Writing Your Company’s History
While creating a website, it is very important to write about the company’s history. It will play a huge role in building up the respect and trust, and in winning the customers. Almost each and every company goes through stages of inspirations, perseverance, hard work, and sometimes, luck. So, the company’s history should be one of the key elements on the website, and it should also include some significant achievements.
Importance of Company’s History
When the businesses post their history on the website or publication, it becomes an interesting read for the customers, and they will know that the company has a strong foundation. In fact, some of the companies also convert their corporate story in the form of a book publication, and present them to the employees and others. The corporate milestones, presented in ‘About Us’ page, can become the basis for the brand. The company’s history should include information such as, why the company was started, major turning points, inspirations, brief profile of the people behind the company, etc.
Give a Professional Touch
All this information should be presented in a delightful manner, which will make it appealing to the customers. And, for that, one should check out the professional service providers, who can help in writing the history. When you go for the professional writing services, they will study the background of the company, and weave out the magical words, and write in an amazingly professional manner. In fact, you can also check out the various websites, and find out how they have presented their company’s history.
Whatever be the content, the presentation is also quite important. So, even though, you might have the entire company’s history in your mind, if you don’t present it well, the customer might not even read it. While presenting the content, one should try to dig out the company’s highlights, and present it with zeal. When you explain the company’s achievements, it should look like the best thing to have ever happened. In fact, one can also take interviews of employees and the satisfied users, who can give an insight into the company’s growth. Another way of presentation is by creating a timeline. All the events should be recorded in the timeline. You can also post photographs, illustrating the company’s history.
The company’s history can act as a marketing tool, and should be presented in the right manner. Take professional help so that your company’s history looks magnificent, and great.
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
I originally created this for our writers at Word Branch Publishing, but I thought I would share.
Lynn Serafinn interviews the founder of Word Branch about their innovative cooperative publishing model. Could co-ops be a viable model for indie authors?
Last month, I stumbled upon a press release with the headline ‘Indie Publishing Company Succeeds with Unique Business Model’. As I’m interested in the publishing world as well as new business models, I had to check it out. I found out about a company called Word Branch (http://wordbranch.com), who describe themselves as ‘an independent publishing company that represents talented new and up and coming authors who need a venue to make their voices heard.’ Word Branch Publishing (WBP) is located in the heart of Appalachia in North Carolina and specializes in working authors in a variety of genres including science fiction, fantasy, spiritual, and young adult. But what I found most interesting was the fact that they use a cooperative business model. No one on the WBP team draws a salary—all team members work for a portion of the royalties, banking on the books becoming successes.
I was curious to know more. How well does this model work? How does the business stay afloat? Where did the idea come from? So, I sent an email to WBP founder Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh and asked her if she would do a ‘virtual interview’ for our Spirit Authors readers. Graciously, she said yes. Below are her generous answers to the questions I sent her. Given I’ve been writing so much about self-publishing lately, I think her insights and experiences will be very interesting to anyone who has either been thinking of setting up a publishing company, or who is looking for one.
I welcome your feedback and comments below (and I’ll ask Catherine to reply to any that are directed to her).
Lynn: You said in the press release you had a professional background in both self-publishing and marketing. Tell us a bit about your experience before you started Word Branch.
Catherine: I have a Master’s in literature and writing and had wanted to get a PhD to make a career out of teaching at the college level. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, the time wasn’t right, and it never came to fruition. I have, however, 20 years experience of teaching college-level writing part time. My ‘day job’ has always been in marketing, mostly promotion, in a variety of industries including publishing.
Lynn: When and why did you get the idea to create an alternative type of publisher?
Catherine: After my husband retired from a 27-year career as a police detective in 2008, we moved to a remote mountain in western North Carolina. I knew that I was unlikely to find anything in marketing in the area so I created CRT Writing, which evolved into CRT Commercial Media, under which I did freelance writing. I was writing for a federal contract with the Small Business Administration when the funding ran out, and I wanted to try something different. In 2011, e-books were really starting to take off, and I was intrigued by the idea that self-publishing was not only a realistic possibility but that it empowers the writer to take control of his or her own book selling. I began self-publishing a series of books called The Guides for the Befuddled on topics of writing and literature and my bookThe Field Guide to Telecommuting. At the prodding of some friends, I registered Word Branch Publishing, and I began publishing other authors.
From my own experience in the publishing industry, I knew that I couldn’t compete with the major players, nor did I want to become just like them. I saw an industry that, although steeped in tradition, was bloated and inefficient. I also saw that big houses were forced into making major changes to stay in business because of e-publishing and advances in print-on-demand publishing.
I also knew that not only did I not have the capital to begin a traditional publishing company—office and warehouse space, a staff of editors, proofreaders and artists, massive print runs—I didn’t want to emulate a system that I saw as outdated and badly damaged, if not broken. I think our timing was right; instead of trying to catch up, we are leading the pack.
Lynn: Can you describe how the cooperative business model for Word Branch works? Why is this important?
Catherine: It is literally a cooperative of dedicated and talented people working toward the success of the books we publish. Although this isn’t a new idea, as a for-profit publishing company, I haven’t seen one that works in the same way. Everyone involved, including me, works only for a percentage of the royalty. This takes a tremendous leap of faith since this is the first time most of our authors have been published. We also all work remotely, and since I wrote a book on telecommuting, this seems only natural. This way we can tap into talent anywhere. To keep our costs down, all books are electronically published, which is the backbone of the company, and most are published as print-on-demand (POD) paperbacks as well. Not only does this keep shipping costs down and eliminate warehouse space, but it also keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum which is part of WBP’s commitment. In addition, it allows us to return a greater portion of the profits to the writers and support—some of the highest in the industry.
Lynn: How many authors/books have you published so far? Do you have a specific niche?
Catherine: Currently we are working with 11 authors who have a total of 24 books. I’m in the process of signing several more including our first European author. We don’t have a specific niche; although, WBP tends to publish more science fiction and young adult.
Lynn: What’s your biggest success story to date?
Catherine: I think all of our authors are success stories, but there are some rising stars. Stacy Bender was our first author to be published, and I have seen her grow as a writer and really branch out into new areas. Currently, she and writer Reid Minnich are editing a science fiction anthology for WBP as well as writing their own books. Young adult writer Jeri Maynard, who writes under the name jerjonji, has found a loyal following of not only teens but readers of all ages. She also has a made-for-TV movie from one of her screenplays being produced in Asia. Michael Hawk Spisak’s Full Circle has become a real cult classic with devoted followers.
Lynn: You say your staff doesn’t take a salary. How does that work? How do you ensure everyone (including your company) can ‘pay the rent’?
Catherine: When anyone approaches me about working with Word Branch, I make it very clear that there are no guarantees and by no means can this be considered a full-time job—yet. They understand that any money coming in may be minimal in the beginning and will take time to accrue. As a result, we have a very dedicated team who not only work hard as editors and readers but as marketers too. The more successful a book is, the more money they can make. In addition, everyone works as an independent contractor so they guide how much time they can afford to put into WBP.
Since we are a young company, I do what nearly all entrepreneurs do—I don’t take any money from WBP and I put all of my own royalties back into the company while we are in the building phase. I’ve also dragged my husband out of retirement to lend a hand. His support has been essential to our success. I anticipate from the amount of current sales that by our third year in business, we should be solvent and debt free, quite a feat for any company.
While we have a number of committed people working with us, I have to give special credit to the person who has been instrumental in giving Word Branch Publishing a unique look: artist Julian Norwood. He came to me in the beginning as a newly graduated art student and promised me covers that stand out, and he has fulfilled that promise and more. Nearly all of our covers are created from original paintings just as the classic covers were decades ago. I don’t know of any publishing company, large or small, that can make that claim. Because we haven’t fallen into the trap of generic stock photo covers, we stand out from other publishing companies.
Lynn: You mentioned to me that when you worked in marketing, you found ethics to be frequently missing. Can you comment more on that, with specific reference to the publishing industry?
Catherine: I think because marketing can be hotly competitive, it’s easy to rationalize crossing ethical lines for the sake of profits. Without naming specific companies, I know that I have felt extremely uncomfortable with some market research practices, and I have left a few jobs because of it. I worked for an international publishing company that had a fairly good moral compass, but even then, there were some issues I wasn’t comfortable with. While marketing is, of course, a good part of what I do with WBP, I am always aware that if I can’t sleep, I need to re-assess my marketing plan.
Lynn: What do you envision for Word Branch in the next 5 years?
Catherine: If we continue to grow at the rate we have since our inception in early 2012, I see very good things happening very quickly. We have just launched a paid services option for self publishers who want to keep their rights. This is through the original company, CRT Commercial Media, and we offer an a la carte plan of editing, illustration and proofreading options. I also plan on offering an alternative for self-published authors to become affiliates in our online book shop and be able to sell their books through WBP without signing with us.
In 2014, I see us publishing at least 15 new books and looking at different media as well. Authors Stacy Bender and Jeri Maynard are looking into producing graphic novels, and we are considering adding recorded books.
Lynn: What’s the biggest change you’d like to see in the world of publishing in the coming decade? What role do you think Word Branch will play in that?
Catherine: I think we began seeing enormous changes a few years ago. The growing popularity of e-books sent some big publishers scrambling to make changes. Most downsized and re-directed their focus, and those that didn’t failed. Because of this, they became even more wary of taking on new authors, and it became increasingly difficult to get published. At the same time, e-publishing and POD made it easier for authors to self-publish. But then authors were not only faced with maneuvering through the maze of legalities and formalities that come with publishing, they also were in charge of their own marketing, and it was a shock to many that publishing their own books didn’t mean that people were lining up to buy them.
I believe that’s where small publishers fill the gap, and I see the rise of the small house as a renaissance in publishing. I think in the future the old system that made it nearly impossible for small publishers will begin to conform to a changing market. We are already seeing that now. Bowker is selling ISBNs in smaller quantities; Ingram, one of the largest book distributors, has a POD option, and the Library of Congress is making provisions for smaller publishers. Recently, Books-a-Million announced that they will have POD machines in their stores, and I see this as a huge step forward for small publishers without the waste and financial burden there is now. If this catches on, it will also force distributors to change as well.
Lynn: Do you have any more words of wisdom (or inspiration) for anyone who might be thinking of setting up a publishing company?
Catherine: Haha—I’m not sure that wisdom is involved in starting a publishing company. I tell people that I ‘accidently’ started a publishing company, and I’ve learned a tremendous amount in the time we have been in business. Like any small business, it takes determination, positive thinking and a certain amount of sacrifice. I would say, learn as much as you can from classes and books, but be aware that much of what you need to know isn’t readily available. You’re entering a profession steeped in 500 years of tradition, and sometimes it takes sheer bull-headedness just to break through barriers.
Despite the hard work and long hours, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve met outstanding people in our authors, dedicated optimists in our editors and readers and forged a friendship with our illustrator. I wake up every morning thinking how lucky I am, and I’m filled with excitement for the future.
~ END OF INTERVIEW ~
I’d like to thank Catherine for the terrific interview. I’ll confess I had a bit of an ulterior motive in that I’m interested in trying this model with Humanity 1 Press, as we start to expand. Like Catherine, I’ve seen many authors want to take back control of their titles, but at the same time they feel overwhelmed by the enormous challenge of the self-publishing and marketing process. Catherine’s candid sharing of her experiences at WBP has really been helpful in giving us a deeper look into the next generation of publishing. I hope any sci-fi and Young Adult authors reading this will check her companies out at:
Word Branch Publishing: http://wordbranch.com
CRT Commercial Media: http://crtwriting.com
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
I can’t help but look back on this amazing year with wonder. On a cold gray day in February, I went to the local courthouse to make Word Branch Publishing official, and it has grown like I had never imagined. Since then, life has been hectic, but satisfying, and I’m grateful for the writers and editors who have come along on this wonderful journey.
The publishing industry as a whole has seen changes this year as well. We’ve seen a transformation like no other during this year, and while some are scrambling to make changes and stay afloat, other factions of the book world are thriving. E-reader sales have nearly doubled in the last year, and tablets are overtaking even those high sales. The advances in e-publishing make it possible for indie publishers, like Word Branch, and authors to take more control of publishing and profits.
Large publishing houses have made some major changes too. Some of the biggest took some hits, like Random House and Harper and Collins, but others rallied to incorporate new technologies into their organizations. Despite the collapse of the Border’s bookstore chain and the consolidation of many smaller stores, it’s estimated that the average American household spends $55.23 annually on physical bookstore purchases. In addition, new technologies, like Amazon Affiliate Services are helping to expand physical book sales.
What hasn’t changed in publishing is the love of reading. Bowker, the leader in bibliographic management, reports that in 2012, readers between the ages of 23 and 33 surpassed Baby Boomers in their consumption of e-books. E-book sales rose 14% in the previous year and are predicted to rise higher once the data is established. Although e-books surpassed physical book sales this year, a healthy portion of the reading population prefer to read physical books citing that reading a physical book is a welcome change after looking at screen all day; they like the feel and weight of a physical book, or that they like to support their local economy by buying from the neighborhood store. Personally, I like the immediacy and portability of e-books, but I still buy ‘special books’ to add to my large collection.
There are most certainly big changes for publishing in the coming years, and I think many of the changes are to the advantage of both the reader and the writer. We looking at a greater variety of books by up and coming authors due to independent publishing and greater royalties and less red tape for writers. Jim Milliot,Publishers Weekly Co-Editorial Director, has said that this is a, “dynamic time in the publishing industry,” and that we are facing a “new publishing reality.” I believe that we are at the border of a new frontier that can only expand our options and increase revenue. I find that exciting and challenging, and given the changes in WBP, I’m looking forward to even more in the future.
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
Last week I attended Judy Ketteler’s online conference: Expand Your Influence. The focus of the conference was on brand extensions—blogs, social networking, podcasts, etc. What can I say? The information was great; the speakers were knowledgeable, and the content was inspirational.
Of the nine speakers, I was familiar with Peter Bowman, among other things the author of The Well-Fed Writer, and Angelo Surmelis, designer and star of some of my favorite home decorating shows. Of course I was wowed by them, but the other seven speakers were fantastic as well. Designer Amy Butler and literary agent Joy Tutela were really insightful speakers, and Jeff Goins’ energy was catching. All nine were really wonderful and had such apt things to say.
After the second day, I noticed a consistent theme—go with your heart. All of the speakers are successful in their fields and either entrepreneurs or independent workers, but they weren’t touting business plans and career testing. They didn’t focus on education, background or contacts. They all said the secret to entrepreneurial success isn’t a secret after all; it’s passion for your work.
This probably shouldn’t have come as such a revolutionary idea to me, but it hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. My career path has often been a tug-of-war between doing what I really love and what I did to pay the bills. As I look back, I see that I naturally drifted back to what I loved to do and leaving it was always filled with regret.
I’m not saying that it’s wise to leave your comfy job and follow your heart without a plan, and neither did any of the speakers. All of them worked long and hard to get where they are and made sacrifices along the way. They all had great ideas and devoted a large portion of their time and resources to give wings to their dreams. As for me, I studied English at the graduate level, have taught writing for 20 years, have been a professional writer for more than a quarter of a century and have worked for an international publisher for four years. But if you have that burning in your soul do what you need to do to achieve it—find a mentor, work in the field, get an education, actively pursue the dream.
When I take a long hard look at what really makes my heart sing, there’s no doubt that it is writing. I have had CRT Commercial Media for four years, and I have recently started an e-publishing company: Word Branch Publishing. I love both of these ventures for different reasons. CRT appeals to the analytical researcher in me—I truly enjoy commercial writing, but Word Branch is quickly capturing my heart. The possibilities and the excitement of getting in on a new technology and medium is very compelling.
So gentle readers, here’s my sage advice for the day: be practical, be smart, but always follow your dreams.
by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
1. Proofread, proofread, then do some more proofreading. This should be obvious, but a lot of times proofreading is overlooked in favor of content. Your most skillful spinning will be negated if the reader can’t get past the typos and grammar and spelling problems. Sloppy proofreading equals an “I don’t care” attitude. If you are a poor proofer, have someone else in your organization look over it or hire a professional.
2. Make your letter easy to read. While it’s tempting to use some of the fancier features of word processing programs, simple is better. Use only one easy-to-read font in the text portion, and stay away from complicated formats.
3. Avoid overdoing hyperbole. While you may want your audience to get excited about your product or service, you don’t want to come off as insincere. Using too many exclamation marks, bolded words and underlined phrases at the best makes you appear to be over-caffeinated and at worst an inexperienced communicator.
4. Format for readability. Use a standard business format: a 1.15 line spacing with a double space between paragraphs and no indentation at the beginning of paragraphs. Use bullet points when listing more than three items, and keep paragraphs short and to the point.
5. Use the Chicago style for a standardized look. If you don’t have a copy of this classic manual for business writing, it is worth the investment or you can have a style guide written for your company to match your industry’s standards.
6. Hire a professional writer or editor. It is much more cost effective than you think and can save you a bundle in sales. A professional writer can put together a sales letter for one campaign or for a template for several. She or he can also proofread or edit existing letters to make them more successful.
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