Monday, 19 December 2011

Why All the Fuss About Books?

With Amazon pushing the Kindle and WH Smith pushing the Kobo in a battle for first place under the Christmas tree, a lot of people are asking what the big fuss about paperback books is. Surely people read for the content of the book, and therefore an ebook reader is a no-brainer? Why harp on about ebooks meaning the death of the printed book? So what?

Some people would be cynical and say that the big publishers are so tied into the print production business model that they can't exit gracefully and still protect their profits.

However, I have a different view to offer you that explains the reason behind our love affair with the printed book.

Consider what we had before the advent of the printing press: Nothing. There was no unified written language. Symbolic languages were the property of royalty and priests. Knowledge could only be passed down through word of mouth or the equivalent of cave paintings. People couldn't even do simple multiplication because there was no written language with which to effectively represent numbers.

The printing press was our very first attempt, as a society, to make language accessible to all. The printed book represents knowledge torn away from the select few and made available to the masses. The printed book represents freedom; not just freedom of knowledge but freedom of a society.

So you'll have to forgive our love of printed books, they have a very special place in our history.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Another Great Review for Dreams Do Come True

We saw a lovely review for Dreams Do Come True on Waterstones' website today:

Having not read a book for years I wasnt sure what to expect. However we all have dreams and in this case some do come true! A compelling story of a couples triumph over adversity. Showing grit and determination to ultimately suceed when others could have wilted. Captivating read, covering a range of emotions, highs and lows, sorrow and ultimately the joy of bringing a child into this world. Overall you feel a part of the journey. Well written and well worth a read!

'Lofty', Bolton, UK

Yours Magazine features Dreams Do Come True by Trudie and Lloyd Thompson

Yours Magazine recently interviewed Trudie Thompson's Mother and Son for a special feature article.

November 29 - December 12 Issue 129

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Review for The Pitching Bible by Gavin Duffy of Dragon's Den Ireland

How come you can pick two or three exec’s who are brilliant individual presenters but put them together to make a pitch presentation and you often don’t even get the sum of the parts? The reason, they haven’t read The Pitching Bible by Paul Boross. Boross is the boss when it comes to learning the know-how of successful, effective and memorable pitching.

Gavin Duffy - Dragons’ Den Ireland

The Pitch Doctor in The Telegraph

Paul Boross, author of The Pitching Bible, was interviewed recently for The Telegraph's business technology supplement.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Dreams Do Come True hits Number One on Amazon

We're very excited to announce our second number one ranking book; Dreams Do Come True by Trudie and Lloyd Thompson.

Following their appearance on BBC Radio Lancashire's Sally Naden show, their book hit the number one position on Amazon in their category - pushing Robert Winston's book into third place:

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Corporate Godfathers due for November release

The author of Corporate Godfathers has this to say in the opening of his new book:

I wanted to get a reaction to this manuscript before submitting it for publication, so I asked a book reviewer who doesn’t know me or anything about me to take a look at it.

She read for about five minutes, and said: “This is scary. Is it a work of fiction?”

I answered, “How much truth can you handle?”

She caught her breath, picking up the implication of my question.

A shadow of fear passed over her eyes.

I said, “If it makes it easier for you, just go ahead and call it fiction. You’ll rest easier at night.

But remember what Harry Truman said, ”I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell.”

Corporate Godfathers is available soon, ISBN 978-1-9082931-1-4

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Pitch Doctor a Big Hit at MIP

Paul Boross, author of The Pitching Bible, delivered a keynote seminar at the MIP media festival in Cannes last week.

The seminar was covered both in MIP's daily newspaper, shown on the right, and also in the MIPCOM blog, which is copied below.


He began by teaching us to expect the unexpected. Boross has a psychology background (neurolinguistic programming, specifically) as well as a performance background, so to warm us up he brought his cohort Robertson onstage to sing us a song.

“That’s something you didn’t expect, wasn’t it…?” he goaded. That is MIP. Expect the unexpected. Go with it.”

He later framed this moment by pointing to its memorability: none of us will ever forget Robertson now, and it is true he suddenly seemed imbued with a singular and special quality.

Our second lesson: “The meaning of your communication is the response you get.” If you don’t deliver the message people want, it’s your responsibility. Our job at MIPCOM is to clarify the message we’re delivering.
He also emphasised the importance of being in the right headspace: “We programme ourselves for success or failure.” At this, someone in the audience unexpectedly began chirping, “that’s true, that’s true” with great conviction, as though at church.

Nervousness is natural. “There are two kinds of people in the world,” said Boross: “people who are nervous, and people who are lying.” It’s how we deal with that nervousness that counts. To explain, he pointed to a concept called the “cybernetic loop”: the notion that the mind and body affect each other. What you do with your body will alter your attitude, and vice versa: what you concentrate upon changes your outward comportment.
This is important when you’re pitching. As humans, we can recognise when someone is depressed or nervous. So sell a confident front. “People buy people. People buy from confident people.”

But mainly he emphasised the importance of building rapport instead of focusing on selling. A hardcore sales attitude creates an instant barrier between you and the person in front of you, who probably doesn’t want to buy what you’re punting. You also lose focus on the individual, and ultimately lose control of the outcome of the meeting.

When your focus is entirely on connecting with that person, you keep the door open for future productive opportunities. “Think of sales as the transfer of enthusiasm from one person to another,” Boross said.

Which brings us to the importance of following up: when you do it, remind people why it was so great to meet them. Personalise your email and demonstrate to what degree you’ve listened to them and found them special.

Attitude will carry you through MIPCOM. And the most important thing you want to do here is build rapport, whose dividends pay off indefinitely:

To sum up, the best networkers:
  • Engage
  • Interact
  • Make good eye contact
  • Don’t complicate things
Follow Boross on Twitter (@paulboross), and read his own five tips on making the most of MIPCOM, posted just prior to the show.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Authors of CGW Publishing's Latest Release to Appear On Radio Lancashires's Sally Naden Show

Trudie and Lloyd Thompson, Authors of "Dreams Do Come True: The Amazing Story of One Family's Triumph Over IVF and Bankruptcy", are to appear on the Sally Naden show on BBC Radio Lancashire on October 25th, 2011.

Trudie and Lloyd Thompson's story of their twelve year journey through IVF treatment and bankruptcy is a roller coaster ride that includes an appearance on a reality TV show. It shows that, with courage and love, any obstacle can be overcome and any dream can come true.

The Thompson's book has taken twelve years to write, as Trudie Thompson explains, "It didn't start out as a book, it was just me writing down bits and bats, and because on occasion due to the pressure, we weren't always in harmony I wanted to see if I could summon all the feelings of pure infatuation I'd felt when our relationship began all those years before, I wanted to fall in love with Lloyd and feel carefree and young again. When Lloyd joined in the writing, he would write a chapter as to how he felt and I would do the same then one day we just put it all together and a friend read it and suggested we get it published."

The dream of publishing the book gathered pace when the Thompsons realised that, through the proceeds from book sales, they could help the IVF hospital that had helped them to realise their dream of having a family of their own. Lloyd Thompson says, "It soon became a huge dream to donate money to St Mary's to see if anymore precious babies could be born.  That dream has become enormous, we live, we eat, we breathe, and we now sleep this desire which has grown as big as our own desperate need was to have Jaja. Lets realise the dream for someone else."

At first, the Thompsons didn't believe that a publisher would be interested in their story, but after a call to CGW Publishing's Christopher Greenaway, Trudie says, "CGW Publishing took us seriously right from the offset, and we have had the best guidance and help you could possibly imagine.  We've never done anything like this before and we never in our wildest dreams believed we'd ever write a book, but hey we did and then the search began for a professional to jump onboard and advise us and that's exactly what our Publishers have done.  Christopher is not only knowledgeable but he can read our minds, he knows what is needed and his suggestions have always been brilliant."

Christopher Greenaway, Managing Director of CGW Publishing, says, "I was totally hooked by Trudie and Lloyd's enthusiasm, and touched by their story that they share with such open hearts. Not only is this book extremely valuable for anyone considering IVF, it's a wonderful read for anyone who doubts that, with love and faith, dreams do come true."

"Dreams Do Come True: The Amazing Story of One Family's Triumph Over IVF and Bankruptcy" is published by CGW Publishing and available through all good book stores.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

iBookstore problems

We've been having a few problems with the Apple iBookstore on iTunes lately, so if you are looking for the iBooks version of The Pitching Bible by Paul Boross then this link will take you right to it:

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Testimonial from Trudie and Lloyd Thompson

CGW Publishing took us seriously right from the offset, and we have had the best guidance and help you could possibly imagine. We've never done anything like this before and we never in our wildest dreams believed we'd ever write a book, but hey we did and then the search began for a professional to jump onboard and advise us and that's exactly what our Publishers have done.

Christopher is not only knowledgeable but he can read our minds, he knows what is needed and his suggestions have always been brilliant.

 Trudie and Lloyd's book, Dreams Do Come True, is available now from all good book stores.

The NLP Practitioner Manual is Now Available in Paperback and Kindle Formats

Renowned NLP expert Peter Freeth releases his latest book 'The NLP Practitioner Manual' containing the SNLP Practitioner syllabus and his 20 years' worth of practical tips and secrets that make NLP work for you.

The NLP Practitioner Manual is the result of 20 years research and application of Neuro Linguistic Programming by one of its most innovative, practical and results oriented trainers and writers. Peter Freeth has pioneered many recognised developments in NLP's approach and techniques that are now used by countless trainers and professionals, worldwide, including:

The flipchart and notepad swishes -­ loved by trainers, coaches and all professionals for powerful results in any environment

The easy way to anchor -­ succeed every time by discovering how it really works, contrary to what most trainers think

Use complex techniques such as the Six Step Reframe and Fast Phobia Cure easily by understanding how to improvise and adapt them

Peter Freeth says, "People have been asking me for years, "When can we buy your Practitioner manual? You should publish it!" and so I've finally given in. It took quite a lot of work to get it from an excellent course manual to something that you can both read as an introductory book and use as a course manual."

Stepheni Smith, Peter's co-trainer and co-developer of many of NLP's latest applications to fields as diverse as coaching and child behaviour management, says, "Too many NLP training courses give participants a certificate just for turning up, and despite their trainers' protests to the contrary, the acid test is that we see too many people with Practitioner certifications who can't anchor, don't understand a Six Step Reframe and have no idea what the presuppositions of NLP mean. This is a Practitioner manual for people who want to thoroughly understand NLP, who want to earn their Practitioner certification."

Peter adds, "There is a description of anchoring in the earliest NLP texts which has been copied, almost verbatim, in every other NLP book I've seen - and it is fundamentally wrong. No wonder students have trouble getting anchoring to work! When I teach anchoring, students find it so easy, and it's no wonder why - they're making it easy for themselves. It's the same with the swish, reframing and even the Meta Model. It worries me when trainers say that the Meta Model patterns don't matter, and you don't need to remember what they're called. The absolute foundation of NLP is an understanding of how we attach symbols - words - to our experience. How can we truly understand NLP and the rich benefits that it offers if we dismiss the very foundation that it stands on? If you can't name something, how can you become a craftsman in its use?"

Stepheni concludes, "Is NLP a panacea, a cure for all ills? No, of course not. Nothing is. But it is one of the most versatile and valuable tool kits that you will ever discover, and learning NLP is a journey that will bring you value, insight and reward beyond what you may have first imagined. You could think of The NLP Practitioner manual as a guidebook for that journey."

Featuring both the Society of NLP core syllabus and many other popular NLP concepts and techniques, this book will show readers how to adapt and apply NLP in any professional environment. There are even chapters on building a professional practice and absorbing NLP into other skill sets, so readers can integrate NLP into any line of work for the very best results, both for themselves and for their clients.

The NLP Practitioner Manual is available now from all good book stores.

ISBN 978-1-9082930-3-9

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Testimonial from Paul Boross

"When I was looking for a publisher, it was important for me to find one that specialised in business and psychology books so that they could help me hone The Pitching Bible for the right market. Not only was Christopher Greenaway the perfect editor but his team managed the whole involved process of getting the book to market with dedication and professionalism.

Since publication, the CGW team's focus, creativity and service business expertise has continued unabated and has resulted in The Pitching Bible gliding gracefully up the Amazon charts. I highly recommend CGW Publishing."

Paul Boross, The Pitch Doctor & author of The Pitching Bible

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Trudie and Lloyd Thompson to Launch 'Dreams Do Come True' at WH Smith, Manchester Trafford Centre in November

Dreams Do Come True is the new book by Trudie and Lloyd Thompson, telling the incredible story of their 12 year journey through IVF treatment, losing a business and even bankruptcy.

They're currently in discussions with WH Smith in Manchester's Trafford Centre to arrange a launch event, sometime in November 2011.

Their book is at the very final production stages and should be ready to buy within the next few weeks, so the launch event will be very exciting for them, as they are donating profits from book sales to support the IVF unit at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester.

We'll be posting more details nearer the time.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Judge a Book By Its Cover

We're just working on a new book by Ronna Smithrim & Christopher Oliphant on the subject of 'Radical Acceptance', and in trying to work out the book's target market and pricing, I've realised that online shopping has skewed the book market.

I've said before that cover design is important in selling a book, and that designing a cover for print is different to designing one for that little thumbnail that you see when browsing online.

Printing a book is a fixed cost, so the main variable that determines margin is the cover price. A lower price might mean more sales, but not necessarily. This introduces another variable into the equation - the page count.

A book of 100 pages might cost *2 to print, and a book of 500 pages might cost *6 to print. I've used * as a generic currency symbol here.

However, when you look on Amazon, you see that all of the books in your genre are in the range of *5 to *10. Clearly you can't price a 500 page book at *5, because you'd make a loss on each one you sell. But if you price it at *15, you potentially reduce sales.

When someone walks into a book shop and picks up your book, the size of it communicates perceived value. The thicker it is, the more the reader thinks it is worth, up to a point, which is the size at which the reader decides that they can't be bothered to read something that big.

If you want a light holiday read, you don't buy War & Peace.

If you want a 'ten tips to being a great manager' type book, you don't want something that will take you 6 months to read.

And a book on speed reading? How thick should that be?

So I think that what authors - and publishers - are doing is increasing margins by making books smaller. Take half your content out and save it for your next book.

This creates a problem for anyone with a 500 page book - although Amazon does list a book's page count, do you look at it when you're choosing a book? Do you use it to determine the value of a book?

Probably not. You probably just look at the price and assume that all of the books are about the same size...

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Review for The Pitching Bible from John Gough

John Gough is widely considered to be the best connected man in TV and media circles worldwide. His networking, knowledge and influence is legendary. If you mention John Gough’s name, one of the first words that are used to describe him is a ‘gentleman’. He is a gentleman in every sense of the word and that is why the great and the good - in an industry known for sharks and charlatans – not only respect him but also hold him in high esteem.

Prior to his successful life in the media, John was a teacher, writer and designer of educational resources for the UK’s major publishing houses and that is why his considered review of The Pitching Bible is very gratifying.

"Often the divide between practise and theory is quite wide. Only a few practitioners who have the gift to empower an individual to improve their performance can communicate the theory effectively through the written word and even more so embody and retain the spirit of how they do it. Paul Boross has done just that.

Paul Boross has been a speaker and mentoring tutor at the Entertainment Master Class since its foundation and has travelled the world with us working with participants from many different cultures. Every time I hear Paul speak my understanding of how I am perceived and how I communicate has deepened. Paul has an exceptional talent that has proven results.

Having read ‘The Pitching Bible’ I am amazed at how effectively the book communicates Paul’s messages about personal performance. It is a true example of how a book can effectively and practically inspire confidence and bring about change in an individual’s thinking. Without doubt if you read the book it will change how you think, how you perform and how you approach your life."

John Gough 
Head of Programme, Entertainment Master Class

Monday, 29 August 2011

Revelation 2011 Survey - corporate politics and hidden agendas

I'm writing on behalf of one of our authors to ask for a few minutes of your time in completing a survey that will form part of research that they're conducting for a new book on the subject of corporate politics, hidden agendas and manipulation in business which is due for release towards the end of this year. It's a thorny subject, and one which I'm sure has touched your career and life in one way or another.

The results will be made available once the survey is completed, and how long that takes depends on the number of responses received, so please share this with all of your friends and colleagues, and also on any other networks or forums that you are a member of.

The survey is completely anonymous, just click on this link to go directly to it:

Please also pass this on to as many of your friends or colleagues as you can, because the more responses we get, the more valuable the results will be.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Choosing a CRM Vendor: Best Practices, Pitfalls, and the Myth of the Turnkey Solution by Andrew Schultz

We're proud to announce the forthcoming launch of a new book by US expert author, Andrew Schultz.

He has captured his years of experience in building CRM solutions for his clients into the book.

Getting Customer Relationship Management right is a goal to which any customer focused company aspires. Yet, rather than enabling companies to achieve this goal, the complexity of choosing the right CRM vendor can become a stumbling block to companies trying to deliver excellence in customer service.

With an increasing choice of established, corporate vendors, niche vendors and open source solutions, your decision to invest in CRM is vital in supporting the business information that underpins your delivery of sales, marketing and service excellence to your customers.

In this book, Andrew Schultz shares his expertise on the following subjects:
  • CRM: The Illusion and the Reality
  • The Fall of the Biggest CRM Vendor in the World
  • The 3 Pillars of CRM
  • Finding a Solution
  • Choosing a Vendor
Having led many CRM implementations as a consultant, and in his current role helping CRM consulting firms and vendors of CRM add-on applications develop solutions relevant to customer needs, Andrew Schultz is a solution architect with deep experience in understanding customer requirements and mapping those requirements to CRM functionality.

In Choosing a CRM Vendor, he shares both his objective advice and the hard earned 'insider secrets' that you will find invaluable in making the right CRM vendor decision.

You can find out more about Andrew at his blog:

Book Review from Jeff Ford, Director of Programmes at Channel FIVE

Jeff Ford, Director of Programmes at Channel FIVE, has sent in this review for Paul Boross' book, The Pitching Bible, which is quickly climbing up the sales charts.

"When I first picked up Paul Boross new book, The Pitching Bible, I thought that it was a rather grand title for a book that surely couldnt teach me anything new. Yet, page after page, I rediscover ideas from a completely new perspective and, for me, that is The Pitching Bibles real value. It helps me to make sense of the experience that Ive gained in pitching, and it brings new meaning and new insight into all the things that I know that I should know, and that I know make a huge difference to the success of any pitch. I highly recommend it."

Jeff Ford

An Author's Role in Book Marketing

We publish business non-fiction, mainly, and that is always a niche market. Very few business books sell in large numbers, because not all readers are 'business people' with a need to develop their careers, presentation skills, leadership skills etc.

Therefore, for most business authors, the way they actually make a living from their book is as a marketing asset for their business. People who run service businesses in particular have a difficult time demonstrating value, and a book is a good way to capture intellectual property. There are many ways that a book adds value to a service business.

So our criteria is more like, "Can this book add value to the author's business?"

We look at what the author's business is, what they're doing to market that, where a book would support them, how many they are likely to sell and so on. We turn away books that are badly written, and we do look at what else is in the market. We also look at the author's credibility in their field of expertise.

Our selection process is similar to that of a traditional publisher, but we look at the author's business as a whole, not just their book.

Size of network is not that relevant, actually. We did some research into social media and found that marketing 'experts' advocate the use of things like Twitter, but in reality their use of such tools is misleading at best:

In terms of a personal network, real people you know, they are probably not the potential target market, so they're not that valuable either. Where they are useful is in building and communicating the author's credibility, but that involves a bit of engagement on their part, which they aren't always willing to give.

We have one author who spends a significant amount of time networking, but a lot of the people he knows just want something for nothing, and when push comes to shove, they shy away from doing anything tangible to help promote the book. However, the biggest jump in his book sales has come about when he delivers a lecture to a special interest group. One of the things that we help him with is publicising what he's doing, which he had never done before, and recognising the value in it. When he delivers a 'free' talk, the deal is that the organisation publicises it and his book and sends an email to all their members with a discount code. That's just one example, of course. The main benefit for him is that the book builds his credibility which gains him more work. We turned his book content into a lecture, and when he delivered it a media festival, he was invited to seven other festivals to deliver the same lecture.

The author is vital in marketing the book, because the book is a mechanism for getting the author's ideas to the reader. Therefore the reader isn't interested in the book itself, they're interested in connecting with the author's expertise, or creativity, or sense of humour or whatever the book is about, and the author's personal credibility is therefore key.

This is why the big publishers see ebooks as a threat, because once we free ourselves of the pleasure of holding a chunk of paper, what we really want is to connect with the author's mind, and the delivery mechanism will evolve to support the way that people live and work.

The size of a network does not necessarily denote credibility. I would say that our decision process involves something like this:

Is the author credible in their chosen subject?

Is their book well written? Is it accessible? Does it convey the right expertise to the right people?

Is the author committed to developing their business, and is there the right business environment for the book to make an impact on their business success?

Is the author looking for a partner relationship that allows us to add value, or do they see the publisher as the dogsbody who puts their work on the shelf?

Ultimately, the success of the book must be a partnership that engages the reader, the publisher, the author and the author's business.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Book Review from Neil Mullarkey

We've just been sent another review for Paul Boross' book The Pitching Bible, this time from well known improvisational comedian and actor Neil Mullarkey. Neil does a lot of corporate work too, using improv comedy skills to help teams become more creative and effective.

"I’ve known for a long time that Paul Boross has many years’ experience in pitching, but even I’m astonished at just how much he has managed to pack into The Pitching Bible. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and in my line of work, that means that you will learn a great deal without even realising it. Yet the structure of the book really does drive those valuable lessons home, and by the time I reached the end of the book, I felt that I hadn’t just been reading; I’d been learning, and that’s the most important lesson of all. One thing is for sure, you will greatly ImprovYourPitch with The Pitching Bible."

Neil Mullarkey, Director at ImprovYourBiz and Co-founder of The Comedy Store Players

Monday, 22 August 2011

Cutting Out the Middle Man

Fanseyeview reports that Amazon and authors are cutting out the middle man, in this case the publisher.

Well, in every market we see a long term trend of price wars at the retail end squeezing margins across the whole supply chain. As an ecosystem, the publishing world produces a few gems and a lot of noise, for example the ever-increasing pile of self help books from minor celebrities.

For a few years, the print end of the supply chain has reduced costs, through digital technology, then a move to Asia and China, where we can get a 250 page book printed in relatively small quantities for £0.78 (about $1).

While it's easy to focus on the greedy retailers such as Amazon and their cut-price-to-win-market-share-at-publisher's-expense strategy, we shouldn't overlook the role of distributors who are still looking for 50% of cover price to hold stock for a publisher.

The evolution of any market in this state is "disintermediation", or the cutting out of the middle man.

However, it is easy for people to see the publisher as the middle man, and say that with self publishing, who needs a publisher?


Self publishing means that the author becomes the publisher. And then, instead of writing, or talking to readers, or holding signing events, the author spends his or her spare time managing orders, maintaining ISBN records, designing book covers, formatting manuscripts, setting up pages on Amazon, setting up distribution arrangements, locating niche retailers and all the other things that we do as a publisher.

So disintermediation can't take out the publisher. Remember, this is the publishing industry. You can't take bakers out of the bakery, all you can do is get the baking process closer to the customer.

In the case of publishing, you can't get the reader any closer to the author, otherwise the author would never sell any volume of books. Having read a few news stories, blogs and other commentaries on the subject, it seems that most people overlook the fact that the author's work is not the book, the book is a physical product that the publisher creates to convey the author's work into the reader's hands.

Projects like Unbound are not a revolution in publishing, and they don't replace a publisher. Unbound is a publisher, they just have a different business model, as outlined in my previous post.

Print costs are rock bottom. Cover prices and sell prices are rock bottom. Who do we cut out? The people who actually turn the manuscript into a saleable book? Or the people who take a cut just for moving the book from one place to another?

Why is Amazon moving into publishing? Because they know that it's the retailers and distributors who are the middle men.

Monday, 15 August 2011

They're At It Again

According to The Guardian:

"A class-action lawsuit has been filed in the US alleging that Apple and five major publishers "colluded ... to illegally fix prices" of ebooks."

Here we go again. The big publishers, in this case HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster are accused of conspiring with Apple to set prices and force Amazon out of its 'cut prices to win market share and expect the publisher to take the hit' business model.

The complaint centres on the agency model – used by Apple for iTunes and by most major publishers for ebook sales – in which the publisher, rather than the retailer, sets the retail price of ebooks.

It's interesting, because what they say about the agency model makes it sound as if the publishers are calling the shots. Not so.

Here's the way it works. Normally, we set the cover price and the retail discount level, and retailers can sell the book for whatever they want. Makes no difference to us if they make any money on it, we still charge them the same wholesale price.

But with agency pricing, we set the end user price, and the retailer, in this case Apple, takes their margin out of that. Essentially, their retail margins are protected by the fact that they tell us how much profit they want and we then have to price the book to allow us, and the author, to make some money too.

So agency pricing is not in the publisher's interests at all. Nor the authors. Guess who it benefits? Oh yes, Apple.

We have an iPad. Most of the time, iTunes doesn't work, and iTunes is the only way to get anything onto the iPad. The latest problem was a continuous loop of having to verify an email address that prevented logging into the iTunes Store. It seems that Apple's attitude is that their products are perfect, therefore everyone wants one, and all content producers want to work with them.

We don't like Amazon's cut price policy any more than anyone else does, except of course readers, who are always on the lookout for a bargain. But we protect ourselves against a financial loss by setting our retail discounts accordingly. In the past, we mistakenly joined Amazon's Advantage program. Guess who it's an advantage for? Amazon. On two books, we made a loss thanks to their non-negotiable 60% discount.

So now we treat Amazon like any other retailer, and everything works well. Customers still buy books, we get our wholesale prices, the author gets their royalties, and Amazon have to make a living like everyone else - by not abusing their suppliers.

Of course, in an agency pricing world, if we were to start talking to Apple and agreeing to fix prices, which would only happen if we were a really big publisher, then that wouldn't be fair at all. It would mean that Apple wasn't treating its supplier relationships fairly and equally. Could you imagine such a thing?

The lawsuit alleges that "the five publishers "feared" Amazon's move to price ebooks at $9.99 – a figure considerably below physical book prices. The pricing "threatened to disrupt the publishers' long-established brick-and-mortar model faster than [they] were willing to accept", and to set low consumer expectations for ebook prices."

Oh, shame. Don't we all feel sorry for them?

Friday, 5 August 2011

Good Enough To Be a Beach Read

We're very pleased to have received this review for Paul Boross' book, The Pitching Bible, from David Lyle, CEO of National Geographic's TV channels:

“I enjoyed the book very much and I think it is a top to bottom checklist and practice guide for an essential part of television that is too often overlooked. Too often producers agonize about the development of an idea and fantasize about the production, But without an effective pitch they are whistling in the dark.

Very nicely thought through and researched. I haven’t finished (stuff came up) but will do so in the next day, sitting in the sun.  That’s how good it is, good enough to be a beach read.”

A beach read? Now that really is high praise for a business book...

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Art of Pitching

New Business magazine have published Paul Boross' article about his observations on pitching within the TV series The Apprentice.

The latest series of the Apprentice came to the end of its television journey here in the UK with the inevitable media focus on entrepreneurial business skills and, in particular, the art of pitching.

Almost every episode of the popular, business-based cross between a reality program and a game show features the contestants having to make a pitch.

They pitch for business, pitch for orders, pitch ideas and they pitch to keep their jobs in the boardroom showdown at the end of each week's task. What's interesting is that, every week, Lord Sugar says that he's not looking for a sales person, yet every week the task involves selling something; either low key, selling products to individuals, or high stakes pitching to the buyers of major retailers.

What does this mean? Is buying and selling all there is to running a business?

Fundamentally, what defines a business is profit. I don't mean that profit defines how good your business is, I mean that profit is what distinguishes a business from a public sector organisation, charity or foundation. Yes, these organisations need to raise capital to cover their operating expenses, but they are not driven or measured by the delivery of raw, financial value over and above that.

Fundamentally, every business has to buy raw materials, add value and then sell some kind of finished product. It might buy graduates, add training and then sell accountancy services. It might buy equipment, add support expertise and sell an IT service. Or it might buy electronic components, add design expertise and sell computers. All of these examples point to one principle; that business is indeed about buying and selling.

While Lord Sugar may have the contestants buying and selling waste materials, biscuits, fruit or illuminated teapots, what he is actually doing is stripping business down to its raw essentials.

Where does pitching fit into this? Every week, we hear one or more contestants saying, "I want the opportunity to do the pitch", or, "I delivered the pitch", or, even "I pitched it to him", referring to the point where a contestant asked a builder if she could have another copper hot water tank. The contestants vie for attention, trying to win the team leader's favour so that they can do the pitch. Is pitching really that important to the success of the task or business? Or is it just an opportunity to "shine"? And how closely does the fiction of a TV game show fit reality?

One thing that we never see in The Apprentice is Lord Sugar pitching. Is this another sign that a pitch is no more than a ‘beauty parade'?

Let's first look at what a pitch is. It is a sales cycle compressed into a very short space of time, perhaps as much as twenty minutes, or as little as three.

Whilst sales is an interactive process, with a good sales person listening much more than speaking, one of the difficulties in a pitch is the buyer's expectation that the sales person does all the talking, while they listen and make their minds up. If the sales person doesn't get it ‘right', no deal.

So a pitch isn't made ‘off the cuff', it's the culmination of a great deal of hard work, understanding the needs of the client or target market. One of the biggest problems that the contestants in The Apprentice face, week after week, is clearly identifying their target market. All too often, they start with an idea, or a name, instead of a target customer.

Advertising is an even more condensed form of pitching. In an advert, you're broadcasting, "This is the product, are you the right person to buy it?" It's a product led pitch, and it relies on getting in front of as many people as possible, preferably within the target market.

And so we end up with two types of pitch; client led and product led. And Lord Sugar's bias is very towards the client led pitch. Every time he talks about his own business career, he talks about customers; major retailers and consumers. Yes, he sees himself as operating in a particular market, but what he really seems to focus on is what the buyer needs. Yes, he had to pitch products, but he didn't pitch blindly. I would bet that every pitch he delivered was calculated and targeted to meet that buyer's needs.

Does Lord Sugar still pitch? In a way, yes. At the start of each week's task, he pitches to the contestants. You might think that they can't really say, "no thanks", but he is still aiming to get their buy in, to clearly communicate what he is looking for. Every week, he is very specific and gives a big clue about the success of the task. And every week, the contestants overlook that clue and get wrapped up in their own excitement, politics and desire to be in the limelight.

What clues are you missing from your clients because you're too focused on what you want to say? What needs are you failing to meet because you're too wrapped up in your own? Pitching is just a small part of the sales cycle, or it encapsulates the whole process, depending on how you look at it.

How important is the skill, really?

That all depends on how much you want to win.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Publishers Still Control the Book Market

Once again, The Bookseller provides us with an interesting snippet of news about the progression of the publishing industry.

"Despite the collapse of two of the world's largest high street book chains the book publisher Penguin lost only £36m in sales in the first half of 2011, while profits narrowed marginally. Digital sales made up 14% of its overall business, resulting in total sales of £64m at a growth rate of 128%"

Despite the collapse? That would be like saying that despite the collapse of Marks & Spencer, sales of woolly jumpers were down only 5%, or despite the collapse of Tesco, people have surprisingly not starved.

I think that what this demonstrates is that the major publishers have the upper hand with the book stores. Clearly, the majority of Penguin's profits were generated as a result of its own marketing, not because readers go into book stores and have a browse around. When a reader wants a particular book and they find that Borders has disappeared, they just go somewhere else. Let's face it, people haven't stopped decorating just because Focus has gone. Our local focus now has a sign on it directing customers to the nearest B&Q.

I think that this demonstrates that the major book stores are just a shop window for the major publishers. Mind you, that's what I've been saying for the past ten years.

The only reason that book retailers like Waterstones buy books from self and independent publishers is to prevent the likes of Amazon from owning that share of the market; a market that is fast growing. Let's not kid ourselves that they actually support authors who choose not to publish with the dinosaurs.

What Penguin have demonstrated is that the retailers can fight amongst themselves; it really makes no difference to the book market.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Amazon Kindle - Winning the Content War?

We received an email this week from our Apple content distributor. Here it is:

As the demand to get content distributed and sold on Apple's iBookstore continues to grow, [distributor] is striving to meet our publisher partners' needs in the most efficient manner possible. In order to help plan and meet expectations, we'd like to ask your assistance. Please e-mail the number of titles that your company plans to distribute to Apple for the remainder of the 2011 calendar year to [someone's email address].

Is this true? Unlikely. It is more likely that Apple are pushing their distributors for sales forecasts, to test the impact on the market of their decision to prevent app developers from selling content direct to the actual person who owns the iPad outright and should be able to do whatever the hell they want with it.

Here is our reply:

In response to the email I received asking for [distributor] projections, I would like to say that I will be publishing 8 books between now and the end of the year, however I am supporting the Amazon Kindle platform as a priority because of the unexpected and unnecessary cost and complexity of supporting iBooks.

Specifically, I went to great lengths to ensure that my first iBook was fully compliant with the epub standard, only to find that Apple themselves don't comply with it, so I had to pay for [distributor] to make the conversion, and your technical people couldn't actually tell me what was wrong with the original, so I have no chance of correcting these errors myself, of which I am capable given the right information. So Apple have enforced a standard that they don't comply with, and they guard the information that is required for me to fix the problem, and I am not prepared to pay to have you convert every book for me when the conversion process for Kindle is quick, easy and reliable.

Please do pass this on, because I'm sure I'm not the only publisher with this problem. 

Cast your mind back a few years... What killed off Betamax in favour of the technically inferior VHS? Content. The studios licensed their content to the consortium of VHS developers, not Sony's Betamax. People couldn't get films, so they didn't buy the machines. Sony learned quickly, and bought Columbia Pictures so that they would never be denied content again.

Random House recently announced that they are putting their entire catalogue of 17,000 books onto the iPad. But for any publishers who don't deal direct with Apple, the Kindle is a much easier and more reliable option. Will this fragment the market? Or will it polarise the market into serious readers who will see the Kindle as a clear winner, or people who primarily want to play games and waste time on Facebook, and dip into the odd ebook here and there, who will go for tablet PCs. Note: Tablet PCs, not necessarily the iPad.

About 20 years ago, the mobile phone companies realised that whoever owned the device in your hand owned what you saw and heard. But wireless Internet is moving the goalposts again. That device could be any one of a number of things, from your phone to your tablet PC, even your television. This favours the content distributors.

Apple have played a very risky strategy; giving content and app development over to third parties, and then trying to control them with restrictive, unfavourable contract terms, based on the belief that Apple owns the world, therefore the developers have no choice but to comply. You want to sell your products? You have to play by Apple's rules, because they control the market.

Except, they don't.

They have scored some early wins by getting customers to fall in love with their products, but this will absolutely not last forever. How do we know?

When Ford's iconic XR3i ruled the suburban backstreets, every product had an 'i' on the end of its name.

When Sony's Walkman ruled the subways and classrooms, every product had 'man' on the end of its name.

When McDonalds ruled the world of crap jobs, every crap job became a McJob.

When Yahoo became My Yahoo, every website became 'My' website.

When the Internet came into the home, every tenuously related product had an "e" at the beginning of its name.

When Apple's iPod took the Walkman's crown, every product had an 'i' at the beginning of its name.

Apple is tightening its grip on the market. And what can you expect to happen next? The tighter Apple squeezes, the more of that market will slip through its fingers.

Changing My Mind About the Amazon Kindle

A while ago, I said that the Kindle is a pointless device given the price difference between something that only displays ebooks and a tablet computer that can do pretty much anything that any other computer can do.

However, I am beginning to change my mind.

Earlier this week, Apple announced that it is going to start enforcing its rules that mean that content must be acquired through iTunes, where Apple can of course make money. It would be like being forced to only by a BMW through a BMW dealer. OK, you might be able to live with that to get a BMW. But then you are also forced to buy your petrol (gas), car washes, bags of sweets and pine tree shaped air fresheners through the BMW garage too. You might feel that BMW were taking advantage of your allegiance to their brand.

Personally, I feel that Apple's philosophy is, "You bought an Apple. You love Apple. Apple is your life. You don't need anything else. We own you." They're like a paranoid, clingy, dependent lover that just happens to be holding a gun to your head.

Here's a snippet of the story from The Bookseller:

Apple is finally getting round to enforcing its new app purchasing guidelines after reports emerged over the weekend of direct purchasing links being removed from some third-party apps

E-book companies now have the option of selling direct through Apple's iTunes store at a cost of 30% per transaction, or hoping customers buy direct from their own stores and use the app only for reading the purchased material.

The simple fact it that no third-party aggregator can afford to pay a 30% fee for being the middle-man on a platform it does not own itself, meaning that in the short term the e-book market is going to be a less interesting environment for book readers and a less useful place for those interested in developing e-book apps.

To explain this simply, here's what has happened.

You go to the iTunes store, looking for ebooks. To read an ebook, you have to BUY an ebook app such as iBooks. Of course, the majority are free because the developer wants to make their money on ebook sales, not on the app itself. So you download the app.

You BUY some books for the app from iTunes, on which Apple makes a profit.

Inside the app is a link to find more books, which you can buy direct from the developer's website, which saves all the hassle of having to buy through iTunes, which normally involves the download failing half way through, you not getting a refund and not being able to re-download, so you have to buy another copy and then chase Apple for a refund.

So you buy the book on the developer's site and read it on your iPad.

Not any more. Apple are now forcing you to buy all content through iTunes and preventing you from buying content elsewhere.

Hang on.... We just paid £600 for the thing, and you're going to dictate where I can and can't get the stuff that I use it for?

Sorry, Apple, I just don't feel the same way about you any more... Now, put the gun down.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Join the Social Revolution

Well, as much as we hate social networking, it seems that Google loves it.

Specifically, Google's latest indexing algorithm attributes more importance to incoming links from social networking sites, particularly Facebook.

So while we've been avoiding it for some time, we've set up a Facebook page:

Now, don't get excited. We're not looking for friends, or to play games, or for any other tat that proliferates in social networking.

However, if you would be so kind as to 'like' our page, and we get 25 people to like it, we get our very own page name! Ooooohhhh!

And that means better search engine something or other, according to the experts.

You can also just visit our main site

and click the 'like' button in the top right. And while you're at it, give us a Google "+1".

Thank you!!

Monday, 27 June 2011

How to Get Published

Well, maybe not. How to get a publisher to take you seriously, at least.

Here's another submission email from an author (Just the first paragraph, the full email is very long):

Please forgive me if I am not following your existing submission rules, but by some reason I could not find them. Maybe by my indolence, mostly. I hope that even I did not follow them and you are likely overloaded by similar freaks like me you will find time to review my proposition.

Spot the problem?

The writer (a poet) has used words like 'forgive', 'indolence', 'freaks' etc. These are not good words to use. Let me explain why.

When you ask someone to like your poetry or come to your poetry reading, you might call yourself a freak and it might be funny for some people.

When you ask a publisher to invest in you, you are asking them to make a business decision. It is not easy to work with someone who puts themselves down, and it does not give a publisher faith or confidence in you if you do not show confidence in yourself.

Don't apologise. Submission guidelines are here for the publisher's benefit. It saves us having to ask the same questions every time someone sends a 'best selling' manuscript. But what we need is a solid reason to make a business investment. Whether we like something, personally, does not make a big difference. What is important is that we feel something will sell. Publishers are experts at getting a product to market, and that product is not your poetry, it is YOU.

So my advice is, before you contact publishers, think about your email or letter and show that you have confidence in yourself. Not arrogance, it does not help when an author offers us a book and says it is a guaranteed best seller because it's fantastic.

What is very important to remember is that the question of how good the book is really makes no difference to how well it will sell. You might think your book, or poems, are wonderful. Your friends might. Even we might like them. But the issues you must address are:

How well do people really know you? (Your name must sell the book)

What are you doing to promote yourself and your work?

Do you take your work seriously? (The writer's words suggest that he would like to but does not)

Remember, when you contact a publisher, you are not asking them to like your book. I can like your book without wanting to invest in you as an author.

The bottom line with any investor is that we want to know, "Will this investment show a return?"

And the answer doesn't lie within your books pages, it is within you.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Spam, Scams and online Cons

Spam really does get everywhere. As a publisher, we receive many unsolicited submissions from authors. One of the most persistent is a guy claiming that he invented Post-It notes and that his book follows the story of how 3M ripped off his life's work. Right. Unfortunately, the story of Post-It notes is well documented.

Here's another example that arrived today:

To Whom It May Concern:

Hi, my name is Jack Steele, my story is that I was recruited by the Justice Department for over two years to infiltrate a group in order to capture one of Americas 10 most wanted killers. An article was written in the New York magazine by Robert Kolker titled Mercenary For Justice documenting my journey leading to his arrest.  If you are interested in my story, please email at, or by telephone number 561-594-2281.

Thank you in advance.

Jack Steele

Sounds great! Exciting!

Where's the outline? Where's the connection between the author's name and the email address?

The article referred to is genuine;

But is the person in the article in Palm Beach, Florida, where the phone number appears to point to?

So why the suspicion?

If you were an author, wouldn't you put a link to the article? Would you include at least some outline of the book or a sample chapter?

Spam, scams and con tricks are everywhere, unfortunately.

Monday, 13 June 2011

What Do You Get When You Cross Twitter With an iPad?

A fantastic new step forward in the integration of mobile computing platforms and social networks?

Or a dark day for your privacy?

Apple and Twitter have said that they are collaborating to incorporate Twitter into iOs, the operating system for iPads, iPhones, iPods etc.

What does this mean? You can use Twitter on your iPad now? What's the big deal?

Do you have a desktop or laptop computer? Perhaps a Mac? Or Linux? Or if you're unlucky, Windows?

Your computer has a bunch of programs on it, and most of them share some common functions. They can print. They can access the Internet. There's no point in each software vendor figuring out how to make a program print; it's one of the things that your operating system or OS does for them. So the program designer sends a file to the printer library, and a short while later, you're another step closer to having to buy more ink that costs more than the printer did in the first place.

Integrating Twitter into the OS doesn't just mean that there will be a special program or 'app' for reading and writing Twitter feeds. That's already there.

No, integrating Twitter into the OS means that it is there for all apps to use, whether you know about it or not.

Imagine, you get a new high score on Angry Birds, and the app tells you that your best friend just beat you.

How? The app 'Tweeted' your high score, and their app Tweeted back. But the Tweet wasn't a private conversation between the two of you, it was available for anyone to see.

Do you really want your iPad doing even more behind your back? Apple's view of user privacy is already, "You bought an iPad, therefore all your data now belongs to us. We call it an 'enhanced user experience'. You call it an invasion of your privacy. If you don't like it, don't buy an iPad."

Do you want your iPad telling the world where you are? Or what website you just visited? Do you want it sending emails on your behalf based on a special offer from a store you just visited? Do you want Google maps to show you, in real time, where all your friends are right now?

After all, you might find out something you wish you hadn't. Like one of them is round your house, right now. And they're not playing Angry Birds.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

The Changing Face of the Book

Have you noticed that book covers have changed?

The predominance of cover 'art' is being replaced by a new design goal; big and bold.

Is this to make books stand out on book shelves more?

Not really.

Cover art, complex designs, small or script titling, even subtle photographs are perfect for when the reader picks up the book before choosing to buy it; at an airport book shop, typically.

But these kinds of covers are next to useless, illegible, in the place that most people will see the book - on a web page.

Huge, clear, colourful text with a title that fills the entire front of the book, simple geometric designs and high contrast covers are the order of the day.

In the 'flesh', they might look garish but as a thumbnail image on a web page, they are competing with the site's own branding and adverts.

The Internet has led to many changes in design philosophy in all kinds of areas; writing, graphic design, user functionality, and so book cover design is simply one more area that the Internet is now influencing.

So remember, don't judge a book by its cover.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Unbound: A Threat to Publishers?

According to The Bookseller, the new self publishing service, Unbound, is the beginning of the end of traditional publishing, or at least a business model that will accelerate the demise of the printed book. Or the ebook. Or neither.

The Bookseller says, "Unbound, a publishing platform that allows readers to choose what is published, was devised as a response to the “difficulties of the existing publishing model”, with the programme aiming to get 35 to 40 projects off the ground in its first year."

Here's the idea; instead of self-publishing, you pitch your book idea to a social network of readers. If they like the idea, they invest in it to cover the publishing costs. In return, they get anything from a 'goodie bag' to lunch with the author.

If an investor puts in more than £1,000, they might get a royalty share of book sales too.

Whhooooaa! £1,000? How much are they saying it costs to publish a book?

Oh, of course, I forgot. We're talking about a traditional publishing house trying to muscle in on the ebook and self-publishing market.

"Supported by Faber, the platform was created by “QI” writers John Mitchinson and John Pollard, and Crap Towns author Dan Kieran. Authors are required to pitch their idea to readers on the site, and have 50 days to attract support through readers pledging money to fund the publication of the work. If enough money is pledged, the work will be published, primarily as an e-book or “beautifully bound, limited edition hardback”, or both, with each pledger’s name inscribed in the back of the print edition."

In the old days, there were publishers and there were vanity publishers. A publisher buys the licence to print your book and in return pays you a pittance of a royalty. They use your book to market their business, and if they really go to town on marketing, you make some money. But not nearly as much as the publisher, and quite rightly so, because they've done all the hard work in marketing and getting your book onto the shelves. Which they control.

Vanity publishers just charged you to print your book for you.

So, an aspiring author had two choices; take their manuscript around all the publishing houses, facing rejection, or pay to see their book in print.

In today's world of ebooks and print on demand, anyone can get their work into circulation for a very small amount of money, but, is it any good? And will it sell?

Today's author is faced with the choice of taking their manuscript to the traditional publishing houses, as before, self-publishing and now, getting the readers to buy the book in a limited print run before it's even written.

"As The Bookseller went to press, of the five ideas currently on the [Unbound] site, author Terry Jones’ idea for “a darkly funny set of linked tales” had received 2% of its required funding, while Gavin Pretor-Pinney’s idea, an iPad version of his book The Cloudspotter’s Guide, was still on 0%."

We presume they're both well known authors, so these figures either show that the Unbound concept is in its infancy, or it's a silly idea.

As a business model, it is very similar to the 'micro loans' concept that hit the headlines a few years ago. The idea was that I go to a website and post a request for some money, then some other people offer to lend me various amounts which together give me what I need. I then pay them back, through the website. Each micro investor makes a return, I get a loan, the website makes a profit off the top.

Unbound is not a new concept in publishing, it is a simple and blatant attempt by an existing publishing house to shuffle the risk around - so that it lands anywhere but at their door.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Write For You is coming to Hartlepool

A lot of people we meet say, "Oh I've always wanted to write..."

So true to our belief that, if you have a book in you, we can help you to get it out, we are launching a brand new writing course in Hartlepool... with a difference.

The course will be for anyone who wants to write:

+ Fiction, such as short stories or a novel

+ Non-Fiction, such as business books, local history, biography or hobbies

+ Poetry and prose

And at the end of the course, we will be publishing a collection of all of the suitable work that the participants have produced.

On top of that, if you choose to work on a business book, or a full novel, you can publish it through us at 10% off the usual costs.

Why are we doing this?

Local colleges often run 'creative writing courses', but what we have found that most people want isn't just to be able to write, it's to see their work in print.

When you attend this course, even if you only produce one poem or a very short story that you're proud of, you'll see it in print in the collection for that course. You'll be able to buy copies at trade rates for your friends and family, you'll see it on Amazon and other retailers, and you can even get it into local book shops and libraries.

Because of the location and evening schedule of this course, we're aiming it at people who live in these areas:

Stockton On Tees
County Durham

Although anyone is welcome from any area.

Currently planned to run for 12 weekly evening sessions, the course will include the following:
  • Planning what to write
  • Becoming an author
  • Structuring your work
  • Overcoming writer's block
  • The critical process
  • Editing and proof reading
  • Understanding copyright and publishing
  • Marketing your work

Each week, we'll review and critique what participants have written, so we'll waste no time during the course itself, and our approach is suited to all types of writing, whether you want to write poetry, your grandmother's life story, a business or self-help book or a book about local history or your hobby.

At the end of the course, we will take all of the participants' chosen contributions and publish them as a collection, and we'll even organise a launch event and author reading to publicise your work to friends, family, colleagues, clients and the media.

We're in the process of organising this now, so if you are interested, register with us so that we can keep you posted. We're also looking for the right venue, so if you have any suggestions, let us know.

Either leave a comment here or visit and use the contact form there.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Pitching for Business in UK plc

The Apprentice is back on television in the UK, and with it comes the inevitable media focus on entrepreneurial business skills and, in particular, the art of pitching.

Almost every episode of the popular, business based cross between a reality program and a game show features the contestants having to make a pitch.

They pitch for business, pitch for orders, pitch ideas and they pitch to keep their jobs in the boardroom showdown at the end of each week's task.

What does this say about the bigger world of business in UK plc?

For a start, pitching is something that everyone in a business needs to do at some point – even if it's only in their interview and annual performance appraisal. Most staff have to pitch ideas, pitch for resources and pitch themselves for promotions.

And one thing that I can say, having seen thousands of pitches first hand, is that UK plc's HR department needs to invest in developing our collective pitching skills if we are to compete on a world stage.

Does this mean that staff in other countries outshine us? No, definitely not. I believe that our front line business men and women are easily amongst the most professional and capable in the world. But to compete, you have to be more than good enough. You have to be better. Much better.

One of our authors, Paul Boross, works with people to refine their pitch. As 'The Pitch Doctor', he helps them to focus on their key message, connect with the audience and get their message across. So what are the most important tips that The Pitch Doctor can offer you, and the contestants in The Apprentice, to make sure you make the most of every opportunity to pitch?

Here are Paul's Seven Secrets to a Successful Pitch, taken from his book 'The Pitching Bible', available from all good book shops and published by CGW Publishing at £14.99, ISBN 9780956535825.

Secret 1: It’s All About Them

Apparently, a fear of public speaking is one of the most common problems in the world of business. According to one survey, people fear it more than death.

There are many, many techniques that you can learn to overcome any fear of presenting, but you don’t need any of them. You just need to master the first secret.

Think about the worst presentation you have ever seen. Did you find that the presenter just read from the slides, didn’t interact with the audience and droned on even though no-one was listening? Did the presenter appear ’self conscious’?

All of these problems arise from the same source: the first and most fundamental mistake that people make when pitching is that they focus on themselves instead of on the audience.

Secret 2: By The Time You Start, It’s Already Too Late

When does a pitch start? Most people say the pitch starts when you show the first slide, when you stand up to speak, or even when the audience walks into the room.

They are wrong. The pitch starts the moment the audience buys the ticket or the moment your audience first commit to listening to your pitch. It is then their expectations start to form, and that is the point from which you must be able to influence them.

Secret 3: Steady, Ready, Pitch!

The audience has to be ready to listen before you start speaking. Get their attention and build rapport with them. Avoid ice breakers, because they actually distract from the topic of your pitch and break this rapport. Pausing before you begin is a sign of control, so take all the time you need.

Secret 4: Dream The Dream

Your pitch, your idea, was created in a dream world. In order for that dream to become a reality, you need to draw the audience into that dream.

Drawing the audience into your dream with rich, vivid, emotional, sensory language allows you to convey far more than you ever could describe in facts, figures and ‘benefits’. Bring your pitch to life and let your words carry the sights, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells of success.

Secret 5: Mind Your Language

While 93% of your message may be conveyed non-verbally, there is no doubt your language conveys the raw information your audience needs to make a decision.

For example, traditional sales training advocated selling ‘benefits’ rather than ‘features’. A nice idea in principle, but let down by poor execution. The traditional ‘feature means benefit’ model of presenting something is actually the wrong way round. By the time you’re half way through describing the feature, the audience is already thinking about the benefit. Otherwise they have no interest in it whatsoever. When you finally get round to the benefit, it will be different to what they had in mind. Even the most subtle difference will break rapport with your audience. Do that enough times and you’ve lost the connection altogether.

Try ‘benefit because of feature’ instead, and you’ll win more pitches.

Secret 6: Say It Again, Sam

No doubt you have heard the old presenter’s adage “Tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them again”. Get your message across in as many different ways as you can, and realise all of the different communication channels you’re not using: the way you dress; the way you walk into the room; what you say in the invitation email. All of these communicate your intention, and when they are aligned, you multiply the power of your message.

Secret 7: The End… Or Is It?

Every rock star understands the importance of an encore. It’s the thing most concert-goers rave about. Some performers make the audience wait for up to an hour before being reluctantly coaxed back onto the stage for one more song…or two…or 10.

I wouldn’t expect your audience to be shouting “More!” at the end of your pitch, but they should certainly be feeling it. So, what’s the encore to your pitch? Do you send a DVD with the video highlights? A copy of your presentation for them to refer to later? A thank-you email or call? As an absolute minimum, you must send a follow up message.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Light at the end of the Apple Tunnel? No it's Another Train Coming...

We previously posted our experiences of getting a title up for sale on the Apple iBookstore, and at that point we thought that we had reached the end of that long, winding and painful road.

How wrong we were.

We stripped out all of the extraneous formatting from the raw html file and it passed both epubcheck and preflight verifier. Those are the tools that Apple say must verify your file in order for it to be accepted into the iBookstore.

But, guess what? Although Apple insist on your epub file passing the epubcheck formatting standard, Apple don't follow the standard properly, so when your file passes all of the checks, Apple still reject it.

Worse still, they don't actually tell you why.

If we wanted to find out, we would have to buy an Apple Mac computer so that we could run the Apple software that talks to the Apple iTunes store. And, not surprisingly, we're not keen on that idea. So we had to get our distributor, Ingram, to rebuild the file from scratch. They know how to get the file to pass Apple's entrance exam, even though they can't tell us how to do it or even explain what the problem was.

Money for old rope, as they say.

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Pitching Bible reviewed in Growing Business Magazine

"Find out how to make the perfect pitch and avoid common pitching mistakes"

"The book is written in an engaging manner ... an excellent place to start"

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Amazon Kindle is Dead... Long Live the Tablet PC

We had an iPad for a year and now we have an iPad 2. It's about £150 cheaper than the original for the same spec and a lot of the original design flaws have been solved - you can actually hold it, and the smart cover works very nicely.

The original iPad's back was shaped like an oily banana and while it looked sleek, it was impossible to hold on to, so we added a leather case that just made the thing so bulky. Yes, you could prop it up to watch videos or type, but far from ideal. Like putting disabled hand rails on an Aston Martin to make it easier to get out of.

The new iPad 2 has a smart cover - £60 for a leather one! - but worth it because it is so neat and tidy, and as the iPad2 has a flat back, it folds away neatly when you're using the iPad. You can have a £30 plastic version, but the colour range is the same as B&M have chosen for their silicone spatulas. Not classy.

What has this got to do with Kindle?

Well, for £111 you can buy the Amazon device. The battery lasts a long time, and all it does is read ebooks.

The iPad was £480 for the 32Gb wifi version, from Tesco, or any other retailer thanks to Apple's price fixing.

To be honest, the iPad 2 doesn't do anything the iPad didn't do. It's just better at it.

The Kindle's battery last for weeks thanks to its e-ink screen technology, very handy for your holidays, if you're staying somewhere that has no electricity, I guess. I think most people could manage to charge their tablet computer overnight, along with their mobile phone and mp3 player.

And there's the problem. Wherever you go, you have other devices that will need charging almost every day, so is it really a problem to charge your tablet computer? Especially when you will also be reading your emails, watching videos and listening to music on it?

Disgo's Tablet 6000 costs only £98 from - that's £13 less than Kindle. Yes. it's only got 2Gb of storage built in and the screen resolution isn't a patch on the iPads but you can read your emails, watch videos, listen to music, browse the internet and read ebooks for less money than a Kindle.

Of course, there are more expensive tablet PCs too, running Linux or Google's Android OS. However, the price plummet of Apple's iPad 2 will force down the price of clones too. We'll see a whole flock of sub £200 tablets on the market by the summer, we reckon.

As a publisher, the devices that people read ebooks on directly affects the adoption of ebooks. ebooks might be a wonderful evolution of the publishing industry, but if people can't conveniently read them, they won't catch on.

We think that buying an Amazon Kindle is like buying your children a Vtech laptop. Why would you? It's more expensive than a real laptop, and it doesn't do anything useful!

But wait, you say, a VTech Super Student Laptop is only £50. It has a matchbox sized black and white LCD screen and doesn't do anything that you actually want your children to learn, such as how to order stuff off ebay with your credit card.

And you can't even buy a laptop for £50, can you?

Yes, you can. £50 buys you a very nice second hand laptop from the wonderful department store in the sky, ebay.

What about the cost of software?

Load the bargain laptop with the wonderful, free Ubuntu, a user friendly version of Linux, the absolutely free and fabulous operating system. Free office software, free everything. Does more than Windows. More reliable. Free. Easier to use. Free. Did we mention that it's free?

You have absolutely no excuse for not getting your children a real laptop, so why on Earth would you buy an Amazon Kindle just to read books on?

Sorry Amazon, considering that you fancy yourselves as a market innovator, you are five years late to market with the Kindle.

Our prediction is that the Kindle will go the way of the Sinclair C5, the Tandy TRS-80, the Psion palmtops and pretty much any kitchen appliance that you bought from QVC.

Only buy a Kindle if you want to show your grand children the product that killed the mighty Amazon.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Green Tees Business Network - Bronze Award

We've won a Bronze award from the Green Tees Business Network.

To win this award, we had to demonstrate our commitment to environmentally friendly activities such as recycling, reducing waste and reducing our carbon footprint.

We're aiming for a Silver award next...

Friday, 1 April 2011

Let's be partners!

Most people offering a valuable service are, from time to time, offered wonderful partnerships that benefit everyone. A win-win, as they say.

For example, a prospective author comes along with a book proposal and says that it will make us rich beyond our wildest dreams because it's a guaranteed bestseller - as in our previous blog post.

They offer a partnership - they provide the book, we provide the publishing. A win-win.

Even better than that, if we do all the work for them, they'll share the profits with us. As we say in England, "You can't fall off!"

Consider this analogy. You approach a big media agency such as AdMedia and say, "I've got this fantastic product. A guaranteed winner. It will make millions. Everyone will buy one. I'll tell you what, we'll work together. You run the adverts and I'll share the profits with you. You can't lose".

In this situation, you'd think that you're portraying supreme confidence in your product because you're certain it will sell in big numbers.

Actually, what you're communicating is zero confidence.

So, AdMedia say, "OK great, we'll take 20% of your turnover on the product and any products you then sell as a result of the first product".

The advert is such a success that your turnover is £1,000,000. AdMedia get £200,000. You kick yourself that if you'd paid for the adverts, you'd have given AdMedia a fraction of that amount. On top of that, when you take out your costs, you discover that they made more out of it than you did.

But all of this is conjecture. You're probably wondering why offering a partnership is a sign of zero confidence in your product. It's because if you really believed in it, you wouldn't give it away.

No serious business would ever consider such a one sided joint venture.

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Business Bestsellers - An Unachievable Dream?

I just came across a BBC feature article that looked interesting:

The writer, James Melik, looks at the growing number of business books that comprise nothing more than hyped up twaddle and the idea that setting outrageous goals is the key to success.

As a publisher, we don't only see the books that actually make it into print, mainly because of the author's existing fame, we also see the manuscript submissions that promise to make us millionaires with the latest best-seller.

Here are one author's words on the subject; "The best selling copies have achieved even more than 50million copies.. Please check your sources carefully. I dream big and act big so I prefer to work with like minded people, not people that even doubt the sale of a few million copies."

If you are an aspiring author with similarly ambitious goals then please consider that thinking big within some realistic boundaries can help you to focus your efforts and achieve your dreams faster. The goal here is not to do something unthinkable that has never been done before, such as putting man on the moon or climbing Everest, it is to achieve something within the boundaries of what exists today - the worldwide book and ebook market. Books have been sold before, the market is clearly defined and others have covered your subject before you. Even the 'digital revolution' makes only a tiny shift in the industry, lowering barriers to entry and flooding the low end of the market with poor quality self published titles. Of course, in that flood is an occasional nugget of gold too.

The best selling business book of all time has sold around 26 Million copies ( since 1998 - that's 2 Million copies per year.

Dale Carnegie's 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' has sold just over 15 Million copies since 1936 - 200,000 copies per year.

What Colour is Your Parachute? has sold 10 Million copies since 1970 - 245,000 copies per year.

If Richard Branson, Donald Trump or Bill Gates wrote a book on business (which they all have) then readers will say, "Ah! There's someone who obviously knows a lot about business!"

What sells a book is not the quality of the book itself; as with any product, sales are down to how well known the author already is (past reputation) and how much money is spent on marketing the book to get it in front of potential readers (future reputation).

The quality of the book is not what makes someone BUY it, the quality simply makes someone READ it. How many books on your bookshelf are still unread? How many life changing products are in your kitchen drawer unused? How many clothes are in your wardrobe with the tags still on? What makes us buy something is very different to what makes us use it - and recommend it to our friends.

If Richard Branson wrote a book on raising chickens, he would sell some books based on his past reputation because people would be curious, but he would need to invest heavily in his future reputation to prove to people that he had experience in this area and should be regarded as a credible source.

What is it that tells your potential readers that you are a credible source of business information when they could buy Donald Trump's book, or the books of a dozen other self made Millionaires and Billionaires?

Personally, we would not recommend that anyone takes the advice of someone with that big a comb-over. Obviously, he's so rich that people are afraid to tell him how it looks.

To get the kind of marketing exposure and therefore investment that will overcome the problem that not many people have heard about you requires a major publishing house to see a return on that investment. By not seeing your book as an investment that you are selling, but rather a fantastic idea that you are excited and optimistic about, I suggest that you won't get very far with the major publishing houses.

The best advice that I can give you is to watch a TV program on the internet, if your connection speed permits. It is BBC TV's Dragon's Den, and if you look at the reasons that the 'Dragons' invest their money, you will understand how to pitch your book.

A publisher doesn't really care how wonderful your idea is. A publisher is an investor, and any good investor is interested in returns, not potential.

Of course we'd love our books to sell in the millions, who wouldn't? You just need to remember that high sales come at a price...