Friday, November 23, 2007

A Rat Writes a Book!!

For almost two years Roosevelt Rat has been working on his book and has finally finished the arduous process. The story is very loosely tied to the show he does called "Top Secret" which is a fun reading program about World Geography.

The book is actually like two books in one.

The first half is the story of Roosevelt's missing friend and how they use the library media center to unlock the clues they find. Invisible ink, secret ciphers, and mysterious maps all lead to a fun and rewarding conclusion.

The second half of the book is a collection of magic tricks that young readers can learn and perform to amaze their friends and family.

Roosevelt did a great job on the illustrations as well. The artwork is beautiful.

But that crazy little rat sometimes believes the audiences' praise of him. His ego might have caused him to order a few too many copies of the book from the publisher. We now have a garage FULL of books that I would really like to share with all my friends out there.

So, if you order a copy before the end of the year, I'll pay all the shipping costs and I even back the taxes out and pay them from my pocket. You just pay the $10 for the book. (Be sure to select "No Shipping" when the secure shopping cart asks for your shipping zone).

Don't feel guilty, it's a small price to pay to be able to park the truck in the garage again.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Used Books Part 2

The reason I wrote about used books last week was because I felt guilty about buying a great one. I love to get a good deal, but there are limits. For example, if I found an elderly widow selling “an old clunker” that her husband left her and I knew it was actually a valuable antique, I don’t know how good I would feel “hauling it away for her” after paying her only the $100 she was asking.

Some might argue with me, others might relish the good deal, some might slip her an extra C-note to ease their conscience, but I wouldn’t feel good about it, no matter what.

That’s sort of how I feel now because I bought an old book by humorist Dave Barry and paid only ONE DOLLAR!

Now, I know that $1 is about the going rate for used books, and actually might be a little bit high since this was a soft cover book. When you figure that the book was published in the early 1990s and had a cover price of only $4.95 you would think my conscious would be clear.

But Dave Barry is such an amazing writer. He has an amazing gift and I simply can’t read his stuff without laughing out loud. So anytime I see his books at a used sale I grab them up. If I already have a copy of the book, I give the second copy to a friend. Everyone like to laugh and Dave’s articles are short enough that even those who don’t read as much as I do can still get through one of his books without too much commitment.

In fact (and I’m sure Dave would beam with pride if he ever knew I said this) Dave Barry’s books are the PERFECT reading material to set on the back of the toilet. Each little article only takes about a minute or two to read. You get a good laugh and by that time you are ready to move on anyway.

I read Dave Barry and I study his words. I think to myself, Now how in the world can he say something so simple and make me laugh out loud? What are the tools that he uses? What pattern or repetitive technique does he use to so consistently produce great humor?

I haven’t unlocked the secret yet. But I don’t mind continuing the research.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Used Books

As an author of almost 20 books, some of which are a compilation of some of the 100+ magazine articles I’ve had published, I can tell you that I am not particularly excited when I see my work sold second hand.

First there is the emotional let down of wondering “Why would anyone not cherish that book on their shelf forever, passing it down from generation to generation with the veneration of a family heirloom?”

But as a writer who has had far more rejection slips than acceptance letters I am pretty quick to get over the emotional let down. Writers, if they ever want to be published, have to develop pretty thick skin.

No, the real pain comes when I think about how every second hand copy of the book cuts into my profits from writing the book. I only get money when the book is sold the first time. I don’t make money when people borrow it from a friend. I don’t make money when people sell it in a garage sale. I don’t make money when people check it out from the library.

But the truth is that I get past this too because I know what REALLY happens when books are sold second hand.

The readers of the world (and I’m talking here about people who read more than 4-5 books per year which is, according to some studies a VERY small portion of the people in the US), the readers of the world are a small population, but they are responsible for MOST of the book sales. It’s like the old “80/20 Rule” on steroids. I’d bet 5% of the people are responsible for more than 95% of the book sales.

That is a lot of responsibility for us and there is just no way that we can look at ALL the books published every year. So we usually recommend the same books to more than one person. We buy several copies of ONE book and give them as gifts. We follow certain authors and buy whatever they write because we learn to trust them to create great stories.

So, when my book gets handed off second-hand I know that I am being introduced to someone who would not have purchased the book otherwise. The potential benefit was not worth the combined risk of the jacket price AND the time needed to actually read the book.

But if a Reader gets their hands on one of my books and LIKES it, then they might be willing to buy one of my books the next time they get the chance.

And if they like THAT book, they might add me to their list of authors to follow.

And if I continue to deliver on the promise I’ve made with my writing, then the Reader might grace a few of his friends with copies of one of my books as a recommendation or even a gift, and thus a new crowd of people are introduced to my work, who might otherwise never have found me.

In a few days I'll share with you why I am thinking about this topic.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Raving Fans

I have a lot of testimonials from past clients on my web site, but I wanted to share this from Charity Munoz, a librarian in Lyford ISD in Texas.

Julian Franklin is a class act all the way! Communication and program preparation were a breeze. On the day of the presentation he shows up early, changes performance level to match the grade level of the audience, and manages student behavior like a teacher. All the while the students are thoroughly engaged, lauging and learning!

Thank you, Charity for the kind words and for allowing me to share them with others.