact, the printing you do on your office laser jet is digital printing. The difference between the commercial digital “press” and your office printer boils down primarily to speed and sophistication.

So what’s the big deal? Oh my friend, it is a very big deal because Printing on Demand is revolutionizing the field of publishing. Until it came around, it wasn’t economically feasible to print just a few books. To prepare an offset press for printing requires several steps that we call “make-ready” in the biz. The time and materials, such as plates,  and file prep, have front-end costs. With POD, many of those front-end costs don’t exist. if your electronic file is right, the setup is virtually done. Now is the beginning of the golden age of short-run publishing.

If the price is better why isn’t all printing POD? Because, it isn’t always better. For all the hoopla, POD has a serious weakness. It is great at micro print runs, like quantities between one and five-hundred, but can’t keep up with offset printing at around one-thousand. If you wish to print say 2,000 books, offset printing will offer a much better price, but if you only want 50, POD beats offset, hands down.

What’s the future of Printing on Demand? Who knows? I suspect that someone, somewhere soon will figure out a way to make digital printing more economical for longer runs and offset presses will quickly disappear like dinosaurs. That day isn’t here yet. For the time being I recommend digital printing for short runs and offset printing for larger.  Here’s a pretty simple guide: 500 or less = digital, 1,000 or more = offset, between 500 and 1,000, get a bid.

P.S. If you have self-published a book and want to learn how to totally master the power of Internet marketing check out The Author Platform.

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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© 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.