Sneak peek of Living Artfully, by Shannon Carter

Shannon Carter knows that preserving tradition is an act of love. Whether she is collecting and displaying family heirlooms, repurposing antiques, or artfully arranging collections, she prioritizes artful living alongside excellent craftsmanship. We were honored to publish a coffee-table book celebrating her love of tradition and inspiring others to collect, preserve, and display their treasures. (Additionally, she offers a few family recipes, one of which we preview here).

Here are a few exclusive photo excerpts from her book, Living Artfully, which will be available for sale in September. 

Living Artfully will sell for $40, and all proceeds from the book will be donated to the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.

What you need to know before quoting your book

Once you’ve set your heart on publishing a book—whether it’s a memoir, a company anniversary edition, a business manifesto, or even an artist’s portfolio—it’s important to know all of your inputs before you determine the route of publication. Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you start calling printers and publishers:

How much time can you commit to the project? 
This will help you determine if a DIY route is feasible, or if you should focus on full-service publishers. 

Do you have a budget?
This will be the first question a publisher will ask you, because it determines whether or not the project is possible and whether or not the given publisher is a good fit. Knowing your budget before you reach out to publishers will save you time in the end.

Do you know where you’re getting the money?
Will this project require fundraising, or is it coming out of an annual marketing budget? Will it be paid for by a single donor, or by a grant or other group? Is the budget flexible, or do you have a set amount that can’t be exceeded? Knowing this will make the quoting process much simpler. If you’re planning on fundraising, then you may not have a set budget when you reach out for quotes, and that’s OK, just know what you can feasibly raise in your network to have a sense of what is realistic.

Will cost be the deciding factor? 
The costs of producing a book vary so widely depending on print run size, level of design and editing required, book specs (hardcover vs. softcover, full color vs. black and white), that it will be near impossible for a publisher to estimate the cost of your project without a few specific details. Know these five things when you approach a publisher, and you will get a better estimate (faster):

1.    Hardcover or softcover
2.    Black and white or full color
3.    Book size (6x9, 7x10, 9x12, etc.)
4.    Page count (or, even better, word count)
5.    Print run size (for an event better quote, ask for three different quantities, to see if there are price breaks)

These variables may change as your vision for the book evolves, but this will give you a starting point.

Are you approaching printers or publishers?
A printer will take all final artwork and print, whereas a publisher will offer/include additional services: research, writing, editing, design, photography, printing, binding, shipping, warehousing, distribution, marketing, etc. If you’re comparing printers to publishers, you’re comparing apples to oranges. One will depend on you to know exactly what you’re doing—preparing print-ready design files (professionally prepared files, not a Word document with images copied and pasted in)—and one will help you create the book from your raw materials (text, photos, illustrations, etc.).

These are just a few of the many questions you might ask yourself before pursuing your book project. Let us know if there are other questions you’ve come across when quoting a project!

What to do before publishing a book, Part 1: Create a Sales Plan

A sales plan is critical to making your book successful—and will be your guide in almost every decision you face in design and printing.

Our clients, Marilyn and Nadine, as they load up their third print run of A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas. They donated the profits from their book to Cincinnati nonprofit adoption agencies, and sold it in retail establishments across the tri-state.

Our clients, Marilyn and Nadine, as they load up their third print run of A Cincinnati Night Before Christmas. They donated the profits from their book to Cincinnati nonprofit adoption agencies, and sold it in retail establishments across the tri-state.


Key questions to answer as you create your sales plan:

Who is your target audience? If you’re publishing a book for an anniversary, how large is your company, community, or organization, and how many within this group do you expect to actually purchase the book? If the book is for a more general audience, how many do you think you can sell within three months?

Why does this matter? You need to know how large your target market is to determine how many books you can conceivably sell, and consequently, how many books you should print in your first run.

Where do you plan on selling the book? Your website, local stores, national book store chains (Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, etc.), Amazon, your gift shop?

Why does this matter? This will determine how many access points you have to your target audience. If you’re only selling your book on your website or in your gift shop, this may limit the number you sell.

Do you need (or want) to make money on the book? Some of our clients only want to cover the costs of production, others want to donate profits to the organization or another nonprofit, and some see the book as an opportunity to build market share or extend the company/organization brand.

Why does this matter? This will determine how important the unit cost is in your decision. If you don’t need/want to profit off the book, then a smaller print run with a higher unit cost isn’t necessarily a bad idea. However, if you have a large target audience and you intent to profit off the book, then a larger print run with a lower unit cost is ideal.

How will you use the book? Is it a gift to donors or employees? A business development tool? A sales piece? A product for your gift shop?

Why does this matter? This determines certain quality decisions—hard cover or soft cover, black and white or full color, dust jacket, etc. For example, if the book is a gift to donors who give a specified amount during a capital campaign, the book’s perceived value/quality needs to be fairly high. A cheaply produced book given to high-dollar donors undermines the gesture. 

These four questions are critical starting points for your sales plan. You may also consult friends and family with experience—anyone who has published or sold a book before, or anyone who has experience in marketing/sales. You can also refer to writers’ blogs online for helpful input on marketing and promoting your book—these resources may also have personal stories that resonate with your goal and may help clarify how to publish and sell your book.

Book by Committee: Creating an Effective Steering Committee for Your Book Project

Publishing a book is a lot of work and, traditionally, organizations and businesses taking on book projects dedicate a group of people to act as a steering committee. Whether it’s a bicentennial book for your city, an anniversary book for your company, a history book for your museum or nonprofit, or even a collectible book for your capital campaign, a steering committee will give the project momentum.

When Columbus, Ohio celebrated its bicentennial in 2012, it brought together donors, sponsors, and stakeholders from leading organizations and businesses across Columbus. Its bicentennial book Revealed: Columbus evidenced the diversity in input by capturing a wide cross-section of Columbus culture.

When Columbus, Ohio celebrated its bicentennial in 2012, it brought together donors, sponsors, and stakeholders from leading organizations and businesses across Columbus. Its bicentennial book Revealed: Columbus evidenced the diversity in input by capturing a wide cross-section of Columbus culture.


But book-by-committee can be tough, as it involves multiple stakeholders and opinions. It helps to focus on a few key objectives when you’re assembling your team:

1.    Your goal is to manage expectations and outcomes—not production: You need a team of people who can help manage what the book will look like, what purpose it will serve, who it will be sold/given to, which company will handle its execution, and how much it should cost. You may help assemble materials for the book, or assign people to approve copy, photos, etc., but this group should not be responsible for actual production details, such as formatting the acknowledgements page or designing the cover. These are details best handled by a publishing partner.

2.    You will need diverse voices: A successful book project will incorporate a marketing and sales plan, compelling content and vision, and follow-through. It will help to assemble a team with varied experience either within your company or your community. City bicentennials, for example, often involve business and civic leaders across several industries.

3.    You will need a strong leader: This person sets the goal and timeline, manages competing opinions, determines the course of publication, and communicates with company or community leaders on progress and outcomes.

4.    You will need a project coordinator: This is the person who will communicate with your publishing partner. He/she will assemble and deliver content for the book, approve drafts and proofs, and relay feedback between your publishing partner and steering committee. This role is crucial—the process can break down if too many people try to communicate with your publishing partner.

Custom books are an investment in time and creativity, and they are only successful when they have internal support and a group of committed people. Don’t let the committee become too cumbersome, and don’t let competing opinions halt progress. With clearly defined roles, most obstacles that pop up during publication can be overcome.

What to do with an anniversary book, Part 3: Businesses

Company history is becoming more critical to branding and marketing every year. Take, for example, last year’s Dodge commercial. Rather than your typical car commercial—shiny car kicking up dust as it speeds around a deserted dirt road—it showcases the early twentieth century cars, the brothers who believed in quality, and a true American story of entrepreneurship, hard work, and ultimately, success. Including a company’s founding year in a logo is almost ubiquitous now, and very few companies neglect to include an “about us” or “history” page on their websites.

Why the emphasis on history? 

Because customers are looking for relationships when they purchase products or services. They want to feel connected. History makes us feel a sense of nostalgia, and it makes us believe that the companies we support care because they are made up of real people like us. 

An anniversary is your opportunity to leverage your history. When your company is celebrating a significant milestone, you can emphasize your legacy of innovation and leadership, remind your customers how it all came to be, and make your employees, customers/clients, and business partners feel like they have a key role to play in advancing your company into its future.

Our clients often use anniversary books in a variety of ways. Here are some of the ideas we’ve gathered over the years:

1. Gift to employees. Obviously employee engagement is critical to satisfaction, retention, and productivity. Making employees feel part of something bigger than themselves—particularly something mission-driven and storied—is a great way to reconnect them with your core purpose. Employees want to feel like they are more than employees—they want to be part of your history and partners in your success. A book celebrating your company’s history and legacy can go a long way in reaffirming this relationship.

Richard Farmer didn't sell a single copy of his book and instead gave them all away to employees, partners, family, and friends. It was a great way to spread the story behind his company and make a lasting impression.

Richard Farmer didn't sell a single copy of his book and instead gave them all away to employees, partners, family, and friends. It was a great way to spread the story behind his company and make a lasting impression.

2. Branding. A book can function as the core of a rebranding initiative. For some companies, an anniversary is energizing and revealing. The focus internally around an anniversary might showcase opportunities for a new direction. A book can set the pace, define the story, and create a look and feel that your company can rally around.

3. Marketing collateral. A book is a powerful leave-behind. It speaks quality and sincerity. As it’s  a higher investment than standard marketing collateral, it communicates a stronger intention. You can use your book when approaching high-profile potential clients or when exploring new partnerships. 

4. Sales piece. For some business-to-consumer companies, your brand is strong enough that customers will be interested in your story. This is especially relevant if the story revolves around a single founder that has a personal following or a compelling life story. In these instances, a book can be sold to customers in your own retail locations or online.

While not an anniversary book, The Art of the Meal leveraged Cameron Mitchell's unique story and was sold in all of his restaurants. It sold through three print runs.

While not an anniversary book, The Art of the Meal leveraged Cameron Mitchell's unique story and was sold in all of his restaurants. It sold through three print runs.