Peggy Gaffney to speak on DIY Publishing

Peggy Gaffney speaks on DIY Publishing

Are you a frustrated writer? Have you a great book you want published? Has the struggle to get it done your way discouraged you? Well, you can do it yourself. Peggy Gaffney, author of Do It Yourself Publishing Nonfiction In Your Spare Time will be teaching how to do just that at a workshop that is part of the Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association University on May 9, 2009 in Hartford.
Peggy, who is the author of six knitting books for dog lovers, knows how hard the business can be if you have a small niche market for your ideas. Publishers can’t afford to produce books that won’t sell in the millions, so if you have an idea that has a smaller audience, you might want to consider publishing the book yourself. It is not a difficult or expensive process and the best part is that you get to do it your way instead of giving away control to a publisher who might not feel the passion you have for your subject.
Those who might want to attend the event should go to the CAPA-U Blog and check it out. Applications are available on the blog.


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Getting your name out

Sometimes an author feels resentful having to spend so much time working on marketing rather than writing, but that is a fact of life. Each and every day, you must check in on your blogs.  You noticed that I said blogs (plural). Everyone should have at least one for the life as an author, your thoughts, your schedule, etc. and one for your book which should deal with the topic, commenting on comments, etc.

The other part of this is the social networking. I belong to a handful of social networks both on writing and knitting, and that doesn’t count the Yahoo groups on writing, publishing, knitting and Samoyeds. So there is a constant influx of information

However, the mantra you must repeat to yourself is, “I’m reaching hundreds of people, not leaving the house and it costs nothing.” Well, you could argue that time is money however; if you get good at checking everything within a set time period every day, you’ll find you still have time to do your job.

How will people find you at these sites and read the pearls of wisdom you post on your “Peggy is…..” wall? You’ll let them know by using widgets or badges or links that most of the new sites have. It is one of the nice features that consists of a quick cut and paste.

View my page on Author and Book Event Center

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Sometimes you use a ‘carrot’.

Today I spent some time working on a project to get better known about what I do. You noticed that I didn’t say marketing my books and patterns but that was essentially what I was doing. I created a slide show of some of my knitting patterns which hopefully will draw people to my site  to order those patterns or the books. Sometimes the very pretty ‘carrot’ works much better than the heavy handed stick. Click here to see what I played with that cost noting but a little time.

Now I have a small niche market for my books. I sell to people who knit and love dogs or who love dogs and can browbeat someone into knitting my designs for them. I make the books fun and VERY dog oriented even though they are knitting books. I market them to members of both knitting and dog loving groups online as well as through Amazon and I have a knit shop distributor. The majority of my orders come through dog people spreading the word to friends. They knit a sweater, wear it to a show and guaranteed, someone will ask them where they got it. They say that they made it themselves from a Kanine Knits pattern and the next day I get an order from that friend.

So I try to make myself as visable as possible, by talking to knitting groups whenever I get asked and having all of these ‘sales people’ in the form of satisfied customers walking around showing off the sweaters, hats, scarves, etc. made from the designs in the Kanine Knits Books and Patterns. These people who proudly wear their sweaters knit from my patterns account for almost half my sales each year. I really love them!

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Marketing books ‘Outside the Box’

2400 of my closest friends

By Peggy Gaffney

When it comes to marketing my books, I try to think outside the box. So it happened that I got the idea to try to sell my The Crafty Dog Knits series of books on QVC. Now QVC and the Home Shopping Network are constantly looking for products to sell and I, of course, thought that my knitting books would be just the ticket. So, when the opportunity presented itself, I was off and running

The first I heard about the chance to market to them when on one of the many mailing list to which I subscribe they mentioned that QVC was coming to New York and wanted to meet with various entrepreneurs. They gave a date for applying to be pre-screened. I marked it on the calendar and on that morning, I logged in and filled out the form. When I heard back that I had been given an appointment to present my products, I was delighted.

On the big day, drove to New Haven, hopped the Metro-North into New York City with my books and sample sweaters, took the subway over to the appropriate stop, only being panhandled once for “lunch money” once and, though knowing that I was thirty minutes early, walked to the hotel where the appointment was scheduled. I figured that I’d go in and wait a few minutes since I had a late morning appointment that was scheduled to be between 10 and noon.

When I got there, I saw the line. It came out the door of the hotel and went half way down the block. I naively walked up to tell the officials that I had an eleven o’clock appointment and asked where I should go. Reality hit big time when I was told that I was in the right place and this was the line for my time slot.

Well, if you ever want to get to know complete strangers really well, stand in line with them for five hours. Luckily, it wasn’t too cold or rainy. By the time I got near the door of the hotel, the line stretched to the end of the block and I was told it was working its way down the side street.

Now most people who are forced to stand in line for large chunks of their day tend to get grumpy, but not entrepreneurs seeking the QVC dream. I have never been surrounded by so many positive people. There was the guy with the fancy hand-carved cat gym, the guy who’d flown in from Pennsylvania to talk about his special gizmo for little league dugouts, the four ladies from Connecticut who had a line of maternity clothes and once the line moved indoors, took turns going to the ladies room to put on their fake “pregnant bellies” to make the clothing look appropriate. It seemed everyone in the country and some from as far away as Hong Kong stood in line patiently waiting for their chance to make their pitch.

This is the perfect way to study people. I talked to the people in front of me, the people behind, the people next to me who were standing in each of the parallel lines that snaked back and fourth throughout the lobby and chatted with the QVC officials who came through with words of encouragement and paperwork instructions. These officials were charming and encouraging and left everyone feeling good. This isn’t an easy task considering the number of ours that we have all been standing.

Then, at last I got to take the big freight elevator up to the fourth floor to where the interviews would be held. At last, I thought and checked my paperwork again. When the doors of the elevator opened, I saw that there were as many people up here as down below. The lines stretched from one end of a ballroom to the other, eight times over.

My charming neighbors in line, these new best friends and I finally reached the front of the line, about four o’clock in the afternoon. I could see hundreds of tables that filled the ballroom. Each person was assigned a table, depending on the type of product he had and the buyers for each type of product would work one area. I was asked what I wished to present and when I told them, there was only a slight pause and raised eyebrow before they cheerful sent me to my spot, a table three quarters of the way across the ballroom.

I was told I would have ten minutes to set up and 15 minutes to give my pitch. So I spread my sweaters on the table, put my two books that I had in the series at the time on display, one for the Samoyed and the one for the Lab and spread out my patterns. When the QVC buyer came by, I handed her my packet. It spelled out what the books were about, how many were planned for the series, the possible creation of a line of knitting kits based on the breed patterns, and generally sold my little heart out. Well, the buyer was lovely. Her grandfather had owned a Samoyed so she was familiar with the breed. She loved the books and patterns and said that it was something that QVC would definitely consider, however, she pointed out that the company only selected 10% of the products presented and that there were over 2400 people presenting today. She said that she really loved my stuff and that I’d be hearing from them.

Well, I cheerfully went off to attend a woman’s marketing convention sponsored by the group who first let me know about the QVC day. I heard Hillary and Susie Orman speak and heard the stories of women who had become millionaires with an idea and determination. I grabbed a quick bite to eat at the buffet and then since it was late and I wanted to get back home before it was midnight, I retraced my route and traveled back home.

About a month later I heard from QVC that though they liked what I had, they would not be purchasing my books for this selling season and to please feel free to apply again some time in the future. I might just do that, when my memory of that line and the pain in my feet both fade. It was an adventure and a lesson in what the Great American Dream is all about.

Note: Peggy is now the author of six books with several more in the works.

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Listen and learn

I found myself the other day walking through Walmart doing some grocery shopping and I realized that I was taking notes on the bottom of my shopping list. The reason for this is that ‘I had my ears on.’  I have developed the habit of listing to instructional CD’s about publishing, editing, marketing, Web 2.0, distributors, press releases, etc. on a CD player that I tuck into my pocket during what I would usually consider wasted time. This type of multi-tasking is how I manage to get so much done and I usually don’t get so wrapped up in whatever class I’m listening to, that I forget to buy the milk and bread. The handy part is when the speaker mentions something that I’d like to check later, I simply jot it onto the bottom of my shopping list. I view these sessions as portable classrooms and I find that I don’t resent having to run errands any more because it is just more time to add to my knowledge of my business.

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Hello world!

Author Peggy Gaffney has created a unique line with her Crafty Dog Knits books for talented and crafty dog lovers. Taking a single breed, she writes about all that makes the dog distinctive and then creates a series of portraits of the dogs in knitting as knitting charts to be worked into sweaters and accessories. She has over 40 years showing Samoyeds and 15 years as a professional knitting designer of custom sweaters for owners of top winning dogs. She creates books and patterns for knitters who love their dogs, has five books in The Crafty Dog Knits series and more than 100 different breeds in her Portraits of Dogs in Knitting Pattern Series. All are available from publisher Kanine Knits. This gave her vast experience in the world of self-publishing. With Do It Yourself Publishing Nonfiction in Your Spare Time, she’s created a step-by-step guide to make it easier for other authors do it themselves. She is also a speaker, teacher and workshop instructor.

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