As promised, today I have the pleasure of sharing an interview with you, in which I recently talked story with Ms. Yvonne DiVita.
When I decided to have our February Ho‘ohana theme be A Love Affair with Books, I thought of my new friendship with Yvonne instantly, for we have had such fascinating book conversations since I’ve met her.
As I alluded to yesterday, Yvonne has intuitive insight into the publishing world, coming from a different background than most “traditional publishers.” Yvonne’s experience makes her much more comfortable with navigating through the internet influences that can baffle most writers today: She generously mentors us all on her blog Lip-Sticking with generosity and patience, daily helping us be more cognizant and savvy in our efforts with online marketing. As an author herself, Yvonne’s empathy for writers gives her a signature of mālama, caring.
Yvonne has been a wonderful supporter of mine in my own journey with Managing with Aloha, for she is a savvy businesswoman who loves to teach authors and see them succeed — if she feels I should be doing something better than I do, believe me, she tells me!
No desire to write a book one day? You still should keep reading: in business we all must learn to be marketers, and Yvonne has more than a few things to say about that …
Talking Story: Yvonne, let’s set the stage here. Many people know you best through your alter ego Jane, and the delightful world you’ve created for her on Lip-Sticking. In this interview, I want to expose the Divine DiVita Diva: Would you tell everyone about WME?
Yvonne: Rosa, I first have to thank you for this interview. It’s such an honor to be chatting with you, and your readers. Your blog is a favorite of mine”and Jane’s. To answer your question, Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC is the parent company of Lip-sticking—which is part of my Smart Marketing to Women Online focus, and it is also the parent company to my Business Blogging Boot Camp (where we train small business owners on the fine points of why to blog, how to blog, and the ins and outs of using Typepad as their blogging tool). WME, as we call it, in its entirety is an author’s services company specializing in print-on-demand publishing.
My book, Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online, which is a focus on JANE instead of DICK—hence—Dick*less”used a popular print-on-demand company which I found via the Internet. Their poor customer service, and the fact that the final printing of my book was unsatisfactory—not to mention that it was printed in my hometown of Rochester, NY—convinced me that I could do a better job for writers.
WME (now called WMEbooks) exists to help new and established authors write, design, layout, produce, print AND market their work”because, as an author, I understand their hopes and dreams better than a printer does.
We’re located in the heart of the print-on-demand industry. Truth be told, many online POD companies outsource their printing to my local area. If problems arise—they have no recourse but to get on the phone or send an e-mail. If a problem arises with the production or printing of one of my author’s books—I can get in my car, drive to the printer’s, and solve the issue that same day. Face-to-face is a powerful thing. Personal friendships and partnerships built on a one-on-one basis prove more worthy than phone conversations or e-mail messages.
In the end, WME exists to take away the worry of producing your book, working on the page layout, designing the cover, printing it, and then, marketing it. We do all of that—so you end up with a book that the world will oooh and aahhh over.
Talking Story: You are an incredibly busy woman right now with your WME initiatives: when you mention some of them on Lip-Sticking and I read between the lines, I am in awe of how much you have going on. Can you share more with us about your recent projects?
Yvonne: Here is my Ho’ohana, Rosa,
Windsor Media Enterprises, LLC is an Authors Helping Authors company. Whether your book is a novel, a business how-to, an inspirational story, a photo-journal, or a technical guide—whatever it is—we want the creative process to produce a product you can be proud of. Then, we help you market it—because a book never opened is a story never told. We’re Authors Helping Authors— create their masterpieces and present them to the world.
To go back to your question, it seems everyone these days is extremely busy—a lot of folks are writing books”which delights me to no end, even if they don’t come to WME to publish. I just LOVE books.
As for my latest projects—first, the redesigned WME Web site, WMEbooks.com should be live by the time this interview is posted, so a major focus of mine will be to make sure the site is everything users expect—from providing information on how to get published, to actually visiting the bookstore to buy WME books. To that end, I will try to be on top of any bugs, which are inherent in any redesign. Of course, the site supports my authors—two of whom have completed books at this time; John Wyckoff, MYOB-2: The Complete Guide to Profitable Powersports Dealerships, and Dr. Stephanie Siegrist, whose groundbreaking book on arthritis treatment, Know Your Bones: Making Sense of Arthritis Medicine is sure to find a wide audience. WME has several other books in the queue, but”more about them in due time.
I am also working on a few books of my own. I will be offering a free PDF to those who visit WMEbooks.com called, The ‘How to Write a Book’ Book with marvelous essays from writers—such as yourself, Rosa—on how to write that book lurking inside, as well as useful advice to help authors overcome writer’s block and how to get started on what can sometimes appear to be an overwhelming task.
Another book I’m working on, with Anita Campbell of Small Business Trends and Wayne Hurlbert of Blog Business World, as well as with Tom, my fiancÃ© who writes the Knowledge Aforethought blog, is The Business Blogging Boot Camp Book, which takes the information from our monthly full-day seminar and puts it all into easy instructions for small businesses. We will be including information on using Typepad in that book.
My third book is the second in the Dickless Marketing series: Smarter-er Marketing to Women Online, which will go into more detail on the women’s market online and what new developments we’ve seen over the last year, including how women create a “bloggersation” on the net. (a term coined by my sister, MaryAnne.)
That’s the tip of the iceberg. One thing I don’t want to forget is that WMEbooks has its own blog—the Authors Helping Authors blog, the A-ha! blog, where we post announcements on our authors, information on how to get published, updates on relevant news within the publishing world, and more. While all this may seem to be a LOT”I have help at every turn, so I don’t get overwhelmed. The clients WME serves ALWAYS come first”so, my own work is often done after hours.
Talking Story: Yvonne, I know you are determined to remove the stigma that can still surround self-published books: would you share your thoughts with us on that? Why is it that even the independent booksellers are reluctant to carry them?
Yvonne: Removing the so-called ‘stigma’ attached to self-published books is a crusade that I take very seriously. First of all, there is a long list of distinguished writers who started their careers as self-published authors. The stigma comes, I think, from those old Dick and Jane days of the previous century when the vanity presses lured writers into publication with less than professional work. Even today, there are publishing companies that will take an author’s submission on a CD, then print out what’s received, without thought to design, page layout, or proofing and copyediting, important elements the author may not have thought about.
That is just wrong. Many excellent storytellers are poor typists or less than excellent grammarians. Some have no clue that page layout and graphic placement are vitally important to the printing process. Others are not aware that they have choices in how the inside of their book will look—within certain limitations, depending on book size, font size, and other elements. When they are lured into giving their manuscript to a POD publisher who then prints it as is—they not only do themselves a disservice, they make the rest of us look unprofessional, also. I blame the POD publishers, not the writers.
WME plans on producing books of the same quality that the big 6 publishers who dominate the traditional publishing world produce. And, I know I am not alone. One thing that does hold us back is the ability to allow bookstores—especially small, independent ones—to return unsold books. Because most POD publishers, and small press publishers, aren’t in the billion $$ profit range of the big boys, it’s hard for us to accept returns—which can mean a big loss to us. However, that is changing. With the ability to sell through blogs, through Amazon, and through individual Web sites, book returns may cease to be an issue, very soon. The publisher and author may have to accept a smaller profit margin on the books offered at independent bookstores, but”it’s better than not having the ability to have them included at all.
And, perhaps most of all, WMEbooks plans on aggressive marketing of our author’s books. Readers, you see, don’t care if you’re self-published. The more attention we can get our authors, the more books they will sell, and the weaker the stigma of self-publishing will become.
Talking Story: Let’s talk about e-books a bit, for I myself have seen how the “traditional publishers” get very nervous about them, feeling they steal potential “real book” sales. Do you agree? Why do you think others haven’t followed the lead of ChangeThis.com — aren’t they still the only mavericks with their free e-book downloads and democratic no-author-cost publishing?
Yvonne: E-books are growing in popularity, both with writers and readers. As the Gen Ys and Echo-Boomers (as they are calling the tweens) grow up, they will be quite comfortable reading books online. A burgeoning new technology which is being perfected is electronic paper—which would allow readers to carry an entire library around in a small, light computer—with a screen that refreshes with new content as you turn the book’s ‘page.’ How exciting is that?
Does this threaten the sale of print books? Not at all! If you think about the goal of book sales—to interest the reader enough to convince him or her to own the book”e-books can actually be beneficial to print sales. A well-done e-book can inspire a reader to buy the complete version, or the longer printed version. In addition, if we remember that libraries let people read books for FREE”and bookstores let people browse to their heart’s content”we have to recognize that it’s the value of the content in the book, and the individual desire of the reader to have a copy of the book at hand, that actually drives sales. E-books are “real books” just in a different format.
The traditional publishing world is at a cross-roads right now. We POD publishers can offer our authors a better way to reach their market”and we give them better royalty payments. The traditional publishers that recognize the power of a professional author’s services company, such as WMEbooks, and what it can do for an author, will quickly want to form partnerships with good POD companies. Whether one publishes an e-book, a print book, or offers a book online, in a series of blog posts, technology will dictate how books get publishes today”and the readers will vote with their eyeballs and their dollars. It will only take ONE POD book on the level of a Harry Potter or a The Art of the Start to change everything, overnight. Much of that merely takes publicity— and the added support of sites like ChangeThis.com, a leader in this new decade of “citizen publishing.”
Talking Story: I’ve had several people ask me why in the world I profile and discuss books other than my own Managing With Aloha on Talking Story, and I always answer, “After you’re done with my book, what else will you be reading?” because it’s reading itself that I want to encourage as a coach. I know you are equally passionate about this: would you share your ho‘ohana on reading with us? (You have your shopping online question – I have ho‘ohana!)
Yvonne: Easy. When it comes to books”more is better. Every time you or I recommend another writer’s book, we prove to our readers that we’re 1) well-read ourselves, 2) passionate about helping our readers achieve their goals, and 3) willing to share the abundance.
My ho‘ohana for reading is this: The most important human characteristic we have is our ability to touch each other with our thoughts and words. Books enable us to build connections to thousands of people we may never meet personally, but who are as important to the community of man as we are. Through our words, and pictures, we can say to these thousands of people, “You count. You matter. Take heart from what you read and share it with others—to make the community of man (and woman) one community in spirit and faith.”
Talking Story: I’ve been giving David St. Lawrence (another brave e-book pioneer!) credit for coining the phrase “citizen publishing” in describing blogging, and it’s a phrase I love. Right now bloggers seem to be the most prolific new-idea people when it comes to packaging posts in book format. What effects do you see blogging having on publishing as a whole? Any insights on what we’ll see develop a bit farther in the future? Is there anything you want to add about your Blogging Boot Camps?
Yvonne: Blogging is publishing. “Citizen publishing” is a good description. But, it starts with the bloggersation: People communicating with people. For serious writers, those who blog to educate and inform, their content can easily be turned into e-books for free download—or for a small fee. After a certain amount of time, the blog posts could become a full-fledged print book. It’s entirely up to the writer. The fun thing is that”even though folks have read the content in your blog, if you put it in a book—with some added information—maybe even references and indexes you don’t have on the blog—folks will buy it! Because people still want books”physical, touchy-feely, hold in my hand, take to bed, or wherever I want, books. Which is why at WME, we offer to help our new authors build a blog of their own. In the Business Blogging Boot Camp mentioned earlier we show small business owners how to turn their blog content into saleable material. It’s a win-win situation.
Talking Story: Yvonne, let’s talk for a moment about the current rush by the business blogging community to bring books on blogs to print: I love the passion, energy and spirit of sharing, however do we need to self-manage ourselves in the pursuit of quality, or are we already a bit behind? Your previous comment on the earlier self-published works not being edited well is lurking in my thoughts…
Yvonne: I understand your concern but I’m not worried. As an example, the 100bloggers project is unique…from what I’ve gathered, it’s not so much about why folks SHOULD blog, or WHO should blog, or WHAT to blog about, as it is an example of blogging– in one’s personal voice. I think that’s the concept that Jon Strande is trying to capture, and it’s an important one.
If you look at book categories…let’s take marketing to women, or books with a focus on women’s issues…there are literally hundreds. The ones that rise to the top are the ones people read and recommend to others. That’s how I see the blogging book issue…the good ones will rise to the top, the others will disappear. Those of us who know blogging, and who treat it with the respect it deserves– not just as a sneaky way to get our message in front of people, but as a way to SHARE what we know, and offer EXPERT advice– will be the ones to drive the blogging books’ success.
One important thing I have learned about writing a book is that you can create all the buzz you want–you can give it a catchy title (like Dickless Marketing) and send it to folks you hope will write about it, but…in the end, it will stand on its content–and the value of that content to the reader.
Another thing about all these blogging books…the ones being published by the traditional publishing world will take months, even years, to get in print. Their message will be old news when it gets out. With Print on Demand, we can get our information into the public domain in a few weeks…and the public will judge our worth…which will put a lot of pressure on the other books– to be as good, or better. Sometimes, first is best.
Talking Story: Are we seeing the eventual demise of the independent bookseller? This month some readers have shared their tributes to some neighborhood sellers they love, and even die-hard online buyers admit to walking into bookstores for the sensory book experiences they crave at times as readers. What advice would you give the independent bookseller in regard to showing more initiative in their own revival?
Yvonne: I think we will see less independent booksellers, not because they can’t compete, but because they need to change their focus, and I’m not sure the ones out there now want to do that. They need to incorporate some of what the big chains are doing—have a corner with coffee, do more book signings, be active in their community to promote ALL books, not just the traditionally published books. An independent bookstore that devotes at least 4 hours a week to showcasing a local self-published author will attract more traffic and build a lasting relationship with the book buyers in its area. ALL communities, all over America, have dozens of self-published authors wishing they had more visibility in their own community. The big chains won’t give it to them”if the independent bookstores start to, they will win a lot of chain shoppers over to their store.
Talking Story: Hmmm … sounds like a good business opportunity to me … Yvonne, I must ask at least one Jane question, for I have been thoroughly enjoying your new Sunday fiction feature: it has been so joyful to watch the author in you come out to play! What will the rest of this year hold for Lip-Sticking?
Yvonne: Lip-sticking is like an obsession! I often get off-track”because I find so much wonderful content in other blogs—that I feel compelled to share it! But, I plan on doing more interviews”and more reviews; the Smart Man and Smart Woman Online interviews will continue, but I am planning to add Smart Blogger interviews, also. Reviews will be of blogs and Web sites and show why they are female-friendly, or how they could improve to be more female-friendly. And, I will continue offering fiction on Sundays, until someone tells me to stop.
Talking Story: Well we certainly don’t want you to stop! Yvonne, with all of this, we are fortunate that you still make time to write for us and for yourself. When I read your book, I marvel at the amount of research you obviously had done, and there are a wealth of ideas shared: it impressed me as that proverbial tip of the iceberg. Can you tell us anything more about the book you have in the works to follow your lead with Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online?
Yvonne: Dickless Marketing: Smart Marketing to Women Online (the title was created by a man, by the way—he said I should write about the new Dick and Jane, so I did) was intended to be the first of a series of books on marketing to women who shop online. The second book has already changed focus—I hesitate to give too much information on it as I am afraid it will change focus again before it’s done! But, Smart-er Marketing to Women Online will go into more detail on home-based businesses and how they use the Internet—and how most of them are woman-owned. It will also show the growing popularity of women and men joining forces to open businesses together—and use the Internet as their sales vehicle. And, it will discuss the fact that blogging is a natural means for women business owners to build their business, without the cost of a full-blown Web site that requires high maintenance fees and can be onerous to update.
That’s the idea, anyway. We’ll see if it works. Usually fiction takes on a life of its own, but”I won’t be surprised if this new book takes a different path, as I get further into writing it.
Thank you for inviting me to participate in this, Rosa. I have a new appreciation for my interviewees. This is harder than I thought!
Talking Story: Our mahalo to you Yvonne!
One final note dear readers:
At the time of this posting, www.wmebooks.com is truly an active work in progress: we’ve somewhat forced Yvonne to finish her content and get the site live! If her site is not in perfect shape as you read this, I ask you to extend your understanding and aloha to Yvonne — I assured her you would! Meanwhile, you can access the same site using the old URL: www.windsormediaenterprises.com
Now I must encourage all of you to take advantage of this opportunity: I know that Yvonne will be checking for your comments throughout the day, so if you have another question for her, now is the time!
Let’s talk story, and share your aloha with Yvonne.