Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WHAT I THINK IS WRONG IN AMERICA

Here we go with another opinion. Right now everyone is editorializing and giving their opinion as to what is wrong in America. If they can, then so can I. Here is what is wrong with America in my opinion. American Idol. America's Got Talent. The Voice. The Sing-Off. These shows are meant to make the networks money and to entertain. However, they have revealed a serious flaw in the human character of Americans. The shows will have auditions and tens of thousands of "wannabes" will show up. The all know they have little chance at all of making it. They still show up. I believe the reason is they all want the easy way to the top. Too many in America today do not want to work, do not want to pay any price, and believe they deserve the short cut. A TV network announces a tryout to win an impossible contest that the only person who will actually benefit is the network and thousands come and stand in the rain to try to win the million bucks. By the way, the million bucks is paid to the "winner" in an after-tax payment of $187.46 per week over a forty year period. The network gets millions and millions from advertisers and does not have to pay anyone on the show a dime. I wish I had thought of it.

Now. What if I told you that you could have a lovely home, make good money, drive a nice car, enjoy retirement, and have health insurance. Sounds pretty good. Come line up. Here's the catch. 100% of you can win. The line you get in is called HARD WORK. Pay the price. Stay after it. Do your job with enthusiasm and vigor. Why do that when you can follow the fantasy, stand in line to try out for the $187.46 bucks a week (fast food workers make twice that each week and only have to learn to say "Do you want fries with that?")and then blame everyone else for your hard luck. Stop blogging and complaining and shut up and go to work. The line is really short.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Which Way are You "Leaning" Today?

My wife and I took a nice "road trip" this weekend across southern Oklahoma to visit the beautiful Chickasaw Cultural History Center and Museum. One of the exhibits was particularly interesting to me. As the early Chickasaw tribe moved west from the current area which is Memphis, Tennessee they determined their direction of travel by using a "totem" pole. Each night when the group camped for the evening, the chief would stick the pole in the ground in a perpendicular position. In the morning, whatever direction the pole was "leaning" was the direction the tribe would travel that day. The morning the chief awoke to find pole had not "leaned" at all but remained upright was his indication they had arrived at their permanent location.
As I thought about this tradition it reminded me of the scripture in Proverbs 3:5 which reminds us, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and LEAN not unto your own understanding..." I had to stop and ask myself if I am following my own understanding or "leaning" on God for His direction and insight for the direction to follow each day. If I begin each day by "planting" the Word of God in my life and asking it for direction then my steps will certainly be ordered by a higher power who knows the exact path I need to take on my journey. What "pole" do you and I plant every day to see which way it "leans?" I trust it will always be the clear, concise, and encouraging Word of God. Which way are you leaning today?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DON'T WASTE THE GIFT YOU ARE GIVEN EACH SECOND...

I have enjoyed for decades the blessing of sitting in the "husbands" chair at a nice ladies dress shop while I waited for my wonderful wife to try on clothes. While she is in and out of the dressing room having the time of her life I can sit and reflect on how grateful I am that I am waiting on her and not someone else!
This past Saturday I found myself in that position once again. Ladies shops really know how to handle the guys. The chairs are almost always comfortable and there are lot's of copies of sports and business magazines available. The really nice ones have coffee. I leaned my head back into the recliner and closed my eyes to rest and wait until I heard her sweet voice when she appeared from the dressing room saying, "Honey, what do you think of this outfit?"
As I drifted into a doze the shop was so dead quiet I noticed I could feel my heart beating. Bump-bump. Bump-bump. On and on it beat steadily. As I listened I imagined that each beat was saying "A-gift," "A-gift," "A-gift." Every beat of your heart and of mine is indeed a wonderful gift from God. We can help the process by eating correctly and exercising but only God knows how many of those beats He will give us. In the average 70 year life span the human heart beats about 2.52 BILLION times. One day God, who counts and gives every beat as a gift, will say, "That's it, that was number 2,520,000,000" It will be over. Since we all know that is going to happen whether we like it or not why in heaven's name would we waste a single moment, of the gift of the beat this second of our heart? I see people every day who waste the precious gift of beat after beat with complaining, worry, fear, anger, hatred, selfishness, and bitterness. We all need to take life seriously. But don't waste the moments God has given you. Stop for a moment and get quiet. I think you will hear it beating out the words, "A-gift," "A-gift." Use that gift wisely.

Richard Tate

Thursday, May 12, 2011

So. Where Are My Book Sales?

Marsha Friedman who is the owner and founder of Friedman and Associates is a highly respected book publicist. She has been a dear friend, colleague, advisor, and supporter of our company and authors for many years. I received the following article from her and wanted to share her thoughts with the followers of my blog. She is as good as it gets in the industry and no one have more understanding of book marketing. We are honored to have her as a friend and consultant.

By Marsha Friedman

One of the most common dilemmas I encounter with many clients is the preconceived notions of what it takes to make sales. The problem with these preconceived notions is that they often misdirect people into thinking there is empirical evidence that lays out the sales cycle in absolutes. But, that just doesn't exist.

So, what IS real? Exposure is a real tangible element in a marketing and sales cycle, because without it, you can't sell a thing. Just as a candle under a bucket yields no light, a product or service that no one knows about will yield no sales. People have to know about you to do business with you.

Whether you are selling a book, a product or a service – exposure is the first and primary goal of marketing. While exposure doesn't guarantee sales, any hope of generating sales can only result from getting in front of your potential consumer. But, when your product receives that coveted exposure to the masses, the X-factors in play become whether or not consumers will like what they see. Your product will either be exactly what the consumer is looking for, or it won't.

I was talking to my senior strategist and he reminded me of the launch of New Coke back in the 1980s. Coca-Cola decided that Pepsi’s gains in the marketplace meant that consumers wanted a sweeter-tasting soda pop than Coke’s patented formula delivered. So, they scrapped their mainline product altogether and introduced New Coke with a multi-million dollar ad campaign featuring prime time darling Bill Cosby.

Their new product launch tanked. Consumers wanted their old Coke back. The moral of the story is that everyone in America had been exposed to New Coke. But, it also appeared that no one in America wanted to buy it. That’s the flip side of exposure, because great marketing doesn't make something a quality product, nor can it fool people into wanting something they wouldn't ordinarily buy. Your product must be able to stand on its own once it receives the exposure.

In the absence of empirical data, let’s take a look at some anecdotal data – specifically, your own. Ask yourself some simple questions. When was the last time you made a purchase of anything after being exposed to it only once? When was the last time an advertisement or an article about a product or service made SUCH an impression on you that you immediately made arrangements to buy it? If you’re like most consumers and business decision-makers, the answer to that question is either never, or rarely. The first step was that you were made aware of it, and perhaps after several exposures to that item, you then became interested in it.

Interest is what comes as a result of exposure, but interest doesn't necessarily get you reaching for your check book. Interest usually spurs you to get information. You research it online, you ask friends about it, you ask business associates to weigh in on it – you collect your OWN data. And if you still want more information, you may decide to contact the company and ask them about it. My point here is that there are hundreds of ways to act on interest that does not involve making a purchase, and each of those actions represents a series of decision points, at which you may still decide not to buy.

Short of climbing inside our heads, which some researchers are doing these days under the category of “behavioral research” to track how consumers make buying decisions, there is no ironclad way to track what happens with the consumer from the point of exposure to the point of sale. In the advertising world, you'll find a wide range of references about the frequency of advertising required to CAUSE a sale. But, my problem with those theories is they don't take into account what actions the buyer took during the “interest” phase of their buying process that really caused the decision to buy.

And that is my point, and it’s why I know the value of PR and it’s how I've been able to sustain and grow a thriving PR agency over the course of 20+ years, through recessions and economic downturns and absolute market upheaval. It’s because of this one truth: You can't sell anything without exposure that creates interest in the minds of the consumer. And PR is the most cost-effective and successful way of achieving that exposure and interest.

So, while good marketing and PR may not make record-breaking sales a mortal lock, you will never even be in the game without it.

Tate Publishing does more for their authors in these areas than anyone...Richard

Monday, April 18, 2011

HOW TO SELL 70 MILLION BOOKS-A CONVERSATION WITH JERRY JENKINS

We were delighted to have Jerry Jenkins visit Tate Publishing last week to discuss his future books, The Christian Writers Guild and Guide, and several other possibilities. We were honored he chose to come and discuss with us numerous options.

When it comes to selling books in the Christian publishing market, you won't find a much bigger name than Jerry B. Jenkins , co-author of the Left Behind series of books. Along with his co-author, Tim LaHaye, Jenkins has had 16 bestsellers in the series, with more than 70 million copies sold. To say Jenkins knows something about selling books is like saying a fish knows something about being wet.

Jenkins also heads the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, which offers courses geared toward helping aspiring writers perfect their craft. It was in this role that Jenkins visited the offices of Tate Publishing today to take a tour and see what our company was all about. It's not everyday you get to do a Q & A with an author who has sold 70 million books about what it takes to sell those books. Surely, there must be some secret, right?

When I am given the opportunity to ask an author like Jenkins questions about book promotion and marketing, I try to do it from the standpoint of an author trying to make it in the industry, not as someone who sells books for a living. With this introduction now out of the way, I will let Jenkins explain how things work in the publishing industry, in his own words (from notes taken during our meetings).

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

"Too many authors think everything starts with their book. Starting your writing career with a book is like a five year old starting graduate school. Writers need to work up to their first book by writing articles and short stories and perfecting their craft."

What kind of expectations should a new author have with their first book?

"(New) authors are thoroughly unrealistic. They think that "if my book was just in a bookstore it would become a bestseller. If only I could get on Oprah." It takes word of mouth, telling people about your book, attending conferences, doing speaking engagements and getting the word out. Authors are going to do most of the work, and they need to. Publishers count on authors being the Number One salesperson. Nobody knows more about their book and can speak about it with more passion than the author."

Something that appeals to me about Tate Publishing is the personal attention they offer. This is a tough game, and if you are intimidated by the odds of making it in the publishing industry, this may not be the game for you. Use those long odds as a challenge to be one of the authors who do make it."

What is the difference between marketing your first book and promoting your more recent books?

"It really doesn't change. When Left Behind became a bestseller and was doing so well we just held on for dear life. Look at bestsellers as a season. They don't last, and one bestseller doesn't mean your next book is going to be a bestseller. Just because a book has my name on it or I wrote Left Behind doesn't mean it's automatically going to be a bestseller. It always takes work, speaking engagements and conferences. The work doesn't change regardless of success."

At this point, Jenkins' wife of 40 years, Dianna, pointed out that Jenkins hires his own publicists when it's time to promote another book.

What advice do you have for authors who are struggling with book sales?

Most authors miss it. They think most of the promotion starts at the beginning when the book is released. Most publishers stop promoting a book after six months to a year. New York publishers stop promoting after three months or less if the book doesn't take off. Then it's all on the author. When you still have 1,000 or 2,000 books left to sell, THAT'S the time to really start promoting. Hire a publicist. Get interviews. Speak at conferences. Connect with the audience with which you are an expert. Even if there are only 50 people there, that's 49 more people than you are talking to right now.

Nothing is going to happen automatically. Word of mouth is the best sales tool, and that should come from the author. There are no shortcuts."

Jenkins stated "If you are intimidated by the odds, you are in the wrong profession. It should be a motivation."

We were delighted to have Jerry here touring our campus, speaking to our staff, and sharing with us his visions and dreams. We look forward to working with him in the coming days.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

TATE PUBLISHING AND THE FACTS ABOUT "YOG'S LAW"

Followers,

A few years ago an individual created out of thin air a concept he called "Yog's Law." I have no idea who "Yog" is or what planet he may be from but just like Superman there is "kryptonite" in this concept and that "kryptonite" is the facts. His over-simplistic “Money always flows to the writer” is his central argument. The problem with that concept is that he makes it sound like a movie script. Write a book, ask mom how good she thinks it is, send it to a publisher, they take it and make you a millionaire while you sit at home and watch TV. Of course writers should make money for their work, but the premise that they will never have to spend money if they publish, promote or market their books is incredibly na├»ve. I am close friends with several New York literary agents. I was speaking with one last week who has been in that business for decades. She was informing me of the high profile clients she represents who have to take their money to promote and buy their own books. She said that the publishers she works with are the bank and that they see their authors as having to do the work and are small businesses. At Tate Publishing we create for every first-time author an incredible opportunity to succeed. The support they get is over-the-top excellent and the few authors we sign out of the tens of thousands of unsolicited manuscripts we receive each year get the best product and support in the industry.

I have interviewed authors with other publishers for my own interest and we have a staff member in our marketing division who has shared some of his work and research with me as well. Here is a brief synopsis of their experience with those publishers:

Suzy Spencer: NYT bestselling author. In Suzy’s words: “I’ve had four books published. Of those four, I’ve had little marketing support from my publishers. I’ve never been allowed any contact with the sales teams, though I understand some publishers encourage such. As for public relations support, for my first book Wasted, which became a New York Times bestseller, I believe my publisher sent out a few review copies. By that I mean I provided names and addresses of friends in the media and my publisher mailed them copies of the book and, from what I understand, a note that said here’s a book by Suzy Spencer. There was no publicity packet included. No sales pitch of what the book was about or why they would be interested in it.” Suzy herself hired a publicist and mailed out push cards.

Tom Llewellyn: Tom stated that his book The Tilting House sold about 8,000 copies. His marketing support, in his words: “Not as much as I expected (he says, while hoping he sounds grateful to be published at all). They sent out promotional copies, distributed the book in their catalog, blogged about it and sent me a whole bunch of customized bookmarks. A very talented designer friend of mine built a cool website (www.thetiltinghouse.com) and created a book trailer you can see there as well. I setup and completed interviews in local newspapers. I held a pretty massive book launch party—about which the publisher’s rep said it was the biggest launch party she’d ever seen. I’ve done a whole bunch of author talks at local schools and still continue to do them. And I’ve done a whole bunch of blog interviews—kind of like this one.” Tom paid for his own marketing, the construction of his web site and his own book launch party. By the way, after the interview, discontinued the imprint, and Tom has no publisher at all.

My favorite: Sheila Kelly, NYT bestselling author of Twilight Fall. You can see a copy of one of her royalty statements here: http://i259.photobucket.com/albums/hh289/LynnViehl/TFRoyaltyStatement1.jpg Sheila was actually paid an advance of $50,000 for her book. She did not receive a third of that until the book was published. Her agent got $7,500 of the advance. Uncle Sam took $15,000 in taxes. After her other expenses, she actually received $26,000 of her $50,000 advance. Her net earnings from her royalty statement in the link are about $27,000, after returns and holdbacks. Because her publisher has not yet recouped the advance they kept their share, so her net earnings from this royalty statement were, wait for it, $0. That’s right, she sold $46,000 worth of books the quarter she became a NYT bestseller and didn’t receive any of it. Her credited earnings on her next royalty statement were about $2,500, which her publisher also kept to repay her advance.
In Sheila’s words: “My income per book always reminds me of how tough it is to make at living at this gig, especially for writers who only produce one book per year. If I did the same, and my one book performed as well as TF, and my family of four were solely dependent on my income, my net would be only around $2500.00 over the income level considered to be the U.S. poverty threshold (based on 2008 figures.) Yep, we’d almost qualify for food stamps.” To date, she has made about $24,000 off Twilight Fall, mainly from her advance. She didn’t expect to see any actual royalties from her book for another 1-2 years.

In contrast, one of our authors, who is not a NYT bestselling author, has made at least $75,000 off the sales of her three titles with us, and that all went into her pocket.
Money flows to the author? Authors with other publishers pay plenty, and don’t have it nearly as well as our authors do. Sure, J.K. Rowling and James Patterson are multi-millionaires, but they have each cranked out several books, have movie deals, and have to sell an incredible volume of books. They are in the extreme minority, of which I am certain Mr. Yog’s Law is not a member.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

TATE PUBLISHING AND MY OPINION OF WHINERS, BLOGGERS, AND COMPLAINERS

Those of you who follow my blog may not know that our professional staff monitors our presence world wide. I have never written a blog this long but I feel a need to write a “book” today to get some things off my chest. We have a company on retainer that provides information to us when our name, the name of any of our companies, the name of any book we have published or author name in our entire history, or the name of any author or potential author who has submitted to us our contacted us, appears anywhere on the internet or in any media source.
We contact individuals immediately with any concerns or issues and see every one. If you think you can tweet, Facebook, blog, or mention us on a radio show in Tokyo and we do not know, forget it. We see and hear them all and decide what to do and how to reply. If you want to say it, we have a right to hear it. Serious authors who want accurate information are a joy to work with. My problem is that I am stunned on the rare occasion we have a whiner or complainer. The ludicrous statements people make on the web are simply amazing. We give advances to qualifying authors all the time. We pay for 100% of the production, printing and distribution of books we accept. If an author does not have marketing and publicist representation we will pay for that as well and all they are required to invest is a one set up fee which can even be refunded to them under certain situations. If they have qualifying representation we will accept that and there is no set-up fee. We receive tens of thousands of unsolicited submissions and contacts each year and only single digit percentages are considered by our staff. If an author does not qualify for an advance or for us to absorb all the financial risk involved we will even send them a lengthy list of publishers who still consider giving advances as we do and let them contact them directly. They find that they never get an advance from them if they cannot get one from us. The standards are the same. It is more about the author today than about the book.
However, I am stunned when we offer the only and best option for a first-time author in the industry and these individuals whine and complain that we are horrible, ruining their lives, and making the biggest mistake we have ever made by rejecting their book and not giving them an advance or willing to take all the risk. We have learned in the hard knocks of this business that when an unknown author has no risk they are a very questionable author when it comes to their work ethic. Just try going to your bank with a “fabulous” money making idea and see if you can find any banker who will invest in the project and take 100% of the risk. It will not happen. The car dealer, mortgage lender, bank, and Sears expect you to have some risk. But, if an author can bring something to the table we are more than happy to bank roll the whole deal.
My wife and high school sweetheart suggests to me that I am letting my 60++ years get to me and that I was in the intense discipline and honor of the United States Marine Corps one day too many. My age may be a factor but I simply CANNOT STAND whiners and complainers. I read bloggers whining about everything from the popcorn at the movie theatre to the channels they cannot get on cable. It simply drives me nuts. I know I was born in the 40’s and the Second World War had just ended. I know I have had to work for everything I have ever gotten. But today, in America, there is such a wave of entitlement among Americans that it is simply sickening to me. I know that many of you reading this will probably agree with me and some of you will despise me and think you have had such a hard life that you “deserve” a break and I simply don’t understand. Don’t try to go after the hard life story with me or most of the successful business friends I have. Life is challenging and demanding and success comes from never giving up and hard work. Everyone has a hard luck story, myself included. Get over it and get on with your life.
I read an article in the paper this week that caused me to think about our country and the whiners and complainers. That article was the catalyst which caused me to want to write this “War and Peace” length blog and share these thoughts.
A century ago America was the land of the free. Americans had incentive to survive and did not complain or whine about what they were “entitled” to or deserved. I read an article by a national “whine” organization where the executive director stated, “Every American is entitled to and deserves a nice home and nice car to drive. It is their inalienable right!” What a load of nonsense that is. You and I are not entitled to anything but the freedom of choice and the opportunity to work hard toward our goals and have a government that will stay out of our way and try to help and not hinder. The Americans of my birth voted and made decisions for which they took personal responsibility and they always had some skin in the game. Before Social Security Americans averaged saving 15% of their income. Today, it’s less than 3%. Before the great depression there was no unemployment insurance or whiner fund. It is not all government’s fault that citizens today do not have any “skin in the game.” We live in what appears to be a society filled with people who do not want to take a risk, want it to come quickly and easily and believe there should be a “some one else should pay” safety net for every decision they make whether good or bad. We are fooling ourselves if we think our government will save us. Ronald Regan knew that the flaw of big government was to serve the entitlement attitude with government transfer payments and subsidies that would make for a weak society and lazy working class. Thomas Jefferson said, “When the government has the power to give the people what they want without working for it that same government will have the power to take from the people whatever it wants.” Stop whining and get to work. If you own a business, are an author, have a dream, get after it and stop whining. More and more of us are tired of hearing it. Get off your behind at the blog-puter whine machine and get busy working. No one cares anymore and no one is listening to you. They know you need to get to work

Richard Tate