I think of top-selling two ways. The most obvious is to sell more copies of your book than any other book like it in the market. If you sell 10,000 copies of the book, you outsold a person who sold 5,000. Duh.
The less obvious way is to measure the effectiveness of your book’s sale. If the purpose of your book is to create a core for an empire, starting with the book and spreading into other information dissemination means, a book that sells 150 copies but generates 50 $1,500 speeches, spinoff books, keynotes, and lots of crelated consulting, and so on, is a huge deal too. (But “huger” if you sold those 10,000 copies here!)
The latter is much more safely done by writing books in niche areas where you zero in on key problem-solvers or frustration-reducers, the kind that every practioner in the niche will bottom-line benefit from by reading your words, process, or direction. Once they see that your words come from tested expertise that should work well for them too, they will also be asking you to speak to their niche gatherings, write for their newsletter, and most of the rest.
The way to reduce the risk and assure that a high percentage of the nichefolk will buy your book (at your price) is to pre-test the book to a small selection of them with a note, a flyer, and a return yes-no test postcard. If you need an 8% positive response to earn $50,000 (pick a starting target), then if that or more say yes on your quick two-question return postcard, you know they want your book–or at least they want to read more about your title, they like the format (paper or ebook, or both), your premise and promises, they want to see what you (or the the author) has to say, and they will buy it from you by direct mail or through regular marketing venues to the niche.
The other way is to write a dynamite book to general markets where the title alone gets them so say (better, shout to the heavens) that they’d be a blubbering bobo not to buy your book the moment it is out.
I’m talking about books for adults. I’m not sure if kids clamor much for nonfiction books now, though I do see top fiction sellers for them. But since I don’t know what I’d say to them that even I would want to read, I leave that field to others.
Look for books here for how-to details about niche pre-testing and publishing. There are many other good books that will tell you how to publish and sell to the general market.
The very first step for both, though, is to find a title that provokes a lusty “wow!” The rest is writing the same “wow!” book and making its existence well known to those who need and want its message.
For more than 30 years I offered 2000+ seminars, workshops, and conferences in California, with more than half given at the California State University system (now CSU, formerly CSUC). Since I spoke at all but four of the 23 campuses then, let me focus on that structure to explain how one can get booked by the college extended education system.
(Most of the other programs I offered were at community (junior) colleges; a few were through the UC system.)
For those unfamiliar with the CSU system, it is the largest educational system in the world. It is comprised of institutions at the fol1owing locations: Arcata (Humboldt), Bakersfield, Carson (Dominguez Hil1s), Chico, Fresno, Fullerton, Hayward (East Bay), Long Beach, Los Angeles, Martinez (CA Maritime Academy), Monterey Bay, Northridge, Pomona, Rohnert Park (Sonoma), Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, San Marcos, and Ventura (Channel Islands).
A quick, sad insert here. There have been key changes in the California extended ed offerings in the past five or so years, with single programs (mine were usually four hours long) usually replaced by certification programs. So booking with these colleges today will likely be less satisfactory. However, in other major system nationwide, the process and bookability hasn’t changed much, so what I’m sharing here is the way getting booked is still widely done elsewhere. The CSU system was the most comprehensive and reliable system I used (when I also spoke in five other states) so the way to apply and perform where you live and work (except in California) shouldn’t be much different than what I am sharing.
While there were policies that tied all 23 schools together, most operated independently, particularly where seminars were concerned. The office you contacted was usually cal1ed the Office of Extended Education (or Programs), sometimes the Office of Continuing Education. A call to the school or a look at the current college catalog (check the listing in front under Administration) wil1 give you the proper name–and the name of its director.
Some extended education offices had relatively free control over the type of programs they offered. Others were tightly controlled by the academic faculty at the institution. The latter is the case everywhere when the seminars you suggest were identical to or significantly overlapped academic classes given (or logically included in an academic program) at the institution. Thus you had the best chance at all CSUs if your program was different from what that institution offered or was some phase of practical application of theoretical academic programs. If you had an idea for a seminar and you were unsure, however, a call and discussion with the extended education director or staff would quickly tell you if your idea would be considered or would be acceptable.
The traditional approach was either to call or write a letter to the director suggesting a possible seminar or seminars, with a brief explanation of your qualifications, the seminar’s title, a brief description of its contents, and the length of time it lasted. The director would tell you if it was being offered in a similar form now or planned to be added in the near future, as well as whether it fit into their particular extended education format. The director might also have indicated whether he/she wanted to include it in the next bulletin or catalog.
At a later point more information would be required. (Some preferred to approach the director with a full project at the outset that included all that would be required.) This would include a concise letter of introduction presenting yourself and your seminar idea(s). Regarding yourself, it should tell who you are, why you should offer the seminar, past experiences enhancing your qualifications and a copy of your resume or dossier. For each seminar idea there should be a title, brief description, possible scheduling dates and times, a suggested cost to the participant, and the kind of audio-visual equipment needed or used. A seminar outline was highly desirable. A suggestion of who would want to attend the seminar and why, with perhaps an estimate of approximate attendance, would help sell the program to the director.
If you had given the seminar elsewhere, by all means indicate the dates, locations, and the person (and college) through whom it was scheduled (so the director could check the reference). Favorable comments made by the participants at earlier presentations should also be shared.
Pay varied widely throughout the CSUs but generally it fell in the 40-60% category. That means that you received that percentage of the income generated by pre-registrations and at-the-door payments. For that percentage you paid all of your costs, including transportation and room/board. Preparation of handout material was usually arranged with the director. Sometimes they picked up the tab if the handout isn’t excessively long or complex. When academic credit was awarded for participation, your payment was almost always based on the number of units given rather than on attendance. With BRN and other credentialing credit, it varied. The director handled all publicity, inclusion in the bulletin or extension catalog, room and audio-visual arrangements, support paperwork, pre-registration and other services. If your idea wouldn’t draw a minimum attendance, in the director’s opinion, he/she usually rejected your idea at the outset.
If there was the likelihood that your offering would attract sufficient participation the director would likely offer the seminar on the condition that if it failed to attract sufficient registration, it would be cancelled. Thus the minimum number needed to keep the seminar “alive” should have been decided with the director beforehand.
I found that by working with directors to provide additional publicity for your program, you could help attract more participants. This was done by preparing press releases and lists of groups or people who should be sent the bulletin or a flyer, plus offering to give interviews on radio or TV about your seminar. All of the promotion had to be clearly synchronized with the director so your activities and theirs were complementary.
Timing was also very important. To be included in the extension bulletin you had to contact the institution at least four (better, six) months before the start of the quarter or semester during which the program would be offered.
While cross-scheduling with other CSU schools in the same area at the same time made no sense, you could book your seminar at the University of California schools, community colleges, church groups, recreation programs, and other civic organizations and clubs. CSUs usually paid the best, unless you offered a self-sponsored seminar nearby. (They were far riskier so I never overlapped that way.)
The take-away here is to contact the colleges where you want to speak and follow the process explained above. Be prepared from the outset to “sell” your program(s) to the extended ed leaders and staff. The whole procedure is rather confusing the first time or two, but after that it’s a triple win: for you, the participants, and the extended ed program.
Thus is blog #5 of 15 blogs, one appearing every 7-10 days, about “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar.” (We also have an audio cassette/workbook program available about the full topic.)
I’ve been an editor and nonfiction consultant for writers and publishers for at least 20 years, so I was grateful when an association client asked me to break down in greater detail the kinds of consulting I do. I guess it was much clearer in my head than on my services data!
Then when I shared the result with some other writing consultant friends, they suggested that I share it as a blog. (I’m being blown by outside forces!) So here it is:
1. PRE-BOOK/PROJECT STRATEGIZING
With the author, I help identify the book’s purpose; create a full-range plan to guide its realization; decide the means of publishing; define the book’s benefits; design, construct, and help name the book, and let specific others (and the public) know that it exists, what it says differently, and why they must have it.
2. MID-BOOK MENTORING
With the author, I help guide the creation of a clear and logical book-building plan; find exceptional models; mold the facts, stories, and graphics to meet the book’s intentions and needs; stay on schedule; advise about the organization, style, layout, and cover, and oversee its legality, proofreading, and printing.
3. “COURT OF LAST RESORT” (Pre-Print) EDITING
After the last proof, just before the book is ready to print, I conduct a full-book review to see if or where specific attention (and modification) may be needed in the book’s design, layout, content, accuracy, adherence to its original purpose and plan, salability, integrity, clarity, reasoning, legal permissions, artwork, or other components vital to a professional publication.
4. POST-PRINT EXPANSION (From Book to Empire)
With the author, I help create a comprehensive plan to expand the content and related values of the book and its unique message and/or process(es) through other information dissemination means such as other books, booklets, white papers, audio and video formats, speaking, teaching, and consulting. Also, I help guide the creation and use of integrated marketing means now possible for fast, far-reaching transmission of the book’s contents.
5. SPOT MENTORING FOR NICHE BOOKS AND PRODUCTS
I assist the writers or producers of niche books and products at any phase of their niche publishing (including those above)–or through the entire project, from inception and pre-testing to completion. The niche process is fully explained in Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time!
For more details, call (800) 563-1454, check my website , or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s a straightforward, reliable way to earn at least $50,000 developing a niche book for a specialization, like chiropractic that I use in this how-to, step-by-step guide called Chiropractors: Write and Publish Your Own Niche Book (Start with a $50,000 buying base!). It starts with a pretest that will cost $550-750 or so to see if the potential buyers are eager to buy a book at your price about your topic, title, table of contents, and promises. This book shows you how to do the pretest before writing and publishing a word.
In other words, for 1-1.5% of what you will initially earn you can find out with shocking accuracy if other chiropractors (or professionals in your field) will gladly, in fact eagerly, buy what you offer!
In this ebook I explain about niche markets, your book subject, a mailing list, your test flyer, your book title, a test note to your potential buyers, a reply postcard, a pre-test cost guesstimate, expected results, and how to compose and mail the test packet. The book ends with a 25-step summary and pretesting guide for a niche book for chiropractors. It also includes specific samples of a chiropractic-directed test flyer, a note to the chiropractors contacted, a reply postcard, and even a title like one you might use.
How much smarter is it to spend $1 or so to test 500 random practitioners before you research, write, rewrite, proof, and then sell your book? Which you will only write and publish if you see that $50,000 pledged to buying out your first printing run!
That means you will be paid 60-100 times more than you will spend. And before you use up the energy and printing costs, you will know how many colleagues will buy it at all!
There’s no mystery about the concept of niche publishing. I wrote Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time! a few years back, and you can buy it for $15 right here or from Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and other ebook sellers. I know the system works because I have 18 niche books in print and have guided many others applying the pre-test and watching them cash in. In fact, the very first book I niche published earned nearly $2 million.
Why ponder? Just get this 35-page ebook that will walk you through the pretest. It costs $7.95, is available in this format only, and may change your life in from the hour it might take you to read it–and do.
The best thing is that you are the captain of this ship. You sail it yourself—or pay somebody else to fill in the few unknown steps. No middlepeople involved. You keep all of the royalties, and you sidestep hefty book-selling discounts by selling it yourself too. (Don’t panic: at the kind if money you can make here, you can hire others to do the heavy lifting and shipping!)
There’s another bonus too. From this core book you can build an empire, with you the emperor or empress. The book’s success is built on your (or somebody’s) expertise. You spread that expertise quickly and broadly by more, related books, by speaking, through consulting, by giving classes or retreats–there are scores of ways to expand your presence and income from just one idea your friends and colleagues will eagerly pay to know.
That’s it. There’s a lot of fame and fortune just waiting to be made. But you have to want it. The pretest gamble is fast and inexpensive, and the returns can be huge and prompt! Anyway, somebody will write that book and probably cash in big. Is that somebody you?
NO BIG (or little) SALES HYPES HERE.
JUST DIG OUT YOUR CREDIT CARD AND ORDER (at www.gordonburgett.com/chirobookLP.htm).
Then if you don’t see how you can turn that test into huge returns, and you are unhappy or whatever, we’ll give you your $7.95 back.
Other books too at www.gordonburgett.com/order.htm
P.S. If you don’t want that gold hiding in the niche field but you do want to publish some other book fast and easy, you’ll help yourself by reading my How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.
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In the nine-classification list of seminars/workshops described in blog #3 (DEFINING SEMINARS), where does the do-it-yourselfer fit in? And in which of the nine categories is it best to first offer your presentation?
Assuming that the “yourselfer” is you or an individual or a person acting as a single proprietor in business and the program leads back to that business, the third choice below (or the second, where it’s available) of the first three categories (self-sponsored, self-sponsored but aligned, and academic) are usually the easiest, safest financially, and most comfortable places to begin offering your program.
For (1) you find a need, devise a way to help others meet that need through a seminar/workshop, and then set it up, market it, and give it. That’s the simplest, but it’s also by far the riskiest financially. On the other hand, it’s where you can also make a killing. But for the novice or newcomer, it’s all your show. That means you pay all the costs (mostly to promote)–you can spend a bundle and have an empty house! It’s the best choice after you have lots of seminars given and you are fully familiar with the likely attendees and how to attract and register them.
The second approach (2) presumes that there is another group or organization with which you join forces to cut your costs and increase your income. Let’s say you are giving a workshop about cosmetics-making. You might contact the local Women’s Club, offer a percentage of the gate and a reduction (or elimination) of the registration fee for members to participate in exchange for free use of the club’s meeting hall, their mailing list, and their letterhead (with PSA privileges). The trade-offs reduce your risk and get the group to help boost your program’s attendance (at least to its own members) to increase registrants and possible BOR (back-of-the-room) sales.
(3) At colleges and universities, you can often make arrangements through the Extended Education division. The extended ed staff usually lines up their offerings 4-6 months before the next semester or quarter begins. They have a detailed process for you to present your program to them so they can approve it (and you)) and to get your description in its coming catalog. Most extended ed programs pay presenters a percentage of the registration fee (which you will work out with them), include your program in their bulletin (sometimes they create additional promotion too), and provide a room for the seminar to be given. Advance registration will also be handled by their office/staff. This approach can be lucrative and almost risk-free if (a) their bulletin is widely distributed, (b) your clientele expects to take a program like yours at an academic setting, (c) your payment percentage (or rate) is high enough, and (d) the institution handles the registration and promotion effectively. Very few institutions do the promotion element of (d) very well; (a) is important and can offset poor additional promotion if it is extensively distributed, (b) is less important if your clientele is college-educated, and (c) depends on the other three.
(4) Offering your seminar through or in conjunction with recreation programs is often much like (2) or (3) above except that they usually charge (and you earn) less, the offerings that aren’t athletic are far fewer, and they sometimes try to control seminar content. Woe to you if you’re trying to address a sitting crowd between rooms offering ballroom dancing and drum practice!
Two specialized groups—(6) and (7), professional and trade associations—have their own peculiarities and you will receive their sponsorship only if through that sponsorship they receive some clear benefit. Where they have a large, established clientele and your program is central to the group’s interest, this can be quite profitable. Expect to be molded, in a program sense, to fit into their established format.
Business seminars, (5) and (8), are the hardest for a newcomer since you compete against established seminar-giving firms. It is best, if possible, to “tooth” in the (1)-(4) areas or with specialized groups, then present a tested, successful program to businesses from the outset. Licensed or customized programs are the most difficult: companies will hire you, if at all, as a consultant at this level because of your proven ability to organize and offer other seminars/workshops. This is based on earlier proven success and is usually the very best paying category.
Keep tuned. I will address all eight of these categories in coming blogs in this series. In the meantime, divine something that people will eagerly pay a decent price to hear you talk about.
I was asked what blogs I had about “open” publishing. Here they are, below, and I’m certain there are more too so if you have a specific word or topic you are hunting for, please type it in the search box to see if it pops up!
The publishers mentioned in the blogs are Kindle, Nook, CreateSpace, LSI, Smashwords, Scribd, Lulu, Blurb, Bookbaby, and iPad. Most of them discuss the publishing process.
The titles below are not linked but if you type the first five or so words into the SEARCH box, they should pop onto your screen. (Some are in the RELATED POSTS below.)
This is the WordPress website where they are residing: http://blog.gordonburgett.com
I also have a full book, in paperback or digital, called How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days; it is linked at its title. It’s available from us and the first six “open” publishers mentioned in the second paragraph above.
Best wishes with your book and hunt!
Why free and fast “open book” publishing is a godsend
Differences between Kindle, CreateSpace, Nook, Smashwords, Blurb, Lulu, and Scribd
What’s the summary, schedule, and process for printing almost-free books through Lulu, CreateSpace, LSI, Smashwords, Kindle, IPad, Blurb, and Scribd?
How do I profitably publish my just-finished book six times?
The 10-step publishing process; the list in order
Why would you change a book’s title once it’s out for sale?
Five-steps: how to pick your critical nonfiction book title?
How to find your 2012 earnings from CreateSpace, Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, and Bookbaby?
How to quickly find lots of ebooks you can publish and sell
7 times when using Lulu, CreateSpace, Blurb, Scribd, Smashwords, iPad and Kindle makes huge sense
Creating an ebook from your bound book text for Lulu, CreateSpace, Smashwords, Kindle, iPad, Lightning Source, and Scribd
8-step process to publish in Kindle, Nook, iPad, Lulu, and CreateSpace
My publishing order for paperbacks and ebooks
Your book needs final professional proofreading
What’s so special about your book’s second draft?
Test your book with experts after you’ve finished the first draft
Give your book order, an angle, and a table of contents
Write a dandy book and sell it worldwide in minutes, hands-free
What should the insides of your book look like?
Which sells best: publishing with major houses, an ebook, or self-publishing?
What your first book draft must include
Where do you find more information for your book?
Don’t pick a must-use title before writing your book
How to find the precise book subject that others want to buy
Digital publishing: focus most on your book’s contents, title, and cover
So here you are with a dandy book that millions of hungry readers want to buy and hide on their tablets, readers, or computers—but you can’t get it from Word (.doc or .docx) or other formats into .ePub. You probably want to use .ePub to post your book with an “open” publisher like Kobo or others who want it that way now or soon will. So I asked the question to Google: How can I do that free? (I should have added: in simple-simple tech terms so I can get it done this millennium.)
Here’s what I extracted from the choice of responses it gave. (The bottom line: it works, but none of the instructions told all. I had to hunt-and-peck-and-guess, a couple of times, like my typing, but then I converted two books in about 20 minutes each! It should be even 50% faster now that I’m an expert.) Alas, if you can’t do it my way, please don’t write and ask me to figure out what you are doing wrong. God knows, if he does. Just try my way again and again until it does work!
1. Find the ready-to-go file of the ebook you want to convert. That means that the .ePub form of your book will, ultimately, also be ready to publish by the house you are submitting it to.
2. Bring up the whole file on your screen. Open it and give it one last read-through to make sure it’s ready to be posted. Remember, no page numbers, headers/footers, and so on…
3. Then highlight the first pages of the copy: the title page, the pages that immediately follow, and the whole table of contents. Stop.
4. Now open the style box—it’s to the left of the box that tells the typeface you are using (like Arial or Times Roman). There’s a down arrow there and if you hit it, a mysterious list of numbers and fonts opens up. Scroll down slowly until you see “Heading 1.” Open that but nothing more.
5. Now save the whole file (from title to the very end) by going to File/Save As. When that window opens, click the drop down menu and hit “web page.” You should see *.htm or *.html at the end of the file instead of *.doc or *.docx.) Hit the SAVE box, lower right.
6. Next you must download the magic formula file that does the conversion. Tell your computer to open www.calibre.com. When it appears, download the free new software. (It’s not going to shock you or hurt anything in the memory.) Incidentally, after you see it work, you might want to send a buck or two to the creator through the DONATE box. No, it’s not me!
7. When Calibre opens you will see a new screen with lots of colorful boxes on it. At the top of the menu open the “Add Books” icon. A “Select books” box will open. Find the file you’ve just saved. (Again, it will have an .htm or .html ending.) Hit the file and it will fly onto the Calibre library list. Just leave it alone; move on to #8.
8. Go to the right of “Add books” and open “Edit metadata.” Fill in the lines you can. Start with book title and author, then hit the arrow to the right of each and what you typed will appear in the next box. You will need to fill in Publishing date, Publisher, and Languages too.
9. To add the cover, go to browse and find your ebook front-cover-only file. The choices will appear in a “Choose Cover.” This cover file must have one (just one!) of these endings: .jpg, .jpeg, .gif, or .png. [You don’t have to add a cover at this time—this cover is for your Calibre library listing only.]
10. Next, open “Convert books.” Make sure at the top right corner in Output Format it says EPUB, if that’s what you want. (Calibre opens other formats too.) Then see the column of activity icons on the left. Click “Look & Feel,” and hunt for the “Remove spacing between paragraphs” line, and put a check in the box before it.
11. Still on the “Convert…” page, see the “Table of Contents” icon below “Look & Feel.” Attention here! Find the row that says “Level 1 TOC (XPath expression).” Go to the far right and click open a funny wizard icon, and when it drops a box find “Match HTML tags with tag name.” You will again have drop box options; select “h1.” It will fill in more letters but don’t worry about it. Keep going.
12. Still in “Convert…,” in the left column, find “Page Setup.” This may be optional but I did it anyway. I changed the top and bottom margins from 5.0 to 2.5. (Don’t ask.)
13. Finally, on the “Convert…” page, find the “EPUB Output” icon. Then on the page that opens find the “Preserve cover aspect ratio” line and check the box before it. Hit OK at the bottom of the page.
14. The big moment: when you push that “OK” button, the book copy (and cover) will convert into a digital ePub file in about 10 seconds.
15. After conversion, hold you breath and put your mouse in the big box in the middle of the page and push on the book cover. The ready-to-read book will open up! You can read the file by pushing your “Page Down” or “Page Up” computer keys. It’s in a different computer language. What a polyglot you are!
16. If it doesn’t look good, you will have to go back and make the needed corrections at step 2. It usually means that the first 3-4 pages are goofy.
17. The biggest problem I had was finding where my new .ePub file was hiding in my computer. I knew all the usual hiding holes but it wasn’t in any of them. The Search button told me that the new .ePub file existed, but where? I found it by right clicking over the book’s name in the Calibre library’s list of books (it’s below the cover). A box appeared with a “Save to disk” choice, so I opened the arrow to the left and hit “Save only EPUB Format to disk,” and when it opened I chose the book folder in My Documents, where it appeared as a ZIP folder with the metadata, the interior file, and the ebook cover.
18. So that’s where I will retrieve them for the “open” publisher’s submit box when they request my book’s interior copy—to publish!
This works every time for me, so here it is if you are, or will be, in the quandary I was in: no ePub version to publish when it was required.
Again, please, I know almost nothing techie about computers so don’t contact me if it doesn’t work. Try it again. I’m not a computer person. See them, please, for those or any other such esoteric 0-1 problems, except laundry. Sorry.
P.S. If you wonder what all this refers to, it’s publishing ebook versions of your book(s) at houses like Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Kobo, Create Space, LSI, and others. I explain the rest of the procedure in my book How to Get Your Book Published Free in Minutes and Marketed Worldwide in Days.
This is a very short blog because I will discuss in much greater depth the ways that we identify (and create and present) seminars in later sections of this 15-blog series, which itself is an updating of a workbook that accompanies my How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar CD series that will be available in a couple of months.
2. Self-sponsored, but aligned with other group or organization for mutual benefit
PRIVATE (CLOSED) SEMINARS
6. Professional Association
7. Trade Association
a. in-house presentations
b. licensed/customized presentations
Seminars aren’t talks, which among professional speakers mean free presentations (or, sometimes, given for a very modest–really token–honorarium).
Therefore, since the frequent or professional semninar-giver must be paid, how that money is gathered is strongly related to the categories of sponsorship above. For example, a fee is generally charged the participants to attend an academic or school-sponsored seminar (like for Community Education), and a certain percentage of the fees collected often go to the speaker. But in a business program, where the business directly reaps the profits (or prestige), the business pays the speaker and the participants are invited to attend free. By extension, how the speaker is asked to speak to schools or for businesses is also very different.
Each kind of seminar is structured differently enough to have unique assemply halls, longer or shorter hours, ways to attract possible attendees, how BOR (back-of-the-room) products sales are handled (if at all), and different purposes. That’s why we label them and herd them into different corals.
I’ll continue in greater detail in blog #4 in about a week.
Communication Unlimited / P.O. Box 845 / Novato, CA 94947 / (800) 563-1454. For further information, see www.gordonburgett.com.