Hello Monday – January 2021
Watch or listen to this episode here: https://youtu.be/-AhAcfkbxn0
Topics Covered This Month:
Welcome New Board Members
Time to Vote: First Quarter
How to Place an Order
Reserve a Studio
Welcome to Hello Monday, the monthly, company-wide update for the volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit, Blue Legacy. Blue Legacy was founded in 1989 to empower artisans who have been marginalized due to their age, race, gender, ability, size, sexuality or class. Find out more about Blue Legacy at www.MyBlueLegacy.org.
The story of who we are and how we fund everything we do – including the average costs we cover to produce a book, album, game or film – can be found in the November 2020 episode of Hello Monday here: https://youtu.be/wFohbMgWae8
My name is Jennifer DiMarco. I’m a filmmaker, author, musician, and game developer at Blue Legacy... and the CFO. I have worked for this company since I was sixteen years old and I’m honored to host today’s episode.
Welcome New Board Members
The DiMarco family – my son, Maxwell; my daughter, Faith; my wife, Brianne, and myself – run Blue Legacy on a day-to-day basis. However, the policies and growth of the company is guided by a Board of Directors that revolves so that diverse voices are heard across the four creative industries will serve.
Starting in 2021, all Directors will hold part-time positions at Blue Legacy, growing the company in various ways to benefit all divisions and all artisans, while they also weigh the votes of the artisans on the most important topics. We’ll talk more about artisan votes in a moment.
Welcome, new Directors. I applaud your dedication, humility and passion for the arts and for Blue Legacy. Thank you.
If you’re interested in sitting on the Board of Directors in 2022, write to firstname.lastname@example.org and request an application. Directors meet online with one of the DiMarcos (only one DiMarco sits on the Board at a time) four times a year and have monthly growth milestones for their part-time positions. If you cannot dedicate a minimum of ten hours a month to the position, please do not ask for an application.
Time to Vote: First Quarter
Speaking of artisans voting: The voices of our artisans have always factored heavily in everything we do and every policy we set. Sometimes this results in a “one bad apple spoils the bunch” situation but most times this assures our community that we’re listening to them and recognizing their opinions.
There will be four times this year – right now, in April, in July, and in October – when we’ll ask you to vote on issues that the Board is discussing. The Board can’t make decisions without hearing from the artisans we serve so please take a few minutes to vote; voting is online, anonymous, free, and you don’t even have to sign in.
These topics were proposed at the end of 2020 by the out-going Board of Directors. This quarter’s topics are:
“Should Jennifer create a free, online marketing seminar for artisans?”
Argument For: This series of videos would cover both traditional and guerrilla marketing methods that Jennifer has personally used to land her books on best-seller lists, grow a massive fan mailing list, and garner publicity. Jennifer will open the seminar with the true story of how one of our artisans, in November 2020, worked with her to increase the artisan’s royalty check from $0.15 to $4017.11 – by following Jennifer’s step-by-step advice.
Argument Against: It will take Jennifer and entire month to research, write, film, and edit this seminar. This means she will not be able to work on any other projects. Expect this to dramatically impact every film project and delay response time across all divisions as in-house volunteers are shorthanded without her. Furthermore, Jennifer has done marketing videos for artisans in the past and less than thirty artisans watched them or followed their advice. There are thousands of free videos and (not free but worth it) books about marketing available to everyone already. Jennifer shouldn’t have to teach adult artisans. She taught herself, so can we.
“Should in-house volunteers be allowed to work more than forty hours per week?”
Argument For: Log books showing hours worked have been kept for the last five years. The average work week is sixty hours. For Blue Legacy to make any progress or even just survive in an incredibly volatile economy, we should allow in-house volunteers to work as many hours as they are willing to work.
Argument Against: No one is super human. Mental health and physical health can be threatened by too many sustained hours of high-stress work. None of the DiMarcos are paid. They have to be given the time to pursue other work if their own royalties come up short. Additionally, patience is at its best when someone has time away from points of stress.
“Should a shopping cart be added across all four division websites?”
Argument For: To share customers across divisions and help them find new music, books, games and films that they may otherwise not know about. To allow for easier and smoother shopping and check out. Once we secure a grant to ship all books, dvds, albums and games from the office instead of through a vendor or distributor (for higher royalties and faster order fulfillment) we’ll be completely ready for cross-division shopping.
Argument Against: Right now, 80% of our products for sale on the division websites are purchased through Amazon. Adding an integrated shopping cart to our websites at this time would be a week’s worth of work that would only serve 20% of our products. This is not an efficient use of time nor is it a need that serves the majority at this time.
“Should partner companies be added to the Blue Legacy website?”
Argument For: There are several independent companies and a few corporate companies that support Blue Legacy by granting Blue Legacy a portion of their sales. We should share these companies and talk a little about each one so that our community knows about them and can choose to support them if they want to. It will take only two days to create and add this information to the website.
Argument Against: We are a long-lived company (thirty-two years this year) but we’ve still very small in the grand scheme of things. It will take two days to make these changes to the website and that time can be spent elsewhere. These partners support us because they believe in us, not for free publicity.
You can vote on these proposals through January 15, 2021, at 9am. Access the ballot at: www.tiny.cc/blueballot
Also at that link are instructions how to submit a counter-proposal to any of these topics and instructions on how to submit a brand new proposal for the second quarter vote.
I cannot stress enough: Please do not email about the ballot. Do not email counter-proposals or new proposals. Please follow the instructions found at www.tiny.cc/blueballot.
How to Place an Order
For the last two years we’ve tried to find the most efficient way to handle artisan orders. Unfortunately, we’re still facing two frequent issues: Artisans sending orders to the wrong email address and artisans sending incomplete orders. Starting today, all artisan orders should be placed at www.tiny.cc/blueorders. There’s a form there for artisans to fill out that will make sure we have all the information we need before we start calling around to get shipping quotes.
Reserve a Studio
Many artisans have been reaching out about when the campus will open again and what studios will be available when. Our goal is to have the newly renovated Green Door Studio and the Black Door Studio open for business – following all safe and sanitary protocols – on March 1, 2021.
If you need a space to record or film, please reserve in advance as we expect the spaces to be booked quickly. Go to www.MyBlueLegacy.org and click “reserve a studio” right on the main page.
Remember: Artisans under contract with Blue Legacy do not pay for studio space.
A wholesale page for bookstores and other venues was added to www.BlueForgePress.com a year ago. You can direct venues to the website’s wholesale link for information about how they can order directly from us or book an event with you.
Over 2020, three artisans tested out having autographed editions available of their books at the Blue Forge Press website. These editions sell for the same retail price as a normal edition but shipping is $5 for USPS First Class mail because autographed editions are stored and shipped from the Blue Legacy office. We were pleasantly surprised that these editions sold incredibly well moving hundreds of copies in 2020.
If you’re interested in having autographed editions of your books sold this way, write to email@example.com with the words Autographed Editions in the subject heading of your email. Authors make a 50% royalty on all autographed copies because they come from your inventory.
There are times when I, as an author, want to sell a series into a discount store or a corporate store that requires a 50% discount. I can always direct them to the wholesale page on the Blue Forge Press website but what if I like getting a bigger royalty and selling my own inventory? (Because I do.)
In 2020 I designed “Preview Editions.” Preview Editions are 10,000-word excerpts from the first book in a series. They sell for $7.99 and end with a complete list of titles, prices, and ordering information for every book in the series. This proved to be an exceptional way to get series in front of new readers and allow them a low-risk way to check out something new to them. We also price the ebook of the Preview Edition at just $0.99.
Not only is this a low-cost entry point to gain readers, I wound up selling my Preview Editions into the corporate discount stores. I don’t make money off the Preview Editions that I sell into the big box stores, but I do break even. This is how I did that:
1. I politely asked Brianne to make me a Preview Edition.
2. One month later, it was ready.
3. I placed my normal annual order for inventory and added in sixty Preview Edition copies. The shipping barely changed because I was already ordering a LOT of books. I simply rolled the total cost of shipping into the cost of the other books I ordered. (I order only once a year in bulk to save on shipping.) Like all other artisans, I paid 50% of retail plus shipping, no tax.
4. I then turned around and sold my Preview Editions to every store that would take them at 50% off. They paid me the 50% I’d paid for the copies so I broke even.
5. By the time the sixty Preview Editions were sold, I had already seen forty-nine sales of other books in that series – above and beyond normal sales I expected to see from my other promotional efforts.
I consider that a success so I’m sharing the news with all of you. If you’d like a Preview Edition you must have at least two books in a series published with us. If that’s the case, simply write to Brianne at firstname.lastname@example.org with the words Preview Edition in the subject heading of your email and tell her you’re interested in a Preview Edition. Please note that Preview Editions cannot be illustrated or choose-your-own-adventure books.
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That’s all the news for this month. If you have questions or would like us to cover something next month, please post a comment below or write to BlueForgeGroup@gmail.com. And, as always, remember: Monday doesn’t have to be a day you dread. Monday, today, can be the first day in the best creative month of your life.