selling booklets

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selling booklets

Postby ajpor » Fri Sep 20, 2002 12:53 pm

Ok, I've decided to put together a booklet to sell at the craft/wellness shows I'll be doing this fall. I have material already written, so that part's done. Question: Have any of you had success with this? Care to share your experiences and/or tips? Thanks, all, jean
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Postby peterbacon » Fri Sep 20, 2002 1:48 pm

Ajpor - Can't say I've sold my own booklets yet. However, I have assembled one that I plan to sell, and am glad to find your thread here. It'll help motivate me and keep me moving forward. My intention is to make a variety of simple games and puzzles, and sell them to local markets. The booklet I've already put together is on tangrams, and will come with a set of hand-made tangram tiles. So, since we're at roughly the same stage in this, it'll be fun to compare notes and follow each other's progress. PeterB
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Postby ajpor » Fri Sep 20, 2002 7:28 pm

Hi, PeterB, I have articles I worked on years ago that I can print as booklets. Some are craft directions and ideas. I have a few how-to spirituality topics done, too, which I'd planned to use as a series. I guess they still can be a series--of booklets, if they sell. Maybe one larger booklet. How are you planning to market yours? I'd thought of selling at booths and such, as I end up at shows several times a year, and at workshops. I think mine may be something like 16-20 pages (8x11 folded in half). I haven't printed one out to see. Are you going to print them on the computer or use a copy place or get them professionally done? I was going to use a copy place, but my neighbour insists that printing them on the computer is cheaper. I have trouble believing that, but I don't really know. I just figured the printer isn't made for printing out hundreds of copies. jean
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Postby ajpor » Fri Sep 27, 2002 9:30 am

Last night I was talking to a friend and discovered that she had printed a book of tips in line with her consulting and public speaking. She paid over $5000 for the run and sells the booklets at $5 each...getting a profit of only $1 on each. OY! I was hoping for a better return than that! Needless to say, I was quite disappointed to hear her story. Now, she did get a printer to set them and do that glossy cover thing and all...so they look great...but maybe that's where she made her mistake? OR maybe this is just how it goes. But others make money this way, I know. Hmm. Confused here. jean
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Postby peterbacon » Thu Oct 03, 2002 9:31 am

Hi, Jean, On the subject of booklets, you write, \"How are you planning to market yours? I\'d thought of selling at booths and such, as I end up at shows several times a year, and at workshops.\" Yes, markets and booths is mostly what I\'m thinking of at the moment--in part b/c I already have some experience selling at markets here in Melbourne, though it wasn\'t booklets I was peddling at the time. In the case of my tangram booklet, it\'ll be accompanied by a set of hand-made tangram tiles. Which raises another question: Could you--or would you want to--sell each of your booklets paired with an appropriate product? Example: a booklet on relaxation techniques packaged with incense. Or a booklet on giving massages acompanied by massage oils. \"I think mine may be something like 16-20 pages (8x11 folded in half). I haven\'t printed one out to see.\" Sixteen to 20 pages, of course, means four or five sheets of paper printed front and back. Plus another sheet for the cover. (You\'ll also need to put a couple of staples down the fold of each booklet, and there are two or three different ways to do that, depending on number of copies you\'re binding at a time. Free tips upon request.) But as for the cost, printing five or six sheets front and back, no matter how you do it, isn\'t going to cost you much. And you can do the camera-ready copy yourself at home on your computer. The nice thing about booklets is you can ease into it and test the waters. If worse comes to worse, you\'ve only lost a few dollars. (Give them as stocking stuffers at Christmas.) ;-) On the other hand, if the thing takes off, then you can start thinking of economies of scale--printing in larger quantities in order to lower your per-unit cost. Incidentally, as you\'re factoring costs and weighing the pros and cons of doing it this way or that, don\'t forget to factor in your own time. \"She paid over $5000 for the run and sells the booklets at $5 each...getting a profit of only $1 on each. OY! Oy vai! As you suggest, probably not worth it--unless perhaps the booklets are being used as a sort of loss leader (perhaps increasing her credibility and/or visibility, thereby increasing sales, thereby offsetting the loss on her booklets. I wonder how many are gathering dust in her garage. It happened to me with a booklet of my own short stories, published over 20 years ago, and a few years after that with a short-lived arts/writing magazine for teenagers that I started and published for two years. (In a box somewhere, I still have a few copies of my own booklets and magazines that have traveled from Tegucigalpa to Albuquerque to Honolulu to San Diego to Melbourne!) Seems to me that being cautious with finite financial resources is not a sign of negative thinking, lack of self-confidence, etc. It\'s just good common sense, and reduces the chance of disappointment later. \"Now, she did get a printer to set them and do that glossy cover thing and all...so they look great...\" By \'printer,\' you mean a person. I don\'t see it. Not these days. Not unless you\'ve reached the point where you\'re selling thousands and thousands of these suckers every year. Again, seems like the way to go is to find the right balance between \'slick\' (which looks better and may or may not bring in additional sales) and \'plenty good enough\'. Of course, with laser printers being what they are these days, and the myriad of new or relatively new paper stock now available for them, it might be reasonably cheap to do a short run with slick covers and perhaps another run with something more modest, then compare sales. I\'d enjoy it if we could check in with each other on this and follow each other\'s progress, Jean, since I will be selling the tangram booklet before too long, and have another booklet idea or two in mind as well. Needless to say, anyone else who\'s thinking about selling booklets as an income stream is welcome to jump on board here. PeterB
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Postby MDG » Thu Oct 03, 2002 11:15 am

Post deleted, Sunday, January 22nd, 2006. The URL given for \"Valley Publishing.net\" now only takes you to some kind of sponsored directory of self-publishing services - for sale. After 'searching' for more than an hour, on Google, and on that site, I have not found anything about 'Ken Jones' and where he moved to. The only thing I didn't try was reading in the individual links the site search gives. Apparently his name is mentioned in one of them. Sheesh! :roll: MDG
Last edited by MDG on Sun Jan 22, 2006 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby elliott-thomas » Thu Oct 03, 2002 11:49 am

Just thought I'd chime in... $5000 for that amount of booklets is almost impossible to charge that much for. I was in the print biz about 5 years (and hated it). We were set up to do booklets up to about 80 pages. If you do 1000, 40 page (4 pages on one 8.5x11 sheet), two ink colors, on 60# white you should pay no more than $1.50 a book... that would include basic typesetting. MDG, I am interested in self-published books and marketing them. About 5 years ago we we're going to start publishing "How To" manuals, but the idea wasn't strong enough to continue, or at least the excitement behind the idea wasn't strong enough. Still, it is sitting on the back burner and it has probably shifted from "How To" to something more socially concerned. Like Bubba from Forrest Gump, I know everything there is to know about the printing business. If anyone has any questions I'd be happy to help. Tom
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Postby worldcitizen » Fri Oct 04, 2002 9:44 am

MDG, what a good idea to tell people about Valley Publishing! Especially for Americans, the prices are so low they are astonishing! I live nearby and have met Ken at flea markets, etc. He is a nice guy and his books and booklets look good. What a great thing Barbara's Boards are and this proves it once again. PS: when you click on the link you may get one of those nasty Can't Be Found messages. Just delete the period at the end of .com and the link is good (as in .com. becomes .com ) [This message has been edited by worldcitizen (edited October 04, 2002).]
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Postby ajpor » Fri Oct 04, 2002 2:08 pm

RE: my friend's booklet. Rather than selling them outright (because she couldn't get more than one or two sales in a show), she's using them as giveaways when people sign up for her classes in feng shui. That's working pretty well for her, so she considers the money as advertising. I don't have that kind of money for advertising; that is, not for advertising to people who are already signing up for a workshop! I mean, that money would put us in two goodsized plushyplush shows at the big trade centre and we'd get to hit thousands of people who don't know us. Another friend has a really attractive book she got at a craft sale. It's about 1/4 page of 8 1/2 x 11 paper with the plastic binding on it. It's some craft sayings compilation or some such, but I like the size and she paid something like $15 for it and some pens...so Peter, there's that booklet + a related item idea at work! I guess that size would be more a print shop job rather than a copy shop, but I'm wondering if that and the binding might not be worth the money in terms of the way people look at it. Tiny books seem popular, going by the teenys for sale at the chain bookstore. jean
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Postby MDG » Sat Oct 05, 2002 4:41 pm

Hi everyone! Right off the top of my head: I like booklets, especially when I learned there is a tiny printing house which will do your work in small batches; as few as 20. The very first question a person thinks is - What information can I write? Then - What will sell like hotcakes? Instead, we could think of masses of people who need to know something. Like people who eat; or people who drive; or people who like to save money; even people who need a little extra income! There are smaller audiences, too, yet still worth pursuing, such as worldwide service clubs; or crafters; or retirees. When considering your audience/customers, remember that there are new people joining their ranks, by the thousands, every day. Which takes us to the next question - What do they want to know? The answer, of course, is everything! Again and again, your customer may easily be someone who has never done this before, and needs what you know and may even take for granted. (Selling new theories is far more difficult.) For example - How many newly interested in keeping produce fresher, longer, in the refrigerator would think to put it, unwashed, in glass bottles, or covered casserole dishes? And, which vegetables don't do as well kept this way? I mean there is a whole industry encapsulated in this one tiny bit of information. A person could go to the nearest glass factory, order up a pallet (750?) of a useful standard size bottle, get the lids from another supplier, and sell them in one or both of two ways. To a produce store, or on order from a booklet. Or, with a booklet, if you are going to be selling the booklets in a booth, or out of your livingroom, or by telephone. (You have to think about shipping, here, in some scenarios.) Yes, but how do you sell the booklet? What makes people want to pay you for your information? Image Pay them. Yes, pay them something for selling more booklets (which they order from you). That's why you have chosen a massive audience as your customer base. You write something really good that many want to know. Then you sell it to the handiest audience you can reach, with the opportunity to resell booklets ordered from you, at a reasonable price - copyright statement clearly written on. No matter how you try to protect your words, somebody, somewhere, sometime, is going to clone or copy it - it's a fact of life. The better yours sells, the more people will try. But, you are ready for them. Image (1) Your information is so important that you would give it away free if you didn't need to make back your costs and your living. It belongs to the public, to make the world better. (2) You've done your pencilwork and you know you couldn't sell one to every person in, say, North America, who needs it, in 500 years of trying. (3) You're first. Anyone else who clones or copies your booklet, and it is a lot of bother, is only a Johnny-come-lately. (4) Your booklet offers the resale opportunity, AND, your NEXT booklet, which is already at your printers and will be ready by XXX date. (If you think that's good, read on...) (5) YOU have a copyrighted PICTURE! Heeheehee. You go to corbis.com or another picture-selling company; or you talk to your brother-in-law, the starving artist; or you approach a local artists' group (ask at the library or chamber of commerce); or you draw up a fancy colored scroll/scribble of your own; and, bingo, you've got something far harder to copy and get away with it. Finally; (6) You price your booklet low and go for volume sales. Easy pricing suggestions, size and quality, and reaching your customers (it's a snap) will be the subjects of my next post, soon. Tonight or tomorrow morning. Please don't tell anyone I was here at the computer again, okay? You guys are just so darn interesting! - The Phantom
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Postby jerseygirl » Sat Oct 05, 2002 5:55 pm

Ah - MDG! So that was what you were after on katmarsh's "artist mentor" thread! I did wonder at the earnest line of questioning, so endeavored to be thorough in my reply. Probably didn't hit it right on the bullseye for your purposes, but I hope some of the information was useful... Susan
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Postby ajpor » Sat Oct 05, 2002 6:45 pm

MDG! Another keeper! Thank you! jean
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Postby peterbacon » Sat Oct 05, 2002 9:35 pm

Overcome by a momentary wave of generosity, I'd like to make a once-in-a-lifetime offer: If you're writing a booklet and would like either (1) some honest feedback or (2) editing, or perhaps (3) 1 + 2, let me know. I'm not overly concerned about the issue of recompense. In the grand scheme of things (wait! there may not *be* any grand scheme of things) ... I've already gotten so much from this forum, in ways both expected and unexpected, that I'd be happy to put something back into the old karmic pool (I use the term loosely--the whole notion of karma has never made much metaphysical sense to me, but I do like where it leads in terms of how we treat each other). So, booklet-writers, if you need a hand with the English side of things, during the pre-press stage, just give a little whistle.... PeterB P.S. - One of my favorite cartoons: Small child rushing through the front door waving his report card excitedly in the air. Caption: "Mommy! Mommy! I got an 'A' in English. And you just can't hardly get them no more!"
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Postby MDG » Sun Oct 06, 2002 2:09 am

Peter - My favorite came from a college textbook: "Deer Santa, Do you give presents to litle boys who cant spell? A frend of mine wants to know. Love, Tommy" And you caught my next thought - to paraphrase Carole Jackson (Color Me Beautiful), 'find the best grammar teacher/editor available and pay them any price they care to extract to review your work, before printing'. (Carole used this terminology to encourage people to find a great hair-cutter.) What a generous offer, Peter! In writing of any kind, we absolutely need thoughtful, educated opinions. Why? Because we don't know what we don't know. (Guess who keeps a dictionary at her elbow since there is no Spell Check on this bulletin board?) I heard in my childhood that one had best keep the reader in mind, and that it is discourteous to use abbreviations, numbers instead of words (3 instead of 'three'), or allow misspellings, etc. This sounds old-fashioned and even stuffy, but, lordy, how it works! On the other hand, we need not be formal. Here, I would like to make a prediction. (Faith Popcorn, are you listening?) It is this: Grammar teachers, editors, writers and writing schools; all the grammar and spelling textbooks from the last century; and all the literature carefully edited, will be needed during the next twenty years, more than ever before in history. All large corporations hire language and editing experts early in their formative years. Microsoft would not have progressed without noticing that need. Computer language may seem like the handiwork of playful college students, but I'd bet my bottom dollar that it is carefully orchestrated to keep 'outsiders' out. A problem arises, however, when the customer can't figure out what they are buying, or even who is selling it! 'Marketing by confusion', someone suggested (referring to telephone long-distance rates). And, what about protecting 'corporate secrets'? What if everyone who reads my little idea about glass bottles in the refrigerator rushes out and does it? Wouldn't that only bring me competition and lower my potential booklet income? Nope. There are just too many people out there, folks. And, their numbers are growing every day. We who live in a city of a million people might think we have some concept of what a million really is. We don't. Our capacity of understanding just isn't that big. Dr. David Suzuki reminds us that 80% of the world's people have yet to use a telephone! That thought has humbled me more than once. Disclaimers may be important, too, when writing information. Booklet-writers would do best to stick to recounting their own experiences, and allowing that the readers' experiences may vary. We could watch infomercials and see how they protect themselves. Lawsuits and governmental penalties aren't pretty. But everyone here knows that! Ah, yes, Jerseygirl, your comment on copyrighting triggered another Aha! moment in me - another bit of my business puzzle fell in place. After I pushed the 'submit' button and went to tend to my husband's potato salad ( Image) I was thinking that I should have directed the readers of this thread to your kind answers. I have a habit of losing posts while typing if I venture too far for references. Your idea and reply were exactly what I needed, and I thank you very much. You see, all that I've learned in the past six months from the wonderful posters here, I've filed in the 'puter atop my shoulders, switching the bits around and around to find my next business actions. Just today, writing here about booklets, it dawned on me - do the booklets first! Aha! once again! I've been thrashing around for I don't know how long, trying to figure out how to get some income before I make my most difficult sell. You may have wondered why I posted so much over the last six months. I was thinking, out loud. It takes me a while, but eventually I get it. Conversation, here, has changed my life, folks. You, and the fine Barbara Sher, have organized my thinking, empowered me to get on with the things I want to do next. Words cannot express my gratitude. Ajpor - You have no idea how wonderful, how motivating it is to hear you say the word 'keeper'. I look forward to reading all that you write. Do you suppose one of your booklets will be about living well on little money? Your thought about appreciating life and things more is so very valuable. I try to imagine how many people's lives will be transformed by your reminder. All of us here, all the lookers who read and the thinkers who think and the artists of every kind, have so much the world needs. As we blossom, so blossoms all of humankind and all of this earth. We may think we only write a bit, or paint, or program, or labor, and how can one person help everyone? In chorus, good friends. We help because our name is legion! [This message has been edited by MDG (edited October 06, 2002).]
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Postby peterbacon » Sun Oct 06, 2002 9:18 am

Right on, MDG! (Or as one of the professors at Iowa used to say, "Right arm!") My other favorite English-related cartoon also features a little kid. But this one is sitting in the classroom. Not just sitting, but cringing in horror. The teacher is scolding him. "Johnny! If you don't behave, I'm going to have to tolerate you!" I sometimes use that one on wife and friends, though with mixed results. "And you caught my next thought - to paraphrase Carole Jackson (Color Me Beautiful), 'find the best grammar teacher/editor available and pay them any price they care to extract to review your work, before printing'." Offering to clean up English-language web sites created by non-native speakers, for a fee, was, I think, on my list of possible income streams. (If it wasn't, I meant it to be.) I'm not sure just how enthusiastic I could get about doing it myself, but I suspect there's money to be made there. And you could do it from home. "(Guess who keeps a dictionary at her elbow since there is no Spell Check on this bulletin board?)" Ever have the experience of realizing you've been mis-using a word a lot? I'll never forget the look of horror on the face of an ex-partner of mine when she learned that 'penultimate' means next-to-the-last, not last. "I heard in my childhood that one had best keep the reader in mind, and that it is discourteous to use abbreviations, numbers instead of words (3 instead of 'three'), or allow misspellings, etc." Let's not forget acronyms, either. Americans in particular are famous for sprinkling their speech with these, often to the consternation of English speakers from other countries. (How is it in Canada?) "... After I pushed the 'submit' button and went to tend to my husband's potato salad ( ) ..." What about recipe booklets, fellow booklet-writers? At times, I've contemplated putting together a collection of unusual or offbeat wine recipes for the do-it-yourself wine-maker. I think I first came up with this idea years ago, after making a reasonably palatable gallon of--brace yourself--onion wine. Yup, you read it here first! BTW, the booklet--if it ever sees the light of day--will be called "Weird Wines." "You may have wondered why I posted so much over the last six months. I was thinking, out loud...." Boy, ain't that the truth! For me, writing can be a tremendously powerful way of getting more clarity into one's life ... and one's head. Participating here has even made me wonder if I might start my own syndicated column and publish informal essays on various topics of general interest. Trenchant observations tastefully seasoned with thought-provoking ruminations, and topped with a tangy sauce of wit and humor. (No Bacon bits, though--at least not the real kind. I'm a vegetarian.) PeterB (who has often wondered if he should legally change his surname to something more appropriate. Peter Tofu just doesn't quite cut it, though, does it....) [This message has been edited by peterbacon (edited October 06, 2002).]
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