Posts tagged: Vilasa Press

The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy is an Amazon Bestseller and I’m an Amazon Ranked Author!

Here I am with Diana Gabaldon, my all time favorite author. I have read her Outlander series, all fifty million pages of it, THREE times. We're hanging out in cyberspace for a few moments of eternity, the 65th and 66th most popular authors in Action & Adventure Fiction. WAA-HOO!

Every once in awhile, life presents the opportunity to be outrageously out there, to the point of being obnoxious. This is one of those times.

I recently did a promotion of my eBook, The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy. It was free for a couple of days and then went back to being one you had to pay for. The results astonished me. Lots of people downloaded it, and then more bought it.

The book’s rankings dropped spectacularly (in book rankings, lower is better) and my AUTHOR RANKING, which I didn’t know existed (because it didn’t before then) put me in the company of some of the world’s most famous authors, and my favorite authors. [However briefly. These rankings change hourly. I am probably in the potato cellar of the Amazon world again. Or will be soon. This book-selling world is not for sissies, compadres.]

So, it’s my time and I’m gonna crow about it.

I’ve done promos by myself before, but this time I was assisted by folks who knew what SEO meant. Turns out, that’s very important in today’s marketing world. My partners in success in this venture were Genius Media, Inc. They are primarily publishers, but also do book promotion. It was a lucky day when I ran into Genius Media.

If you are planning on giving your book away on an Amazon KDP promotion, don’t think it will necessarily turn out the way my recent extravaganza did. Don’t think it won’t, either. You never know. I’ve done KDP free days in the past, running the campaign pretty much by my lonesome self. What was it like? Think days of non-stop, back breaking work, not knowing what I was doing, going down lists of what to do posted online by people I’d never heard of. Fingers aching, eyes watering. I did get results, but it was awful.

If you’re fortunate and have professionals who know what they’re doing to assist you, something like this may happen–and getting there won’t be a nightmare.

THE FREE PART ENDED UP LIKE THIS:

This is how my rankings showed up at their highest, which is measured by closest to #1, the top ranking. Amazon reports results in terms of all the free books on the site, as well as the book's categories. Yes, that's #20 out of all the books free that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Free results also ended up like this: 

Midway through this promo, without telling anyone they were doing it, Amazon changed its categories from these, to what's above. This makes people who know SEO really upset, because they're settings are now wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you end up in the Top 100 Free or Paid, Amazon does a nice little thing like this with your ranking and book cover:

Here's The Angel, flying to #1 Tree in Metaphysical & Visionary Fiction. This was a lovely sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENOUGH OF THE FREE RESULTS. EVERYONE’S INTERESTED IN SALES:

When The Angel went off of free, what happened? This. Took a long night of screen-gazing to get this screenshot. Waa-hoo!

OK. THIS IS BLATANT GRANDSTANDING, BUT THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN TOO OFTEN, NOR DO I KNOW IF IT WILL HAPPEN AGAIN. I’M GOING TO PUT UP SOME PICS OF ME AND MY NEW FRIENDS, COURTESY OF AMAZON. (AND THANK YOU, AMAZON, FOR CREATING THE VENUE FOR THIS TO HAPPEN.)

Years ago, I gave a talk on “Celebrate Your Victories.” I think I’ll post the text of that talk on this blog. Mitigating/explaining what I’m doing with this post, my talk said that we need to celebrate our wins! We need to toot our horns and let the good times flow when something wonderful happens.

Why? Given the transitory nature of success and life’s high points, you’ll be slogging through the muck soon enough. You’ll forget the wonderful high and that life is a joyful process that includes UPS as well as downs. We tend to focus on the later.

SO, HERE I AM, WITH A BUNCH OF MY NEW FRIENDS:

For years, I was too snobby to read Stephen King. When I finally started, I didn't read everything he'd written–that's HUGE. But I sure gave it a try. So, hey, Stephen, hope to hang out a lot more, buddy!

OMG. The guy who brought Jungian writing and depth psychology to everyone, my old buddy, J. R. R. Tolkien! Here I am, rubbing rankings with the master.

Orson Scott Card, maybe the brainiest sci-fi writer ever. Here we are, lovingly stacked together. Thank you, Amazon! And my READERS! Yay!

Classic sci-fi from the master George Orwell, author of 1984, Animal Farm and so much more. Nice to hang out, George! My The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy has been compared to 1984. And our own contemporary pundit, Chuck Wendig. Glad to meet you, Chuck!

WHAT CAN HAPPEN IN LIFE IS TRULY UNLIMITED. YOU NEVER KNOW WHO YOUR NEW FRIENDS MIGHT BE:

MAY YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE AND YOUR COMPANY REFLECT YOUR TRUE NOBILITY AND GRACE!

FREE BOOKS!!!! $$FREE BOOKS$$ UNTIL OCT. 31, 2015, I’M GIVING FREE BOOKS IN RETURN FOR HONEST REVIEWS. WHICH BOOKS? THE WHOLE EARTH’S END TRILOGY BOXED SET EBOOK We have promotions planned for Lady Grace & the War for a New World, Earth’s End II, and The Headman & the Assassin, Earth’s End III. These three books represent a treasure of adventure and … well, pretty near everything else. Romance, time travel, aliens, guys from the past, monsters, you name it, Earth’s End has it. Unfortunately, unless we get more reviews for the last two books of the series. We can’t even BUY advertising for it. [Did I tell you the three books have won SEVEN NATIONAL AWARDS BETWEEN THEM?] BECAUSE OF THIS, I AM GIVING AWAY THE EARTH’S END TRILOGY BOXED SET EBOOK in return for an honest review.

If you’d like to get the three book set for $FREE$, contact me at vilasapress@gmail.com. I’ll get them to you pronto! OFFER GOOD THROUGH OCT. 31–THAT’S MY TREAT!

All the best from Sandy Nathan, who, in addition to being a new mule owner, is also a bestselling and award-winning author. Check out my Amazon Author Page.

Lil’ Annie Comes Home – One Mule’s Journey from Tennessee to California

Me riding one of our Peruvian Pasos, Azteca de Oro BSN, in the olden days. This is in Monterey, CA, at the 1492 show.

I sold my horse and gave up riding forever perhaps nine months ago. This was after being advised by every medical type in my life and the Rector of my church that I would go Splat! if I came off a horse at my age and state of decrepitude. There is truth to this. I would be a dope if I didn’t acknowledge it.

The only thing is–riding is addictive. Not just the wind-in-your-hair thrilling part of riding, all of it, including picking out your horse’s hooves. It’s a physical thing: body memories, muscle memories. The part of being human that allows dancers to perform entire ballets without having to look at their notes. I’ve ridden for so long that the sensation of being on a horse can come to me anywhere. Swinging down the aisle of the local mall, for instance.

Not riding was painful.

After suffering for months, I decided that somewhere on the planet, a horse with a sufficiently low energy level must exist. It had to be a gaited horse–and this is a very important bit. Most people ride WTC horses: they walk, trot, and canter. The trot is the problematical gait: it’s the backbreaking bounce-bounce-bounce you find on most horses. People who ride rental horses once discover this gait and never ride again; it’s that jarring.

But, alternatives exist. I discovered Peruvian Pasos in the late 1980s, courtesy of my bad back. Peruvians are reputedly the smoothest riding horses in the world, a claim I believe. The only thing is, they’re a Spanish breed and many are very hot–Ole! That means if you move your pinkie, you may be in the next county before you can say, “Why am I on the ground?”

If I couldn’t find a Peruvian as sedate as what I wanted, I wanted another breed just as smooth. I had very limited goals in my post-optimal, maybe end-of-the-trail equine experience.  All I wanted to do was meander slowly around our arena and mosey down our mostly flat trails.

I also desperately needed a way of getting away from my computer. I’m an author and I spend most of my life in front of my screen playing with words and turning my spine into something resembling a pretzel. I needed a new interest! A passion! Outdoor exercise!

Last June, after another disappointing attempt to find the horse of my dreams, I was in Santa Fe NM having dinner with friends. It was really fun. They ride mules. Sue and Dick love their mules and ride them all over. “They are really friendly. They’re more like dogs.” Our friends said mules don’t go lame or break as often as horses.

A few years back, Dick started a “Meet a Mule Day” at the County Fair where mules and their people get together and ride across mattresses and through kids’ wading pools and do amazing things that would cause horses to have nervous breakdowns on the spot.  Dick described all the things his mule could do: find lost people, keep their property free of varmints, and do their income taxes. These are useful skills.

Most of my good ideas come when I’m asleep. After this dinner, I woke up with an Ahah! Why not get a mule? Mules like to go slow. They’re careful, smart, sure-footed, live a really long time (up to fifty years), and they’re sturdy. Why not get a mule? A gaited mule! I know they come gaited from seeing the Peruvian National Champion Mule at a horse show in Monterey, CA.

Great idea! All I had to do was find one. I said, “I think I’ll get a mule,” on Facebook. Lickety split, I was hearing from people I hadn’t heard from in years. The mule ladies. It was really fun. Did you know there’s a worldwide network of women who actually run the planet? They all ride mules. I began hearing from them. It was really fun and got me off of FB for hours at a time. And then back on the Net, searching for gaited mules.

I found a lot of gaited mules, all a long way from Santa Barbara, CA, and mostly in the South. I’d find one that sounded good in Alabama, another in Oklahoma, Wyoming, Colorado, and then Tennessee. Clearly, my mileage points were going to be challenged by this search.

But then, a new friend told me about trainer Lou Moore-Jacobsen and One Moore Training in Templeton, CA. She trains mules! And she told me about the Reese Brothers Mules in Tennessee.  Their family has been producing and selling mules since the 1920s! That’s even older than me. Here’s their FB page. 

I contacted Richard Reese, who handles mule sales for his family’s business. Click here and you can contact him yourself. I told him what I just told you and asked if they had a mule that would fit my needs. He said he’d think about it. Somehow the fact that he would be in San Tan Valley, Arizona, at a mule auction and sale and could bring a prospect for me with him came up. All of a sudden, Yipes!, it was late July. The sale was in a few days.

Leavitt Ranch Mule Sale & Auction

My husband and I found ourselves at the Leavitt Ranch the last days of July 2015. Richard Reese had brought a gigantic semi-truck pulling an equally gigantic trailer full of mules.

It was so much fun! I want to thank Buck Leavitt and the Leavitt family for their gracious hospitality in letting all us mule-and-would-be-mule lovers tromp all over their place trying them out before the sale. And thanks to all the people that staffed the cash registers and so on. Quite a lot of work was involved in this production.

And thanks to all the people at the auction. It was such a fun event and I enjoyed meeting and being around so many new people. In my conversations with the “mule ladies” before going to the sale, one of the things I heard over and over again was, “Mule people are friendly. It’s not snobby like horse shows can be.” That was very true.

This was a totally new culture to me. I’m from Silicon Valley and lately (the last twenty-plus years) the Santa Barbara area. I’ve never been to a mule auction. Lotsa mules, folks. The auctioneer talks really fast. You don’t want to wave your bidding card around a lot, unless you intend to bid. The mules were really beautiful. Seductive, actually, moving into and out of the auction area. If you have an equine habit, this could be a danger area.

The Leavitts are going to have another sale in the spring, so if you’re at all inclined to mosey on down, it won’t be 110 degrees then. That was the only negative. The auction was hot, in all ways.

I do want to apologize to those people whose views I blocked at the auction, standing on the rail attempting to film the goings-on with my iPhone. (Which I just learned how to turn on.) I was trying to put together a video of the auction to post here. I didn’t realize I was in the way until someone told me, “You’re really blocking people’s views.” My husband said, “Yeah, you were really in the way.” Oops.

I need to warn you more emphatically about a downside to a mule auction. So many of the mules were so cool that we could have easily ended up with, oh, three or four. Really. An excited lady at the checkout rushed home to get her horse trailer, “I just bought two mules! I didn’t think I’d buy a mule …” Her parting words were lost as she ran to her truck.

Richard Reese showed extreme honesty in telling us, “They’re too green for you,” as we inquired about this mule or that. This was very good advice. My husband, who is normally the more conservative of the two of us, caught the fire. He wanted one. Or two. But we are old codgers knowing nothing of mules.

Oh! Did we get a mule? Yep. Lil’ Annie, who had been with the Reeses one and a half years, ridden by Richard himself. She is exquisitely beautiful and I rode her all over the Leavitt Ranch. Reese Mules are known for their good manners and quality. Did it ever show! I want to share a couple of pictures of Annie when we brought her home. This is her first airline trip. She was so good!

Annie and I on the moving walkway at the Phoenix Airport.

Doesn’t this beat fighting your way through the airport on your own hooves? Once we got into the terminal, Annie’s behavior was even more remarkable.

Annie's behavior at the check-in gate was better than most human passengers. Note how the helpful airlines people put her seat assignment on her rump!

She did have a little trouble at the airport security checkpoint as we boarded. She had to explain that she couldn’t remove her shoes because they were nailed to her feet. Also, fitting into her economy class seat was difficult.

Annie’s home now, a lovely addition to our family. How’s she doing? Freaked out, man. She’s in major culture shock. But, I got her some sunglasses and an iPhone. She’s starting to adjust to California life. Went to Starbuck’s and Trader Joe’s for the first time. I told her we’d cruise State St. and hit the beach soon. Maybe do some surfing. I’ll report when we do.

I also called trainer Lou Moore-Jacobsen. When you need help, get it. We’ll get it sorted out.

All the best,

Sandy Nathan, who, in addition to being a new mule owner, is also a bestselling and award-winning author. Check out my Amazon Author Page. Also, if you feel the slightest inclination to sign up for this blog through Google + or email, there are places on the top right of this page where you can do it. I will not spam you, posting interesting-to-almost-everyone articles only occasionally. I mean, where can you get a blog post about a mule in an airport?? It’s really funny; I’ve got thousands of FB and Twitter and other “friends,” using the Amazon definition of the term, which means you hit Like and made a comment on someone’s FB page once. But I’ve got 53 followers on this blog. It’s been like that for years. Maybe the sign-up thing is busted. I dunno. Try it and post a comment if it doesn’t work. Or works. Ciao!

Should You Set up a eStore to Sell Stuff to Promote your Book?

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3)

In Love by Christmas (Bloodsong 3) This is actually 20" X 30", a poster mounted on a board by Costco.

After having mugs made with images of my covers on them for Christmas gifts (an adventure), and designing a calendar for my own use yesterday (arm still aches from too much computer time), and completely giving up on ordering T-shirts from one manufacturer, I got the probably masochistic idea of  starting a store on my site. I’ve been researching that possibility and wanted to ask my readers who’ve tried it if it was worth it in terms of financial reward or anything else. Satisfaction? Also,  which services are best–I’ve got some experiences to share on this.  Well, if anyone has anything to share, please do.

My experience working with some of the main “swag”–stuff used to market books or anything–providers is below. My words aren’t a comprehensive review. I’ve included links to a few sites that thoroughly evaluate more of the various POD “printing stuff”  services, including those I mention below.  All are worth studying.

Tested: Best Sources for Company Schwag Evaluates 5 of the biggies.

Printaholic.com 2015 T-shirt rankings. Interesting. T-shirts only here. The “usual suspects” are reviewed, but they don’t end up in the order you’d expect.

Printaholic.com’s overall best 2015 rankings. They review all print-related stuff: business cards, photos, brochures, T-shirts. Definitely something to look at.

Listio’s 2008 comparison of printing and merchandising Very thorough ranking of 4 top services with comparison table and screenshots of what the sites look like and how easy they are to use. It’s from 2008; don’t seem to have done one since. They rank the sites overall and talk about site useability and the market the site seems pitched at. I.e.; kids (young people) vs. adults.  Interesting rankings.

 PRINT PERFECTION: “Our platform handles the purchasing, management, and fulfillment your company’s branded swag.” Interesting to know about if you decide to go into the swag game with a vengeance. They handle merchandising and giveaways of “A wide variety of tools to help you easily run swag marketing campaigns:”

And now I hear from Valerie Douglas that YOLA.COM will set up a whole website store for you, for free, it looks like. Whoa.

You can explore these and do your own searches. I searched Google for “ZAZZLE, VISTA PRINT OTHER WHICH IS BETTER FOR MERCHANDISE STORE”

Here’s my experience with these places:

This is a handout for our "Holiday Potpourri at the Grange" I made the post on Photoshop and had reproduced as an 8" X 12" one-sheet and a big 20" by 30" image mounted on board for the sandwich board out front. CLICK THIS IMAGE: IT'S PRETTY FULL SIZE.

COSTCO PHOTO CENTER: I use this service on-line. The Photo section is separate from the rest of Costco. To get to it, sign in on your Costco account (which means you set up a password and give them your email),  and hit Costco Photo on the menu bar at top. You’ll be presented with a bewildering array of choices of stuff they make with photos.

I use them for BIG poster boards using my book covers. I display these at events and speaking engagements. (These are posters of my covers mounted to a stiff board. You can put them on easels or tripods or lean them against walls.) When I’m done speaking, I leave the big blow ups around my family room where I work. Seeing my covers writ large subconsciously reinforces that SOMETHING will come from my efforts.  We had a “literary salon”, an authors’, musicians’, and artist’s event, locally before Christmas. I made 2 of the 20 X 30″ versions of our announcement for sandwich boards outside the building. One is in my family room now. Again, makes it real.

If you want to make a poster, ask your book designer for a 16 X 20 @300 dpi version of the cover, or 20″ X 30″ if you’re feeling expansive. Some designers charge for this, others don’t. What you upload to COSTCO is what you get, so if upload a 16″ X 20″ image at 72 dpi or save a 72 dpi image at 300 thinking it will work, your image will look lousy printed, no matter who prints it.

CALENDARS AT COSTCO: They do really big, high quality calendars. I’ve ordered them for years, using the book de jour for the images. I use covers, photos of the characters and locations I’ve downloaded, new author photos, etc. This is more “Make it real”, but I love to look at my covers. A new image every month is great. Costco also allows you to customize individual days with photos and text. You can put hearts or your book’s heart-throb hero in on Valentines.  Or your real-life sweetie’s photo! Pictures of family members on their birthdays. For instance, I used a photo of my dad in uniform for Veteran’s Day. This type of customization is not particularly hard to do, just requires attention to detail.

If you do videos for your books, this is a terrific use of the images you produce for the videos. Make ‘em the photo of the month!

EASE OF USE of Costco’s photo system? Horrible. Drives me crazy. The size the COSTCO calendar I like has 14″ W X 11″ H images. What I upload has to be that size at 300 dpi to fill the calendar page. Books are typically 6″ X 9″ high, which means I have to use the high resolution poster size image and cut it down or do some fancy Photoshopping with the 6″ X 9″. Assembling the images takes forever, as does loading and arranging them on the calendar’s pages.

The way the Costco calendar system works, you create an album for each project. To upload, you click the album title and select the images. Then you have to select the album again when you upload the image(s), or it makes a new album. I forgot that second click every other time and ended up with about 8 or 9 albums, all with one or two pics in them. Took a while to figure out where my photos were, but I did. You can move the photos to the right album and delete the superfluous albums later, after you’ve found them.

So, steep learning curve. Products can be delivered to your local Costco warehouse in a week to ten days. No shipping with this option, and you don’t have to pay until you see and approve the calendar if you do this.

With all the hassle, I love my calendars and the pain of creating them fades quickly. The one I chose ended up costing $20 and change, including tax, picked up at my local Costco.

COSTCO ENLARGEMENTS: Easiest and cheapest I’ve seen. Upload at photos at home, order on line, pickup in the warehouse an HOUR later. I now use Costco enlargements of my cover images as the front of my press packets. Slick and NICE. I did an 8″ X 12″ One Sheet on Photoshop and printed it at Costco. It looks way better than one printed at a print shop: it’s a photo. Clear and distinct as clear can be.

With all it’s foibles, I love Costco, but haven’t used the other services as much. VISTAPRINT, ZAZZLE and the others also do calendars and enlargements. Maybe not big poster banners, but …

A BIG BUT–if you want to have a gallery or store from which you can sell the stuff you make, Costco doesn’t offer it. I use the calendars, etc. for my own use. Bears searching elsewhere.

ZAZZLE IS A TOP-RANKED CUSTOMIZABLE/CUSTOMIZED SUPPLIER OF ALMOST EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE PRINTED. They have lots of calendars, both to buy as is and to do up yourself. One pretty similar to the one I ordered from Costco (14″ X 11″ and customizable month image as well as special images for holidays) for $18.95 plus tax was $20.95 at ZAZZLE. It was shaped a bit differently, 11″ W X 17″ H, which is better for working with rectangular book covers. And you can mark them for sale when you design them.  And have your own store. Find out how on the site: search My Own Store. I think I’ll look into this, after plowing through all those evaluations on the sites way above. I don’t think you make much money with ZAZZLE, but set up is free and they DO handle merchandise well. How do I know?

Uh, my initial, well, my first two orders of my own stuff from ZAZZLE were a bust. Which is why I did my calendars with COSTCO rather than ZAZZLE. I ordered T-shirts for my family with my book covers on them for Christmas, having barely enough time before Christmas to get them for the holiday, my typical ordering style. ZAZZLE took the order, then contacted me a week or so later, saying they’d canceled it because I’d used copyrighted material.

Yeah, I had used copyrighted material. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL THAT I OWNED. I hold the copyrights to the books, their covers, and everything about them.  So, what’s the problem?

“Oh,” replied ZAZZLE, “no problem, now that you explained it. Order again and we’ll make and ship your shirts.” By this time, they couldn’t produce and ship the T-shirts by Christmas. Also, when I ordered the first time, the shirts were on 40 or 50% off. The sale was over when the snafu got cleared up. They offered me 15% off the second time around. Sorry, not good enough. Got my dander up.

DOING T-SHIRTS ON ZAZZLE: I would make sure I had plenty of time to get my images together, and carefully read Zazzle’s guidelines for image quality. I couldn’t find any more than “Use 300 dpi.” Maybe there’s more. Remember: they run sales all the time, so get 40 or 50% off when you order. If you miss a sale, you can get the next one.

With my next order, I will include a statement that I own the copyrights to my book covers.  I wrote a note to ZAZZLE after they cancelled my order, proving that I had the copyrights.  I put links to my Amazon page, my websites, my blogs and offered to send them screen shots of the books’ copyright pages and documentation from my designers that I held the copyrights. ZAZZLE said that was fine and agreed to do the T-shirts. Too late. If I order a T-shirt from them again, I will include all this at the start.

You can do the same, telling them what happened to me and that you don’t want our order delayed the same way. (You do own the the copyrights, don’t you? Different designers work in different ways. Note that this order was not for sale, just for gifts. I don’t have the right to make swag with the Mogollon cover. My contract with the model/actor on the cover precludes sale of the image on secondary products.)

QUALITY OF T-SHIRTS ON ZAZZLE: I knew about the quality of custom T-shirts from ZAZZLE, having ordered a T-shirt for my husband from them. Wendy Potocki had some wonderful shirts designed her Halloweenpaloosa promotion in October.   I ordered a shirt from that promotion from ZAZZLE, and put the cover of my Vanessa Schierman PhD, WITCH, on the back. Vanessa Schierman PhD, WITCH was my long short-story contribution to Wendy’s promo. If you click Vanessa, you’ll be taken to my website, where you can download the short story I wrote for Wendy’s promo for free. It’s cool. I’m going to augment it with more short stories over the year, hopefully generating a book.

ZAZZLE did a high quality T-shirt with a great printing job.

These are the first mugs that arrived from Zazzle. Print is so bad you can't read it. Images are blurred and the wrong colors.

MUGS FROM ZAZZLE: Another painful story. Also for Christmas gifts, I ordered porcelain mugs with images from my book covers on them.

I LOVE PORCELAIN MUGS! So much lighter and more elegant than those honkin’ earthenware ones that break your arm to lift and chip if you look at them. ZAZZLE has some really pretty porcelain mugs that you can customize with your own images. If you order during a 50% off sale, they’re a great buy.

I put together an order for my family and uploaded it, Photoshopping up some images of the right size and resolution. Very quickly, THE THINGS arrived. They were my mugs, but with distorted colors, illegible print, smears in the design. The physical porcelain mugs were GREAT, but the artwork was mangled.

I complained and asked for a refund. Didn’t want to go through another round of the above, so I asked for my money back. This takes way longer than a store credit, but I didn’t want to try again.

By pure happenstance, my description of what was wrong with the mugs and why I wanted my money back specifically outlined their problems. I waited for my refund, arms crossed, toes tapping.

They sent me a whole new order and they were perfect! And in time for Christmas, too! Which made me think, “Why didn’t you do this the first time?”

If I were to order porcelain (also known as fine bone China) mugs again or ANY mugs, which I would, I’d put a note in my order: Please make sure the print is legible and colors and the design are not distorted. I’d tell the story of my first order right off. And also tell them that I had the copyrights.

I learned about design from this. My first few mugs I designed with the specified 3.25″ high X 3.25″ W image and applied it one on one side of the design area. Since book covers are 6″ X 9″, the 3.25″ corresponded to the 9″ high dimension, the reduced size graphic was narrower than 3.25″– about 2.2″ wide by the 3.25″ high.

After doing a few pieces with single images, I discovered somewhere on the ZAZZLE site that I could use a 7.25″ W X 3.25″ H image on the mug I was using. After that, I Photoshopped a 7.25″ W X 3.25″ H canvas  and put TWO images on it, pushing them to the outside of the 7.25″ canvas. Loaded, that gives you an image on the mug’s front and back, very slick. You can use the same image, different ones, or two colorways of one cover. Ultra cool.

I’d definitely use ZAZZLE for T-shirts and mugs, with the caveats noted.

VISTAPRINT is another highly rated purveyor of customized print materials. I’ve used Vistaprint for One Sheets (single one-page sell sheets) for my books and for post cards. Both were adequate. I’ve also used Tu-Vets (they’ve since retired) and SIMPLY BROCHURES. They were AMAZING… HEAVY PAPER, GLOSSY BOTH SIDES, killer color. Way better quality cost way way more than Vistaprint. Unfortunately, you had to order A LOT. Vistaprint was fine for the small jobs and I didn’t end up with 500 extra copies.

I tried to used VISTAPRINT for T-shirts after my fiasco with ZAZZLE. I found that they had LOTS of information about the graphics that should be supplied for the T-shits and templates for the images. I didn’t find these on ZAZZLE and thought that I might not have had the problem with the mugs had ZAZZLE included stuff about CMYK color instead of RGB.

Whatever. I found VISTAPRINT specified the image for the T-shirt had to be 12″ X 12″ CMYK color, and 300 dpi. OK. Book covers are 6″ X 9″. You may have a poster size you can cut down, but you’re going to have to do some major surgery, including butchering its design, to get your cover to 12 X 12. I designed one T-shirt out of about 10 that I wanted to order and gave up. It sat in my shopping cart until Vistaprint removed it. (Checking, it’s STILL there.)

Well,  having created another monster blog post which doesn’t fully cover the subject, I’m going to wind down. What was the subject?

What does having a store on one’s website or anywhere do for an author’s career? Does such a store even make sense? My interest in my book covers is likely to be higher than anyone else in the universe’s. Does a demand for T-shirts with Leroy Watches’ image on it, or Will Duane’s, or Elizabeth Bright Eagle’s exist?

Did my relatives even appreciate the mugs I gave them? Would they order calendars or mouse pads or mugs or anything else I might turn out if they didn’t know me? If they did?

That is the question, as is: Does the investment in time to get all this stuff set up pay off in monetary reward? Don’t have the answers, but if you have more experience, I look forward to hearing for you.

Ciao,
Sandy Nathan my website
my interactive website
my FB author page
my Amazon Author page

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