Book Bits & A New Blog Recommendation

Most readers here know I have a part time home-based business publishing how-to books and selling parts to make chicken pluckers. My hope and prayer is that the business will be blessed to the point that I can purchase some woodland and field/pasture acreage, debt free, and/or leave my factory job to work full-time at the home business.

With that in mind, I have, thus far, self-published six books through my company, Whizbang Books. My plan is to publish a book a year until...... I die. Or, maybe, before that if I am no longer physically, mentally, or financially capable of putting together another book.

I don’t think I’ll run out of book ideas any time soon. I have several different books in the works and new ideas come along all the time. In fact, my problem is that I have too many ideas, and far too little time.

Bearing that in mind, I have decided that my next book will NOT be a conventional paper-and-ink book. I’m pretty sure that it will be a book in a blog. By that I mean that I will establish a blog for the sole purpose of presenting a how-to book, complete with lots of photographs and the step-by-step directions in writing.

Such a book will be far, far easier for me to publish than a conventional book. And it will cost me absolutely nothing except the time it takes and the materials and props needed for the photos. And the time I spend on producing this next book should be WAY less than I’ve spent on any previous books.

You may be thinking to yourself that putting a book into blog form is kind of neat, but how would I make any money at such a thing? How would I charge people to read the book? Well, I won’t charge people a cent. The book will be absolutely free!!

This particular book will explain how to build something that every homesteader/ gardener/agrarian can really use and most do not own. It is something that can be purchased but the cost is absurdly high. My blog book will explain how anyone with basic skills can easily make one of these things themselves, in a couple of hours, using basic materials. That’s all I’ll reveal about the book for now.

The way I will make money (I hope) is by supplying some of the basic parts needed to build the item. I may offer a parts kit. Interested readers will not absolutely need my parts kits but I believe many will want them because a kit of assembled parts will be a real convenience, and it will probably cost less money than buying everything individually. Offhand, I think that the total cost to build this mystery item will be around $75. That is a very significant savings over already-made versions of the item. And it will be an especially small price to pay when you consider what this item will do for you.

I am currently in the finishing stages of developing and testing this new Whizbang invention. So, stay tuned for that.

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In other book news, I want to let you all know that Cumberland Books now carries my most recent book, Anyone Can Build A Whizbang Garden Cart: Easy to Follow Plans For a Remarkably Useful Tool. Click Here For More Information

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Speaking of the Whizbang Garden Cart, I am hoping that someone actually builds one and lets me (and the rest of the world) know about it before the end of this year. It takes time for a new how-to book to bear fruit. When I published my Chicken Plucker Planbook, I held my breath (figuratively speaking) for four months until someone actually followed my directions and built a Whizbang Plucker. When they posted their experience to the internet, the ball started rolling. Books started to sell. It was the beginning of my little book business.

With that in mind, I have established a Whizbang Garden Cart Contest for 2007. I will have another similar contest for 2008. But if you have an interest in making a cart, your best chance to win a real nice prize is to get it made and entered in this year’s contest.

By the way, I have sent copies of the garden cart book to several magazines, hoping some will review it for their readers. That too takes a long time to bear fruit. And I have sent sample copies to several seed catalogs and other appropriate booksellers hoping they will give it a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Such is the work of a small-scale book publisher.

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I am considering different types of advertising for my book business. This year I invested in some small advertisements in Countryside magazine and Backyard Poultry magazine. The ads were expensive but they directed people to my very simple web site ( www.WhizbangBooks.com) and from there to my poultry-related blog essays. I have no way of recording response from the magazine ads but I can tell from my site meter that those blog essays get a LOT of reader traffic. And the plucker books are selling steady. And the plucker parts business is doing pretty well.

That said, I decided to check out the cost of advertising in Mother Earth News magazine. Earlier in the year, a reader of this blog offered me a lot of very good marketing advice and one of his recommendations was that I advertise in Mother Earth because it has far more readers than Countryside.

Well, I recently looked into the advertising rates for Mother Earth News and found out that a full page, four-color advertisement in that magazine sells for $27, 648. I could save money by going to black & white. That would only cost me $18,236.

Those prices are FAR more than I can afford. So I checked out a 1/3 page vertical advertisement. That would be enough to present several of my Whizbang books. Such an advertisement would cost me $7,530. That price is for advertising in one issue of the magazine. If I placed the ad six times, the cost per ad would drop to $5,033.

The bottom line here is that I can’t afford Mother Earth News. The most reasonably priced ad is a 1” black & white ad in the “General Store” section for $1,059. I can afford that but I have a hard time justifying that.

So maybe I’ll try the classifieds.

Many years ago, when Mother Earth News was a much different publication (and advertising was more affordable for the masses), I placed a single classified ad. It was my first foray into the mail order business. The little ad drew quite a bit of response. But it was something I ended up regretting. Someday I’ll tell you the story.

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And finally, while on this subject of my books, I would like to thank Dr. Mike Kear for his recent review of my book, Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. Here is an excerpt:


I am in the midst of reading Herrick Kimball's book Writings of a Deliberate Agrarian. It is a truly beautiful book. Well made, well written, fascinating. Part prose, part theology, part how-to, part declaration, part - dare I say it? - prophetic. If this was strictly a "religious" book, I would say that I am often "convicted" by the truth Kimball declares. Deliberate Agrarian is not a religious book, but it certainly is a spiritual one, and one that reverently bows the knee to the glory and sovereignty of God while proclaiming the necessity of progressive self-reliance under the providence of the Almighty.

This book is offensive, and rightly so, to modernists, industrial slaves, and emasculated Christians. But in midst of the offense the answer is provided. The answer is that God has always had it right and we will do well to listen to Him and follow His ways.


You can read the whole review at his blog, The Babylonian Groundhog.

Even if you don’t read the rest of the review, please do check out the blog. I think you’ll be glad you did. Here’s that link again: The Babylonian Groundhog

8 comments:

JCurley said...

As a small publisher myself, my experience in print ads is disappointing-hardly ever is the return even close to realized-unless you are there every issue for a long time-which, as you say is cost prohibitive.

The free stuff works the best: blog and magazine reviews etc. and writing articles for (online and print) magazines yourself. Of course this is time consuming-but not cash consuming.

Good luck with your books. I really admire what you are doing.

Oh yes-the free book online to sell a kit is another great idea. I have heard several variations of this with positive results.

Don said...

Herrick,

I have nearly completed my Whizbang garden cart! I primed it earlier this week and plan on painting in the near future (this weekend). I have posted a few entries on the construction process on my blog, and plan to post photos of the completed project after I get to my new agrarian home next month. Keep on keeping on, I can't wait to see your next Whizbang project. I have built a plucker, which works phenomenally, and the cart. I have some of the parts for the scalder, but I am still looking for a good, used LP water heater.

I like Curley's idea about you writing an article for Mother Earth News (or any magazine). Maybe it would get published...

Grace & Peace,
Don
http://darkwoodfarm.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

Herrick, I like your book-as-a-blog idea, I really do.

But the real quesion here -- and I mean this quite seriously -- is, does the average homesteader really need a combination beet-plucker/garlic-dehorner?

Hogleg said...

Herrick,

I think your idea for the blog/kit is quite ingenious. The established "book industry" feeds very little back to the authors. Why not cut out the middleman!

On a related topic, I really enjoyed your Writings book. It cemented in our my minds (Sue and I) the need to simplify. I am now calling myself a "former slave to the material life" but currently still a part of it. I will shortly close on some land in Southern Illinois and sell my home in Austin. I am 51 and decided that I need to simplify my life while I still have the energy to accomplish this sort of life change. Thanks for inspring us!

I bought your Garlic book, and think the next purchase will be the plucker one...

Thanks for sharing your experiences,
John Williams

Herrick Kimball said...

jcurley,
It's nice to hear from you. Writing magazine articles is an excellent way to market books and products. I have considered it and may do that in the future.

But I have to say that any article I might write would probably be more suited to Countryside than Mother Earth News

Hi Don,
Wow, you may end up with the honor of being the first person to build a Whizbang Garden Cart. I have slacked off a bit on my agrarian blog reading so I missed your entries. But I'll be checking them out right after I post this.

Anonymous,
There is a lot of heavy duty securtity around my new Whizbang product idea. It is top secret stuff. No one is supposed to know. How did you find out?

Hi John,
I appreciate your feedback. It is such a delight for me to hear from people, like you, who have been blessed and influenced by the "Writings" book. It is, by far, the most important book I have ever written, and that I will probably ever write.

My best wishes to you and Sue on your new agrarian journey. And, yes, you will surely need a Whizbang Chicken Plucker! :-)

TNfarmgirl said...

Herrick,
----->crossing my fingers, closing my eyes....and repeating .....
"compost sifter, compost sifter, please let it be the compost sifter!"


My boys will be building the cart this fall - if we get a fall:)

Blessings,
Cheri

Marci said...

Hey, I join Cheri on hoping you are making a compost sifter!!!!! I hope you don't leave us in suspense too long.

Another idea about advertising... What about placing small ads on Homesteading blogs and web pages? Just a thought.

Dr. Mike Kear said...

Thanks for the link, Herrick! Your book was an awesome inspiration to me that I will go back to many times.

Blessings,

Mike