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First thing to do when your new book arrives from the printer…

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Set aside one edition, slap a huge MASTER COPY label on it, and in it, in red, note all of the errors, typos, phrases that could be improved, ideas that might be inserted, structural changes that subsequent editions need, and so on. Then, a couple of months before you sell the last of the first-run copies, make the changes and modest design switches in the second edition. Keep asking others how the book could be improved in the next printing. No book ever sees print life without a flaw, so the master copy lets you gather all of the improvements in one place when it’s time to upgrade the second-run manuscript. It also helps you get those flaws out of your mind while you bask in the miracle at hand—a book you actually wrote and produced.

(When I was half my age and even fuller of puff I self-published The Query Book, my first. Despite the fact it was ugly and too large, I was super proud that it had no errors in it. In a workshop months after its release someone asked me how they could be sure that their book had no errors in it. I explained about getting a proofreader, then added, “Of course you can always send a copy to your smartest cousin and tell her that you’ll pay her $1 for every legitimate error or typo she finds in your book.”

Five days later I got a tongue-in-cheek letter from one of the attendees saying that, to her regret, she wasn’t my cousin [nor very smart] but if she were I would owe her $9. Then she listed nine errors in the book! Loose-lipped pride before the fall. I sent her a check for $6 and a blank certificate bestowing SMARTEST COUSINSHIP on her. Three of the “errors” weren’t, just different synonyms than she would have used, but the other six were indeed corrections, though none in spelling. Thus my master copies were born—and a pinch of humility was temporarily injected.)

Incidentally, if you are selling e-books and they are being digitally downloaded from your shopping cart system as they are bought, should errors be brought to your attention, you can correct the file immediately and repost it for delivery in its new format within minutes. Is all of this important? You bet. Experts are judged on every facet of their supposed expertise. It dims the light when others describe you as “pretty smart but can’t write (or spelle) worth a dam.” It’s an unneeded distraction that costs you in confidence and referrals.

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 1/08 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

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Why aren’t you selling affiliated products?

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If you’re offering seminars or speeches, or simply have your own client e-list to whom you offer products and services, why aren’t you extending your offerings (and expanding your coffers) by becoming an affiliate to sell others’ products as well?

This is a key means of creating and expanding your own empire, and you should be exploring it early on.

For example, let’s say the core of your empire is how to illustrate books for children. You write and speak about it, and you have an impressive portfolio of your own successes. Great! You’re on target.

You already know that you can contact book publishers and buy their products for about 40% off (you pay shipping, damages, and mail returns, if they are accepted, and you must schlep).

But if that publisher is on the web and has an integrated product service, they probably also have an affiliation program. That works with both bound or physical products that must be mailed as well as a ton of digital products (some, the same books or items they mail bound).

How does it work? With the bound, mailed books–using my affiliated program as a typical example,–you do one of two things: (1) you tell the buyer on your website about, say, another great book about book illustration; they order it on the web, and the publisher mails it to them within 24 hours, using their credit card through PayPal, or (2), less likely, you do the ordering for them with their card and it is sent to them. You never handle the product nor are you involved in the payment or shipping. All you do is collect about 40% in commission of the stated price for mailed items. They usually pay about three times a year.

With digital products, an email appears after the payment is accepted, the buyer activates the link, and the product is downloaded immediately. Better yet, your commission may be as high as 50%!

How do you get involved in this?

First, find products you very much want to include in your programs. They have to be the same high quality as your presentations and they must be items that your buyers will thank you for providing. (But there’s no need for you to rewrite these gems.)

Once you have found them, ask the publisher if they have an affiliation program. If so, ask to see any write-up they have about it, mostly to see what they offer and what commission they make accessible. If satisfied, ask to see their sign-up form. (Here’s ours as an example.)

The server will send how-to-use information when the form is accepted. Then all you need to know is whether the publisher provides sales copy that you can give to your clients or add to your website. They may even provide a landing page that will take the curious directly to the order button and link. Just ask.

That’s the fastest explanation I can offer. You will want to explore the idea at greater leisure, of course, and I talk about it regularly at my free monthly newsletter, “Writers, Speakers, Publishers, and Product Developers: Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire.”

If your topic properly positions you to include others’ affiliated products, don’t dally here. This works, lets you expand your offerings immediately without having to stock and wrap–and it’s a dandy check to cash every four months!

Gordon Burgett

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Publishing: Some quick second-book income

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If you have a recent ink-on-paper book in print (or about to be), why not deposit some extra coins in your bank while you help the seeing challenged? Convert the digital text of that book into a professional-looking LARGE PRINT edition. (As I mentioned in the November “Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire” Newsletter, these are perfect for P.O.D. printing.)

Some details: (1) since almost all of the buyers will be libraries [for their senior readers], make sure the topic fits those senior interests [repairing surfboards or cruising all-night hot spots in Novato probably won’t work], (2) remember to convert everything in the book to 14-point type or larger, which may require new charts and graphs that fit the larger text, (3) the new edition needs a new ISBN number, (4) you can usually charge about $5 more per book, and (5) to avoid confusion, don’t otherwise alter the contents of the smaller, regular-sized (probably 11-point) book.

An example. About five years back I published How to Plan a Great Second Life: What Are You Going to Do With Your Extra 30 Years? The first printing was for bookstores and back-of-the-room sales at my seminars. That version included lots of fill-in charts—which libraries hate because the first readers fill them in! So we published a special library edition (reducing the page count from 256 to 224) that had outlines of charts and graphs but sent them to our website for actual page downloads.

We knew that many of our potential readers were well into their second lives, so we simply re-styled the digital book from 6” x 9” to 8.5” x 11” and added a LARGE PRINT box to the cover—the book ended up at 216 pages. The price was increased from $17.95 to $22.95. And when we advertised the book’s existence in all three forms through the (now) Independent Book Publishers Association mailer sent to 2,700 of the largest libraries in the U.S., we sold (as of now) 170 LP copies. That was the entire sales campaign!

We printed many thousands of the smaller versions but only 185 (50 twice, 35 once) of the large print edition, mostly through www.lightningsource.com. Those cost about $7 each to print and another $1 to ship to us. That’s a return of about $3900 gross, minus $1300 printing and perhaps another $200 in other costs, for about $2115 in profit. This book took one day to convert into an acceptable .pdf format to digitally send to the printer, plus a few minutes to add to our library flyer! $2115 isn’t a windfall (though it might have easily been three times as much had we marketed with any diligence), but we kept the money nonetheless. And we had another published book added to the docket.

[This blog is a slightly modified excerpt from my 12/08 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

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Why will an editor almost certainly reject an article?

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(1) When the lead—first sentence or paragraph—doesn’t make sense.

(2) Or the editor has no reason or impetus to read paragraph two.

(3) When by the end of that second paragraph (certainly by the end of the third) the subject and purpose aren’t clear, nor is there a hint of the article’s organization.

(4) One misspelling might be a typo but two or more, the editor must ask, “If this person won’t even go to the dictionary for the words, how reliable can the research be?”

(5) The query promised humor and the editor hasn’t even smiled by paragraph four.

(6) By the end of the piece the editor hasn’t read anything really new, different, exciting, inspiring, or memorable—that the word journey was a waste of time.

If this all seems obvious, great. Convert the points into a quick checklist for your query letter first, then use it again, point by point, before you submit the go-ahead prose. Remember, the editor wants you to succeed every time.

[This blog is an excerpt from my 12/08 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

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Four travel writing guides finally on sale!

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We are selling my most popular travel-writing products at a 30% discount for a month in celebration of the “retirement” of the Travel Writer’s Guide, my breadwinner now in its third edition (with about 10 printings). We are down to about 400 copies, so you get a shot at the discount before Amazon.com and others eat up the remnants!

We’re also offering the digital version of the same book at 30% off as well as a two-disc 45-minute audio CD program called “How to Sell 75% of Your Travel Writing” and a huge favorite, my digital report called “25 Professional Query and Cover Letters,” with, respectively, 20 and 5 examples.

The sale ends on April 15, unless the printed book flies out earlier.

The Travel Writer’s Guide was twice a Writer’s Digest Book Club top choice. So why am I retiring it rather than bring out an updated fourth edition? Because I’m just not writing magazine and newspaper articles (after selling 1,700+) much anymore. Instead, I’m focussing on travel podcasts, where I’m the executive editor at www.visualtraveltours.com.

So if any of the items mentioned cries to be bought, please link to www.gordonburgett.com/travel2.htm, where full pages of info, sample chapters, testimonials, and so on hide–with the discount coupon number to use for digital purchasing. The digital products unload as they are bought, and we send the others that day or the next.

Thanks!

Gordon Burgett

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Want to profitably leverage your technical communication skills?

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In a very well written, seven-paragraph review of my book Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time, Patrick Lufkin clearly outlines why this process is so profitable and incurs so few risks while producing profitable and virtually risk-free, highly-targeted books so quickly.

Let me share some of the opening section(s), then,if you are interested, just take a quick look at his review above.

“Many of the skills necessary to a successful niche publishing venture are second nature to experienced technical communicators: audience identification, needs analysis, research skills, and the ability to produce clear solution-based writing that conveys information that members of a specific audience can use and apply.

“What most technical communicators lack is niche marketing savvy … Burgett describes a strategy , which, he argues, not only can bring you financial rewards, but may greatly expand your career.”

Fortunately, Lufkin later describes my argument as “persuasive,” and concludes that “if you want to reduce the risks and increase the rewards of publishing for a niche market, this book will show you how.”

That’s what I want for you. This review does a very good job of explaining the process.

Incidentally, in reading the review, it was my first look at its mother publication, Technical Communication (Journal of the Society for Technical Communication), Vol. 50, #1, February 2009. I’m extremely impressed at the number and quality of the reviews as well as the first-rate articles on its pages.

Gordon Burgett

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Don’t mope or depress, get to work on your empire!

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Soon enough our economy will buck up and spenders will reappear like spring tulips. Where will you be with your empire when they are eager to hear you, read your words, and buy your wisdom?

What never goes out of style or need is critical information that others want so they can live better than they are now.

Your task is to identify that special knowledge, define its beneficiaries, and get ready to offer them irresistible products. The trick is to do all of the research, prep, and production now, knowing most will buy just about the time that everybody else decides to buy.

That’s when you want to have your products up and ready to sell!

Remember the process of creating your own empire:

(1) Find, define, and offer information that others absolutely need.

(2) Create a list of those who will buy what you offer; add to the list the means by which they want to buy it, in order of buying preference.

(4) Then create a core product–usually a book or seminar–that shows your uniqueness and worth.

(5) Branch out into related fields and into the other kinds of means that your buyers like: articles, e-books, white papers, audio CDs, classes, speeches, a newsletter, gizmos, and so on…

(6) All the while building your business structure and your Web tools so you can efficiently and quickly contact and sell to as many hopeful buyers as possible.

(7) And don’t forget that between now and when the mass of buyers return there are still millions of brave souls who are buying and using the very kinds of things you want to sell. Get your products up and out when they are ready–don’t wait. Just don’t overstock.

Right now is the time to do something extraordinary: muster up a vision of you as the emperor or empress of all the unique knowledge you know and share. Find faith that the seeds you are planting now will reap mightily in the not too distant future.

Don’t waste the time in between.

Gordon Burgett

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Write three times faster–and better!

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If you can write salable copy, you’ve already got the hard half in hand. The rest is speed and proficiency. I read a great e-book that tells you significantly crank up that other half. It’s Bob Bly’s <strong>Super-Productivity for Writers: How to Triple Your Writing Speed, Sales, and Income in 90 Days or Less!</strong>

This new, second edition is hard to find. The miracle of the digital world: get it <a href=”http://www.ctcpublishing.net/cmd.php?Clk=2665453″>here</a> and you can have it in 10 minutes! Not only can you write faster and better, you can find out how to do it almost before you blink!

I’m a huge fan of Bly’s. who is America’s best and most productive copyrighter. He’s also written 70 books and a ton of articles. I can vouch for this process and proficiency. I just wish I’d had this book when I started out or was hitting full stride.

I shared this information in my <a href=”http://www.gordonburgett.com/portal2nl.htm”>newsletter</a> about five weeks back and response comments from several of its (free) subscribers simply reinforced my sense that this is a real gem of a guide for serious writers.

Gordon Burgett

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