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Writing About Aviation — My Story
By Mike Davenport, EAA 89102, Langley, BC
December 2021 – PART THREE – Last month, we got organized with the format, wrote the photo captions, and went through the editing process. Now it is time to get serious about printing the book and selling it. Wander into any local book store and look inside to see where it was printed and in 10 books, you’ll likely find at least nine printers. It was time to get quotes on printing this epic. More “life’s lessons”: printing costs money. Printing in colour costs even more money but sure looks better.
Printing companies are everywhere. As they all have to print to some kind of standard, one would think that they would be priced much the same but this is not the case. One printer located in Jack’s back yard of Victoria who had done work for him in the past was a logical choice. After all, they were a known quantity and produced a reasonable looking book. They quoted both black and white and colour and as one would expect, colour was a lot more costly. Doing one’s due diligence generated a quote from a company in Quebec City and, low and behold, the price came in at almost half that quoted locally. So again another life lesson; always get competitive quotes.
Another point to be aware of is that the larger the order, the cheaper the unit cost is. In other words, you will pay more per copy for an order on 200 books than for one of 300. The flip side of that is with the smaller order while the per-copy cost is higher, you can always order more if you need them and so the initial investment is smaller.
Three hundred copies of THE BOOK arrived in due course after sending a significant cheque and now comes the sales part. Selling the book has become a much harder proposition than writing it, this in spite of 40 years of industrial sales and marketing experience.
Books, like everything else, do not sell themselves. One must make an effort in order to get results. Early sales made by personal contact were very encouraging. Almost half of the original order sold within 3-4 months but once friends and family all had their autographed copies, sales dried up. Personal contact seemed to be the way to go but the COVID pandemic closed borders and cancelled aviation events across North America. This eliminated attendance at all fly-ins and air shows across the Pacific Northwest and firmly closed the door on that plan.
Advertising is a must so they say. So a distribution arrangement was made with a national aviation magazine, copies were sent, and the ads appeared in each issue for the next 24 months. Consignment inventory was placed in local flying schools and a museum. A small three-month listing in a large international flying club magazine was arranged. Another ad was a full-page colour ad in another group’s quarterly magazine.
Listings on Facebook was another possibility and of course you can create a web site and a blog. Be sure to add the site’s addresses to personal emails and that way you will have covered most if not all of the bases. My publisher is having a much more sophisticated website constructed that will allow the viewer to browse different titles and to see some of each book’s contents and also provide direct contact with the writer who will send signed copies upon request.
It is hoped that this new website when combined with relaxed border constraints, which will allow travel to aviation events on the west coast and personal contact with interested customers, will result in more/some sales. Who knows, there might even be a volume 2 one day!