Want a Peek Inside a Distributor’s World?

Distributing, Inspiring No Comments »

While doing some research into Anderson Merchandisers, the company that supplies books, CDs, DVDs and more to Walmarts, Sam’s Clubs, and military bases all across the country and around the world, I came across this fascinating article: Entrepreneur Seeks New Channels as Media Goes Digital.

The company was founded in 1917 by Clyde Anderson when, in the wake of his father’s accidental death, he started a small newsstand in a makeshift shed. The fledgling venture grew to become Anderson Companies, one of the nation’s largest family-owned enterprises. I thought this statement was rather humorous and reflective of a true entrepreneurial spirit:

“Anderson says he doesn’t know how many companies the family owns currently, but estimates they’ve bought, sold and kept at least 150.”

Based on the article, current CEO and President, Charlie Anderson, is obviously a creative, forward-thinking business owner. Consider this statement related to the music industry:

“I do not see a music industry supported by 99-cents single downloads,’ he says. ‘That may still be around, but that will just be one revenue stream. We have to come up with many more.”

Articles like this inspire me to keep looking ahead, developing new ideas, and pursuing fresh opportunities. You have to be in touch with where things are at in the market, where things are headed, and how to create new ways of doing business that will appeal to consumers. That requires lots of “high level thinking”:

“Charlie is spending a vast amount of his time figuring out what the next generation of Anderson Media looks like…Charlie thinks at a high level, as does the rest of the family. He doesn’t think about little ideas, he is about big game-changing ideas.”

If we aim to be producers and culture-changers, we have to be willing to take the time to think and plan and try new things. This is both thrilling and scary! I am still learning more all the time about what works and what doesn’t (usually from plenteous mistakes!) in various business pursuits. But it sure is a fun adventure – and it’s great to be able to learn from those who have traveled the entrepreneurial path for many years!

F is for Failure

Inspiring, Marketing 2 Comments »

I almost titled my last post, The ABC’s and F of Marketing, because the number one thing that I have learned on a personal level through this whole process of writing and publishing my book, Pajama School, is the value of Failure. Like most people, I have always had an aversion to failure and would do [or not do] whatever was necessary to avoid experiencing it. In many ways, my self-worth was tied to my success in various endeavors. Well, come to find out, particularly in the marketing stage of things, it is absolutely essential to take risks with a high probability of failure – most on a small scale, but some on a large scale. The only thing worse than failure is failing in a very public way!

Here are just a few of the ways I have experienced failure while working on my book project:

  • I failed to receive some of the endorsements that I was hopeful I would receive for my book.
  • I failed to persuade a desired distributor to carry my book.
  • I failed to garner the participation of a particular blogger to help spread the word about my book.
  • I failed to get several catalog companies to carry my book.
  • I failed to break even on booth space rental at a convention.
  • I failed to sell the number of books I expected through a paid advertisement.
  • I failed to interest a local bookstore in stocking copies of my book.
  • I failed to secure a local book signing event that I proposed.
  • I failed to generate the interest I expected in one of my biggest marketing initiatives.

And I’m sure I could come up with plenty more besides!

Although I have read the writings of numerous business leaders who advocate the benefits of failure, there is nothing quite like experiencing it first-hand. And in a convoluted sort of way, I am actually learning to accept and embrace failure because of the tremendous way it has helped me grow and instilled in me a drive and perseverance that I formerly lacked. It opens up a whole new world of ideas and possibilities if you approach each opportunity with an awareness of the risk, but the mindset that regardless of whether it is successful or not, experience will be gained and lessons learned. And maybe you’ll even sell a few books in the process!

Self-Publishing Hall of Fame

Inspiring No Comments »

If you want to be inspired, take a tour of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame where you can read the stories of hundreds of people who have written and successfully self-published their own books. I’ve only read through a few of them so far, but it definitely gave me an extra shot of confidence that in spite of the incredible amount of work involved, it is possible to be a successful self-publisher!

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