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Finding and Expanding Your Niche When Traveling

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by Nancy Field, Dog-Eared Publications

Reprinted from the Aug. – Sept. 1996 MAPA (Mid-America Publishers Association) newsletter.

Traveling becomes even more interesting and fun when you find business opportunities along the way. It is possible to create some contacts before leaving on a trip, however unexpected opportunities make it even more fun. The trick is to never leave home without being prepared.

Here’s what to take along:

  • Business cards
  • Brochures and/or catalogs
  • Sample books
  • A folder with business stationery and envelopes
  • Reviews of your book(s)
  • Optional: A small computer if you have one (and disks)

With these few items and access to a phone, fax machine, and perhaps e-mail, you can be in business anywhere!

Sometimes it is difficult to know how many brochures and books to pack. Certainly the size of your luggage will help make that determination. In the case of my Australian trip, I found that I had not taken enough. I took about 30 brochures and 20 or so books. I could have used at least double that amount, as I ended up giving an unexpected seminar with more than 50 in attendance. However, with my computer and backup information on disk, I was able to at least create flyers while abroad. Plan to set aside one copy of your materials to just show in case you run out of your supply.

Once at your destination, keep your eyes and ears open and your fingers ready to browse the Yellow Pages for appropriate locations to explore. Keep business cards, brochures, or catalogs with you at all times (easier accomplished for women with large purses). Phoning ahead for appointments is good, but often you will just stumble upon places in your touring. When you happen by a location (in my case, the Sydney Aquarium), leave your card and materials and plan to make a follow-up call. Although I was not able to return to the Sydney Aquarium for an appointment, I was able to speak to the buyer on the phone. I then sent a package of books from within Australia. This resulted in the aquarium’s purchasing two titles with a total sale of 200 books. I was equally successful with several other “tourist” locations in Australia.

Making professional contacts with experts on the topic(s) of your upcoming book(s) is another possibility. Since I am currently working on a book about sharks for children, I asked myself where to find “shark experts.” This lead me to Sea World of Australia and Underwater World. I visited with the education departments of both facilities. Not only did I glean important information, but also I was treated to very special tours of both facilities — at their invitations. People are so very happy to accommodate authors and publishers, it seems.

Giving talks, seminars, or workshops is another possibility. I had not thought nor planned for such an event, but once the Environmental Education Department at Griggith University in Brisbane discovered our books and their environmental messages, I was invited to be a presenter at a weekend workshop for environmental educators. This gave me the opportunity to make many Australian teachers aware of our titles, and to obtain wonderful feedback from them on several upcoming titles that I hope will sell in the Australian market. With just the small amounts of materials I had packed, I was able to design and carry out this workshop. Next time I will think about prearranging such presentations.

Being an author/publisher is wonderful. There is hardly no place you could visit where you can’t be doing business or create a tax deduction. If you are like me, you are enjoying the process so much that you find it difficult to call it “work.” Yet we can continue to find and expand our niche while traveling and enjoy every minute of the experience.

Nancy Field, publisher of Dog-Eared Publications in Middleton, WI, is a wildlife biologist and former college instructor in biology and environmental science. Of 13 titles, 11 currently in print are written for the third to sixth grade level. Field discovered a national park service niche and sells books through Forest Service areas, wildlife refuges, museums, aquariums and zoos, and through more traditional markets. Discovering Volcanoes is the best-selling children’s book at both the Mount Saint Helens visitor center and at Mount Rainier National Park. Over 60,000 copies have been sold. Upcoming titles cover wetlands, prairies, bears and sharks. Nancy Field can be reached by phone at 608/831-1410 or toll free at 888/DOG-EARS. drfield@facstaff.wisc.edu is her e-mail address.

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