Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Favorite Post Replay: Don't Overdirect the Hairdresser!

I am posting this again because it is so relevant now and always.  It originally posted in 2011, but is one of my most visited blogs every year....

Rinse. Repeat.  Don't overdirect the hairdresser.  When you hire a professional to assist you because you have never done something before, listen to them (you are paying them after all).  How do I know this is good advice?  The first time I decided to change my hair color, I sat down and told my stylist exactly what I thought she should do. She suggested otherwise, but I insisted. As she predicted, it looked awful.

Embarrassed, I went to another salon and said "Who's best at short hair techniques?"  They suggested Kimberly.  I told her "I'm hiring you to look at my face, coloring and overall image and do what you think will be best."  Then I trusted her to do it, and I continue to trust her to do what she thinks will look and work best for me, my image, changing hair color techniques, and my lifestyle.

The same holds true for hiring any expert...
Hire people you trust, validate them, and then trust them to do the job you hired them to do.  It's hard sometimes, and the control freak that gets all those other projects done every day may not know everything that is required to do the job at hand.

That is why you hired an expert to help you!

Originally published August 11, 2011

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flawless Event Planning - Part 2

Here are the essentials for booksignings and other events. 

Your event is right around the corner, but what do you need to have with you?  
  • Cart/Dolly
  • Table
  • Tablecloth
  • Poster or banner stand with a simple graphic (not a wall of text)
  • Easel (if bringing poster)
  • Books (be reasonable about the quantity)
  • Book stands
  • Cash box (with a "bank" based on how much you are charging. Set price so coins aren't needed.)
  • Credit card swiping device (Square, PayPal, etc.)
  • Any other collateral items you have, such as bookmarks, postcards, brochures, press kits
  • Reseller tax permit for the state you are selling in (in a folder is fine)
  • Optional: Original illustrations
  • Optional: Photos from the book
  • Tradeshow Kit*
*Tradeshow Kit: This is the holy grail. Here’s the scoop:

The tradeshow kit is a tackle box filled to the brim with what may seem like random items. Lisa, over her 30+ years of coordination and management of tradeshows, has compiled this list of items to put into a tradeshow kit. This kit includes the Things You’ll Need, the Things You Don’t Think You'll Need, and some Things You Don’t Even Know You’ll Need! These things interchange from show to show, but rest assured this kit should stay assembled and at the ready on a shelf or in your trunk, so you can grab and go for any event, planned or spontaneous! It has saved CMI many times, and it will save you – guaranteed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Flawless Event Planning - Part 1

Your event is coming up quickly! Are you prepared?

It’s exciting to take your book to an event where you’ll engage customers and hopefully sell them your book. You want to make sure that you have an exciting display and all of the tools necessary to do business.

What do you bring? This question has plagued authors all across the country for years. Here’s Lisa’s list from doing over 350 national, regional and local shows from budgets of $250 to $90,000.  What she learned is to be prepared for the strangest things to happen! The items you bring along, and a little advance planning can make or break your show. 

  1. Know who is attending the show and how your product benefits them.
  2. Know if your fellow exhibitors are your REAL audience 
  3. Know how you are going to follow up on your leads BEFORE you even go to the show
  4. Have your spiel memorized, practiced, honed and perfected. And don’t change it from person to person!
  5. Keep your messages simple and to the point for the audience you are seeking. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
  6. Know how long it takes you to present your book to a prospective customer. (Learn how to stop talking and let them ask a question)
  7. Know your goals
  8. Know your budget and stick to it
  9. Know who is in charge of the show itself: their phone number and name (It doesn’t hurt to bring a pack of Thank You notes and a couple of little gifts just in case.)
  10. Don’t get hung up on little annoying distractions – be prepared with a Tradeshow Kit* so you don’t have to waste time hunting down minutiae.

Part 2 - Tune in next week for the essentials in packing for your events!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Agent Assisted Publishing v. Hybrid Publishing

I just read an article entitled "What is Hybrid Publishing" on the email newsletter.  I'm scratching my head as to how they could be so free and easy in distributing misinformation to those seeking their wisdom. In the article, the author's agent couldn't sell her book, so the agent charged the author to "self publish" it for her, calling it Hybrid Publishing. No. I have seen so many agents entering the market lately, I just have to speak!

What IS Hybrid Publishing? 

The term "Hybrid Publishing" has been around for a long, long time. Hybrid publishing is not DIY in your basement with a program you've never even heard of. It's not vanity. It's not subsidy. It's not POD. It's not just uploading it to Amazon. It's not having someone that worked in one area of traditional publishing helping you self publish. Hybrid publishing takes the best techniques and materials available for the given objective to build a better product and stronger platform. It requires professional publishing navigation, book shepherding, coaching, author services. Hybrid, just like in horticulture, is a selection process used for greater growth, a better yield, faster production, and protection from pests.  I think the correlation fits darn well.

My first exposure to it was in 1993 at Publishers Marketing Association (now called Independent Book Publishers Association and I highly recommend it - Publishing University -- and it seems that it was gaining respect and exposure even then. I didn't make it up, but that is what I call our publishing model here, and what should be done for every book -- that is publishing it in whatever manner is BEST for that book and that author.

Agent-Assisted Publishing is Dangerous

The traditional publishing model is no longer the norm, and underutilized (or unemployed) Agents are jumping on the bandwagon to assist authors who wish to publish their own work. Agent-assisted publishing is a scary thing and I keep seeing it pop up calling it Hybrid Publishing. I see lots of problems with this -- not the least of which agents don't usually know the sheer volume of tasks required because they have never done any of them. Just because they sold a title to Publisher A doesn't mean they have a clue how to actually publish a book. Just like when you buy a dress from a department store, the sales clerk has no idea how it was put together or what all went into it. Their job is sales. The agent's job is sales. They sell your intellectual property to a publisher, ideally. The agent doesn't do the editing, designing, setting up the publishing accounts, hiring an illustrator, finding an indexer, signing you up for distribution -- let alone setting up a book signing or publicizing. That's just not their job. Their job is to sell you to a publishing house domestically or beyond, or to a movie studio, or to some other type of entity.

Word of Wisdom:
Ask a lot of questions before entering into any agreement to publish with an Agent -- starting with have they done the process from A to Z more than that one time for their Grandma Edna's cookbook.  And to the sales clerks out there -- don't try to sell yourself as Diane Von Furstenberg just because you sold a wrap dress at Nordstroms.

End of Rant.  :)

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Attorney, an Accountant, and a Banker Walked into a Coffee Shop - A Business Story

Back in 2004, Eric and I decided to take the plunge into the small business world.  I wanted to work with the independent authors and publishers that I had fallen in love with throughout the 90s with my work with Jan and Terry Nathan and the #IBPA (then called Publishers Marketing Association), and we devised a plan.  I explained that I wanted to "get authors where they can't get themselves" -- My husband and business partner asked, "Like a hotel concierge?"  And thus, the light went off for Eric and it made sense to me, so WHY NOT Concierge Marketing Inc.?

At the time, "Concierge Marketing" was not a type of marketing -- that came several years later.  Now, "concierge" is often used with "marketing".  We captured the name that night in every possible variation.

Initially, we worked with artists and musicians too -- but I won't waste too much time on that, except to say that Seth Godin's "The Dip" helped me make the decision to focus solely on my authors and small publishers and refer the musicians and artists to other marketing experts.

My first client, Janie Peterson of Behaven Day Centers and Behave'n Kids Press, gave me extremely valuable advice. She said "Make friends with your attorney, your accountant and your banker. They are going to be close for a long time." So I went to the Small Business Administration's excellent full day seminar where I met one of each as they taught our class.  I still employ the same people that presented that day, and I do consider these people friends (business friends). Janie has always been a trusted friend, and also a valuable mentor. Thank you Janie (and Roger)!

After I took the #SBA classes and another full day #SCORE seminar on taxes, Eric and I decided to go for it.  The first official thing I did was to call the attorneys and start the process to incorporate.

The second official thing I did was to join the Omaha Chamber of Commerce on October 20, 2004. The educational and networking opportunities were fun, well run, and priceless. Worth every penny of membership and I highly recommend it to anyone opening a business in Omaha. I don't know about other cities, but our Chamber is top notch.  Heck, in 2012 when a group of thieves tried to steal our copper cable in the building and we were down for the count for 9 days, the Chamber let me use their conference room and phones, and even allowed me to have Fedex and UPS deliver my packages to their offices. Last March, 2013, Concierge Marketing was honored as the @OmahaChamber of Commerce's Small Business of the Month and then nominated for Small Business of the Year in 2013.

On April 2, 2005, I was standing at the Starbucks at the Mall waiting for a press conference to begin for the National Sleep Week festivities, with Janie's Sleep Fairy, and the Nebraska Sleep Fair I had organized. Well, if that date seems at all familiar, it was the day Pope John Paul II passed away. Needless to say, no press thought my Sleep Fair was more important than that. Hmmph. That's the day I met Sandra Wendel, owner of Write On Inc. who happened to strike up a conversation at that Starbucks. Not only is she the finest book editor without question, but she has also been a wonderful mentor and friend. Concierge Marketing would not have been able to do what we have done without her. Thank you so much, Sandy.

Bottom line, I could go on and on and on about the people who have been part of my life and my vision. It takes trust, support, courage, humility, faith in your idea and your skills, and a lot of people to make the dream of owning a small business a reality. It also takes a sense of humor, and I can tell you we have laughed a lot in the strangest of situations.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to do business with amazing, bright, smart, caring, thought-leading people who I admire and love -- as mentors, staff, friends, clients, and partners. I'm ready for the next ten years.

Lisa Pelto

A Decade is a Long Time... Or is it?

On November 17, 2014, we celebrate 10 years as Concierge Marketing Inc.  
I thought it would be interesting to look back at the publishing scene a decade ago.  In looking at these things, it sure doesn't seem like 10 years has passed, but so much is different in publishing. One thing is for sure, a lot has changed in favor of the author!  

Eric and I want to say thank you to all of those people and businesses who helped us along the way; to the mentors in all aspects of publishing, marketing and running a business; to the authors who sought us out and asked us to be part of their publishing journey; and to our family for your patience, love and support.  

The top 10 books published in 2004 from USAToday
  1. The Da Vinci Code/ Dan Brown. 
  2. The South Beach Diet by Arthur Agatston. 
  3. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. 
  4. The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. 
  5. The Five People You Meet in Heaven: A Novel by Mitch Albom. 
  6. The South Beach Diet Good Fats Good Carbs Guide by Arthur Agatston
  7. My Life by Bill Clinton. 
  8. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. 
  9. Deception Point by Dan Brown. 
  10. Digital Fortress by Dan Brown. 

Who left us?
Julie Child, Pat Tillman, Ronald Reagan, Marlon Brando and Stieg Larson passed away

Top 10 Movies:
  1. The Incredibles
  2. The Polar Express
  3. After the Sunset
  4. Bridget Jones 2
  5. Ray
  6. Saw
  7. The Grudge
  8. Shall We Dance?
  9. Seed of Chucky
  10. Alfie

In other news...November 17, 2004 Headlines:
A megamerger between megastores, Kmart and Sears, joining forces. Tonight, the $11 billion deal...
Michael Jackson slapped with another lawsuit. Just how many people is he being sued by? Tonight. a look at the latest legal troubles for the one-time king of pop.

Studios Sue More Than 200 in Online Piracy Fight  - Hollywood studios sued more than 200 alleged online movie pirates known only by their IP addresses Tuesday, seeking damages of up to $150,000 for each film offered or downloaded on file-sharing networks.

Thank you everyone -- We're looking forward to another 10 years!

Friday, November 14, 2014

BUZZ: Barnes and Noble Expands Nook into Print on Demand

"Expands?" That's a stretch. 
"Limps?" That's closer. 
"Lamely attempts to worm its way into print." Ah, Perfect!

There is a lot of buzz out there with Barnes and Noble's announcement that they are expanding Nook's services into the print on demand arena.  In my opinion, and a lot of other publishing experts too, they have never really gotten ebooks right yet, so I'm not sure this will be all that useful. Unconfirmed rumors are that Nook has employed the services of Author Solutions to provide these services, but no formal announcement by either party admits their involvement. The packages and language used by the new Nook site do resemble that of many of the Author Solutions companies.

The services outlined on their new site come down to printing services. Yes, there are illustration services at $275 to $360 each. Editorial services are offered with a required $399 Editorial Assessment, and then from 3.7 cents a word up to 8.1 cents per word. (Is that # of words in or out? Dunno.) Way above current market prices I find. Oh, and yes, there are hardcover options for printing -- but again, way above market prices elsewhere.

There is no distribution offered, The books will not be in the Barnes and Noble stores, nor any other store for that matter.  From their own FAQ:
The NOOK Press print platform program is for you to print books for your personal use, and does not include selling those books through Barnes & Noble stores or You may sell the books you print on your own, however.
And printing prices? Through the roof. While the simplicity of the site is appealing, and the instructions offered for book layout are very comprehensive, the costs of printing are some of the most expensive I have ever seen. I ran six sets of specs that we currently publish, and only four were even offered. Those four were from 20% to 70% higher than my current prices elsewhere! Orders can be placed for only 125 books at a time -- and Nook isn't sharing the shipping costs where I can find them, so who knows where that will put you.

Will Nook's new services be a hit? I don't see that happening. They are not competition for the likes of CreateSpace or Lightning Source's Ingram Spark because there is no option for any help with distribution. This whole thing is set up as a bad contender against maybe Blurb -- but Blurb is certainly my choice if I need a few high quality print books for personal use. At least they have paper choices. If Nook is using the same output services as Author Solutions, no thanks -- while the prices compare to Blurb, there is no way the quality will.

I certainly hope that the simplicity of their site doesn't fool newbie authors into spending thousands of dollars on this toe in the water attempt by Nook to expand into print. It's simple for a reason -- it doesn't offer much.