All posts by laptopandadream

Are you getting in your own way 

Building a business can have its challenges. There are always obstacles to overcome and competitors to stay ahead of.  

In order to overcome challenges one must always be aware of the trends and best practices that help lead businesses owners to success. 

Some of this seems obvious as long as you are paying attention.

But there is something that is not so obvious one should pay attention to. The internal processes that may be getting in the way of your success.

For example, I am in the book publishing business. I prefer print books. I like the process of holding a book in my hand, turning the pages and making notes in the margins. So when I promote new titles, I put the bulk of my effort into print books. 

But this is the electronic age and today’s readers prefer ebooks. They provide instant access, are more environmentally friendly than print books and they save space because they can be uploaded to a reading device or cloud storage.

Most book publishers don’t even invest in print books unless they are doing book tours or book signings. 

My resistance to promoting ebooks over print books is hurting my business’ bottom line. Because of my personal preference I am not as successful as I should be and now I’m playing catch up. 

How can you avoid getting in your own way?

  • Pay attention to trends in your industry 
  • Think outside the box 
  • Realize doing things “your way ” may not always be the best way 
  • Revisit your business goals and think of new ways to reach them 
  • Don’t be afraid of change 

Are you getting in your way when it comes to your business?

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You are not there yet: making decisions based on where you want to be instead of where you are. #allihaveisalaptopandadream

If you are like me, you have a list of goals that you have for your business. In order to reach those goals my business has to be at a certain level.

One of the goals I have is to publish another author by the end of the year. Before that goal can become a reality I have to have the capital in order to enter into a contract with the author, produce and publish their book.

In spite of knowing this, I put a call for new authors on my website. To my surprise I got a few responses and I wasn’t ready to offer a publishing contract.

Needless to say I felt a little fraudulent, telling potential authors that I was not in the position to publish their books even though I put out the call for manuscripts.

After this experience I started going over my goal list and I came up with a few things I can do so I don’t get too far ahead of myself.

  1. Break down each goal into action steps.
  2. Make sure any money I’m spending on a goal is a good investment.
  3. Ask myself is this really a goal or something I think I “should ” be doing.
  4. Don’t place hard time lines on reaching a particular goal. Personally I don’t do well with hard time lines. Instead I have check in dates so I can see if I’m making progress and make the necessary adjustments.
  5. Focus on where my business is in the moment and how I can capitalize on it.
  6. Revise my business plan to make sure my focus hasn’t changed.

As business owners, we all want to grow our businesses into self sustaining entities. The desire to get there may have us jumping the gun from time to time. But if we take time to look at our goals and focus on where we are in the moment we can avoid wasting time energy and money.

What decision have you made based on where you want your business to be?

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Bookstores are the worst place to sell books #allihaveisalaptopandadream

It’s the dream of every author and publisher to see their books in a bookstore. To have your work carried by a bookstore chain is prestigious but how is it for book sales?Ironically bookstores aren’t the best places to sell books. Unless your book is on a best seller list or there is specific promotion for your book around them being carried by a bookstore chain, getting a major sales from a bookstore may not be as realistic as you may think.

Here are a few reasons why bookstores are the worst place to sell books

  • Competition-your books are shelved with other books of the same category. Unless your book has an elaborate book cover or you are having a book signing. Having other books compete with yours, lowers your chances to make sales
  • Promotion-bookstores are into housing books, not promoting them. Once your book gets into a bookstore it just gets space on the shelf
  • Short shelf life-books don’t sit on bookstore shelves for long. As new titles become available, room has to be made on the shelves for them, so before your book can be discovered it may be on its way back to you in a box
  • Discounts-bookstores usually take up to a 40% discount off the retail price on titles they carry. This can also impact your bottom line on book sales.

Seeing my books carried in a bookstore chain is a goal of mine. I want to be able to walk into a bookstore and see one of my titles on the shelf. I know this is more of a goal for legitimacy than to generate sales. If my books do make it into a bookstore, I will try to capitalize on it by doing a book signing and sending promotional materials, like posters or banners to the bookstore to help promote them.

What are your thoughts about selling books in bookstores?

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If it’s easy, let it be easy: My struggle publishing a book using CreateSpace #allihaveisalaptopandadream

When I first got into self publishing the emphasis was on creating a book that would be accepted by the trade and would end up in book stores. There was a very labor intensive process and timelines are of the essence.

You have to plan your book a year ahead to promote to the trade before you even market to the reader.

Then the price of finding a printer and having books produced that may or may not sell and in most cases you end up with books taking up space in your basement or garage.

So going through this process a couple of times with my first two books, you would wonder why I was so resistant to using CreateSpace to publish my latest book.

CreateSpace is a print on demand service owned by Amazon that allows self publishers and small publishers to produce books and have them printed and distributed without the overhead costs of going directly to a printer or entering a distribution contract you have to pay yearly fees for. You don’t even have to purchase ISBN numbers for your books, CreateSpace will provide on for you and if you use their ISBN you get a library distribution option that is not available if you use your own ISBN number.

You can also publish your book to Kindle through CreateSpace. There are no upfront fees for their service. They take a small percentage off your book sales and pay you a royalty. And you retain all the rights to your books.

So with that being said, what was my resistance?

  • I don’t like change. As hard and as costly the old book model is, it is the way I started in publishing.
  • Ego. I never was successful with the old model and I wanted to master it before embracing the new way of producing and selling books
  • Branding. Somehow I thought producing books through CreateSpace would make my publishing company seem less legitimate. The truth is, the fact no one is buying my books makes my publishing company less legitimate.

The bottom line is, if there is no bottom line, you have to go with what your budget allows, so CreateSpace it is.

The process is easy. If all you have is a double spaced manuscript they have templates for different book sizes you can  paste your book into. They also have a free book cover design feature where you can create your own book cover from a selection of cover templates. You can proof your book online or order a proof copy.

They also offer editing and cover design  for a fee if you prefer to have some professional help.

Once you are satisfied with your final product, you approve the proof choose your distribution options and in a few hours your book will be available on CreateSpace (they give you a customizable page on their site for your book and they give you more royalties for books sold through their site). A few days later your book will appear on Amazon.

So I finally got through the process and I Know How to Lose Weight, So Why Haven’t I was born.

Even with this new way of producing books, I realize I still have a lot to learn about marketing and generating sales. I am thankful that I don’t have a box full of unsold books sitting in my basement.

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I exist with you in a way that transcends logic.

I keep time through our encounters

I loose track of how often thoughts of you run through my mind

I rest in knowing my journey for love begins and ends with you.

I gladly turn over my heart to you, to protect, my soul to you, to uplift, my body to you, to please, my will to you, to guide.

Lisa M Evans

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If it looks like a business, then it must be a business, right?

New brand cover 2 nowebI’ve got my LLC in place, my business address, listings on the right publishing sites, business cards, a website, a water bottle, tote bag, cell phone case, and a t-shirt with my company logo on them.
I legitimately look like a business. At least my idea of what a business should look like.

I read blogs, books and articles on what a small publishing company should have (minus the t-shirt and other swag) but I wasn’t functioning like a business, i.e. more expenses than income.

I got so engulfed with the “building a business” part of publishing that I forgot the foundation of publishing which is writing, the process of creating a written work of art. In my mind I thought who would take me seriously if I said I owned a publishing company and all I had was a book and not a business card in my hand.

In retrospect, how can I say I own a publishing company and all I have in my hand is a business card and no books. Building a business requires that the foundation of the business be a solid one. In my case, having books to publish is more important than having swag and business cards to pass out.

I had to take a look at my expenses and reevaluate my business structure and what I really needed to have my business (legal documentation, business account etc) and what I needed to run my business.

Can you relate?

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A Dream Deferred?

dreamAfter two years of trying to build my publishing empire, I have returned to the workforce. For practical reasons I am very grateful that I have the means to make ends meet, but the entrepreneur in me is demoralized.

I had to console myself: “no, you are not a failure”, “this is only a means to an end”, “having steady income is going to help you get where you want to go faster”, “success doesn’t happen overnight, any thing worth having is worth working for”. And so on.

I had to also look on the bright side, and see what this opportunity was giving me as a writer. I work in an office of characters and situations that provide me with material to keep me creating for days. I also have an opportunity to write about the job I do and maybe come up with “best practices ” or information on the industry I am in (a textbook may be in my future). I am also meeting people who want to become writers, that I can mentor or create a seminar and share my experience with writing and self publishing, and possibly find authors to publish in the future.

One thing I have learned in life is that change happens and instead of resisting it, I am trying to embrace it. “Just because things aren’t working the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they are not working the way they are supposed to.” @allihaveisalap Twitter post 2014

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