goodmove artwork

Over the weekend, the Commercial Letter team moved across town into the PG facility in Earth City, Missouri. To accommodate the added staff and equipment, the PG plant was remodeled: walls were knocked down, cubicles broken down and reassembled, offices rearranged, electricity and security enhanced—all topped off with a fresh coat of paint.

Behind the scenes, system integration is well underway and new technology platforms are being developed.  There’s more work ahead, but overall we’re pleased with our progress.  By the looks on these smiling faces, everyone is happy that this phase is completed!

With the CL and PG staff now situated under one roof, it’s full steam ahead!  Here’s some photos from the big move!

 

From time to time we like to print comments from our customers, and this is one the nicest—if not the nicest—we have ever received.  This letter comes from Dr. Susan Swartwout, the publisher at the Southeast Missouri State University Press.   So please bear with us as we do a little shameless self-promotion!

Jounals and book printing

Journey is an annual literary journal that publishes original writing by students of Southeast Missouri State University.

I first learned about Publishers Graphics from an Illinois journal editor in 1994 when I was an assistant editor, looking for a good printer for a poetry journal. When I became the publisher of the Southeast Missouri University Press—publishing books and several journals—I continued to rely on Publishers Graphics for high quality printing at very reasonable prices. According to state regulations, I have to acquire three bidson many of our publications. Publishers Graphics consistently offers the lowest bid and is awarded the job.

Their online quote system is fantastic. Instead of waiting a week for a print quote, I have the emailed quote in my mailbox within two minutes of submitting the specs in the online form. The quotes are stored for 30 days, and the quotes that I accept are kept online so that I can easily click on the title and get a quote for reprints by changing only the quantity. The reprints are ready in a short turnaround time. This is extraordinarily convenient for keeping a small but sufficient inventory.

And did I mention friendly and supportive? I never have to wait long for an email response to a question, and I can count on Publisher Graphics associates to be courteous and always willing to help.

Beautiful books that get loads of compliments, great pricing, fast quotes, good turnaround, friendly, and great support:   I highly recommend Publishers Graphics. They’ve been a major contributor to the success of our University Press.

About the Southeast Missouri State University Press:

Southeast Missouri State University Press, founded in 2001, serves both as a first-rate publisher in an under published region and as a working laboratory for students interested in learning the art and skills of literary publishing. The Press supports a Minor degree program in Small-press Publishing for undergraduate students in any major who wish to acquire the basic skills for independent-press publishing and editing.

Recognition won by our books include the John H. Reid Short Fiction Award, the Creative Spirits Platinum Award for General Fiction, the James Jones First Novel Award, the Langum Award for Historical Fiction, the Missouri Governor’s Book Award, the United We Read selection, and the Kniffen Book Award for best U.S./Canada cultural geography.

POD, print on demand

A trio of recent titles from the University Press at Southeast Missouri State

 

Have you written your book? Are you ready to start marketing?   Now comes the hard part:  building an author or book website to promote your book. Creating a website can be fun project, but it’s often easy to get caught up in the bells and whistles of web technology and forget the real purpose of a website.

In this post I’m interviewing Brandon McDonald, a graphic designer who has built a thriving business that helps small business, non-profits, and entrepreneurs. He’s designed many websites and has several suggestions that can help you tackle this time-consuming project and improve your web design experience.

It seem like websites have evolved from being art projects to becoming more of a marketing tool. What trends and changes have you noticed in website design?

Over the past 15 plus years, I have witnessed website design shifting from the hands of developers to designers and marketers. With this shift websites are generally more attractive and are often first approached from a marketing perspective. A great-looking website is often rendered useless when the needs of the target market aren’t considered from the very beginning of the plan. Great websites have carefully considered design, development, and marketing—all working in tandem.

What’s the most important thing that clients can do to work with website designers to make their websites more effective?  

Have a plan. Know what you want to accomplish. Who is your market? How are you different than your competitors? What makes you special? Effective designs come from effective plans. Many designers are great out-of-the-box thinkers. Including your designer early in the process can help shape a more effective end-result.

Is blogging worthwhile? Should a blog be part of a website?

Blogging can be very worthwhile. Adding valuable content on a regular basis will keep people engaged and give a reason to continually visit a site. More content also means more organic search results, which are very helpful with search engine optimization (SEO). Sharing expertise and knowledge is a good way to add value for readers and solidify a reputation as a leader in a particular field.

Blogging can also be a liability. When blogs aren’t updated regularly or contain little to no value it can make the company or person look lazy, disengaged, disingenuous, or otherwise bad.

Ultimately, it is up to the person or company to consider whether or not they can keep on top of the blog. If so, go for it! If not, maybe consider a different route, such as social media.

What else can authors/publishers do to make sure they’re on the right track?

Google Analytics and other site measurement tools are invaluable for data collection. With this data, you can see what is working and what isn’t. You can see where your site traffic is coming from: search keywords, links from other sites, etc. With this information you can better craft your next steps. The web is ever-changing, so adapt your strategies.

Don’t forget traditional media and promotion tools. Many businesses focus so heavily online that they neglect more traditional delivery methods, such as print. Print, coupled with web, can be more effective than either alone. Human beings enjoy the tactile. Targeted mailing to existing clients or serious prospects can be that extra thing that sets you apart from the competition and ultimately wins you a person’s business. A great designer will ensure that your online presence and printed materials match and create a cohesive brand.

Do you think social media can be used effectively to promote a book or author?

Social media is just another media to connect with an audience. It ideally is part of a larger promotional plan. It can be a highly effective sales tool for folks that can keep up with it. Check it often and always respond when a reasonable question is asked. It is a lot like customer service mixed with a fan club. Used in conjunction with a website containing a stellar blog, look out!

 

 

Lauren Pizza is an author whose memoir Meant to Be, was recently picked up by a publishing house.  When I met her last year at the Frankfurt Book Fair, she was there checking out the publishing industry.  Lauren’s story illustrates how important it is to stay the course and use every contact and promotional tool at your disposal.  Here is her inspirational story:

I never dreamed that I would walk into a bookstore and see a book that I wrote on the shelves. Not only was it available in the “New Releases” section, but my book was surrounded by other fabulous memoirs like Lea Michele’s Brunette Ambition and Robin Roberts’ inspiring Everybody’s Got Something.

Little did I know the amount of work that needed to transpire beforehand. So after my experience, I’ve come up with a few tips to help writers just starting out.

  1. Enjoy the process of writing (while you can): I fell in love with the creative process. It was truly a therapeutic experience, and I reveled in the idea that my work would reach others. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would write a memoir, let alone that people would actually buy it.
  2. It truly is all about who you know (and trial and error): Like any other 21st century human, I Googled how to get my book published. I came back with Nicholas Sparks’ agent among others. I figured going straight to the top would work out fabulously. The name of Sparks’ agent would have been great if I actually knew someone who could introduce us. Upon this realization— as well as no responses from
    POD book printing, short run book printing

    Jersey Girl, Lauren Pizza

    those top literary agents— I then began asking everyone who might know someone in the publishing world. I was even brave enough to email the entire manuscript to James Patterson (well, I emailed his wife, and I am still waiting for that reply).

  3. Be prepared for change: Not only did the title of my book change throughout the process, but so did the focus of my book. I finally found a successful person in the publishing world when I asked my husband’s lawyer if he knew anyone. The lawyer knew someone who had written two books, yay!   But, the process certainly didn’t stop there.  
  4. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt to take others’ advice (especially regarding something you don’t know anything about):  I sent my manuscript to the publishing lawyer and heard nothing for five weeks. By that time, I was planning on self-publishing or just shelving the manuscript and calling it a day.  Then, I received the email that changed everything.  Meeting this man was like magically finding a goldmine. He told me that I write better than Norah Ephron and that I reminded him of Erma Bombeck. He also said I had the complete wrong list of literary agents and handed me a new list, told me who to call, and what to say.  He also encouraged me to learn as much as possible about the publishing industry, and I would give the same advice to any aspiring writer looking to get published.
  5. Marketing is everything (and never-ending): When Skyhorse Publishing agreed to meet with me, I was thrilled! After 45 minutes of an amazing performance on my part, the owner of the Publishing Company said: “Yes, I will publish your book!”   From that point on, marketing took over. You can write the greatest book ever, but if it doesn’t reach anyone, then what is the point? I began by hiring a publicist and working with a PR firm. We called radio stations, recorded a song as the soundtrack for my book, and even created and distributed 30 second commercials to various networks that played during prime time viewing. All that work was maybe even harder than writing the book!
  6. Establish a “brand” along with your bookI did that with my last name. Some people might try to hide a last name like “Pizza, but since I’m from New Jersey and we take pizza very seriously, why not sell that? I sent my book and promotional materials out in a pizza box. The magazines and media companies on the receiving end loved it. After all, wouldn’t you remember a book sent to you in a pizza box? Getting noticed is about selling what is unique about you as a writer. And by getting that noticed, you get remembered. I also went all out on Social Media reach with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, U –Tube, Linkedln , etc.

What is my best marketing tip?   Marketing will always be one of the most essential parts of your writing career.   So pretend you are running for office and sell your book that way, (maybe without kissing babies and all that).

 

 

Ikea has been in the media a lot lately for its catalogs. They print over 200 million copies annually in 27 languages for 38 countries.

And those catalogs aren’t likely to disappear anytime soon for a simple reason: they work incredibly well. Catalogs mailed to consumers are 30 times more effective in making a sale than those sent via electronic mail (DMA Response Rate Report 2012).

Ikea just released this brilliant parody ad that celebrates their printed catalog and “bookbook” technology  (proving, too, that a company can market with a sense of humor.)

Remember, PG can now help you with your direct mail requirements.  Give us a shout to learn more.

 

As a publisher, you’re often asked to promote books, authors, and events like book signings. That means you might require additional print services like postcards, catalogs, lists, and direct mail.

Now you can look to PG for everything you need all under one roof. With our acquisition of Commercial Letter, we’re excited to offer direct mail products and services. Here’s a partial listing of what we can do:

Are you announcing a new book or book event? There’s a postcard for that! Common sizes are 4 x 6, 6×9, and 6x 11, and we can even print a jumbo size of 9 x 12.

We now offer printing and mailing of postcards, catalogs, direct mail pieces.

We now offer printing and mailing of postcards, catalogs, direct mail pieces.

You asked for them:  Publisher catalogs are now a reality!  List and promote your titles (and your back-list) with our saddle-stitched 4-12 page catalogs and booklets.  Popular sizes are 8.5×11 and 8.5×5.5.

Is your direct mail project more complex? We offer a variety of formats for self-mailers, folder packages, custom handwork or the works—from simple letter-sized packages to multi-piece 9 x 12 packages.

Are you trying to reach a select audience? From consumer and business lists to specialty lists, our list services team can help you obtain the addresses you need in the areas you want to target.

What if you could print a personalized map with directions to a book signing event?  With Variable Printing you can! We can integrate your data into a truly personalized direct mail piece that sets you apart from the competition.

Data management is Square One. If your mailing list is a mess, you won’t reach those targets you want to market to.  Before you spend money, let us analyze and  clean your list with tools like postal formatting, NCOA processing, and merge/purge services.

Are you printing and distributing journals? Do you have a warehousing plan in place? As you wade through complex postal regulations—both domestic and international—you may need some guidance!  Our team can analyze your current program to find those areas that need some tweaking.

Challenge us! We pride ourselves on finding ways to help you with even the most complex packages, including printing ideas, suggestions for the best formats, and data/list advice.

Visit the Commercial Letter website to find more information about our new direct mail products and solutions.

[July 8, 2014, Carol Stream, IL]  Publishers’ Graphics, a leading Chicago-based POD print provider, announced today that it has acquired Commercial Letter, a direct marketing printing company located in St. Louis, Missouri. The acquisition fortifies PG’s distribution, mailing, and fulfillment solutions and strengthens its ability to service the publishing industry with direct mail programs.

“Commercial Letter brings a new dimension to our business, allowing us to offer not only a direct mail solution to our publishers, but also advanced supply chain programs. Integrating Commercial Letter’s fulfillment and mailing services into our technology platform will enable our customers to benefit from a highly customized distribution program, all of which aligns very well with our future strategic plans,” said Nick Lewis, President of Publishers’ Graphics.

President of Commercial Letter, Brad Chrysler, agreed: “We are excited to be joining Publishers’ Graphics. Combining their cutting edge technology platforms with our distribution model will be a game changer for our industry. Our customers will benefit from the additional services, a streamlined workflow, and the additional print capacity.”

The Commercial Letter operation will eventually be folded into the PG facility in Earth City and managed by Brad Chrysler, quote 11who will stay on as Vice President of Operations at the facility.  Publishers’ Graphics’ corporate headquarters will remain in Carol Stream, Illinois, approximately 35 miles west of Chicago.

With a legacy spanning over a hundred years, Commercial Letter has been a pioneer in the direct mail industry, printing and sending annually over 60 million pieces of mail for clients in the healthcare, retail, academic and automotive industries. Other services include a marketing automation platform which allows users to integrate their media campaigns through mobile, email, direct mail and web channels.

As a leader in POD and short-run printing for publishers, Publishers’ Graphics brings innovative procedures and workflows to book creation. Providing customized solutions to its customers has made PG a go-to resource for publishers around the world.  Headquartered in Carol Stream, IL, PG has an in-plant satellite operation in Florence, Kentucky, as well as the recently acquired web offset/digital print facility in St. Louis, Missouri, formerly Corley Printing. Publishers’ Graphics distributes globally by printing its products locally on three continents through strategic partnerships.

With a diverse range of publishing customers, Publishers’ Graphics offers POD, short run, and offset solutions to small, medium and large publishers alike. Through the custom development of MIS and workflows, Publishers’ Graphics will customize processes for its customers to minimize costs, and create an ease of doing business.

For more information, please visit www.pubgraphics.com or www.commercial-letter.com.

 

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