My dentist and hygienist tell me at every visit, “Keep up the flossing.” And I do, even though not everyone agrees about the benefits of the practice. Those who favor it think, In addition to the potential for reducing cavities and gum disease, flossing makes their mouths feel fresher, cleaner.
Flossing seems to have become wide-spread in the 80s. Prior to that time, I can’t remember a dentist pushing the practice nonstop. And late in that decade a variation made its mass-market debut—the flosser pick. Pretty clever. It eliminates the onerous chore of pulling out the floss, cutting it, twining it around your fingers. Plus it often comes on colorful and artistically designed holders.
Therein lies the problem. Flosser picks are so cute, so appealing, thousands are using the tools in any location they find themselves. They then abandon the devices, dropping them randomly everywhere. I happen to see the ones outside. They dot sidewalks, parks, beaches, gutters, streets, playgrounds.
I wonder if our collective dental health has improved significantly with the proliferation of flosser picks. Perhaps they’ve simply become substitutes for cigarettes. Many of us seem to be orally fixated. Since we can’t suck our thumbs in public, we substitute food, gum, nail biting. And cigarettes. Now that cigarette smoking is frowned upon socially, have people switched in flosser picks?
I’ve got to believe that flosser picks are just as much litter problems as cigarette butts. They’re not biodegradable, they’re ugly once abandoned, they can stab toes and soles, and animal health would be threatened should any ingest the flosser picks. In the litter competition, flosser picks are challenging the butt’s domination.
Here’s the kicker: you may pat yourself on the back that you’re using flosser picks even if they create a bit of litter. But experts say picks aren’t as effective as the old fashioned string floss. So don’t break your arm congratulating yourself.
(In this guest blog by Brian Jud, learn some marketing tips that apply to many products and services in addition to the book business.)
The term special sales is commonly used to describe sales opportunities outside of bookstores. Also referred to as non-bookstore (or non-traditional) marketing, it can be a profitable source of new revenue.
The best way to exploit this opportunity is to divide it into two segments. One is retail in which you reach buyers using a network of middlemen. The other segment is comprised of direct sales to non-retailers that use books as marketing tools.
1) Selling to retailers. You are already familiar with this sector. You find distributors or wholesalers to get your books into retail outlets where they are sold off the shelf to consumers. Payments are made in two or three months and unsold books are returned.
* Discount stores and warehouse clubs. Books are discounted heavily and do not offer the same margins of some larger-ticket products. Therefore, these retailers limit shelf space to the “brand-name” authors and top-selling books.
* Airport stores. Books on management, investment, economics, business biography, personal finance and health sell well among business travelers. Books for children also tend to do well in these outlets, especially children’s “activity books.” Popular fiction always sells in this environment.
* Supermarkets and pharmacies. Cookbooks, travel books and regional titles move in supermarkets, but health-related topics sell better in drugstores. Children’s titles also seem to do well in supermarkets, but fiction remains the mainstay there.
* Museums, zoos and national parks. Most of these have a gift shop, and to get in them you must demonstrate how your books can educate and entertain their guests.
* Gift shops. This category includes large chains such as Pottery Barn, Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works, Pier One and Crate & Barrel, Hallmark Stores and Spencer Gifts. It also includes hotel and hospital gift shops.
* Specialty stores. You could sell your “expert” books in home-improvement centers, pet shops, auto-supply stores, camera shops, toy stores or business-supply stores – retailers that serve identifiable groups of people with a common interest in your content.
2) Non-retail sales. Corporations, associations, schools and the armed services buy books directly from publishers. You sell directly to buyers in these organizations. Sales are typically made in large quantities, returns are rare and payment is received more quickly.
* Businesses. Call on product or brand mangers who may use your books to introduce new products, to reward buyers for making a purchase or as a gift to customers.
* Associations. There are over 135,000 nonprofit membership organizations worldwide. Consider donating a percentage of each sale to a charitable, non-profit organization to help finance their cause.
* Schools. The academic marketplace is an opportune segment for publishers, one using books as a foundation for its existence. It impacts people of all ages, from pre-school through graduate school and adult education courses.
* Military. You can sell books domestically or overseas, to military exchanges and libraries, Department of Defense Dependent Schools, onboard ships, to retired military personnel and to the families of military personnel.
Special-sales marketing is not a separate way of doing business. It is not even a new way of doing business. It is an integral part of overall marketing strategy. Simply divide non-bookstore marketing into its two component parts and you may find hundreds, if not thousands of prospective customers for your titles.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – http://www.bookapss.org – formerly SPAN) and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore. Contact Brian at email@example.com or http://www.premiumbookcompany.com and twitter @bookmarketing
Is using zip-locked bags at restaurants a sign of growing old? i asked myself this the other day in a luncheon meeting attended in the main by seniors or mature adults as they’re now called by some. At the end of the meal, several opened their purses and pulled out their own plastic sacks for leftovers, and i recalled times I’d seen my older relatives do the same. Indeed, my father at about age 70 raided the centerpiece on the buffet line at a steakhouse, claiming, “Oh, they want you to take the whole fruits and vegetables.”
As a self-proclaimed environmentalist of many years standing, I’m torn by this action. What if they favor bringing their own containers? That’s more acceptable. Obviously tossing some Tupperware Is a greater emotional challenge than ridding yourself of a flimsy sack. Or is my problem the association of baggies with aging? i have sufficient signs of my status, what with my gray hair and creaking knees, shortened temper, and equally shortened height. I don’t need anyone, or myself, using my salvage of leftovers as an additional indicator of my status.
In most of this country, it’s acceptable to pack and remove remaining food from your restaurant meal. Not always the case over the globe. Appears that Europe is exempt from this habit in the main, while Asians cheerfully carry nibblies out. However there are exemptions even here. The idea of toting goodies after a private dinner is widely disputed in advice columns, and I don’t think it’s ever been resolved. Should you, as the hostess, offer leftovers to guests, particularly if they potlucked the original dish in? Or do you, as hostess, deserve all the leftovers because you took the time and trouble to organize the party?
From experience I can tell you salvaging food after an event is not necessarily a happy situation, regardless of the money you think you’re saving on your food budget. Ask my husband who suffered through approximately ten dinners of leftover turkey, starting with sandwiches through tetrazzini and on to several days of turkey soup disguised as stew, then stroop, finally thin soup.
Certainly guests should ask, or, better yet, wait for the hostess to offer before knocking others out of the way to secret the remaining prime desserts in your tote made of any kind of material. Do you want to save a few pennies and, at the same time, lose a friendship?
Then there are business functions. The best advice is never to save remnants from these functions. Makes you appear desperate and cheap, two conditions to avoid if you’re hoping to impress bosses or clients.
I’ve strayed far afield from my original hypothesis—that carrying zip-locked plastic bags marks you as aging. Maybe my sensitivity to the potential of personality characteristics to adversely set me apart from the general population is too great. I need to decide if my over-riding concern is money, environmentalism, or stereotypes. I’ll ponder that question while I snack on some cheese tidbits I rescued from yesterday’s meal out with neighbors.
I read to escape and I write to do the same. I’ve devoured books since I was a child and discovered the joy of writing in middle school. I wrote articles for our local paper for several years focusing on school events and happenings. As I look back, I never considered writing as a career. It was always a fun hobby but not something I thought of as a real job. I retired a few years ago and have since dedicated myself to a second career as a novelist. I write in two genres–women’s fiction and mystery. I love the escape reading a great book offers.
I find the same enjoyment when creating characters and stories. My women’s fiction series is set in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington state. While on a trip to the area, I saw a woman on the ferry with a golden retriever. As I watched her, the beginning of the story for my first novel, Finding Home, took root. In the Hometown Harbor Series, I created a community of people in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve visited.
Each of the stories features a different woman, who is in the midst of a journey of self-discovery. I love to read series and enjoy novels in which characters are intertwined and appear throughout. In these works, I’ve tried to create a place readers want to visit. They’re the type of books readers can curl up with and get lost in, while sipping a cup of tea. I also purposely created characters that were a bit more mature than those in many modern novels. The women in the series are easy to relate to and have problems readers in their forties, fifties, and beyond will find familiar. The fifth book in this series, Finally Home, releases on June 20th.
My favorite types of books to read include mysteries and thrillers. While on a trip to Nashville, the idea for a mystery series was hatched. I created a lovable bachelor detective who lives with his aunt in the exclusive Belle Meade area in Nashville. My main character, Coop, and his dog, Gus, along with his right-hand woman, Annabelle, find themselves in the midst of twisty murder cases. I released the second book in the Cooper Harrington Detective Series, Deadly Connection, late in 2016. I find writing in the mystery genre to require a more detailed outline and process than the more character-centered women’s fiction genre. I enjoy the challenge of creating a twisty, but believable plot for the murder mystery.
I’ve discovered visiting new areas and travel inspire my ideas. I love character creation and spend a lot of time interviewing my characters so I’m able to develop them for my readers. I’m also a people-watcher and pay close attention to how people act and what they say. It’s a great exercise for building characters or coming up with a new personality.
In person I like no drama. Creating stories and characters fills the void in my otherwise predictable and prosaic life. I’m having much more fun in this next chapter of my life than in my pre-retirement years. I wish you the joy of finding many good books to fill your days. I’d love to hear from readers, so please connect with me by visiting my website at http://www.tammylgrace.com/.
– Tammy Grace
(Tammy L. Grace writes romance and mystery books. Visit her at http://www.tammylgrace.com)