Ann Gonzales is a children’s book author. “Beloved and the Pepper Tree” shares a young child’s sadness about moving away from her best friend, the Pepper Tree. Not only is the story relatable, the book is beautifully produced. Everyone who sees the book comments on how gorgeous it is. The story and production are well done. Ann placed it onto Amazon with little marketing or promoting the book prior to our meeting. Her initial print run of a few thousand copies was stored, split between her home and the publisher’s warehouse.
My company’s business model is large quantity bulk sales and content licensing to companies and associations. Our first steps are to expand the Subject Matter Expert's product line. That's done with one readily available product while marketing other agreed-upon related content versions. Small product runs are often done to produce samples. The additional product versions are promoted on a multi-product promotional sheet. Market first, produce next, and only when a well-vetted, prospective buyer is on the horizon.
Ann was ready to explore new pathways for her book – bulk sales rather than single-copy sales, and expanding her product line, despite coming to these models for the first time.
We agreed to three new concepts:
• Audio recording of Ann reading the story, creating a professionally produced product
• Jigsaw puzzle using one page of the book’s artwork as the completed puzzle image
• Card deck of 26-cards , based on characters and elements of the book's story
It was time to start the sales process, contacting corporate and association decision-makers.
We got a lot done in the two months of working together. It was now early March, 2020. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic!
While corporate and association decision-makers had budgets , little was known about the pandemic and no one would talk with us.
Ann was willing to continue working together. We discovered successful inroads by tapping ideas stored in our mental hard drives and seeing opportunities others may not have noticed.
A colleague’s photo on Facebook showed his life partner's decision to upend a bucket of orphan socks from the dryer, collected through the 13 years they lived together. I wrote a comment: “That’s quite an impressive collection of socks! If only they could talk.” And there it was. Those socks COULD talk – as sock puppets! And there was no barrier to entry for anyone.
That birthed a free activities club for children 3-6 to interact with adults in their life once the adult entered their email address. This would be a great way to engage website visitors and build a mailing list to show corporate and association decision makers. This email list would be evidence of interest from likely potential buyers for our corporate clients’ products and/or services. Ann is well versed and certified in Expressive Arts. The sock puppet idea resonated well with her. because of that.
The sock puppets and free activity club keep things moving while COVID-19 dictated life as we knew it. Then I recalled another chat I had. My friend, Lorraine, shared that her late husband left her a lot of money. She was learning about charitable donations to minimize her tax bill. I had an idea to help her, Ann, some non-profits, and the non-profits’ recipients.
It was October 2020, time to take my friend Lorraine to lunch, and to propose an idea. Ann’s book, sample audio CD in a beautifully designed jewel case, sample jigsaw puzzle, and sample card deck went with me to lunch. Ann's products came out when lunch was done.
I told my friend I knew she was looking for well-rated non-profits on Charity Navigator’s website aligned with her values and causes. I handed her Ann's book. I summarized the story of a sad child anticipating moving away with her family. This story would be ideal for military kids. I found two well rated non-profits whose mission is supporting military families. This was an important cause to my friend.
Oooing and ahhhing as she flipped the book’s pages, without missing a beat, said “I’ll give you $5,000 toward that.” That let us donate 500 book copies plus cover shipping. The donation went to two different non-profits who support military families. My friend had a tax deduction. Our author made a sale paid by my friend. The non-profits brought value to their military families. The children and adult recipients were delighted by the gift. My company was a catalyst in turning a challenging situation into successfully helping many people.
Private donor sponsorship is a new model to offer clients. It can be easier and faster than corporate sponsorship or direct bulk sales to the military for such gifts.
Author Ann Gonzales Expressive Art
Ann is our first children’s book author after three decades of helping non-fiction Subject Matter Experts as private clients. The concepts apply well to both genres for clients open to new and/or additional ways to expand their business, impact, and bottom line.
Have you ever sold 250,000 copies of anything? Me, neither, until the early 1990’s. One of, if not THE, leading consumer mail order catalog companies at that time was the Lillian Vernon Catalog. Among the many items they sold were products used by the many professional organizing and productivity industry service providers. Because of that, the catalog company held a corporate membership in the industry’s professional association, NAPO, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals .Their representative, David Hochberg, was one of Lillian’s sons, and Vice President of the company, responsible for promotion and publicity.
At the association’s annual conference shortly after I launched my tips booklet, 110 Ideas for Organizing Your Business Life, it was very likely David would be there. I was more than a little eager to show him my new publication to see what he thought, and hear what he might say.
David is a native New Yorker, and I am originally an East Coaster. As he flipped the pages of my booklet, in his fastest-paced New York-ese, he said “this is great; you ought to license us a quarter of a million copies, somewhere between, x and 2x.”
My response (as I hung on every syllable coming out of his mouth) was “You know, David, I was just thinking of that,” which I was, right then and there as I captured every answer to whatever question I might have on how to have this interaction manifest into a sale.
A week went by immediately after that conference, allowing each of us to catch up with whatever happened while we were each away. I called him (early 90’s – email wasn’t a thing yet.) and offered the price per unit of 1X. After all, he did say somewhere between x and 2x. 1x was right in the middle between those two. He volleyed with “x or no sale.”
That took all of about a quarter of a second to accept his counter offer as I quickly did the math. 250,000 copies at x equaling a five-digit amount of money , and the credibility enhancer of having the Lillian Vernon Catalog company as a client. And away we went.
My company was granting their company the right to print 250,000 copies of my booklet. A formal legal licensing agreement pinpointed the terms of this deal. That contract and a floppy disk (imagine that) with the tips booklet file on it was the entire transaction. One thing amazed and delighted me almost more than all that this sale delivered.Their corporate intellectual property attorney, made a few improvements in the legalese – to my company’s advantage!!
The reason I was granting very specific and limited reprint rights was that they could buy print cheaper than I could sell it to them. Not only were they a print catalog, that year they were distributing 17 MILLION catalogs to their lists. That 250,000 was a test for them once you realize that context.
They positioned the printed booklet in a familiar business model. It was offered as a gift with any purchase in one issue of their catalog that year. They generously shared certain metrics they so thoroughly monitored. The statistics included increased transaction size, growth of current and of new customers, and from which segmented catalog they pulled those statistics. This arrived on their letterhead.
A particular statistic that stays permanently imprinted in my mind is that they had a 13% sales increase from their list of prior customers that was tracked directly back to offering my booklet. I can only guess how many multiples of their original investment in our licensing deal they made back.
This deal was the first license I did. It was a case of the transaction finding me rather than me searching for it. Showing someone I already knew what I had that might benefit their business is what I did. Becoming extraordinarily attentive to all that he said was crucial. I had no business background at all at that point, and never worked in a corporation. I didn’t know corporate-speak or corporate architecture like quarterly promotional campaigns. David Hochberg taught me a whole lot in less than five minutes. Licensing reprint rights is only one of many different kinds of licensing (renting out) your content in exchange for payment.
Since the time of this deal, the Lillian Vernon Catalog company has been sold after the founder passed away, and her son, David, moved on, bringing his brilliance and experience to other interests. I will be forever grateful to David for the opportunity he provided in that sale.
Peter Thomson promotes himself as the Most Prolific Information Product Creator in the United Kingdom. And in my experience of him, that's very likely to be true. He produced and successfully sold many information products, mostly single copies to end-users, before we met. These were primarily in print and audio. We later connected when I spoke in person at a conference in the UK in the mid-1990’s. We have stayed in touch ever since.
Peter initially phoned one day, out of the blue. I had no idea who he was or his vast accomplishments. He heard about my tips booklet work, and selling in bulk rather than one at a time. I heard this lovely melodious British accent. We then explored his interest in having a tips booklet. That was all of my business offering at that point.
He already had a book, a self-guided, subscription-based program, many articles and posts, and probably much more. We agreed my company would create a tips manuscript for him from what he already had. The title became “117 Ways to Get Almost Anyone to Do Almost Anything!” The content well represented Peter’s expertise. He’s an excellent communicator, and experienced, highly successful sales person. The title seemed and still seems appropriate.
Together we created an addition to his huge inventory of information products. You can well imagine that Peter has always known a lot of people both personally and professionally – many, many contacts. Being so personable and accomplished in his communication, he COULD get almost anyone to do almost anything. So why wouldn’t he want to teach that to encourage others to do the same, or at least strive for that level of results?
Peter purchased our document editing services. He also bought our US-based graphic designer's professional layout services for the content and cover. He decided to do a reasonable sized print run as samples and to sell.
We had an enthusiastic, satisfied customer who, to this day, continues to promote my company’s work worldwide.
That’s not the end of the story.
Shortly after Peter received this booklet print order, he called again. He had interesting yet not surprising news. He was talking to a corporate client to who bought Peter's consulting and and speaking services. Peter had a copy of his new booklet handy when meeting with this client. The client was impressed by the bite-sized, easily digestible, and memorable bits of useful information. He also noticed the production of the booklet was well done. The physical size of it could fit easily in a man’s jacket pocket.
What happened next was only a partial surprise to Peter. His client said “the booklet title is all well and good. It reflects your skills, gifts, and talents as I know them. However, I want a booklet that same physical size, on a different topic. Can you do that for us, and run us 10,000 copies? I'll pay you today. When can you deliver? We also want our company name on the bottom of the front cover. How much is that?”
Peter previously created plenty of trust with this client. That allowed the transaction to occur. Without seeing a single word of content yet to be written, this corporate client handled the transaction seamlessly, full payment in advance, 10,000 copies, sight unseen.
Peter is a lifelong learner. He knew how to write and fully create that next booklet on his. We discussed pricing in bulk when doing his first booklet, so he knew about that. He had lots of sales experience in his prior professional life. I was thrilled this transaction happened as it did. He did it on his own, finding editorial, design, and print vendors in the Midlands, UK where he lives. His generous mentions of my company continue to bring more goodwill to more people than can be measured.
They Serve Different Purposes
Many years ago, one of our clients, Rabbi Mel Glazer (Of Blessed Memory), discussed how we could help him publish information near and dear to his heart. He had advanced training in grief counseling and wanted to write a book to guide Jewish families in observing the specific traditional rituals and their sequence titled "When Death Visits a Jewish Home."
While we enthusiastically encouraged Rabbi Mel on his important and highly helpful journey, the biggest thing we strongly suggested was to create the BOOK second rather than first. When death visits a Jewish home is NOT the time people can absorb a lot of information. They are in shock and in mourning. The best way to serve them at that time is in highly focused, small bits of simply presented information. There could not be a better application of how-to tips than that situation.
We further advised him to identify as many suppliers of end-of-life services and products for traditional Jewish customs. That runs a wide gamut from funeral homes, urn creators and distributors, officiants, professional obituary writers, kosher caterers, cemeteries, headstone crafters, synagogues, Jewish day schools, to many more. Sell those businesses and organizations thousands of copies at a time, each with the organization's name and contact information on them. The business or organization would distribute a copy of the short tips (50 words or less per tip) when a family member or friend comes to explore engaging their services or purchasing what they provide.
Additionally, we advised Rabbi Mel to elaborate on the booklet and write the book he wanted to write on the same topic, "When Death Visits a Jewish home." Go back a year later to the businesses and organizations that bought the booklet the year before and sell them the book to use in the same way for the families they gave the booklet to the previous year. Not only are the families more able to read more information at that point, they are likely to return to that same vendor or organization when the inevitable happens of death visiting their Jewish home again or someone at a different Jewish home who needs suggestions on where to go for the timely and important information, services, and products.
By following our suggestions he was able to help many more people every step of the way, including the mourners, those who provided the booklet and book, and his own commitment to guiding people through the difficult and challenging part of life. We were very honored to work with him for these very reasons.
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