|[photo stolen from their blog]|
Thursday, April 27, 2017
ABC Post 26--Review of The Brick and Mortar Formula
This is the third and last in my series of reviews of books by siblings of friends.
The friend: Esta Miller Doutrich. Her mom and I knew each other, back in Canada, and were pregnant at the same time with Esta and Emily. But then in a happy twist of fate, Esta married Matt's friend Justin, and they live about six miles up the road, and now Esta and I are friends as adults. Esta is funny, and smart, and wise. She is a nurse and gives me medical advice. And she reads a lot.
She appreciates all things tea.
Here's Emily and Esta, at Justin and Esta's wedding.
But this is actually about her sibling: Jon Miller, a tall bearded lumberjack type who lives in a camper with his sweet writer wife Janessa and travels about the country promoting smokeless fire pits.
The book: The Brick and Mortar Formula
Actually, this is more about people and ideas than a book review. But stay with me.
Before Jon and Janessa were guests in our home a few months ago, I was forewarned that Jon is like an eager puppy, tumbling with ideas. His specialty is marketing, and he has lots of ideas that you've never thought of for selling and promoting your product while saving time.
As we sipped tea after dinner--and while Jon and Janessa asked for more and assured me that if I went into business distributing Kenyan tea, they'd buy it--I asked Jon way too many questions about distributing my writing more efficiently.
I learned a lot.
For instance, did you know that you can go online and hire people to do almost every step of the self-publishing process except the actual writing? [Actually, you could probably hire that out too.] You can have someone design the cover, another to format the manuscript, another to edit. If you get someone in Asia to do this, you save a lot of money.
I told how Emily had painstakingly typed up Dad's handwritten pages for A Chirp From the Grass Roots. That could have been hired out, Jon said. I would have scanned and emailed the pages; someone from India could have typed them for a small fee.
They recommend UpWork.
Jon also told me it's ok to skim a book and say you've read it. My Amish conscience will never let me do this, but what a thought!. This brought us to the most profound idea.
It was not so much something I learned as something that finally slipped into place like an awkward Tetris shape.
I've spent years feeling guilty about this, but I find many nonfiction books boring. Especially self-help books. Even ones by famous authors. Especially if it's about the 8th book by this famous author and the publisher has quit editing in favor of pitching it out of the haymow and down to the hungry cows as quickly as possible.
I can't tell you how many times I've started reading the book that everyone else is raving over, and before I can get to the meat of it I have to wade through the introduction, the foreward, the acknowledgements, and the disclaimers. Then the first chapter wanders through acres of weeds before we finally, maybe, get to what we're talking about, just a little bite of it.
We move on, from weeds to deep waters to tar pits, ever so slowly.
And a few chapters in I slap the book down in frustration and exclaim, "Gaaaahhhh! It's just WORDS WORDS WORDS!"
Jon told me that it isn't just me. "How many books from big publishers have you seen that have only 100 pages?" he said.
I thought about this. "Not very many."
"If a non-fiction book is primarily about one idea, it can almost always be said just as well in a very short, compact book. But publishers insist on a certain number of pages, so the authors pad it with all kinds of verbiage and filler. Think about how many books out there are all about the same size--say 250 pages. We really need a movement where it's ok to say what you want to say in a short book, and be concise about it. Publishers seem to think they won't sell, but I'm convinced there's a market for short books."
My heart said Amen to this message.
People. Think about it. What if there were a movement, especially among Christian self-help and inspirational authors and publishers, to present their message in the shortest possible venue that would effectively convey it?
I would read more of them, I'm sure.
A lot of writers who turned viral blog posts into whole books would shrink them back to blog posts, and we would all be relieved.
So, thanks to Jon, I am thinking of all the short happy books I could write. What freedom.
Jon followed his own advice and wrote The Brick and Mortar Formula. It's a marketing guide, and right off he shows you how to figure out if you have a product that would do better online, in large chain stores, or in small independent stores.
And it goes efficiently marching on from there.
So, if you invented a product and don't know how to market it, read Jon's book. He will show you how. Concisely.