Friday, 21 April 2017

How Many Books Will I Sell?

We receive many author submissions which promise to earn millions from guaranteed sales. Unfortunately, for business books, this is almost never the case. Business books generate revenue by adding value to a business rather than through direct sales, unless you happen to be a 'household name' business guru.

When I recently visited our main supplier and distributor, they shared some interesting statistics. They print and distribute literally millions of books every year, and according to their data, the subject categories break down as follows:

That's a lot of categories, so let's combine some of the similar ones:

Business books make up 5% of the total books that are distributed to bookshops.

Remember, the primary purpose of a business book is to create value for the author's business. That's where our expertise is.

Saturday, 27 August 2016

How is it made?

Yesterday, I spent a very interesting morning at our print and distribution supplier's UK print facility. We had a super tour of the whole facility, showing how rolls of paper work their way through various complicated machines to end up as printed books.

The paper arrives on rolls about a metre in diameter which are loaded onto the presses. The older presses use toner like a photocopier, the newer ones that they're moving to are inkjet printers, just like the one you have at home but bigger. They print the pages of the books in a seamless sequence onto the paper rolls, and a cutter then separates the stream of paper into individual pages and assembles them in the right order for each separate book.

Meanwhile, a colour printer produces the covers and they are laminated, again in a continuous stream.

The interiors or 'book blocks' and covers are then glued together, trimmed and given a final quality check.

Three things surprised me:

1. How quiet the factory was
2. How many manual steps were in the process
3. How many books they produce per day

I guess I expected to see one big machine sucking in paper and spitting out books, but in fact people were present at every stage. The only part of the process that was completely automated was the printing of the book blocks, where two giant printers work in series to print one side, then the other, as the stream of paper flies by too fast to see. Each print line, of which there are eight, will take roughly one minute to produce a book. It was nice to see that each person who managed part of the overall process performed their own quality checks to ensure any problems are caught early in the production process.

The factory turns out close to 20,000 books each day. And you can imagine how delighted I was to learn that they class me as a 'big publisher'!

Those books are then hand picked and packed for delivery either to book retailers, or for direct fulfillment to individual customers.

Very interesting indeed!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Peter Freeth's latest book 'Learning Changes' is available now

The Radically Sensible Approach to 21st Century Learning

Buy from Amazon

ISBN 978-1-908293-36-7

You have been learning since before you were born, and you’ll never stop learning. It’s automatic, it’s easy and it’s what your brain does best.

Whilst learning is a natural and automatic process, learning how to do a job is not. To perform in a particular job, we need a lot of knowledge that we don’t know that we need.

Traditional training and teaching focus on knowledge, and concepts such as 'accelerated learning' are simply attempts to increase the retention of that knowledge.
What if knowledge, in itself, is irrelevant?

Because, let's face it, you don't really want people just to know stuff. You want people to be able to do stuff. And for that, traditional training methods are ineffective.

What if there was a way to structure learning so that learners do the right things, whether they're being watched or not?

What if there was a way to combine learning with performance management to create true engagement and accountability?

What if there was a way to structure learning so that it could be delivered easily, any time, any place, by anyone, faster and with immediate, observable, measurable results?

Well, now there is.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Mark Jaffe's Let Me Give It to You Straight reviewed in Fortune magazine

Not every business advice book has a diagram on the cover showing how to tie a noose, but this one does.

“We now know beyond any reasonable doubt that much of what we were taught about how to succeed in life is goofy, wrong-headed, or just plain false,” writes Mark Jaffe about halfway through Let Me Give It to You Straight.

By his lights, feeling overwhelmed by the pace of change these days is normal. “If every single morning at work feels like an audition for a play that is yet to be written, you’ve got the idea.”

Still, Jaffe, of eponymous recruiting powerhouse Wyatt & Jaffe, has spent 30 years observing — and shaping — executive careers, and his book is evidence that even tumultuous times can be funny. At just shy of 200 pages, it’s about the right length for a flight from, say, New York to Minneapolis, and it reads as if its author were coaching you on your next career move over an old-fashioned three-martini lunch.

Consider, for instance, what’s (probably) wrong with your resume. If you’re like most candidates for senior management jobs, it’s too long. “Less is more. The sole purpose of a resume is to get you an interview, period,” Jaffe writes. “It’s not an autobiography. If you blurt it all out now, why would anyone want to meet you?”

If your CV is spangled with glowing adjectives, lose them. “Before I forget to ask, did your last employer sign off on you being a ‘visionary, world-class entrepreneur,’ or did you kind of decide that on your own?” Jaffe wonders. “What would she say about you? That the thesaurus called and they want their synonyms back?”

A chapter called Choose Better Habits and Enjoy Them Less lists Jaffe’s seven tips on setting yourself up for success. “Get up before the sun” is one: “No practice could ever feel more bizarre and unnatural, particularly to yours truly. But it’s the right thing to do and you know it…. Set your alarm for the same ridiculous time each day and get moving.”

Want to know how Jaffe and his clients spot which candidates to avoid, and how not to be one of them? Take a look at Chapter 10, dubbed Danger! Bad Candidate! Run Away! It’s a checklist of nine red flags that can pop up in interviews, and most of them are errors that well-intentioned interviewees don’t realize they’re making.

It seems reasonable, for instance, to assume that one way to make a great impression is to downplay any disasters in your past. Yet Jaffe says a prospective hire’s “lack of ‘crash and burn’ experience makes it impossible to know how he or she deals with situational failures, setbacks, and disappointments. Will the candidate fold like a cheap suit at the first sign of serious pressure?”

So how does Jaffe recommend that a management job candidate wow an employer? “My solution is ridiculously simple,” Jaffe writes. “Forget about being a candidate. Imagine instead that you’re a consultant, and that you’ve already been paid a non-refundable consulting fee to attend this meeting.”

It works because “you don’t have to worry about selling yourself. No posing, no posturing, no tap dancing of any kind. You’re there to be helpful, to identify your client’s needs…. Now you can sit on the same side of the table, metaphorically speaking, and ask the hard questions” — including where the company has been, where it’s going, how this executive job opening is defined and why, what great performance in it would look like, and how excellence would be measured.

“What will stick with them is that you asked the right questions, paid close attention to the answers, and really fathomed what their organization is all about,” Jaffe writes. “Now they’re hooked.

“Just remember: It’s not about you; it’s all about them. The more you want to be taken seriously as a candidate, the more you should forget that you are one.”

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

One Small Stumble for a Newsreader, One Giant Leap for Paul Boross

The 'entertainer' Lenny Henry has recently received a Knighthood from the queen, however the researchers at ITV news didn't think the viewers would notice which bald funny black guy they showed on TV, because they obviously all look alike, and as a result our author Paul Boross received some unexpected and always welcome airtime...

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Let Me Give It To You Straight by Mark Jaffe

Mark Jaffe's new book, Let Me Give It To You Straight, An Outspoken Guide to Working With Headhunters, Advancing Your Career and Reaching Enlightenment... Without the Sugarcoating, is available now.

Let Me Give It To You Straight is an examination of the human condition as seen through the striving of corporate management, a guide to getting ahead without getting mustard on your jacket. If you’re bored to tears with business books that take themselves too seriously and then don’t even bother to tell you the meaning of life, look no further.

You can order your first edition copy online right now. No waiting. It’s a perfect gift for anyone old enough to get a job. Plus, they’ll probably enjoy not receiving a box from Harry & David again this year.

Let Me Give It To You Straight. It may be the last book you’ll ever need.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Amazon vs Hachette - Amazon as the white knight, voice of reason, protector of the consumer?

Amazon are now trying to rope publishers and authors into their price war with Hachette and other major publishers.

It worries me greatly that Amazon are portraying themselves as taking the moral high ground, pushing through change for the good of the book industry.

Their calculations do show that we all make more money selling books at Amazon's dictated low prices, but that's based on Amazon's rather unrealistic example prices.

The real comparison is not cheap ebook to expensive ebook, it's ebook to print book.

Amazon fix the maximum price of an ebook at $9.99 or £6.99, which is where most of our books sit, because their print versions are usually priced in the region of £15 to £25.

Amazon pay a fixed royalty of 70%, and when I say fixed, I mean that sometimes it's 35% for no good reason that I can figure out. They say that it's because someone from another country bought the book. Whatever.

I've copied Amazon's begging letter below so that you can see the game they're playing. Make no mistake, Amazon are not acting out of a philanthropic desire to protect the consumer. They're looking to increase their profits and screw the traditional publishers over for not playing their game.

I urge you not to support Amazon. Let the consumer decide without pressure from corporations.

Dear KDP Author,

Just ahead of World War II, there was a radical invention that shook the foundations of book publishing. It was the paperback book. This was a time when movie tickets cost 10 or 20 cents, and books cost $2.50. The new paperback cost 25 cents – it was ten times cheaper. Readers loved the paperback and millions of copies were sold in just the first year.

With it being so inexpensive and with so many more people able to afford to buy and read books, you would think the literary establishment of the day would have celebrated the invention of the paperback, yes? Nope. Instead, they dug in and circled the wagons. They believed low cost paperbacks would destroy literary culture and harm the industry (not to mention their own bank accounts). Many bookstores refused to stock them, and the early paperback publishers had to use unconventional methods of distribution – places like newsstands and drugstores. The famous author George Orwell came out publicly and said about the new paperback format, if “publishers had any sense, they would combine against them and suppress them.” Yes, George Orwell was suggesting collusion. 

Well… history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the e-book’s turn to be opposed by the literary establishment. Amazon and Hachette – a big US publisher and part of a $10 billion media conglomerate – are in the middle of a business dispute about e-books. We want lower e-book prices. Hachette does not. Many e-books are being released at $14.99 and even $19.99. That is unjustifiably high for an e-book. With an e-book, there’s no printing, no over-printing, no need to forecast, no returns, no lost sales due to out of stock, no warehousing costs, no transportation costs, and there is no secondary market – e-books cannot be resold as used books. E-books can and should be less expensive.

Perhaps channeling Orwell’s decades old suggestion, Hachette has already been caught illegally colluding with its competitors to raise e-book prices. So far those parties have paid $166 million in penalties and restitution. Colluding with its competitors to raise prices wasn’t only illegal, it was also highly disrespectful to Hachette’s readers.

The fact is many established incumbents in the industry have taken the position that lower e-book prices will “devalue books” and hurt “Arts and Letters.” They’re wrong. Just as paperbacks did not destroy book culture despite being ten times cheaper, neither will e-books. On the contrary, paperbacks ended up rejuvenating the book industry and making it stronger. The same will happen with e-books.

Many inside the echo-chamber of the industry often draw the box too small. They think books only compete against books. But in reality, books compete against mobile games, television, movies, Facebook, blogs, free news sites and more. If we want a healthy reading culture, we have to work hard to be sure books actually are competitive against these other media types, and a big part of that is working hard to make books less expensive.

Moreover, e-books are highly price elastic. This means that when the price goes down, customers buy much more. We've quantified the price elasticity of e-books from repeated measurements across many titles. For every copy an e-book would sell at $14.99, it would sell 1.74 copies if priced at $9.99. So, for example, if customers would buy 100,000 copies of a particular e-book at $14.99, then customers would buy 174,000 copies of that same e-book at $9.99. Total revenue at $14.99 would be $1,499,000. Total revenue at $9.99 is $1,738,000. The important thing to note here is that the lower price is good for all parties involved: the customer is paying 33% less and the author is getting a royalty check 16% larger and being read by an audience that’s 74% larger. The pie is simply bigger.

But when a thing has been done a certain way for a long time, resisting change can be a reflexive instinct, and the powerful interests of the status quo are hard to move. It was never in George Orwell’s interest to suppress paperback books – he was wrong about that.

And despite what some would have you believe, authors are not united on this issue. When the Authors Guild recently wrote on this, they titled their post: “Amazon-Hachette Debate Yields Diverse Opinions Among Authors” (the comments to this post are worth a read).  A petition started by another group of authors and aimed at Hachette, titled “Stop Fighting Low Prices and Fair Wages,” garnered over 7,600 signatures.  And there are myriad articles and posts, by authors and readers alike, supporting us in our effort to keep prices low and build a healthy reading culture. Author David Gaughran’s recent interview is another piece worth reading.

We recognize that writers reasonably want to be left out of a dispute between large companies. Some have suggested that we “just talk.” We tried that. Hachette spent three months stonewalling and only grudgingly began to even acknowledge our concerns when we took action to reduce sales of their titles in our store. Since then Amazon has made three separate offers to Hachette to take authors out of the middle. We first suggested that we (Amazon and Hachette) jointly make author royalties whole during the term of the dispute. Then we suggested that authors receive 100% of all sales of their titles until this dispute is resolved. Then we suggested that we would return to normal business operations if Amazon and Hachette’s normal share of revenue went to a literacy charity. But Hachette, and their parent company Lagardere, have quickly and repeatedly dismissed these offers even though e-books represent 1% of their revenues and they could easily agree to do so. They believe they get leverage from keeping their authors in the middle.

We will never give up our fight for reasonable e-book prices. We know making books more affordable is good for book culture. We’d like your help. Please email Hachette and copy us.

Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch:

Copy us at:

Please consider including these points:

- We have noted your illegal collusion. Please stop working so hard to overcharge for ebooks. They can and should be less expensive.
- Lowering e-book prices will help – not hurt – the reading culture, just like paperbacks did.
- Stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.
- Especially if you’re an author yourself: Remind them that authors are not united on this issue.

Thanks for your support.
The Amazon Books Team

P.S. You can also find this letter at

Friday, 18 July 2014

Praise for The Unsticker by Peter Freeth

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

40 Interview Icebergs in Purely Payroll Magazine

Purely Payroll Magazine have published a review of Michael Heath's latest book, 40 Interview Icebergs and How to Sail Around Them...

As fears of the recession fade, companies are hiring again and people are starting to think about making career moves. But more jobs means more competition amongst candidates, and many people turn to self-help career and interviewing books for help.

We’ve been looking at one of the latest to hit the shelves, 40 Interview Icebergs by Michael Heath.
One of the first things to notice about Michael’s book is that it’s comprised of 40 short, concise and valuable chapters, each one dealing with a very specific issue that could get in the way of your success at an interview. As in the title, Michael refers to these obstacles as ‘icebergs’, saying, “So many people go for interviews and sail along merrily before steering straight into the iceberg that sinks their application there and then.”

Michael’s approach, overall, is to say that, if you can prepare for some of the common mistakes that candidates make, you’ll stand a far better chance of getting the job of your dreams. After all, if a job is worth applying for, isn’t it worth making sure you put your best foot forward throughout the whole selection process?

Another point to note about this book is the perspective from which it’s written. So many books like this are written only by the ‘career expert’ who shares their advice with the reader. The danger of this style is that it can be one sided. After all, if you’re looking for a job, whose advice are you really looking for? A careers expert, or a recruiting manager?

Each of Michael’s 40 chapters features valuable advice from a professional recruiter or recruiting manager, many of them from ‘household name’ companies. They aren’t sharing theories, they’re telling you what they want to see and hear before they’ll hire someone in an interview.

To make the book easier to navigate (no pun intended!), Michael has grouped the 40 chapters into 8 ‘iceberg zones’, which follow the process that you’ll go through as you follow your career path. The 8 zones are:

  • CVs
  • Application forms
  • Telephone interviews
  • Interview preparation
  • Interview style
  • Interview questions
  • Presentations and Assessment centres
  • Post-Interview
Overall, this is a great book for anyone who doesn’t want to plough through reams of theory on interviewing techniques and just wants to get straight to the practical advice for each stage of the journey. It’s especially valuable for anyone who feels that they’re generally fine with the process, but who struggles with a particular area, such as writing a compelling CV or making a confident presentation. The book is easy to read, easy to follow, concise and, above all, packed full of real, practical advice.

Michael Heath has nearly 20 years’ experience of interviewing and recruitment. As well as running training workshops for both interviewers and interviewees, he offers a wealth of practical knowledge and advice to prepare people for the challenges they face when attending a recruitment interview.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Accepting the Radical at the Toronto Spring Psychic Fair

The second edition of Accepting the Radical by Ronna Smithrim and Christopher Oliphant is about to be released, just in time for the authors' appearance at the Toronto Spring Psychic Fair.

Visit the authors' website for more information and discounts on tickets:

Queen Elizabeth Building - Exhibition Place
100 Princes' Blvd, Toronto, Ontario Canada
April 25, 26, 27, 2014 - Fri: 4-9 - Sat: 10-9 - Sun: 10-6