Tuesday, February 28, 2017

6 Years Go By Fast....

Six Years go by fast......

In the world of parents to three kids who have moved four times in the past six years, life is going by pretty quickly and I wish it would slow down. Our journey since creating TINK INK Publishing has taken us from sunny, warm Arizona to snowy, cold Vermont to coastal, seasonal Connecticut. You may wonder which location we love the best and my reply is always "where we are now" as this is the place where God has put us for now. 

Writing and drawing were never a full-time gig for Emerson. It was his hobby. When an opportunity came up for him to switch companies and move our family to VT, he jumped on it. Not that he didn't love AZ (at the end of our 4 1/2 years there!) but the job was "too good" to resist. I must admit that I was quite humored when I found out we would be living in Killington, VT, the place where he and I first met back in April of 1994. 

As with some things that are seemingly "too good," it didn't take long for Emerson to realize that the promises that brought us to Vermont were definitely bigger than the payout. Nonetheless, we were able to spend a fabulous two winters with our kids in Vermont. Aside from the all important (to us) learning to ski, my favorite thing was that my kids were off the grid at home for the entire one year and seven 1/2 months that we lived there. 

Shutting down the internet and t.v. at home was something that I had thought about for a LONG time. My relationship with technology is definitely love/hate and I was ready for a change because I was tired of having any hate in my life! So when we got in to our rental after a temporary stay at a friends, I just never called the cable company to install anything. It was as simple as that.

It's funny how people actually feel sorry for you if you don't have a t.v. If you think about it, though, the kids are in school from 8 until 3 each day. When the weather was nice, we might stay at the playground for an hour or so after school. They had sports and homework most days. After dinner, there is just enough time for showers and it's off to read before bed. 

We did go to our local library very often. It was a beautiful, new, big library, very surprising for such a small town. Our youngest and I were regulars for story-times and we all took advantage of every kid program they offered. In fact, we were there so much that they offered me a part-time job! Absolutely thrilled, I took it and loved every second of my paid and unpaid library time. I think my kids mostly loved it because they had a bunch of public computers connected to the internet (!) but they did bring home stacks of books to read every week. Even if it was to get their tech fix, it was great that they loved going to the library as much as I do and I hope that love stays forever.

By the time we were leaving VT (which was 7 months after Emerson started working in CT - we weren't making any sudden moves this time!) we actually accumulated 4 t.v.s from the really empathetic souls who just couldn't bear the idea that we didn't have any t.v.s at home. I guess those people didn't realize that if you don't have cable, the t.v.s really don't work for anything other than to take up space in the basement. I think I always knew in my heart that our time in Vermont would be limited. I will always cherish the friends we made and the great fun we had living life in the Green Mountains. I hope the new renters were able to enjoy those t.v.s that we left behind.

Mona Colwell


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Literacy Day in Phoenix

We never know who we will be blessed to meet. For the second year in a row, Emerson was invited to participate in the Annual Literacy Day sponsored by the City of Phoenix Human Services Department.

The opportunity came from a chat with another mom at our neighbor's son's birthday party in February of 2010. We talked about both our jobs (she works for the City of Phoenix) and I shared with her our business card for TINK INK Publishing. She must have passed it on to a friend at work because a couple of months later we received a letter from the Head Start Program inviting Emerson to read to students on Literacy Day.

The goal of the annual event is to bring awareness and recognition to the importance of early childhood literacy. Each year, community and civic leaders join students throughout Phoenix in the classroom to share a book chosen for Head Start that promotes interaction and movement from children.

In addition to this year's Head Start book by the incredible Eric Carle, Emerson shared The Bay Gull to an excited classroom of preschoolers. Some of these desert children have been to San Diego and spotted a lighthouse before but all were in awe of the horse shoe crab - a real treat for kids in AZ!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Storytelling Festival at Paradise Valley Community College

Early in December, Emerson  joined Paradise Valley Community College's Festival of Tales. This event  happens every spring and fall offering PVCC students the opportunity to showcase their skills to a live audience of enthusiastic children.

The event is free to the public and children can participate in over 20 different activities including creative crafts (like this fabulous drum made from plastic cups and tape which the kids painted) and live storytelling that bring real or imaginary books to life.

We were honored to be invited as a guest Author/Illustrator for the third time. For this event, we had an activity table for children to create their own Bay Gull popsicle stick puppet. Each child received a picture of the Bay Gull that they could decorate with crayons, markers, glitter and feathers. Googly eyes completed his look before they cut him out and glued their Bay Gull to a stick.

Emerson read The Bay Gull story as they completed their crafts. 

In just three short hours, over 70 Bay Gulls were created at our table! It was a very fast, fun event.

In addition to all the amazing activities, PVCC has partnered with Reading is Fundamental and each child can select 3 or more free books to bring home with them from the event, too! If you live in AZ, "like" TINK INK Publishing on FB to find out about the next event in the spring.

Monday, November 15, 2010

To Amazon or Not To Amazon...

When stepping into the door of having a published book, the issue of whether to put our book on Amazon came up in several conversations with other self-published authors. Prior to this venture, we had not realized that people stood either firmly for or against this method of book distribution.

We quickly realized that this was actually going to be a thought out marketing decision. In reality, everyone can list their books on Amazon if they are willing to give Amazon 55% of the profit from every sale. Add in the shipping costs to the Amazon Fulfillment Center (covered by the publisher) and, for most self published authors, this is a money losing sale.

Based purely on a consumer perspective, we wanted to be represented by one of the largest online book retailers. Fortunately, our production costs were nearly covered by the 45% commission so we went ahead and listed The Bay Gull. In fact, it was even exciting to us and others that our BOOK was listed on Amazon. Friends and family were definitely impressed!

We think of the potential profit loss for each book sold on Amazon as a marketing cost. We know that many people enjoy being able to buy our book from a major online site and Amazon outsells our own website 2-to-1.

Here is a HOT tip - there is a way to potentially avoid the 55% commission and still offer your books on Amazon. A few months ago, we signed up for an Amazon Seller Account to move some extra books in our own personal library. It just occurred to us that we can compete with Amazon on their site and offer our book through our own seller account!

We priced our book a few dollars less than the list price ($10- instead of $12.95) which may be more appealing to bargain hunting buyers. We also listed the book "Signed by Author" which, of course, it can be since it is coming from our home. After adding in a "Shipping Credit," our potential net profit from Amazon is $10.15. Compared to the $5.83 they are currently paying out on each consigned book sold through Amazon, our commission will be 75% higher and we can turn a profit on the sales.

This is a brand new strategy for us and one that we hope can work for other self-published authors seeking an Amazon presence.