When is the deadline to offer seminars at colleges and universities?

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A subscriber to my free, monthly newsletter asked the above question–at precisely the right time!

I have two fill-in questionnaires from colleges in northern California to mail tomorrow, with deadlines of June 9 and June 15, for the fall sessions that start in early September. Plus two others I just sent in for the same period. So the answer is: RIGHT NOW!

The good news: after you’ve successfully given a seminar or workshop (or two), they let you fill in for 1-3 programs in the same time period, so it’s not too tedious. And if your description and bio information is unchanged, they will use the same copy.

Usually I offer a new program each quarter or session so that means just one new description for their catalog, copied for each of the separate schools, plus two of the more popular programs rotating for repetition if I’m giving three that session.

The broader answer for academic institutions is: usually about 90 days before the starting date of the session. Presuming you’ve done all the intro work first–introducing yourself, getting an OK on the program, and having sent in the opening paperwork (and class description). So if you’re just starting that now, you might be talking about a winter or spring program instead of fall. (Sometimes they can squeeze it in, but don’t count on it…)

As my newsletterfolk know, I just made available an all-in-one how-to kit “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar” about how this is done, based on probably 1,500 seminars that I’ve given in the past 20 years that way.

The write-up details at www.setupandmarketyourownseminar.com will help some; the audio CD, spoken text summary, and workbook certainly will.

Last point: you can almost never be too early contacting the Extended Education offices of the colleges or universities where you want to speak. The early bird also gets the best dates!

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I use this blog to answer questions from my newsletter subscribers, without their names unless they specfically ask to be identified. If you’re not subscribing, go here for sign-up information, or to www.gordonburgett.com/free-reports to get on the list right now. Then ask away!

Gordon Burgett

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Office supplies and the damn toner!

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I hate to be conned. I buy a perfectly good printer, this time the HP Color LaserJet CP1215. It costs $200. I use the installed toners for a month or so, and all the color inks run out almost simultaneously. I get a new black toner, for reserve, and a magenta, cyan, and yellow toner so the damn machine will even print. The cost, with tax: $335!

That was at Staples. Best Buy was about $6 less. I can get the $74 toners off the Web at about $58, and refilled versions for $47 each, plus shipping. My objection is that I simply hate having to pay the cost of a printer at least five to seven times just to use it.

I know, go to options at the computer print cycle and just use the black.

It’s like the gas companies, do the printerfolk wonder why at least I don’t trust them.

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 2/09 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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Publishing and Self-Publishing: Time Magazine discovers the obvious!

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In the 1/10/2009 issue of Time, three pages (71-4) breathlessly reveal that fiction publishing is suffering its “worst year in decades,” and that while it won’t expire, it is “evolving drastically, almost beyond recognition.” Even with an increase in readership and a global audience of billions with a literacy rate of 82% and rising, its archaic business model (and the current economic doldrums) are doing it in.

The root of most of the evil? Apparently self-publishing. Novelists, rejected by big-house editors, having the gall to print their own books, sell widely on the Web, get an agent, and extort the big houses for contracts for six figures! The result? A new world full of digital books, podcasts, blogs, chapter selling, and more horrors, plus a new kind of literature: “fast, cheap, and out of control … trashier, wilder, more democratic, and more deliciously fertile.”

Guess what? In the empire-building business our worst nightmare is some big publishing house taking a year to like our book, another 18 months to get it out, receiving 10% royalties (at best) of the marked price (figure more like 4% after discounting), and then discovering that it’s being sold, if at all, through display ads in library journals—when our markets are plumbers, tour managers, or pediatricians!

In the meantime, we’ve been testing our markets first (title, cost, contents); self-publishing; printing only as many copies as we know we can sell in three months; sending a pile of the books free to our field leaders; talking about the book’s contents to our associations and newsletters; blogging like crazy; building a newsletter and e-list around the book’s singular contents; selling it by chapters; making the book’s contents available bound, as trade paper, in a three-ring binder, digitally, in software, on audio CDs and videos; releasing updates or monthly addenda, and then offering to teach and consult about it everywhere, in person, by computer, through teleseminars…

We’ve even had the cheek to ask our buyers to tell us what more they need so we can do the same with related products again and again. Talk about vulgar: it’s flat-out what empire-building is all about, and if we don’t know that our core books will bring back triple their cost in a few months, duh, we just don’t pay ourselves huge advances and print thousands of copies waiting to be discovered.

It’s been that way for about 15 years, when I wrote a book called Publishing to Niche Markets. I didn’t invent a system that even then scratched its head at the big-house folly. I simply explained an on-going process that was working for us and the steps to follow that had been taken by hundreds (now many thousands) of others, without fanfare. (Who shouts while the cashbox clangs?) Time calls the rise of self-publishing not only “a technological revolution, but also a quiet cultural one.”

Shhh…and stay tuned. You might also take a look at the newest edition of Niche Publishing. Our part of the publishing world is flourishing. The center of our business model is to tell others eager to pay to read and hear how they can do better, faster, and more profitably what they most want to do—and to put that new knowledge in their minds by as many means as they wish.

Gordon Burgett

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 2/09 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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Should I e-mail or snail mail my query to the editor?

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Usually you snail mail first, then e-mail the second and subsequent queries or contacts with the editor.

But there are exceptions where e-mail is the best route. Like when the editor specifically asks to be e-mailed (in the current Writer’s Market or other info source), where the only contact is digital, or where the whole venture is digital, like to e-zines or when your article is digital (rather than in print-on-paper) from start to finish.

The problem with newspapers, magazines, and most book editors: you simply don’t know the correct e-mail address. So you do it the old-fashioned way: a one-page query (two for books, with attachments), with a stamped and self-addressed envelope for a reply. But you also include your e-mail address and (if relevant) your website address or specific links.

If the editor isn’t interested, he/she will e-mail back or send you a standard rejection in your SASE.

But I can’t remember the last time (after computers) when an editor who wanted my copy didn’t e-mail back, give me their own address, and (at least by implication) direct me to send the text as an attachment–and, I assumed, open the door to future queries to that address.

Still not sure? The conservative way is to snail mail the query. So it takes a few days longer.

And there’s the other problem I see far too often as an editor: it is so easy to knock off a quick e-mail query that the result is too often sloppy, poorly edited (if at all), and has too little substance and spark. That from a writer who wants me to consider (and pay for) a no-nonsense article on my pages, one I expect in final form to jump off the page and be clean, tight, and well researched.

To get the OK, the query must be the same. Something seems to get lost between the snail mail version and its e-mail equivalent.

More info about writing, speaking, publishing, and product development? Why not check my free monthly newsletter?

In either case, keep those queries going–and good luck!

Gordon Burgett

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