Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Pug Story is live on Kickstarter!


I want to begin by thanking all of you for continuing to read and support this blog.  As many of you may remember from my last post, I was getting ready to launch a new Kickstarter campaign, that if successful, will keep kids smiling across the globe! Well...we are now live and would love for you to take a look at our campaign:


While I am no Kickstarter expert, I hope that the experience I have gained regarding crowd funding such as this, will be helpful for all of you who may be thinking of growing your product line or adding another book to your series.

And don't forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

It may be time to grow your product line!


It has been a long time since my last blog and for that I apologize.  But, it is time to get my fingers typing again so I can share all the neat things I have been doing to grow my children's line beyond books. In 2012, I raised thousands of dollars in order to produce my first Pug Story children's book, "Chloey's BIG Move".  Since hitting the shelves, Pug Story books are now sold in stores across the world.  When people began asking me about the second book coming out it got me thinking.  For as many people who wanted the next book in the series to come out, even more people wanted to know if I carried Pug plush toys to match the book.  And of course, that got me really thinking; what was the best course of action for growing my product line.

Since I was getting more requests for Pug plush toys than another book, I began my research.  I started bringing a few Pug plush toys I had myself to readings. After each reading I was left with less and less plush toys.  The kids loved them and always asked to keep them.  When they look up at me and bat their eyelashes and then say, "pretty please, " it's just too hard to say no. I knew I had to get those toys made. As cute as these kids are, an emotional pull is just one component of this new project. The other aspect of course is the business component, which includes the execution of your plan.  

I have been lucky to work with some wonderful manufacturer's, both stateside and overseas for the better of 12 years.  Because they are trusted resources, I reached out to some of them to begin the process of sourcing a Pug plush toy to add to my line, giving my fans what they really want!

Sample Pug plush toy
Once I contacted my resources, I was able to do the following:

  • Pick the exact look, size and color of the plush I wanted
  • Decide on the most efficient minimum order quantity (MOQ) for my first run
  • Agree to a Free on Board (FOB) price 
  • Set up logistics for shipping the product to the states and start getting quotes from my sources
  • By adding the above two points I got a good handle on my final cost per piece
  • Go through the process of prototyping to get a pre-production item ready
  • Make sure my quality control settings are in place
  • Determine time lines and delivery dates once order is placed
  • Mitigate potential pitfalls by adding on extra time for delivery and money on the back end

NOW......it is time to secure the funding for such a project!  The process is related to an older post talking about crowd funding sites such as; Kickstarter or Indiegogo, reaching out to family and friends or your inner circle.  Don't forget to reach out to groups that mirror what you are trying to do through social media etc.  

*For example; I write a book series called Pug Story for children, so naturally I began working with Non-Profits related to Pugs and dogs, as well as children's charities.  By working with these groups you will gain credibility, extra exposure, and in turn, feel great about being able to help them as well! 
It is truly a Win-Win!  

Pug Story will be launching our newest Kickstarter campaign this Friday, so stay tuned for details and more.

And don't forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Summertime is sales time!


Since you have worked so hard thus far to get your book published and start getting it out into the marketplace, you have earned some fun in the sun...while making money!

Grass roots events are a great way to sell, promote, and build your brand while having some fun.  Until recently you may have been "cooped" up indoors while getting your book to where it is now; in your hands and hopefully in a few customers as well.  When the weather is nice, it is a great time to take advantage of the opportunity to make direct sales, interact with larger groups, build your network, and meet your supporters!

Start by looking up events happening in your neighborhood or even somewhere further away if you are able to travel.  Try contacting your chamber of commerce for dates of events and learn about the steps you will need to take to be a part of them.  Because there so many festivals that occur throughout the summer months you are bound to find the right outdoor venue to set up shop and start selling!  Because my book is a children's book I looked for opportunities where I know families will be attending

Busy marketplaces or festivals are wonderful places to sell your books

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Sell your book direct to consumer


Summertime is a great time to get in front of people and sell your book directly to them.  Direct sales offer higher margins and returns, create opportunities to meet your customers, and allow you to personalize books while taking pictures for your social media sites.  No one can talk about your book and the story behind it as well as you can.  After all, your book is the culmination of your hard work and creative ideas.

There are a a multitude of venues, events, and markets where you can set up and sell your book.  Take the appropriate steps to ensure it is ok for you to sell somewhere so you avoid potential problems with the venue.  Make sure you are prepared and ready to go so your sales efforts will be smooth and efficient.  Some things that will be helpful while you are selling your book direct to consumer:

  • Appropriate amount of product to sell
  • Cash so you can make change if necessary 
  • Credit card swiper that attaches to your smart phone--Personally I like Pay Pal but "Square" or something like that is also ok
  • Pens for signing books
  • Plenty of business cards and some fun marketing cards--Consider adding a QR code on them for your website, facebook, twitter etc.  Someone can scan the code with their smart phone and they will be directed to your pages with ease.  I have used the above card which includes 3 QR codes for my different social media sites.  
  • Sign up sheets for you to collect customers information for your database.  This way you can contact them with a newsletter, updates for future events, and fun facts about the business in general.  
It is important to diversify your sales efforts.  Meaning it is good to sell to stores, work with wholesalers and distributors, and also sell direct to consumer.  A major benefit of direct sales is that there is no waiting period to get paid like there is with a wholesaler.  Once you swipe your customers card the revenue will be immediately available to you which can be very helpful for a new business needing to balance their cash flow.  

Pay Pal has helped me simplify the transactional component to my sales efforts.  They offer a reasonable flat fee and take a small percentage of each sale.  There are no hidden fees or surprises with them...which I love.  While looking for a merchant vendor be careful as there can be hidden fees and sometimes delays in receiving payments.  Pay Pal offers a credit card so the minute you swipe and make a sale the money automatically goes on your card.  You can keep it on the card to use for business expenses or you can transfer the money to your bank accounts.  https://www.paypal.com/
Remember to tap into your existing networks for chances to sell direct to consumer.  For example, I  donated books to The Chicago Firefighter's Widow Fund.  As a result I was invited to their annual family picnic where I set up a table and sold a good amount of books to the families there.  I brought my life sized Chloey the Pug mascot for fun, had a chance to meet the kids, sign their books, take pictures with them, and we had a great time!  It is days like that I realize how lucky I am to be able to say, "This is my job, and I love it!"

If you have any questions or want to know more about choosing the right place to sell your book directly, or the right steps to take please let me know.

And don't forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Power of Social Media


I never thought I would be so heavily involved in social media.  I have always valued my privacy and the thought of putting myself and business/book out into the world for all to see was definitely scary.  Scary or not....using social media for marketing and selling your book is vital.

While I am no social media pro yet, I have seen my efforts begin to "pay-off" both personally and for my book and business.  I began with  Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/PugStory, then Linkedin, this blog, and I recently joined Twitter; https://twitter.com/jfearheller.  Create profiles that will grab attention and be creative but honest. It requires a lot of work and some trial and error to keep your social media platforms updated, so make sure you have some fun while you are doing it.  If you are unsure about how some of these sites work consider reaching out to some local schools/colleges to find someone who can help you.

For example: On Twitter I began "following" and was then "followed" by some Pug and dog rescue groups who have ordered books from me and even invited me to their events....The Pug Rescue group invited us to sign and sell books at the Milwaukee Pug Festival later this month. Teaming up with the right people and groups will be essential as you share and sell your book.  I quickly learned that my book did not only appeal to parents buying it for their kids but for Pug and dog lovers too.

On Facebook I set up a personal page first.  I thought this would help me connect with people from my past and in my life now, and it did.  I began to re connect with people and let them know about Pug Story etc.  Seek out certain groups and or people that will reciprocate your efforts and help raise awareness about you and your book.

Linkedin is a great networking site.  I have worked with some wonderful people in all facets of my business with whom I connected. You can find just about anyone or anything you might need for your business on this platform and in return the right people can find you and learn more about your book.

Keep your posts, tweets etc. relevant and interesting.  Let people know who you are and what you are all about.  Make sure to use fun and appropriate pictures to illustrate and highlight you and your book.  Offer poignant tips and helpful information as you go so as not to simply promote yourself but truly offer your following something they might not have gotten anywhere else.

Social media can be a lucrative and wonderful sales vehicle if used properly.  The reach, exposure, and rapid sharing of information, for free I might add, far exceeds that of traditional marketing or advertising strategies.  There are webinars, seminars, literature etc. to help us understand how these platforms work and how we can make them work for us as self-published authors.  If you have a website, www.pugstory.com, make sure you link up all of your social media sites with it as one platform should funnel into the next ever so seamlessly.

Hopefully some of this was helpful but if you would like more detailed or specific information please contact me and let me know how I can help.

Dont forget to WRITE, WRITE, WRITE!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Be back soon!

Hi All,

I am so very sorry I have not posted new information during the last few weeks.  I am pleased to say it is because Pug Story has been busier than ever at reading, events, and planning for upcoming events.

I so appreciate all of my viewers and promise to offer some helpful tips in my next entry on how to use social media as a cost effective and efficient way to reach your new market and get your book in the pipelines.

Coming soon so make sure to check back in the next few days and keep up the great work!


Saturday, February 2, 2013

UPC and ISBN for your book


Because this can be such a busy time for a newly self-published author I want to make sure the below details don't slip through the cracks as you begin talking to retailers.
  • Obtain ISBN (International Standard Book Number)-- This is how retailers etc. can locate and verify your book. 
  • Obtain UPC/bar code--this is how retailers can scan your product easily.
  • List price of book
All 3 of these numbers must be combined on the sticker or embedded in the bottom right side of the back of the book or in the dust jacket, particularly for the big box stores.  Below are two great sites for information and obtaining the numbers you need.

http://www.isbnagency.com           Here is an example:

  • Secure any appropriate trademarks and copyrights for your book and list them on one of the first interior pages.  Below are two great resources for learning about how to protect your IP (Intellectual Property)

If you have not embedded this info into the book you can still get a sticker from one of the above mentioned companies.  Next time I want to write about continuing to market your book and how to get it out there!  I will be starting another Kickstarter campaign soon to raise funds for book 2 in the Pug Story series, so I will be offering specific do's and don't about that process.  

I hope you all will continue to send me your thoughts, feedback, and stories.  I am here to help you on your journey in any way I can because I know that YOU CAN DO IT!

Don't forget to WRITE,WRITE,WRITE!  

Like I tell my kids at readings etc.