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Hello Monday – May 2021

Watch or listen to this episode here: https://youtu.be/3ROerkI5VV0


Topics Covered This Month:

Free Subscriptions to MasterClass

Authors Writing Their Back Cover Blurbs

Feast of Words Gets Upgraded

Blue Sky Bistro Launches

Show & Tell Celebration

Website Exploration

Second Quarter Voting Results


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 incredible 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 Maxwell DiMarco. I’m an author, illustrator, effects editor and actor here at Blue Legacy and I’m the host of Seriously Cereal, our primary children’s show. Shameless plug: Check out our new episode format at www.SeriouslyCereal.org and let me know what you think.


I’m honored to host today’s episode.


Free Subscriptions to MasterClass

This episode of Hello Monday is brought to you by MasterClass. This incredible online learning platform has lectures and courses from hundreds of experts in dozens of fields. Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman, Neil Gaiman, Robin Roberts, Steve Martin, Sarah Blakey, and many, many more. MasterClass normally costs $15/month after a free thirty-day trial but not if you’re a contracted artisan with Blue Legacy.


Jennifer negotiated a partnership with MasterClass that pays Blue Legacy nothing and pays MasterClass nothing but get YOU – the artisans – one year of free access to all MasterClass have to offer. Why did Jennifer think this is important? Because education is important. Broadening your world view is important. And growth equals life.


Find out more about MasterClass at www.tinyurl.com/masterclass4u


Then email Jennifer at blueforgegroup@gmail.com and let her know you’re interested. She’ll send you all the free sign up details. After your year or unlimited free access you can cancel your account right from the website – no need to call anyone or do anything complicated. Or you can renew because you love it so much. The choice is yours. There are no kick backs to Blue Legacy and only you will know what courses you select and watch.


The sky is the limit and a world of learning is at your fingertips with more experts added by MasterClass every day.


Thank you, Jennifer, for caring for our artisans like a great mom.


Authors Writing Their Back Cover Blurbs


Our history publishing books goes back to 1989. Blue Forge Press and Blue Forge Gaming are our oldest divisions. Many things have stayed the same – like our dedication to diverse and unique stories over trendy or formula stories – but a lot has changed with the times. For instance, we now use two traditional printers and two POD printers to best reach every facet of the market.


But one huge change has been asking authors to supply a two or three sentence summary of their book for the back cover. Now if you’ve published with us before, you know we don’t usually use those blurbs word for word. But what is this process? Does no one read the books and know how to summarize them here at Blue Forge Press?! Far from.

When your book is read and reviewed by Senior Editor Brianne DiMarco (which happens before you’re sent a contract) she summarizes the book in a two to five sentence blurb and sends that blurb to Jennifer. As Chief Financial Officer, Jennifer looks at Brianne’s summary to see why Blue Legacy should invest thousands of dollars into a book and author.


But guess what? Authors don’t always see their books the same way Brianne does. And when we simply had Brianne describing the books and used her summaries on the back cover proofs, we received some very ugly and unprofessional responses that often resulted in us canceling contracts.


To avoid this problem and also to see how authors see their own work, Jennifer wrote the policy (she’s always writing policies) that all authors are asked for a small blurb. This worked perfectly and we never had problems again.


And you know what else this does? It makes sure that authors can actually speak about their books. It makes them think about marketing – something that no author can ever do enough of! (I’m speaking as an author here!)


So please remember: We’re not a print service and we’re not a commercial machine. We’re a thirty-two year old nonprofit dedicated to the education and empowerment of artisans marginalized due to race, age, ability, or economics. We’re not just here to print your book. We’re hear to help you launch a career.


And with all the incredible marketing ideas and industry insight we’ve shared in Hello Monday over the years? Having a career is possible for all of us.

Feast of Words Gets Upgraded


With help from Kitsap County and Washington State, and the dogged dedication of our CFO Jennifer, the Feast of Words has received a massive upgrade. We’re now allowed to set up at 11am, open for business at noon and stay open until 5pm on both Saturdays and Sundays. We can also have a staff member handing out coupons at the door to Book ’Em so any customers will be encouraged to come check out the book fair. We’ve added five new signs at the street plus employed a sign-twirler – the only and only Blue the Bookicorn who will point the way to the book fair pavilion from noon to 5pm every single event day, all day!


(Please see the video of this episode to see Blue the Bookicorn and Spoony of Seriously Cereal walk into the studio to interact with Maxwell.)

The Feast of Words was also listed for every weekend in May in twelve different newspapers and event listings and forty multicolored flyers were posted around Kitsap. But that’s not all...


Blue Sky Bistro Launches

If a giant bookicorn doesn’t grab everyone’s attention, you know what will? Cotton candy. And mini homemade pizzas. And soda, espresso, iced coffee and more. Blue Sky Bistro is a mobile concessions stand with unique snacks and treats... run entirely by Blue Legacy. The Blue Sky Bistro will set up at every Feast of Words event starting mid-May. Everyone who makes a book purchase will receive a $1 off a bistro treat. Just another way to encourage engagement and sales.


Show & Tell Celebration


Every wondered what all our current albums, dvds, games and books look like? Every wondered if it would feel really great to see glimpses of the community you’re part of and the stories we’re all telling? And wouldn’t it be cool to see all this now... and then a year from now or ten years?


Que the montage :)

(Please find a montage of all our albums, dvds, games and books in the video version of this episode. The link is at the top of this transcript.)


Website Exploration

But wait. According to the results of the second quarter votes, 14% of you didn’t know Blue Legacy or any of its divisions even had websites. So let’s take a tour with Jennifer!


(Please find a visual tour of the five company websites in the video version of this episode. The link is at the top of this transcript.)


Second Quarter Voting Results


In total, 171 artisans voted and we sincerely thank each of you for participating in the shaping of the company. If you have a proposal you’d like to be considered for the third quarter vote, please email Jennifer at blueforgegroup@gmail.com before June 20, 2021.


Now for the results of the second quarter vote:


98% of you voted that catalogs would be very useful. We will take action to have catalogs available to all artisans this quarter. Jennifer shared her YES vote publicly saying, “As an artisan who walks into bookstores to chat up the staff and get them excited about my book, mails my book to bookstores with a personal note, and other out of the box and proactive tactics, I feel catalogs will be very useful for spreading the word about our entire line of books. I’m not in this for just me and my work.”

68% of you voted that Blue Forge Press should start offering hardbacks. We found a high quality printer who can create gorgeous hardbacks (as seen in the Show & Tell Celebration earlier in this episode) for $29.99 retail, $14.99 wholesale with no tax or shipping cost. Senior Editor Brianne DiMarco will set a goal for books to meet before they receive hardback editions. One proposal is that once a book sells 1000 copies, it is eligible for a limited edition, autographed hardback release. Another proposal is once 100 copies are sold. And a third proposal is to release choice books (at Brianne’s discretion) in hardback first and once they sell 500 copies, they receive a trade paperback edition. Want to be part of this conversation? Email Brianne at blueforgepress@gmail.com. But please note: The price is not negotiable. Hardbacks will retail for $29.99 for a book up to 250 pages. We do not control the pricing and we won’t sacrifice quality for a cheaper hardback.


91% of you vote to “Look at which artisans are already actively engaged in promotion and offer them professional campaigns first.” when asked if Blue Forge Press should pay $250 per book or series to have professional promotional campaigns designed for them. Brianne will personally be looking through our title list and considering these things when deciding which books would best benefit from a professional campaign:


1. How many books have we released by this author?

2. Are the books in a series or in the same genre?

3. How many events has the author attended?

4. Is the author informed and in the loop?

5. Does the author have a social media presence? (A requirement of the publicity firm.)

6. If the author doesn’t have social media, can they be guided through the creation of accounts?

7. Has the author demonstrated that they can and are willing to engage their audience?

8. Is the author personable?

9. Can the author talk articulately about their own work?

10. Is the driven, dedicated and focused on their career as an author?

And finally, everyone was asked about the company’s five websites. This was more of a poll to gather vital information rather than an issue to vote on. Artisans were asked how often they visit one of our websites. The results were:


--Daily: 2%

--Weekly: 31%

--Monthly: 52%

--A few times a year: 0%

--Never. I should start doing that: 1%

--Never. I see no need for websites: 0%

--I didn’t even know there were websites: 14%


Thank you, everyone, for listening, watching and reading today. With Faith, Brianne, and Jennifer, I continue to be honored to work at Blue Legacy and to dedicate myself to all of you. Your stories are worth telling.

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 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. So... Hello Monday. You’re looking good there.