Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weigh Your Options -- And Your Book

If you are expecting book sales that will require mailing single copies, have your printer make a mock up of your book with the actual papers and page count prior to printing, and then weigh it. Then add an envelope and a mailing label -- and any other collateral items you are considering including in your orders. This is operations, my friends. And operations can make or break a publishing company (or any other type of company for that matter).  Does it really matter?

Challenge:  We completed a project wherein 75% of the books were sent out to individuals one at a time.  The book weighed 15.2 ounces, but with the envelope, bookmark and label, the final weight was 16.1 ounces. That meant that rather than paying $2.41, he was paying $2.82 per piece. (see Media Mail pricing sheet). With a margin barely at $4 per book when he arrived, that was a pretty significant difference. Prior to working with us, my client had paid for the whole second pound on each package because of one stinking 10th of an ounce. In this case, he was already using the lightest weight envelope and a regular mailing label, and my client liked the papers used in his book, so we didn't want to change that.  Did we have an option?

Solution:  On the next printing, we cut off 1/8th inch off the height of the book -- and that did the trick. There are creative solutions to nearly every problem, and this was a great fix for a potential profit hog. In our case, the buyers didn't even realize anything was different, and my client's profit margin rose over 10% per sale.

Moral of the story:  Consider how you will be selling and fulfilling your books, and make the shipping operation part of your initial planning process. Make sure your shipping costs reflect the actual weight of the book, and that you have thoughtfully considered whether or not your buyer values that extra fraction of an ounce over saving a little on shipping. It could be the difference between making a profit and losing money on books sold, depending on the buyer's terms. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What Makes a "Good Contact"?

I was talking to a few people upon my return from BookExpo, and found myself saying "I met a couple great leads and a few good ones." But now, I'm thinking "What makes them a good lead?" Are they saying "I made a great contact" after meeting me at the show?

It's not just the connection at the show that makes a "Good Contact," it's the relationship that buds at the show, and then blossoms with care and nurturing after the show.

Just like any other type of relationship, a "Good Contact" requires give and take, too. It requires trust on both parts and integrity on both parts. And you need to plan how to handle your new relationships from the early stages so they are able to grow. At CMI, we plan what we are doing with contacts before we go to a show or networking event. Sometimes you are the one getting the contact; sometimes you are the contact. You have to decide if the relationship is something you need and want in your professional life. Here are the questions that you should ask yourself:
  • Is this going to be a one-way relationship, or are there reciprocal benefits?
  • Do we have something legitimate to offer each other in our businesses or is it not really a perfect match?
  • Do the benefits of this relationship outweigh the costs of nurturing and maintaining it?
  • Am I willing to share my network with this person?

Set your own list of non-negotiables in the contacts you make -- and be aware that others are also doing the same (you hope). The most difficult part in the networking relationship is looking at yourself in the mirror and asking "Am I a good contact?"

For more great information on networking, read Jeff Beals' book Self Marketing Power.