Have you ever written a book review?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Borders Won't Make January Payments, Either, And They Aren't Paying Rent

This Goes in the "Oh S**t" Category

(Hat tip Kevin Ahearn)

Borders officially announced Sunday night that it will not be sending vendors payments due at the end of January either. And they indicate that publishers are not the only ones being stiffed, saying they are also "delaying additional payments to landlords and other parties." Not paying rent is more drastic than holding off vendors, and indicates the company's liquidity crisis continues to worsen.

They say the non-payment (which they call a "delay" in the press release, but that's what you call it when you intend to pay someone in full a little while later, which is not what is proposed) "is intended to help the company maintain liquidity while it seeks to complete a refinancing or restructuring of its existing credit facilities and other obligations." The statement also adds, "Borders emphasized that it understands the impact of its decision on the affected parties, but that the company is committed to working with its vendors and other business partners to achieve an outcome that is in the best interest of Borders and these parties for the long-term."

From a practical perspective, anyone who was continuing to ship goods to Borders has likely learned their lesson, and it increases the likelihood of a bankruptcy filing--whether forced or voluntary--if the bookseller does not meet the many conditions of its new financing arrangement shortly.

The impact of not paying rent in particular may impose a timetable on how much longer Borders has to plead for concessions before seeking court protection. While we have no direct knowledge of their lease conditions and potential grace periods for payment of rent, and laws do vary from state to state, commercial landlords are generally able to petition for eviction within about two weeks after provided for non-payment deadlines.

According to a memo on an employee web site, Borders workers were told by management to expect inquiries from unpaid landlords and vendors as well as media and customers and asked to "politely but firmly state that all questions are being handled by the corporate office and refuse to offer any other comments." They were instructed to keep the media from photographing or interviewing within company stores, but the company also noted: "Do not suggest this, but it is acceptable for media to photograph/film the exterior of the store if they do so on public property, such as your parking lot."

Day traders are finally getting the message, too. This morning's share price plunge has taken the stock below 75 cents a share, its lowest point since early 2009.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Will Borders be Here in 2012? It Might be--If Amazon Steps In


We have all heard the news that Borders is in serious financial straits. If we want to use a tired metaphor, the chain is RMS Titanic, the iceberg has been struck, and the captain is running the pumps to buy an extra hour or so afloat. According to Business Insider (and other recent news), Borders has stopped making payments to some publishers because it is simply cash-strapped and in a desperate condition.
Rumors are flying about what its ultimate fate will be. Will Barnes and Noble purchase the chain? If so, what will that mean for the average book buyer? How many stores would close? Will Borders be able to refinance its debt and pay its bills going forward? Will it simply be allowed to file bankruptcy, remainder its stock, and cease to exist? Who knows.

Here's an idea that might rescue the chain: A-M-A-Z-O-N.

You've heard of them, right?
The ongoing eendemic problems coursing through the halls of Borders represents an extraordinary opportunity for Amazon to make the leap from virtual to brick-and mortar-bookselling (and everything else it cares to sell). In my opinion Amazon.com has the leading brand in the industry. Its customers feel engaged with the company and there is deep brand loyalty. Still, the consumer cannot interact with Amazon beyond the computer monitor or the Kindle tablet. The demise of Borders might make that possible--and profitable.

What would happen if Amazon took over Borders and re-branded it as Amazon? What would you do if you saw a former Borders' store with the AMAZON logo affixed above the door? Would you go out of your way to pay the store a visit? I certainly would, and I bet you would, too. I think people would flood into the stores. Amazon is a well-run company; Borders is not. A smooth-functioning Amazon store offers amazing opportunities for cross selling between online and brick-and-mortar. And imagine what it would be like to browse ALL of Amazon's stock while in store on your Kindle. You could do that.

I hear some of your shouting at your monitor, "Savas, are you nuts? Brick and mortar is old school--a decaying way of doing business." Really? What about Apple? The naysayers were entirely wrong when some years back they said selling out of stores was a bad idea and would never work. How's Apple doing these days?

And who has a brand as powerful as Apple that also begins with the letter A?

Amazon was launched with the idea of being a virtual company. But the pending breakup and sinking of RMS Borders might offer Jeff Bezos and Company a fabulous opportunity to turn the world upside down yet again--and still be in the driving seat.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Psst! Authors . . . Here is How to Sell Your Book!

(The following essay appeared in today's Libri Novus, the official monthly e-letter of Savas Beatie. If you would like to receive this in your email box each month, go to our website at www.savasbeatie.com and enter your email address in the Libri Novus form box.)

Authors, Listen up! Sell Your Book!

by Gary W. Moore

No one cares more about your book than the author. No one. And no one should be working harder to sell your book than you. If you want respectable sales, you must play a major role in making that happen. It is especially true today, with so much competition for attention, fewer trade outlets, and chains purchasing fewer titles in smaller numbers.

Take my own experience as an example. If you want to know where I speak and hold events, just follow my Bookscan numbers. My sales numbers are largely clustered in areas where I have spent time working. Let's take a particular market: Indianapolis, Indiana. When I go there I promote my book and myself by meeting people, signing books, speaking to groups, and so forth. As a result, my book sells X copies directly that I can track. I can check my Bookscan numbers weeks and even months later (and with my first book, Playing with the Enemy, even years later) and track residual sales that trickle up in that market. When I examine major regions or cities I have not actively worked in, book sales are usually fair at best, and usually poor or nonexistent. Yes, in most respects it is really that basic. Now, I am launching my second book entitled Hey Buddy.

When authors ask me how I did so well with my first book, I tell them the truth: hard work, every day, for years. (And yes, I am employed full-time with my day job.) If you do not want to speak, sign books, lead tours, maintain an active website, blog, and take a very proactive role in selling your book, never complain about your sales numbers to your publisher or the small royalty check that comes with it. Instead, you should apologize to your publisher. In fact, why bother writing at all? So a publisher can spend thousands of dollars and 155 people can read your book? Sorry to be so blunt, but that is how I see things. And the excuses I hear back make me shake my head.

My publisher is Savas Beatie, and yes SB has a responsibility to do the best job it can to sell my book. And they do. Even though SB has a wonderful marketing director in Sarah Keeney, I consider myself the "Director of Global Sales" for each book that bears my name. No one cares more, knows more about it, or is more passionate about my book than me. Sarah has scores of titles to worry about. I have my book(s). That naturally makes me the best sales person or advocate for my work. And people LOVE meeting authors. People are several times more likely to buy a signed or inscribed book than an unsigned book sitting on a table without an author in sight. It is the personal connection with the author that helps sell a book.
So here is a basic plan (in addition to the other 100 things you can do, like a website, blog, etc.) to help increase sales for your book:

SPEAK. Groups large and small in every city and county in America are looking for speakers. Lions Club, Rotary, United Way, Junior League, Chamber of Commerce, a public library . . . they all meet at least monthly and are desperate for capable speakers and especially authors! Call and offer your services to anyone and everyone who meets in a group. Speak and sell your book afterward. I have hand-sold literally thousands more books at events like this than at any trade bookstore signing. When was the last time you addressed one of these groups? Please don't tell me you spoke to groups like this once or twice when the book came out, but are too busy now. Speak and sell!

MEET AND GREET-AND SELL. Set up book signings at your local bookstores or battlefield visitor center or museum shop, etc. (Savas Beatie helps a lot here) but DO NOT sit at a table like a bump on a log. MEET and GREET! I know most authors find this uncomfortable, but I roam through the bookstore talking to anyone and everyone who is browsing, sitting with a cup of coffee, etc. "Hi, my name is Gary Moore, and I am the author of Playing with the Enemy (holding up a copy.) Do you know anyone who likes baseball or World War II?" Do you? No? Why not?

This breaks the ice. I give them a card and ask them to stop by my table. I stand at the front door and greet shoppers as they come in. Like a politician looking for votes I have held up babies for photos, exchanged business cards with strangers, and worked hard to build a relationship with everyone I meet. What else would you expect from the Director of Global Sales who also happens to be the author? Do some people brush past without speaking or grimace in my direction? Sure. But who cares? Sell your work by selling yourself.

FOLLOW UP. After the event I send e-mails to everyone I met (including anywhere I spoke, or to anyone who has reviewed my book) and received contact info from. I thank them for their time. I tell them how much I enjoyed meeting them. I ask them (again) to write a review for my book and post it at Amazon and copy it to Barnesandnoble.com. I remind them why my book makes a good graduation, birthday, or Christmas gift. Many authors fail to realize that it is easier to sell a second or third book to someone who already has it, likes it, and who has met the author, than it is to sell the first copy to a total stranger. Capitalize on your relationships and sell multiple books to a single person.

VISIT BOOKSTORES. No matter where I travel I take some time to visit every bookstore or any place that might carry my book I can find. I go in and meet the manager and the staff. If they have my book on hand I sign their inventory. If they do not have my book, I explain to the manager why he or she should stock it, and ask them to let whoever buys for the store know why! Many times I have told managers to order up a case, call me, and I will come back when the books arrive and sell them. And then I do! Be proactive. Be assertive. Work for the success you want.

NEVER QUIT SELLING! Playing with the Enemy was released in hardcover in September 2006. Less than two years later it was released as a paperback. Today, in early 2011 it is still in print and still selling. In fact, last month we sold more copies than we did the same month a year earlier! We are now in our 7th paperback printing and there is a big reason why: I am still selling. That's right, after all these years I am still promoting, still speaking, still signing, still pressing the flesh, and still talking to anyone and everyone about my book. In fact, I did a mass mailing in my state a few months ago and one of the recipients asked me to come and speak at a major event. I sold more than 1,000 copies! (They ordered 700 copies initially, and the interest grew and they reordered another 300 after I left. I promised to return and sign them all.)

By the time you read this, my new book Hey Buddy will be released and the process begins again. But now thousands of bookstore owners, managers, staff, and individuals know me, know how hard I work, hopefully like my work, and will stock more books and buy more books.

NEVER QUIT SELLING! If you do, why would you expect others to do the work you won't?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dick Winters of "Band of Brothers" Fame Dies

If we think of all 10 episodes as one movie, HBO's Band of Brothers is my favorite. Rent the series (or go buy it), savor it . . . and ponder.

(Right) Dick Winters introduced President George W. Bush to a crowd of about 20,000 during a rally in 2007 at Hersheypark Stadium in Derry Township.

Dick Winters, the former World War II commander whose war story was told in the book and miniseries “Band of Brothers,” has died. Winters led a quiet life on his Fredericksburg farm and in his Hershey home until the book and miniseries “Band of Brothers” threw him into the international spotlight. Since then, the former World War II commander of Easy Company had received hundreds of requests for interviews and appearances all over the world.

He stood at the podium with President George W. Bush in Hershey during the presidential campaign in 2007. He accepted the “Four Freedoms” award from Tom Brokaw on behalf of the Army. He was on familiar terms with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, producers of the HBO mini-series, the most expensive television series ever produced.

Winters was always gracious about his new-found celebrity, but never really comfortable with it. He never claimed to be a hero and said that he had nothing to do with the national effort to get him the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military honor.

When people asked him if he was a hero, he liked to answer the way his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney, did. “No,” Ranney said. “But I served in a company of heroes.” That became the tag line for the miniseries.

In an interview shortly before the miniseries debuted, Winters said the war wasn’t about individual heroics. The men were able to do what they did because they became closer than brothers when faced with overwhelming hardships.

They weren’t out to save the world. They hated the blood, carnage, exhaustion and filth of war. But they were horrified at the thought of letting down their buddies.

On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Winters and his troops from Easy Company, 506th regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, parachuted behind enemy lines to take on a German artillery nest on Utah Beach. Winters made himself a promise then that if he lived through the war, all he wanted was peace and quiet.

His company fought through the Battle of the Bulge, the liberation of a death camp at Dachau and to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest at Berchtesgaden. The war described in “Band of Brothers” is ugly, but the young men developed character under fire, Winters said. He was glad the miniseries showed war realistically, not either glorified or demonized as in so many movies.

He wanted people to understand that success in war depends not on heroics but on bonding, character, getting the job done and “hanging tough,” his lifelong motto. In combat, he wrote 50 years after the war, “your reward for a good job done is that you get the next tough mission.”

When the war ended, Winters kept his promise to himself. He married Ethel, bought a bucolic farm in Fredericksburg, raised two children and worked in the agricultural feed business. He didn’t talk about the war until the late historian Stephen Ambrose wanted to put Easy Company’s exploits on paper.

Following the miniseries, Winters turned down most requests for interviews because he said he didn’t want to appear like he was bragging.

But he did feel the story of Easy Company was an important one, especially for young people. He was more likely to accept invitations by local school groups and spent time with students at Cedar Crest High School, among others. A talk he gave at Palmyra Middle School drew hundreds of spectators.

People who knew Winters during and after the war said he is exactly what he appears to be. He could lead without ever raising his voice or swearing. His friend Bob Hoffman, a Lebanon architect, said Winters’ eyes could “burn a hole right through you.”

The men who served under him and people who only met him later in life call him a hero, no matter what he says. According to the book, one wounded member of Easy Company wrote Winters from a hospital bed in 1945, “I would follow you into hell.”

He received a standing ovation from 500 veterans when he spoke at the dedication of the Army’s Military History Institute in Middlesex Township in September. When President Bush was in Hershey in April, he called Winters “a fine example ... for those brave souls who now wear our nation’s uniform.”

Ambrose, the author of “Band of Brothers,” said in a 2001 BBC interview that he hopes young people say. “I want to be like Dick Winters.”  “Not necessarily as soldiers, but as that kind of leader, that kind of man, with basic honesty and virtue and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong,” Ambrose said.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Forthcoming "Hey Buddy" Picking Up Traction

Gary W. Moore, author of our previous bestseller Playing with the Enemy, has penned the soon-to-be-released (January 20, 2011) Hey Buddy: In Pursuit of Buddy Holly, My New Buddy John, and My Lost Decade of Music (Savas Beatie, 2011). Let's say it is a very personal, very moving, and very insightful "pursuit" of Buddy, his legacy, his death, and much more. It is not a biography.

I honestly had no idea of Holly's impact on The Beatles, Stones, etc., or how advanced he was in the musical world (wrote, sang, played lead, produced, managed, etc.). Had he lived, he might have  been the Oprah of his day. He was that "vertically" visioned.

Although Gary had no intention of spending much time discussing the terrible way Holly, Ritchie Valens, J. P. Big Bopper Richardson, and pilot Roger Peterson were killed just a few minutes after taking off from the Clear Lake, Iowa, airport, the crash sucked him in. Gary happens to be a former pilot and former charter service owner (the plane was chartered). Gary worked with a retired aviation crash expert and poured over the records relating to the crash and even interviewed Barb Dwyer, co-owner of the company that hired the pilot and leased the plane. Gary and the expert reach a startling conclusion about the last minute or two of the flight. Here is the first trailer on this issue:

The book release will coincide with a big sweep through the Chicago area, where a publicist we hired is working with SB marketing director Sarah Keeney to put together a strong opening that includes a premier book signing at Anderson's (one of the leading independent bookstores in the country), TV, radio, and special appearances at universities, clubs, music events, and more. This includes stops in Wisconsin, Iowa, and south to Texas (where Buddy was born). Other appearances as far west as Seattle and elsewhere east are also being planned for later in February and beyond.

Here is a tribute song / video by John Mueller called "Hey Buddy," after which our book is entitled. The lyrics are largely based on song titles written by Buddy. Give it a listen. It is addictive.

The Joiliet (IL) Tribune just ran a story, all the early reviews are glowing, and we are all excited about the tour, which will officially "conclude" the day after the anniversary of Holly's death (February 4) in Lubbock, Texas, at the Buddy Holly Center.

Here is what Jim Riordan, NY Times bestselling author of Break on Through: The Life and Death of Jim Morrison wrote about Hey Buddy:
Hey Buddy is a page-turning pursuit of Buddy Holly’s legacy and his impact on others in and out of the music industry. It’s as American as apple pie and as compelling as Don McLean’s legendary hit about The Day the Music Died. Run, don’t walk, to your nearest bookstore and get two copies—one for you and another for anyone you know who listens to music.
And Gary achieved the pièce de résistance: an interview with recluse Don McClean. The interview appears as an Afterword. McClean, of course, wrote the smash hit "American Pie" in the early 1970s, which is about "The day the music died"--in other words, February 3, 1959.

Consider putting in a pre-order on Amazon, at your local bookstore, or contact Anderson's and reserve a personally inscribed copy!

Stay tuned.