Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Good Recession Is a Terrible Thing to Waste--For Writers, Too!

I am out of commission for a few days. My friends are filling in with guest blogs. I thought the lead on this article by my friend and reviewer Jim Cox was a lesson in itself. And, then, of course, there are all those good tips!

ByJim Cox
Reprinted from his newsletter

An economic crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

The publishing industry is very much a part of and affected by our nation's national and regional economies. Both the publishing industry and the country are in an economic crisis. But this is a crisis which is also an opportunity. Here's some of my thoughts on the subject of how writers, publishers, and book reviewers can weather the current economic recession--one that I think will continue through 2009 and not abate until at least the spring of 2010.

1. Revisit your business plan--and if you don't have one written down and at your fingertips then you absolutely need to stop whatever you are doing right now and create one!! Carefully look through your business plan for ways to consolidate, cut back, switch to more economical alternatives, and acquire the information necessary to be more frugal in your expenditures overall.

2. Keep a daily written record of all of your expenses--no matter how trivial. You'd be amazed at how much money can be spent on 'autopilot' because we are so used to shelling out for this, that, or the other. By identifying what we spend our money on we can then make informed decisions about what to continue, what to modify, and what to cut out altogether those items of expense that are "nice but not necessary".

3. Pay attention to your working environment. That goes for everything from leaving unnecessary lights on, to leaving computers on when not in use, to failing to ask for competitive bids for such things as stationary print jobs, phone service, equipment repairs, etc.

4. Never drive when you can walk or bike to where you have to go to do what you have to do. My own example is that I was in the habit of driving 14 blocks to the post office to mail off publisher notification letters every day--when after speaking to my post-office delivery person (who delivers book mail to my place Monday through Saturday) I found that I could simply rubber band the letters together and leave them on top of the emptied mail sacks in our mail room and she would be happy to pick them up for me. So now the only time I make a trip to the post office is when it is combined with other errands that would take me past it anyhow.

5. Explore the possibilities of winning grants to subsidize your operations. There's a learning curve to master here, but the good news is that there are several excellent 'how to' books on the subject of grant writing, as well as some very good Grant Giving Directories of organizations that give literary and publishing related grants. You can obtain these instruction books and reference books for free from your local public library through their InterLibrary Loan Service.

6. Put time and sweat equity into mastering the learning curve associated with marketing. That includes on-line marketing, hand-selling, non-bookstore venues, publicity/promotion tactics and strategies, etc. Again, you don't have to re-invent the wheel. There is an abundance of 'how to' instruction books specific to making money through writing and publishing. Your free public library will prove to be your new best friend in this era of economic downturns and retrenched consumer spending.

7. Avail yourself of the publisher resources you will find on the Midwest Book Review website including the archive of:
A. reviews of 'how to' books for aspiring writers seeking publication at:

B. reviews of 'how to' marketing books for novice and experienced publishers alike:

C. low-cost and no-cost publishing resources

The most effective way for authors and publishers to survive this economic recession to is increase revenues while decreasing expenditures.

The present economic recession has gripped out country for the last year, and it is one which I think will take at least another twelve months before ending. The next twelve months of economic hard times will shake out the weak, the unprepared, the unobservant, and the unmotivated, leaving standing only those who were wise enough to know that it is by educating themselves in the techniques of corporate survival will their own particular entrepreneurial publishing venture succeed, whether they are a self-published author or an independent publisher of other people's work.

Jim Cox
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI, 53575

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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