Small Business Saturday

While you’re patronizing your locally owned businesses on Small Business Saturday, don’t forget about those small businesses that don’t have a storefront. Like publishing companies.

Like all small businesses we’re constantly trying to get the attention of buyers, in our case, readers who have millions of books to choose from, so every sold book is like a hard won victory. And like most small businesses all of our income comes from the sale of our product and that’s supposed to cover all our expenses. But if that were true, there wouldn’t be small business grant contests, small business loans, crowdfunding, angel investors, or Shark Tank. Most small businesses can’t stay in business without getting outside funding at one time or another.

Small businesses often have small profit margins and publishing companies’ profit margins are notoriously slim. If any unexpected issue arises that requires costs beyond a company’s budget, the company needs to find extra funds to cover these costs. And, you know what? It’s amazing how often unexpected issues arise. Like life, running a business is filled with unpredictability.

Bedazzled Ink is proud to be a woman-owned business dedicated to publishing the written word by women, but pride doesn’t help our odds in getting a loan (only 29% of women-owned businesses get loans), win a small business grant contest (we received $1000 and a Canon printer out of all the contests we entered), and raise bunches of money through crowdfunding. We don’t have the latest cool gadget or a particularly compelling back story that blows up Kickstarter.

We’re just a publishing company with a mission that appeals to a small like-minded group of readers that, much to our delight, is growing, but will always remain relatively small. Our budget has also become slimmer through the years as ebooks sales has flattened, the price of printing increases, and the competition for readers gets harder in a market over flooded with books from self-publishers.

So, just as we have to keep up with the ever changing publishing industry, we have to keep up with the ways businesses raise money and create passive income so we can focus on our mission.

The most important way to support us is to buy our books.

Logo-Laurel-Web

In the spirit of Small Business Saturday, we’re supporting Laurel Book Store of Oakland, California that recently had to close its doors. Luan Strauss is a great supporter of local authors and did many author events. She’s now moved her bookstore to the web, so please consider buying our books through her site to make her new online venture a success. Go to Laurel Book Store and start shopping!

If you want to support your local independent bookstore, order through Indiebound by clicking on the graphic:

Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

If you enjoy our books and support our mission you can give us a monetary gift of any size through our Bink Book Angels Club. A gift of money would be particularly welcome at this time

You can also support us by buying our t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc. at Bedazzled Ink T-Shirts and More.

wedontneedcapesbink-longsleeve

You can also help support creative artists from all over the world at our Bedazzled Ink Mighty Feminist Shop. Each design is on t-shirts, sweatshirts, kids clothes, mugs, totes, notebooks, and pillows.

Thank you for supporting Bedazzled Ink Publishing and our great roster of authors and catalog of books. Let’s make 2019 an amazing year.

 

 

 

 

The Story Behind Sandra’s Tribute Video

We lost Sandra Moran three years ago today. It’s still difficult to believe that this talented, energetic woman is no longer roaming the earth making everyone she meets smile and feel like they’ve been friends for life.

On October 14, 2015 I got an email from Sandra Moran with the subject line “Hey ladies . . . Bad news.” I read it and read it again and then again. It seriously made no sense and it seemed like some kind of horrible cosmic joke. I sent a text to Claudia and asked her if she’d seen Sandra’s email and her confirmation finally made it terribly real.

Sandra matter-of-factly told us that the back issue that had been bothering her all summer wasn’t a pulled muscle. It was a series of tumors on her spine. She also had tumors in her liver, lungs, breast, and possibly brain. The cancer was an aggressive form and moving fast.

The initial prognosis was a year to a year-and-a-half but first they had to get her pain under control so they could start the treatment. She spent the next couple of weeks in the hospital but her pain increased and they couldn’t do anything. At that point she was allowed to go home under hospice care.

With the inevitable rapidly approaching, we thought the best tribute we could do for this amazing larger than life woman was to do a video. I always start a video with a music track so I have a structure for the visuals. The song “For Good” from Wicked, seemed the perfect song. Then I thought it would be great to get Jody Klaire to sing it. Sandra had mentored Jody in her writing and they had become good friends. When I pitched the idea to Jody, I had in mind an a cappella version. I sent her a recording of the original Broadway version of “For Good” and the lyrics so she could learn it. My vision for the video finally came into focus and I asked if it was possible to get a video of her singing.

Even though Jody’s health was more problematic than usual at that time—she wasn’t even sure she’d have to lung capacity to sing—she decided to book time in her old recording studio to do a proper job. While we were arranging this, we lost Sandra on November 7, 2015. Jody had booked the studio time the day (more or less the day, since Jody lives in Wales) before Sandra’s memorial service a week later, so we were under a tight deadline to have the video done in time for the memorial.

I spent the week getting the visual part of the video ready. First I collected all the photos and videos I could of Sandra and arranged them in some kind of logical way. Then I dropped the Broadway version of “For Good” into a track and arranged the visuals over it. I even left spaces at logical spots in the music where the video cuts to Jody singing.

It was also touch and go about whether Jody would be healthy enough to make the forty mile trip to the studio and do the recording. But on the day of the recording, Jody made the trip and sent me two full-length takes. I removed the Broadway “For Good” from the draft video and dropped in Jody’s take. Not only did it fit with only a couple of tweaks, it matched the vision I had of what I wanted the video to look like. I couldn’t believe it. It seemed like a miracle. Jody had also reworked some of the lyrics to reflect her own feelings about Sandra and her voice was beautiful and perfect.

And here’s the video

– Casey

Selling Words in a Visual World

A few months ago, I was browsing the Internet and somehow landed on a site that sold cupcakes. I stopped and stared mesmerized at the big color-saturated pictures of cupcakes on expanses of white background, coupled with elegant grayish, rather than garish black, script. At that moment, I thought, we need to sell books like cupcakes.

cupcake

Brilliant idea. Easy. Now where do we start?

Stumbling block number one. Books are not cupcakes. Sure, we can sell the book “package” like a cupcake. But, unlike cupcakes, each book has a different flavor, even genre books that have broad flavors like mystery or romance or science fiction. We eat certain flavors of cupcakes because we like them and we know that a cupcake called chocolate cake will be baked with more or less the same ingredients and will taste like chocolate cake. But a book called science fiction may match a broad flavor profile we like, but the ingredient mix–plot, pacing, writing style, vocabulary, points of views–produces enough variations in flavor to create endless subsets of tastes.

Each time we read a book, we’re adding new tastes we like or dislike, and only books by the same author can come close to the same flavor, and even then a flavor profile is not guaranteed. We’ve eaten enough cupcakes to have certain expectations of what different flavors taste like, so we can almost savor that amazing looking carrot cake cupcake before sinking our teeth into it. We haven’t tasted most books before, and those that we have, we’ll reread the copy we’ve already bought. If we gave away the copy or never owned it, a bright new cover or new creative packaging probably won’t be the primary factor that convinces us to read it again, or brings new readers to a book that’s been around for a while.

mockingbird

Often just the opposite. You’ll go search for it on Project Gutenberg or check it out from a library, or pick up at a used bookstore or a library sale.

ProjectGutenbergused-books

So how does one sell a package that no one knows what’s inside, except some vague description of the “flavor”? We can give them a taste with an excerpt, but those are words, and we’re still faced with selling them in a visual world.

Does posing the book in interesting and enticing settings help sell it? That’s a popular approach on Instagram.

firegardenlikeanorange-seder

Some books are easier to present visually than others. Nonfiction and memoirs can be presented visually because we can share photos and other images related to the books.

Fiction takes a lot more creativity. No matter the marketing, the only thing that really sells fiction is someone reading the words and liking them enough to rave about them to someone else.

And what about book trailers? Do they help sell books?

Because publishing is an ever changing industry, Bedazzled Ink tries to attend workshops and seminars offered online. Not long ago, a workshop on using social media for book marketing featured the social media people from two of the big five publishers. They talked about all the social media platforms but both said that Instagram was the best one for selling books. Instagram? Really? At that point, we had signed up for it but hadn’t figured out how to use it, so we decided to give it a try. It was a way of forcing ourselves to sell words in a pretty strict visual environment.

Much to our surprise, our overall sales increased through our efforts to visualize our written word. Not only that, it’s been easier on Instagram to increase Bedazzled Ink’s overall visibility.

Now we try to use some kind of visual with as many Tweets and Facebook posts as possible. Just like Annie‘s “You’re never fully dressed without a smile,” our social media posts needs that twirl of icing to be complete.

Not quite like selling cupcakes, but with each graphic and video we create, we’re learning to bake in our own way.

–Casey

Our Partnership with EBSCO

Sometimes we take on projects because they have a worth beyond just something entertaining or interesting to read. When Giovanna Capone approached us with the idea for Dispatches from Lesbian America several years ago, we realized the vision Giovanna, Xequina, and Cheela Romain Smith had to record personal histories and stories that were worth capturing and preserving was something that needed to be published. We also knew it would be an excellent resource for the scholarly and academic market.
Dispatches_lg
All it had to do was become a blip on the right radar. Well, not only did it blip, it has been chosen to be a part of a new Humanities Collection being developed by EBSCO, which is “the leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazine subscriptions, e-books and discovery service to libraries of all kinds.” Anyone who has done any kind of research in a library has mostly likely used EBSCO.
Print
This may be just a regular thing for many publishers but for us it’s a validation that we weren’t wrong in our assessment of Dispatches From Lesbian America‘s importance to researchers, and the years and hard work Giovanna, Xequina, and Cheela put into this daunting project was completely worth it.
EBSCO’s new Humanities Collection is slated to be released in late 2018.

Stalking Our Books in the Wild

Getting your books into bookstores is kind of a holy grail for authors and publishers. Of course, every book can’t be in every bookstore or else bookstores would be gigantic multi-floored super warehouses. So how do books get into bookstores? The simple answer is, booksellers select them. The catch is, for a bookseller to consider a book they have to know it exists. That’s the part of the equation the author or publisher doesn’t have an easy time solving.

The easiest way for a publisher to get books into bookstores (and libraries) is to have a distributor with a good sales staff who attends bookseller tradeshows, makes presentations to buyers, goes on sales calls, puts out seasonal catalogs, etc. Even with all this, it still comes down to whether a bookseller wants a particular book in their store or not. Shelf space is extremely limited and turnover is fast, as bookstores always need to make room for the latest books.

The majority of Bedazzled Ink books are stocked by independent booksellers. Either a title fits a bookstore’s niche or taste, or it simply catches their attention. This is great because we love independent booksellers and are happy that sales of our books can help support them. But for most authors and publishers the shiniest prize is landing in a national chain. Nowadays, that means Barnes & Noble. Not just convincing your local Barnes & Noble to put your book on their local authors’ shelf, but to have it in Barnes & Noble stores across the country.

While it’s possible for an author or publisher to convince the Barnes & Noble corporate buyer to stock their books in their stores, it helps–a lot–to have a national distributor make a memorable presentation to the buyer. This doesn’t guarantee a book will land on the shelves, but at least it has a chance to make it onto the list of titles to be considered. This is important because the corporate office chooses the bookstore for each book. They may decide for a book to be stocked in just a handful of stores near where the author lives, or in a broader region, or nationally. Our books have been in all three scenarios.

DogChurch_lg

One of our books, Dog Church by Gail Gilmore, was shipped to thirty-seven Barnes & Nobles in New England. This made sense. Dog Church is about the Dog Chapel in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Not only did Barnes & Noble stock it, several independent New England booksellers also put it on their shelves. Just last weekend, Gail Gilmore walked into a bookstore in Concord, New Hampshire to see if they would sell her book and was pleasantly surprised to find four copies already on the shelf.

Kingstone_lg

Barnes & Noble also decides to stock titles nationally. This happened with Kingstone, Katherine Hetzel’s latest fantasy novel for children. Kingstone shipped to thirty-one stores across the U.S. Katherine lives in the UK, so there is no “local” for her in the U.S. Kingstone is sitting on the shelves at the Barnes & Noble at 82nd and Broadway in New York City and in Anchorage, Alaska. Every U.S. region is covered, but not necessarily stores in major population areas or well-known smaller cities or towns. For instance, it’s stocked in several stores in the Los Angeles area, but in only one store in all of Northern California (including San Francisco and the Bay Area)–in Citrus Heights, a suburb of Sacramento.

We decided to go on a field trip and visit the Citrus Heights’ Barnes & Noble to see one of our books in the wild, as we call it.

citrusheights1citrusheights2
We were curious about how Barnes & Noble selected which stores to send certain titles, so we had a nice chat with the customer services person. First, he confirmed that the individual store did not have a buyer. The corporate buyer selected the books for the stores. So we asked, why this store of all the stores in Northern California, was chosen to stock Kingstone. He said they’re one of the top sellers of children’s books. The light bulb went off for us–the seemingly random choice of stores across the country now makes sense. Now it’s up to the kids to pull it off those shelves and decide they want to take it home and read it.
citrusheights3

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

June Newsletter

Call for Submissions

Indivisible We Stand – Women’s Voices Raised in Protest is an anthology of tales from the front lines of the ongoing battle for equal rights for all women around the world. Raise your voice and send us your story to inspire other women today and in the future to take up the fight. And most importantly, to keep the truth alive.


New Releases

June

Kingstone_lg

Kingstone by Katherine Hetzel

Temple novice Katia wants nothing more than to become a priest in the Temple of the Triple Gods. She tries hard to do the right thing, but she’s on her last chance to convince Elder Sevanya, the King’s Priest, that she can do the job.

dungeness_lg

Dungeness by Karen Polinsky

Protagonist and narrator Millie Langlie (daughter of a S’Klallam maiden and a Norwegian mariner) is an adventurous girl with a curious mind. Journeying from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend and back again, Millie discovers how knowledge of the past can teach us to love, forgive, and forge a new path.

July

TheLadyProfessor_lg

The Lady Professor by Robert L. Switzer

Emma Hanson, a poor farm girl born in 1900, has exceptional scholastic ability and a deep fascination with the natural world. Despite fighting her way through poverty, her family’s indifference, and prejudices against women attaining an education, she attends college. Under the tutorage of the college’s only female professor, Emma conducts her first research with dung beetles and micro-organisms and knows she’s found her calling.

AlwaysAnOrphan_lg

Always an Orphan by Shelby Adams Lloyd

“I was an orphan then, I am an orphan now, and I will always be an orphan.” Always an Orphan is a loving memoir of a unique childhood where family, to this day, are the orphans Shelby grew up with, and home is the orphanage she looks back upon with pride and love.

GoodPeople_lg

Good People by E.J. Runyon

(GusGus Press) Bernie is a battered wife, escaping her husband Carlos for the summer. Meg is a writer and pre-op transsexual, dealing with father issues, and sharing her place with Baby, another woman on the edge. Relations come in all kinds of configurations–what we accept from some, what we must refuse from others, and how we recognize those who earn the right to be called family.

DeesGentlemen_lg

Dee’s Gentlemen and Other Stories by Barbara Davies

Award winning Science fiction and Fantasy writer, Barbara Davies, has put together another mind-scratching “what if” collection of fantasy short stories including England’s Dr. Dee, mermaids, orcs, tree spirits, princesses, a Lavender knight, witches, and a heart-stopping Kentucky Derby in the sky.


Bedazzled Ink in the News

esfirisalive_lg

Esfir is Alive by Andrea Simon is featured in Independent Publisher’s list of YA Books readers should check out. Esfir Is Alive also has a review in the June issue of Kids’ Book Buzz

thethirdlaw_lg

The Third Law by Jordan Falconer is on AfterEllen’s Official Summer 2017 Reading List.

wherethetimegoes_lg

Where the Time Goes (GusGus Press) by Gale Walden has a review in Smile Politely, Champaign-Urbana’s Online Magazine and a mini-review in The News-Gazette (Champaign, IL).


Et cetera

Gail Gilmore signed copies of Dog Church (GusGus Press) at Bookends in Winchester, Massachusetts.

gilmore-bookends1 gilmore-bookends2 gilmore-bookends3

Andrea Simon did a presentation about Esfir is Alive to about sixty students at her second visit to the Leonia Middle School in Leonia, New Jersey.

 simon-leonia-may-3 simon-leonia-may-2 simon-leonia-may-1

Karen Polinsky presented her soon to be published book Dungeness at the 16th Annual Symposium of Native and Indigenous Scholarship at the University of Washington, Seattle, on May 17th. The theme of the symposium is “Stories of Resistance from Indigenous People.”

karenpolinsky dungeness_lg

Diana Corbitt talked about Ghosters (Dragonfeather Books) to fifth graders at Tolenas Elementary School in Fairfield, California.

Corbitt-school2 Corbitt-school1

Bedazzled Ink spent a pleasant Sunday morning at the Bay Area Book Festival in Berkeley, California. It was a beautiful sunny, but cool, day. Best of all we got to meet two of our authors. Karen Polinsky, author of Dungeness (coming out this month), and Michal Strutin, author of Judging Noa, one of our 2018 books.

 Claudia-Karen-BerkeleyClaudia-Michal-Berkeley


June Events

FromUnderSnow-sm

Michelle Carter will be reading excerpts from From Under the Russian Snow (September 2017) and handing out bookmarks at the San Mateo County Fair from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. on June 10th in San Mateo, California.

Dispatches_sm

Joan Annsfire, Roxanne Ansolabehere, Lenn Keller, Barbara Ruth and the editor, Giovanna Capone will be reading from Dispatches From Lesbian America at Laurel Book Store from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on June 10th in Oakland, California.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save