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.

Humbly,
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 BN.com. 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.

Lame.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Copyright, Non-Disclosure and Non-Compete

 US Copyright Office

Nearly every day someone tells me they want to send their book in for copyright protection, right now -- no matter what stage the manuscript is in. Of course the words they wrote that first night are magical and have never been strung together in just that way, so why wouldn't they want to protect them? They may have only written 3/4 of the manuscript, but they are using beta readers or requesting endorsements and they want to make sure they are protected. This is where you use a non-disclosure agreement, or a non-compete form -- not copyright. 

The Good News: You are protected by copyright law the moment it is fixed in tangible form. You don't have to file anything, send anything in, or pay any fees to be protected. When you are all done and have a pretty book, send it in for registration at LOC.gov.  In reality, all that is necessary to protect your work is that you place a notice of copyright on the work. Here are the instructions on that from LOC.gov FAQ:

The © symbol, or the word 'Copyright' or abbreviation 'Copr.'; The year of first publication of the copyrighted work; Identification of the owner of the copyright, either by name, abbreviation, or other designation by which it is generally known.


The Bad News: Putting this notice on your work will not keep anyone from walking over to their copier and making a copy of it for their use. You can't prevent that. But you can keep an eye out for pirating by searching and using various tools. 


The Alarming News: Some of the biggest violators of copyright laws are authors.  "Can I put these paragraphs in my book without asking the author?"  Simple measure of this: Would this be okay with YOU if someone printed your main ideas in their own book without asking? How much of your text would be okay? Not much I'm guessing.


Read all the FAQ's on copyright here: http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's Not That Much Work

What scares me? 

A person who is looking to hire me and during the first conversation tells me that what they are asking for is "Not that hard," "Not that much work," or "Won't take very long."  

A person who has never published a book (or fill in the blank with whatever work the contractor does) and then proceeds to tell me how to do it.

A person who says "I'm the easiest person you'll ever work with."

A person who tells me they are bluntly and brutally honest during our first meeting.

A person who wants to make "a tiny little change that won't take more than a couple minutes." Forty-seven times.

These are sure signs to any contractor or service provider that trouble is on the horizon. If you are hiring a contractor of any type, these are scary to all of us.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is it time for your story?

Why are we seeing so many WWII and
Holocaust Memoirs these days?

Simple answer... It's time.  It's important to capture stories while those who lived them are still around to tell us, in their own words, what they went through.

We have produced two Holocaust memoirs and are working on our third; we've done many WWII era stories -- some private family histories, some major releases.  WWII stories are in the forefront right now because it is just that time in the cycle. These stories have to be told when it is time for that author and family, and not before. It's the same for biographies, family histories, and history in general. It's what we know now, what we didn't know then, what we should learn from it, and how to prevent bad things happening in the future by knowing what happened in the past.

There is no more vulnerable time in a person's life than telling their story when they don't know who might read it... so we help them organize their ideas and their goals prior to beginning writing to ease them into the writing process.  It's a beautiful legacy to leave for the generations that follow. You have a story to tell, you have lessons we should hear, and you have the perfect time to tell it.  

Here are some great WWII era memoirs/biographies we have had to honor to help publish:


 Bread or Death











Sunday, November 9, 2014

Book Marketing Summit Summary

Well, we did it!  We gathered, book publishing professionals and authors of all types, in one room and shared ideas. There is just something about hearing an author talk about their passion, and what is working for them, what they have tried and what didn't work as well.  Sixteen people joined us for the first Monthly Book Marketing Summit at Swanson Library to exchange ideas. There are lots of writing groups, but I wanted something different: A meeting of published authors talking about marketing!

There were children's authors, non-fiction authors, and fiction, with greatly varied topics -- but the one similarity tying us all together is their desire to share a story with others.  Some of the topics that were shared were:

Blogs, Facebook and other social media - The discussion was "Do they actually translate into sales?" The general consensus is that they don't work in isolation -- you have to use them concurrently and frequently.

Traditional print media - Newspapers, magazines -- risky for books because unit cost is low for an individual sale, Must have distribution through bookstores for this to be effective.

Publicity - Is it worth the trouble?  The discussion was the full spectrum with one individual thinking it doesn't really work anymore, one person thinking it is the holy grail and the rest of the room happy to spend a few hundred to distribute a press release a couple of times a year.

Events - Book Festivals: (No general book celebrations in Omaha or the area; too snooty); Farmer's Markets: good for some types of books for the right author (but not for everyone and you have to be accepted); Craft Fairs: A lot of work, but can be lucrative with good placement.

Next Book Marketing Summit: December 10, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm - Millard Public Library