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Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snowball!

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Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let
it Snowball!

 

by Dorothy Molstad

 

This is the story of one book
that has spawned five other titles and snowballed into an avalanche of media
coverage and sales opportunities.

 

It all started in the fall of
2003, when Voyageur Press introduced <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty
.
This $20 full-color photo/science title was an immediate success, generating
articles in The New
York Times
, The Los Angeles Times, <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Times
of London, hundreds of
big-city papers, and magazines from the scientific to the photographic. Sales
that first year were over 30,000 copies.

 

In year two, we followed with <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>The Little Book of
Snowflakes
. Sized at 5? × 5? and priced at
$7.95, it was designed to be a great impulse gift item. And it was, with first
year sales of more than 50,000 copies. Better yet, <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Snowflake Winter’s Secret Beauty
sold
another 30,000 units in 2004.

 

In 2005 we published a small
postcard book ($7.95) and a calendar ($12.99) based on the original <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Snowflake

title. And somewhat to our surprise, we kept adding more and more magazines to
our growing list of diverse media hits for the <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Snowflake
titles—<span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Nature, <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Booklist, <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Cross Country Skier,Museums & More,
and Ranger Rick
all covered at least one of the titles.

 

The Stamp of Approval

 

Although we didn’t know it at the
time, The Little Book
of Snowflakes
was presented at a meeting of the selection
committee for 2006 U.S. Postal Service stamps. More than 50,000 ideas are
submitted each year. Snowflakes
made the cut.

 

In late summer we were notified
that images taken by our snowflake photographer, Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, had
been selected for use on the 2006 holiday season stamps! Arrangements were made
with the Postal Service for Ken to attend the unveiling ceremonies at Madison
Square Garden in October 2006. Plans were to print 1.5 billion stamps. All
press materials would refer to the books. Wire stories across the country
talked about the images that had first appeared in a book.

 

That fall, we asked ourselves a
lot of questions. What more could we do? What additional media might we expect?
Had we saturated the market for snowflake books? Maybe not. We gave it another
shot with Ken
Libbrecht’s Field Guide to Snowflakes
.

 

The Latest (Not the Last)

 

“Dr. Snow,” as he is now referred
to in many news articles, gave us a manuscript and photographs that appealed to
thousands, and the blizzard continues. <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Better Homes and Gardens
featured the <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Field Guide
in its December 2006 issue, presenting Ken’s picture, the book cover, and the
postage stamps to its 8 million readers.

 

Sales? <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Field Guide
shipped over 20,000. And
still the other books continue to sell. We’ve shipped another 25,000 copies of <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>The Snowflake: Winter’s
Secret Beauty
and another 20,000 of <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Little Book of Snowflakes
plus 10,000
units of a package we created last year comprising <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>The Little Book of Snowflakes
and a set
of notecards.

 

This past season, we offered the <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Field Guide

via BookSense and got requests from independent bookstores in more than 20
states. When we sent out the advance reader copies, we also sent an activity
sheet and a window display kit. We had several BookSense nominations as a
result. B&N used some of Ken’s snowflake images on one of its gift cards;
Amazon.com featured an animated version of his snowflakes.

 

Of course, Voyageur Press featured
the books at its site, and we also offered the activity kit. A feature story inThe Washington Post
led to another wire service story, plus a call from the <span
class=95StoneSerifIt>Martha Stewart Living

TV show.

 

Now airline magazines have joined
the party, with Horizon Air and American Airlines both planning stories in
their winter issues. The children’s publication <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>My Weekly Reader
—with a
circulation of 7 million—scheduled a feature story for February. And
we’ve just learned that Field
Guide to Snowflakes
is the 10-page cover story in the February
issue of American
Scientist
; that Ken Libbrecht will appear on Martha Stewart’s
show probably that same month, and that <span
style=’font-size:11.0pt’>Snowflakes
will be the lead story in an
upcoming New York
Times
Science Times section.

 

One by one, as if they were
individual snowflakes, sales and media hits have been massing and gaining
momentum. And we’re not done. With combined sales of more than 250,000 copies
for the Snowflakes
titles, we have another one in the works for fall 2007.

 

 

[Variations on a theme. The
snowflakes on these covers—presented in chronological order from left to
right—all appear in blue on white backgrounds.]

 

 

Dorothy Molstad, the
marketing manager for Voyageur Press, also does freelance consulting work for
small publishers and independent authors. She is an organizer for the 2007 PMA
University, where she will present a class on regional marketing. To contact
her, email dendoor@aol.com.

 

 

 

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