For several years at WritersWeekly and BookLocker, we have operated on a skeleton crew, automating as much as we could along the way to keep costs down. Keeping our costs down meant keeping our prices down for our authors and that was extremely important. As we watched our competitors raise their prices each year (sometimes more than once a year!) into the thousands and even tens of thousands, we only raised ours once every few years. We vowed to continue offering quality book publishing at a very affordable price. Currently, authors can still get a great publishing package, with an amazing original cover and full distribution, for only $675 through BookLocker – and that includes basic ebook formatting/conversion/distribution, too!
We have a small handful of contractors and employees and Richard and I have always preferred to do as much as we could ourselves. That way, we had direct contact with all our WritersWeekly readers and writers, and our BookLocker authors. When we’ve been approached by investors and potential buyers over the years, we’ve refused their money. While we could have grown quickly, and cashed out like most of our competitors did many years ago, we knew that if we did, our authors would eventually end up part of a huge author meat market, with poor service and a bad reputation. Taking care of our authors long-term has always means FAR more to us than cashing out, and early retirement.
Our one-on-one, owner-to-customer service isn’t changing. Richard and I will still have direct contact with our WritersWeekly and BookLocker families. But, we are shifting things around a bit. Richard has always performed the majority of the back-end computer work, which can be taught to someone else. He really wants to get more books on the market under his own name. I haven’t released a new book in two years myself and I finally realized that I might never release another one if we didn’t hire someone to help with some of my activities. For example…accounting. Like many writers, I DETEST accounting and anything even remotely related to math. (Ug! Why didn’t I hire someone to do that years ago?!)
Last year, we hired Mary (who has since married our oldest son!) when those 16-hour days started really wearing us down. She kept us afloat with regards to accounting, website updates, and other administrative tasks but her real talents and background are in marketing and client relations. We recently decided to use her skills to further promote the business and our books so she’s now our Manager of Business Development. As I type this, Mary is attending a local networking group in Sarasota. She’s already reported there is tons of interest among local business owners with regards to publishing books to promote their services. Mary is thrilled, and so are we!
A couple of months ago, we hired Brian Whiddon to be our new Operations Manager. Brian was in the Army years ago, and later became a police officer. After a stint owning his own business, he found himself immersed in the big, cold, corporate cubicle world. We met Brian through a mutual friend and we were impressed with his extremely professional demeanor. After seeing several articles he’d written, learning of his computer skills, and watching him at a local business event, we decided to see if we could steal him away from his boring corporate job. And, that wasn’t hard. Here’s how we did it…
We visited Brian on his sailboat one evening, and handed him an envelope. An official offer of employment. Full benefits, vacation, sick and personal pay, 14 holidays a year (our employees each get their birthdays off paid, too), and more.
The letter explained our flex-time, work-from-home policy. Like our other employees and contractors, he could work from “home” (which is a 36-foot sailboat at a local marina), in his shorts and flip-flops, and he could set his own hours as long as he gets his work done well, and done on time. Best of all, he could take as many sailing trips as he wanted as long as he has access to good wifi along the way. As you can probably imagine, it didn’t take much convincing. He read the letter, looked up at us, and smiled so big!
He said he’d give his two-week’s notice the next morning. We warned him that his employer would probably offer him a raise to stay (they did) and a promotion (they did). He said he’d refuse both because he’d always dreamed of having a job that offers the freedom to move about as he pleased, with no location restrictions. Best of all, his commuting days would be over (2+ hours per day) and he could put all his work shirts, slacks and ties in storage.
Sadly, there are tons of businesses that have employees doing computer work all day long, every day…computer work that can be done from anywhere. I know many people need a structured, supervised environment to perform a good job. But, for the disciplined, professional individual, the is no reason at all that they should be forced to commute to a big office every single day, pay for gas, add pollution to the air, buy uncomfortable work clothes, etc. And, those employees could be working at home with their children, which has always been so very important to us. Some business owners just don’t want to give good people that much freedom. I don’t know if it’s a control thing or what but it’s sad when we see it happening.
That’s why we have always allowed our employees to work from their own homes. Of course, we hire professional people who, after initial training, are capable of supervising themselves, and who LIKE to work and are, thus, disciplined enough to get their tasks done not only on time, but often early.
As a plus for us, Brian is an NRA-certified firearms instructor and he also teaches self defense on the side. As many of you know, due to our activism work on WritersWeekly Whispers and Warnings, we and our children have been threatened by scammers we’ve exposed in the industry in the past. Read more about that, and about why we’re relieved to have Brian here in the “home office” whenever he gets tired of sitting on his laptop at the marina HERE.
So, when you contact us, if you get a note from a guy named Brian, please welcome him on board. He’s very excited about helping each and every one of you. In the past two months, he’s been immersed in print book formatting and publishing, ebook system management, third-party royalties and currency conversions (a job I particularly despised!), writing, editing, research (including undercover work with regards to our competitors), website updates, email newsletter management, and much, much more.
Brian is working on a particularly interesting undercover project right now, exposing some ridiculous activities by some of our competitors. We can’t WAIT to show you his findings! They might be ready by next week. And, he’ll be posting guest posts on my column space here to free up more of my time for book writing. Yea!
If you have any ideas about researching nefarious activities in the industry that you’d like Brian tackle, contact him HERE (firstname.lastname@example.org). He’s VERY good at the undercover work. He must be drawing on his past police officer skills. It’s amazing how much he can get people to tell him!! 😉
As I noted above, in his spare time (which is almost non-existent now – ha ha), Brian teaches firearms and self-defense classes, and also helps folks get their concealed carry licenses here in Florida. If you’re in the greater Tampa/St. Pete/Sarasota area, and if you’re interested in learning more about firearms and self-defense, check out his website HERE . He’ll be happy to help!
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
ANGELA ON TWITTER
BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!
ANGELA ON TUMBLR
Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE