Gordon Burgett’s Newsletter


for Writers, Speakers, Publishers, and Product Developers




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June 2, 2010




How do you set your product prices?


One of my close friends, a faithful newsletter reader, said that she noticed that my prices varied a lot at my order form, and she sort of asked if that was intentional or just get-what-you-can greed? If intentional, what was the thinking or formula?


No rigid formula at all (nor much greed), but if my thinking helps you, here’s what goes through my mind:


(1) What do others whom I admire and think honest charge for something similar? I seldom venture much from that corral, particularly where buyers (like writers) are very price-sensitive.


(2) At what price must I sell that product to make enough consistent income to justify the research, writing, product development, publishing, and profit?


(3) Speeches are one-time, customized events where I must travel and so on, so they earn considerably more (from $2,500-3,500) than a printed book that I can reproduce in the thousands and sell through bookstores and to libraries (about $17.95-24.95 each). Downloaded digital renditions of those books are a few dollars lower than the printed editions, while e-books about very specific topics that have tighter and more highly benefited audiences bring more ($29-49), and for audio CDs (usually with a downloadable workbook) I charge about the same that I would charge for a pay-at-the-door seminar per participant ($49-69). That seminar, if offered at a convention (as a breakout session) or to a sponsor, would in turn would earn me about the same as if I were paid the full fee of 12-18 pay-at-the-door participants, plus, usually, travel and food/lodging. (Or it’s a spin-off fee when I’m already speaking to the group.)  And my consulting can vary from $175-250 an hour—here I sell years of successful experience, expert evaluation and guidance, and no-nonsense honesty, all tightly-packed. (Modesty also included at no additional charge. Jokes might be extra.)


(4) Remember, when you combine activities and items, there is some price flexibility (read discounts and bundles) factored into multi-product/service project fees built around the topic goal.


(5) Some publishers end their book charge with .95, others, .99 (i.e., $14.95 or $17.99) so I usually followed suit with the .95. I think anything much over $25 doesn’t need pennies after it, nor do short reports.


(6) I have some very good and still applicable bound books that, like me, are aging, so you will see a few prices at bargain-bottom rates. When those bound copies are sold, I may go back to slightly higher prices (than now) and just send P.O.D. books, printed when ordered.


(7) Finally, in the ancillary publishing world, I set one price for the bound edition, another for the digital download, and Kindle and iPad and the rest seem to charge what they want anyway. Until that dust settles, I have nothing very useful to share there.  




The rules for properly capitalizing your titles!


It dawned on me that I’d never actually seen any title writing rules until I read Linda Carlson’s “Desperately Seeking Good Data…” in the April, 2010 IBPA Independent. So let me share Linda’s key paragraphs lest you too rely on a lifetime of lucky guesswork or proofreaders:


“(The title) is the complete name of a published product, including the subtitle if there is one, as it appears on the title page. 


“Titles should be presented in the appropriate case for the language of the title, which is defined in English-language books as headline style. In other words, ‘the first and last words and all nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions (if, because, as, that, etc.) are capitalized. Articles (a, an, the), coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor) and prepositions, regardless of length, are lowercased unless they are the first word of the title and of the subtitle.’ Titles published in Spanish and French should have the first word of the title and of the subtitle, and all proper nouns, capitalized. All other words should be lowercase. Titles should never be presented in all capital letters as a default.”




More about Smashwords and iPad or Sony Distribution


You now need an ISBN number for the digital books that you send to Smashwords to be distributed by Apple or Sony. Groan. But it’s easier and cheaper than I first imagined. If you have your own epub ISBN, go to the Smashwords ISBN Manager (at the Dashboard) and just list the 13-digit version. (You can ask Google search to get a 13-digit conversion if you only know the 10-digit number.)


But if you don’t have an epub ISBN, Smashwords will give you one free (if Smashwords is listed as the publisher) or for $9.95 to use your publishing name. Better yet, you can put it on your income account to be paid later from your Smashwords earnings!


Just be sure to go to the Premium Catalog Status Summary and check the opt-in box at all of the distribution channels, including iPad, once your book is accepted by at the Premium level. (It will also tell you who has your opus in circulation!) This link walks you through that entire process.




Want to write and sell a travel tour?


Actually, I’m the guy you sell them to—since I’m the query gatekeeper and exec editor at www.visualtraveltours.com.


I also just sent a tour to myself about two super converted railroad bike trails in Virginia that I rode a few weeks back with the rather bizarre Burgett clan. In doing so, I plucked out the five most important tips to get your prose and photos in print almost every time. Read the how-to at my 5-27 blog.


It all starts with a dandy query letter. There’s even a model query at the website!



Google will begin selling ebooks soon


Two particularly interesting items in the current Southern Review of Books that affect us directly.


(1) Google will begin selling ebooks by late June or July. Sold under Google Editions, "users will be able to buy digital copies of books they discover through its book-search service. It will also allow book retailers--even independent shops--to sell Google Editions on their own sites, taking the bulk of the revenue.” How will we get paid? Google is still deciding whether it will follow the agent model where publishers set the retail price or where Google sets retail prices."


(2) Google will use the industry-standard ISBN for products sold through Google Editions, unlike vendors like Amazon, who assign their own unique ASINs to Kindle books. But if publishers don’t assign unique ISBNs to their Google Editions products on their own, “Google will assign numbers themselves in an agreement with U.S. ISBN agency Bowker.”

Let me keep an eye on this for us.

Incidentally, Noel Griese’s free monthly magazine is excellent reading,


Gordon Burgett
Speaker / Publisher / Consultant
P.O. Box 845, Novato, CA 94947
Phone 800-563-1454
Fax 415-883-5707


My blog is at http://blog.gordonburgett.com

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