What’s in your briefcase?

Emphasize “brief” when approaching new markets. Like a one-minute “elevator” speech that you use to introduce your work to serendipitous connections on an elevator, your portfolio should be easily accessible.

It should also contain material that you can bring out should a potential buyer want to see more.  I think it’s important to rehearse your approach before going into a store or a meeting, and it’s equally important to phrase your language, even to yourself, in attractive terms. So, don’t say, even to yourself, “I’m making a cold call.” Instead think, “I’m going to tell someone about a really good experience for them, getting to know me and my product.”

And I love to remind myself that, in Italian, that most romantic of modern languages, “work” is translated as “opera.”

I still use the expandable file folder with the book cover for “Fisherman’s Quilt” on the outside of the “briefcase” or portfolio that I greet new contacts with (with which I greet new contacts — I’m no preposition-dangler!)

Here’s what’s in my file:

My business card and tax registration business license in small plastic holders on the inside cover of the file;

sell sheets or one-page synopsis of my book and contact information;

extra book covers sent by the printer, with blurbs printed on the reverse, to leave with store owners for their display purposes;

press releases from publications;

order forms indicating discounts, purchaser information, ISBN number, contact information, delivery dates and amounts due (I leave one with purchaser and take the signed delivery copy with me for accounting);

a copy of my resume and marketing efforts listing websites, radio and cable interviews, newspaper articles, vendor accounts, tradeshow appearances, classes and presentations;

targeted promotional materials such as brochures for quilt shows or book fairs, signs for festival discounts, Amazon comment solicitation letters, individualized store posters;

8 x 11 inch poster for tabletop display during book signings and collapsible book display stands;

a copy of “The Fisherman’s Quilt” and the first volume of Port Gamble Publishing’s Newsletters.

Enjoy the opera!

Remembering John Lennon: “indelicate, but spot on”

From the New York Times, Nov. 25, 2008 a letter by Peter Brown:

“Church Forgives John Lennon ‘Boast’ ” (news article, Nov. 23), on the Vatican’s “forgiveness” of John Lennon’s 1966 remark that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus,” missed an important point. Apparently so did the Vatican.

John’s remark was not a boast or a blasphemy. He was pointing out the absurdity of the Beatles’ fame, which at that point was at its madding zenith. For anyone who knew John Lennon, the observation was typical: indelicate, but spot on. He neither sought nor required forgiveness, only understanding.

Peter Brown

New York, Nov. 24, 2008

The writer, the Beatles’ personal assistant and manager, was best man at John Lennon’s and Yoko Ono’s wedding in 1969.

With everything else going on these days, print journalism threatened by electronic news blogs that don’t have the same standards of impartiality and accuracy as traditional journalism, hats off to Peter Brown for reminding us of the divergent worldview of John Lennon, a flawed genius who set the tone for the late 20th century.

Letters to newspapers (online and print) are so important to set the record straight, add personal feelings and give voice to supportive and divergent views.

When I was editor of the Islands Sounder, I was so proud of the letters section in the paper that showed an informed, responsive, involved and appreciative community.

Let your voice be heard — it doesn’t have to be perfect to be eloquent.

Independent Publishing Retrospective

January 5, 2008

A retrospective and a look forward seem called-for in this issue of the Port Gamble Publishing newsletter. Since last I wrote, I attended several conferences, speaking on self-publishing. Although my trips off-island have been severely curtailed by the time crunch in getting the weekly newspaper that I edit to the newsstands (my days “off” are Sundays and Tuesdays), in September and October, I traveled to the mainland four times to attend five book publishing and/or book selling events: Book Publishers’ NW “Business of Books” conference at Discover University in Seattle The Whatcom Association of Writers monthly meeting in Bellingham Pacific NW Booksellers Association in Bellevue Write on the Sound conference in Edmonds La Conner Quilt Festival At the BPNW Business of Books conference, (where my assigned topic was “Genre: memoir or novel”), I engaged in one of my favorite pastimes – predicting the future. Here’s what I see as upcoming trends in books: Travel morphing into multi-cultural consciousness a la Marty Essen Cool Creatures, Hot Planet, written “to entertain and enlighten my readers and to defend animals who aren’t considered warm and cuddly;” and Small World Productions’ new video series, Richard Bangs’ Adventures with Purpose Little books Animal stories, building on the Marley and Me phenomenon Tom Master, author of Blogging Quick & Easy: A Planned Approach to Blogging Success presented recent innovations in publishing, with strong emphasis on Internet “inventions” such as book trailers, widgets, blogs, RSS feeds, as ways to approach new readers and build an audience. He suggested exploring such sites as Digg (for web content) Lifehacker and Techno Easy (for managing websites), and blogs such as Frank Warren’s postsecret.blogspot.com and grammargirl.com.
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An Earnest Winter

January 12, 2007

Our winter started in earnest late November, with a heavy wet snowfall that broke the limbs off our huge grandfather evergreens, followed by a day of fierce northeasterly winds, and then a day of temperatures in the teens. In the middle of December winds hit down Sound the week before Christmas, and many were without power for a week. Finally on December 21, winter officially began. Today, after another snowfall, temperatures are below freezing, the wind is howling again and it’s as grey, vicious and gloomy as it can get. People have been grieving the sight of many stripped, broken, and uprooted grand trees, as if one of the few things we could count on was missing. The storms did set many people back in their holiday bustle, which may be a good thing. People had an excuse for not decorating to the hilt, or sending out cards “On time.” As if there’s an exclusive period to wish each other peace, cheer and good fortune. I’ve been hearing more about the “Season of Peace,” the 64 days from Jan. 30, the date of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, to April 4, the date of Martin Luther King’s murder. This observance began in 1998 by Gandhi’s grandson, and has been organized by the Association for Global New Thought in Illinois. Sydney Salt, the national coordinator for the Season of Nonviolence said, “It’s not just about honoring those who are working to make peace, but also about actually taking the action in your own hands and doing your part to live a nonviolent life.”
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The Gypsy Life

November 5, 2006

I’ve presented The Fisherman’s Quilt, and now, the first volume of Port Gamble Publishing Newlsletter, (you can order it by email to pub@PortGamblePublishing.com) at a variety of shows this fall: the La Conner Quilt Festival, the Seattle Singles Yacht Club NW Harvest benefit dinner, and the Pacific NW Booksellers’ Association. Maybe my mom was speaking the truth when she said she got me from the Gypsies, for I do love the traveler’s way of life. Living on an island, as I do, presents a distinct lifestyle, especially in terms of commuting. Where I once spent four hours a day commuting to my day job, now I can walk into “town,” the village of Eastsound, in ten minutes. But the logistics of getting off the island can be daunting and unavoidable, as I experienced in attending the fall tradeshow of the Pacific NW Booksellers Association in Portland on October 14. I arrived at the ferry landing an hour early, so I’d be sure to get on the boat to Anacortes. Earlier in the week, one of the ferry’s engines started acting up, so my ferry was going at nearly half speed, and running an hour late. Then the fog, which had just burned off around noon, started rolling back in. I boarded the ferry over two hours past the sailing time. Then the interminable voyage began as we drifted through the haunting fog. When in doubt, sleep. I spread out on one of the padded benches on the ferry, and dozed off for about twenty minutes. I woke up and we were still surrounded by the thick mist, gliding slowly through the water, sounding a horn occasionally to locate ourselves in the fog. Finally a ferry worker announced, “Now arriving Anacortes,” but it was another long spell as we eased into the slip. Five hours after first arriving at the island ferry terminal, we found land again, on what was usually an hour and a half trip. I could have driven the length or the width of the state in that time! And I was still a five-hour drive away from Portland. While living on the island has presented me with the gift of slowing down, sometimes ….
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Quiet Saturday Afternoon

July 15, 2006

The first quiet Saturday afternoon in ages, I look back on the past six weeks at the publishing and musical activities that have consumed my time. It feels like a forest fire has swept over the landscape of my life. It’s nice to know that back home, I can still crawl back into bed on a sunny summer day at noon to read and doze, and once again recall some of the book publishing and musical activities of the past month and a half. Continue reading

A Gnarly Spring

June 1, 2006

This has been a gnarly spring; a mudtime of growth and grubbiness. But now the gentleness of early summer is on us.

Prior to the release of the movie, “The DaVinci Code,” we had the copyright infringement trial and not-guilty verdict of DaVinci Code author Dan Brown, who was challenged by Baigent and Leigh, authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. It was highly interesting to me that Brown’s wife, Blythe Brown, had conducted the majority of the research for his novel, and that she was “unavailable” to testify at the trial as to whether her research included Holy Blood, Holy Grail.
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