Adventures in Publishing - Looking Back on the Past Year of Selling Books

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Bill Sniffin
Bill Sniffin

 It has been awhile since we updated readers about our most amazing adventure of 2012 – the publishing of the book Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders.

We ordered a first printing of 10,000 copies and had less than 1,000 left on Dec. 31. Here in May, we are already dipping into a second printing of 8,000 books. Did any other book deliver over 9,000 copies last year in Wyoming?

This project has had me traveling across the state giving speeches and presentations about this adventure. One of my favorite stories is that up until Dec. 1, our book was the best-selling Wyoming-oriented product during the Christmas season.  What happened on Dec. 1?  That was when Wyoming Whiskey sold 80,000 bottles of Bourbon.

Aspects of the story about how this book came into being might be worth re-telling.

Although the idea of the book was hatched in a 2007 column, our first memo about doing it was Feb. 17, 2012.  We had to have it compiled, written and designed by Aug. 1 in order to get it to the printer so it could be printed, bound and shipped to Wyoming by Thanksgiving.

My wife Nancy is a wistful sort.  Often, she has sighed and asked: “What happened last summer?   I don’t remember us doing anything.” To that my reply is, well there was this book . . .

Before starting, we bought 40 assorted coffeetable books at various used book stores.  Several things jumped out when studying them:

First, producing such a book did not appear as daunting as originally thought.

Second, there had not been a coffeetable book done about Wyoming for five years. 

Third, the foldout pages in the books added to the reading experience.  Yeah, we should do that.

As of April 30, 2013, we have sold thousands of books wholesale to wonderful booksellers around the state and sold a few retail ourselves. Perhaps most importantly, we found community-minded businesses and organizations that bought quantities of books to give away to their customers at Christmas.

As part of that package, we printed separate covers for their books, which either featured their businesses or their parts of the state. Here are some examples:

            • Neiman Enterprises of Hulett used an amazing photo of Devils Tower taken by Randy Wagner.

            • TCT Cable of Basin used a wonderful photo of two moose that had been the winner of its local photography contest.

            • Lander’s CPA firm of McKee, Marburger & Fagnant used a marvelous shot of three eagles taken by Woody Wooden. I asked Dean McKee, which eagle represented him?

We are grateful to Mick and Susie McMurry and the McMurry Foundation for buying a quantity of books, which were donated to school libraries.  

Lately we have been looking for a foundation, service organization or someone who would consider buying 1,000 books under a similar program so we could send Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders to our men and women serving overseas in the military.  This book would be a wonderful love letter to them from their home state.  It is easy to imagine some Cowboy State native sitting in the sand a long ways from home leafing through this book

Another idea is for school clubs to sell the books to raise money for their trips. One student sold 75 books to raise money for his educational Washington, D. C. trip. 

Hundreds bought the book online at www.wyomingwonders.com.

We are now compiling a list of outlets to sell the book to tourists this summer.  Not just bookstores but any high traffic tourist facility should be interested.

Originally, my plan was to write about the seven wonders but then realized there were folks around the state more expert on these locations.

Thus Shelli Johnson wrote about Yellowstone Park, Clay James wrote about the Tetons, Pat Schmidt wrote about Thermopolis Hot Springs, Randy Wagner wrote about South Pass, Jim Smail wrote about the Red Desert, Gene Bryan wrote about Devil’s Tower and U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi (an avid fisherman) wrote about the amazing North Platte River System.

We are working with service clubs and local chambers of commerce’s in setting up additional presentations and book signings around the state.  Please contact me if you would like to get involved. We are also keynoting at a couple of statewide meetings.

Adventure?  Although much of the time producing this book was spent holed up in my basement office, I must confess that bringing it to life has been the most interesting adventure of my life.

 

Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com.  He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com

 

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