When issue five launches in May we will officially be into the second year of publication for the My Craft Biz Magazine… It has been a phenomenal experience and learning curve for me, so today I thought we’d take a moment here on the blog to celebrate that achievement and look at what is next.
How did we get to one whole year?
Back in June last year I wrote an article looking back at what it was like to work on the magazine, I look back at that now and see so much has changed! What a difference a year truly makes, right?! I thought today would be the perfect time to update my chronicle and include you in the process.
Back when the My Craft Biz magazine started out it was essentially a sales-funnel lead (newsletter opt-in) for other products and services and intended to be no more than four/five pages long. The problem was, as always, once I get on a roll with a subject, I like to write about… I can write, and write, and write!
The first two issues went out for free as promised, but it quickly became apparent that I could not sustain this practise for a magazine issue of 20-40 pages long and especially with the rise of requests for a physical copy. So, I decided by issue three to start charging a nominal fee to help cover my time. The ecopy was sold at £3 and I produced a print-on-demand physical copy for £5.
The trouble with suppliers
This all sounds like it went swimmingly at this point, but I really have to say that aside from my steep learning curve on how to go from free PDF to a physical magazine, I had trouble sourcing a supplier.
As a new magazine I had several requirements;
I needed a print-on-demand service – because I didn’t want to hold stock of product I wasn’t sure I could sell, especially if people weren’t convinced by an issue’s topic.
I was printing less that 40 pages in most instances – printers wanted for the most part, a minimum of 100 pages… that’s a whole book!
I wanted to keep the cover price at £5 – because I think that is more than reasonable for a small booklet style zine.
I needed it to ship at reasonable prices throughout the world.
It feels like an easy list of requests, but the truth is that most printers here in the UK at least were not interested. I was quoted minimum print runs of 1,000 pieces and someone even wanted me to charge a retail cover price of £15! It really felt like things were stacked up against me.
I was convinced that this could be done… I just needed to find the right supplier.
So, I looked and looked, tested and quoted.
Finally, I found what I thought was the perfect answer.
The elephant in the room
To this point my printer choice has been Blurb. They were able to offer me the print-on-demand service I needed, with a beautiful product and at the right price.
Until they changed.
My tale of woe begins with the release of issue three.
The first two issues were uploaded as back-copies to my Blurb account before issue three’s release and at that time the shipping cost to a UK buyer was £2.99 and a bulk buy discount if you bought more than one copy, or several issues at a time. When issue three released a month or so later Blurb upped their price to £3.99 per product. As an author using their system, I was given no warning and no reasoning.
Now as you can imagine £3.99 was a stretch for my clients, as it was for me… a small magazine with £3.99 shipping seemed excessive. And to back up my fears I soon heard from my clients and this affected the sales I had hoped to achieve with my first paid issue.
I began to search for alternatives again, to no avail.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago and the release of issue four.
Again, unannounced Blurb upped their shipping prices. This time though it was so huge it felt like I was being sat on by the very elephant in the room… £7.99 per product with no shipping discounts for bulk… so if you bought 2 items, you’d be charged £15.98 shipping!
Wow, just wow… I was floored and so too were you. I have plenty of disappointed emails of frustration and bewilderment to prove it!
A knight in shining armour?
I returned to Amazon who until this point had refused to make a small booklet. ‘Please, please, please help me publish my magazine’, I asked.
To my amazement the answer this time was ‘Yes!’
This means very shortly you should be able to buy and download my magazine from my Amazon author page!
I have checked shipping too and they charged me £2.81 for 4 issues sent in one package (from Poland which is the nearest European printer associated with Amazon’s print-on-demand service).
Now of course there are some changes and some things to bear in mind;
The magazine has shrunk in size to 6 by 4 inches, which is a lovely transportable size.
The print-on-demand service can take 7-10 days to arrive.
I’m not 100% sure if these come under Amazon’s ‘prime’ offer, because they will be shipped directly from the printer as oppose to the main product warehousing facilities. This means that you will more than likely always be charged a shipping fee. My solution is to say, buy a few copies at once and save that way.
The only slight problem I foresee is that some of you won’t have Kindles for the ecopy version. With this in mind I will keep my Etsy shop open with a PDF download version that can be opened on any device.
Future changes from issue five
Ultimately, I don’t think there will be many changes going forward. I will update the cover graphics and the internal imagery will disappear and this will become a written booklet essentially. This is much easier to publish on Amazon as a book and a Kindle copy. I don’t feel that is a sacrifice, because you are really buying this to read my thoughts on a particular subject… if anything having images removed might actually be better.
I am hoping that finding this new solution will put us back on the path again.
Thank you very much as always for your support and for bearing with me while I find the change that produces a better product for the price you want.