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Self-Publisher

Don’t want to deal with agents? Become a self-publisher.

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Business At A Glance

Self-Publisher

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? No

Business Overview

Not too long ago, self-publishing was looked down upon as the venueonly of people whose work was truly awful. Now, however,self-publishing is not only respectable but ‘in.’ Major publishers areconcentrating their efforts on mega-blockbusters, leaving the midlistor smaller writers out in the cold, which has led to the advent of theself- and small-press publisher as a solid professional group.

Andthere’s definitely a market out there for well-written books. As aself-publisher, you’ll not only write your book, but also see itthrough all the details the publishing house attends to–editing,choosing cover art, working with the graphic artist, getting it printedand, perhaps most important, getting it marketed so that it finds areadership. The main advantage to this business, of course, is inseeing your book in print. But that’s not the only one. As aself-publisher, you’ve got far greater control over every aspect of thefinal product, from paper to artwork to the blurb on the back jacket,than you would at the hands of a traditional publishing house.

You cango on to publish other works of your own, or publish other writers’materials. You get far more of the revenues–up to 50 percent–than ata traditional publishing house, which pays royalties of 7 percent to 10percent of sales. As a final advantage, if your book does well, you cansegue into related products like audiobooks, videotapes and a widevariety of licensed products. And it’s not unheard of for a majorpublisher to snap up your book once they see that it’s a success.Before anything else, you’ll need the talent to pen a really good book,whether it be fiction, nonfiction or a children’s picture book. Youshould have plenty of marketing smarts, a working knowledge ofpublishing contracts, terms and conditions from distribution rights towhat constitutes intellectual property, and the ability to pulltogether the varied elements of a pre-production manuscript into aprofessional final product.

The Market

Your customers will be the readers who buy your books, but inpublishing it’s not quite that simple. Unless you sell through mailorder, you’ll have to go through intermediaries like bookstores, whichmakes them your first line of attack in the sales and marketingprocess.

Large chain bookstores rely on a complex distribution systemfor their stock, which means that even if the manager loves your book,he can’t sell it. Bottom line–you’ll have to capture the distributors’interests or sell to smaller, independent book stores. You should alsoaim for alternative sales sources–for instance, if your book dealswith gardening, try selling it to garden centers and nurseries whosecustomers already have an interest in your subject.

Needed Equipment

You’ll need a computer, a laser printer and a fax machine, the usualoffice software, and desktop-publishing software. In addition, you’llwant the usual tools of the writer’s trade: plenty of reference books,such as a dictionary, an encyclopedia, a thesaurus and style guides.

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Media & Publishing

Niche Greeting Cards

Let others use your unique perspective to express themselves–with a niche greeting card biz.

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Business At A Glance

Niche Greeting Cards

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

If you love picking out and sending just the right card for everyoccasion, and if you’re a whiz at designing that perfect card yourself,then niche greetings cards is the business for you. This is a fieldwith room for growth, and while the big players like Hallmark do tendto dominate the market, most of the country’s more than 1,800 greetingcard companies are small ones.

You can help businesses develop andmaintain a rapport with their clientele by sending customized cards forspecial occasions. You can also send cards announcing clients’ specialevents and even embellish cards with your customers’ signatures andlogos. You’ll purchase blank cards at wholesale prices and, dependingon the size of each project, imprint the message on your own printer,have them imprinted commercially, or design and print each card on yourown computer system.

Or you can go the retail route and design cardsfor the regular consumer market. The advantages to this business arethat you can start part time, it’s fun and creative, and it’s a warm,fuzzy, feel-good business–even though you don’t see the recipients ofyour cards, you know they’re enjoying them. For this business, you’llneed a sense of fun, creativity and–the flip side of the coin–goodorganizational and time-management skills. When you send out cards forbusiness clients, you need to stay on top of things. But you’ll need tostay far ahead of the calendar with a retail design business, too.Winter holiday cards hit the stores soon after Halloween, and Mother’sDay missives appear soon after St. Patty’s Day–which means that you’llhave to have yours designed, printed and ready to ship even earlier.

The Market

For custom corporate cards, your clients will, of course, be otherbusinesses. You can target just about any type, but your best bets willbe those who need to stay firmly established in their customers’ minds,like doctors, dentists, insurance agents, real estate brokers,apartment managers, car salespeople, hair stylists and shopkeepers.

Anddon’t forget those corporate types with customers, vendors andsuppliers all over the country. Sign up these clients by–howelse?–sending them greeting cards. Design a catchy card that explainsyour business, then follow up by phoning for an appointment to showyour card portfolio. Send a one-time mailing of your cards for acharitable organization free of charge–make sure the cards mentionyour company and what you do.

Use this same mailing to get write-ups inlocal publications. While out and about town, ask business owners ifthey’re planning a sale or promotion, then offer your services to sendout card announcements. If you choose the retail road, you’ll sell toretailers or distributors. You can start out small by selling yourwares to local specialty shops and boutiques or shoot for sales repsand distributors by displaying your products at trade shows like theNational Stationery Show held each May in New York City. (Call GeorgeLittle Management at 914-421-3200 or go to www.glmshows.com for moreinformation.)

Needed Equipment

You’ll need a computer, a high-quality color printer, a scanner,greeting card or desktop publishing software, and–if you’ll be takingthe custom corporate route–database software for maintaining mailinglists and a resale license for buying cards at wholesale prices.

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Media & Publishing

Online Entertainment Listings and Reviews

People are always in search of dining, entertainment and attraction information and reviews.

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Business At A Glance

Online Entertainment Listings and Reviews

Startup Costs: $2,000 – $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

Developing an entertainment listings andreviews website is a very straightforward enterprise to start. Simplyprovide visitors within specific communities information aboutforthcoming entertainment events like concert and movie listings,theatrical play dates, special events and even restaurant listings.

Additionally, the site can include an entertainment review section withfeedback and critiques supplied by visitors. The site can earn incomeby selling advertising space to local merchants. Once established, thistype of online business could easily be expanded to other communitiesand cities on a franchise or license-to-operate basis.

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Media & Publishing

Personalized Story Time Books

Are you a pro at creating sentimental items for families? Look into personalized story time books.

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Business At A Glance

Personalized Story Time Books

Startup Costs: $50,000 – $100,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Online Operation? Yes

Business Overview

The market for personalized story time books for children is enormous.Every child in the world loves to hear stories, and the best aspect ofthis new venture is the fact that this business enables you to createbooks to include children into the story.

This is a business that onceyou have established a relationship with a client you will want to keepthat relationship strong as the product has the ability to almost beclassified as a consumable. This means that once you form therelationship with the client, it’s a given that the relationship willcontinue to generate revenue for the business, providing the quality ofservice and product remains excellent. The average child can easilyhave five or six favorite books, and these books change on ayear-by-year basis.

This can add up to 20 to 30 different story timebooks that can be sold to the same client, and that number can multiplyby the number of children the client has. There are softwareapplications available including the reprint rights for creating thistype of book, or of course you can use the customer’s and yourimagination to create original stories. A marketing technique that canhelp get you started is to pick relatives and friends with children andcustomize books using their children’s names.

Once you have the booksproduced, simply show the story time books to your friends andrelatives. It will be nearly impossible for them to say no once theysee the finished product and how much work you put into creating thebook. profit potential: Once you have established a solid client base,this business venture has the ability to return excellent profits on apart- or full-time effort. As with any business, be sure to use abottom-up approach to product pricing. Factor in all costs, includingmaterials, labor and overhead, and multiply by the desired markup. Theend result of this formula will give you your retail selling price.

Needed Equipment

You will need a good computer system and printer if you plan to producethe books yourself. It can be very costly to have a print shop run asingle copy of one item.

Additional requirements will include softwarethat legally allows you to reprint the books or good writing skills tocreate your own stories. The latter is more fun, and you can base thestories on your local community and community events.

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