Thursday, October 15, 2009

What Can You Learn from Mike McPheters?

Mike McPheters started out like most first-time authors: with ZERO experience in the publishing industry. His skills lie more in law enforcement, SWAT skills and spiritual counseling. So Mike did what most first-time authors did; he asked his PR rep what he should do. Mike was told his book was a great fit for firesides and he should share his faith-promoting life story with others. After all, Cedar Fort thought his life story was worth printing and, as a former bishop (4X over), Mike knew that his fireside need to stand on its own with spiritual counsel, not be a 60-minute ad for his book people were foced to watch in their Sunday clothes.

As with many of you, Cedar Fort asked Mike to create a fireside and schedule signings adjacent to them so wherever he travelled he had both an event and a signing. Shortly after, he replied with this schedule:

Agent Bishop Book Tour (Mike McPheters)

August 26 (Wed.) Boise, ID Costco (4:30 PM)

August 27 (Thurs.) Salem, UT Annie Freeman Residence-Fireside

August 28 (Fri.) St. George, UT MCWILLIS

August 29 (Sat.) Saint George Costco (10:30 AM) MCWILLIS

August 31 (Mon.) Victorville, CA Costco (5:30 PM) MARTINEZ
14555 Valley Center Drive

September 1 (Tues.) Fireside @ Mike Martinez location/church MARTINEZ
@ Valley Center, CA

September 2 (Wed.) San Bernardino Costco signing (10:30 AM)MARTINEZ
1099 E. Hospitality Lane

Marietta Stake Presentation (Evening)

September 3 (Thurs.) Temecula Costco (4:30 PM)
26610 Ynez Road

September 5 (Sat.) Henderson, NV Costco (10:30 AM) CANNERY
791 Marks St.

September 7 (Mon.) Las Vegas Costco (10:30 AM) CANNERY
222 So. Martin Luther King Blvd.

Summerlin, NV Costco (4:30 PM)
801 South Pavilion DR
Las Vegas (702-352-2050)

September 8 (Tues.) Travel to Twin Falls, ID

September 9 (Wed.) Twin Falls, ID Costco (10:30 AM)

September 10 (Thurs.) BYU Alumni presentation @ Moses Lake, WA
Stake Center @ 7 PM

September 11 (Fri.) Signing at Fae’s Book Store @ Moses Lake (Morning)

Wenatchee Costco (12-5 PM)

September 15 (Tues.) Multi-Ward Single Adult presentation @ Boise, ID @ 7

September 16 (Wed.) Boise, ID Costco (10:30 AM) WALLY
Drive to Rexburg, ID

September 17 (Thurs.) Pocatello, ID Costco (10:30 AM) BERT

September 18 (Fri.) Pocatello, ID Costco (4:30 PM)
305 W. Quinn Rd. (208) 238-4040

September 19 (Sat.) Sugarhouse B & N signing (2-4 PM)
(Time will be readjusted
(801) 463-2610.

McIntyre Center, 1104 East 2100 So. SLC, UT

September 21 (Mon.) West Valley City Costco (SLC, UT) (10:30 AM)
3747 So. 2700 West (801) 996-9008

Murray Costco (SLC, UT) (4:30 PM)
5201 So. Intermountain Dr. (801) 290-4200

September 22 (Tues.) SLC Costco (10:30 AM)
1818 So. 300 W. (801) 485-9715

West Bountiful Costco (SLC, UT) (4:30 PM)
573 W. 100 N. (801) 299-3940

September 23 (Wed.) Lehi Costco (10:30 AM)
198 No. 1200 East (801) 653-2710

Orem Costco (4:30 PM) (Sold 66 there 8/17)
648 E. 800 S. (801) 851-5003

September 24 (Thurs.) Orem Costco (10:30 AM)

September 25 (Fri.) Sandy Costco (10:30 AM) PARK CITY
11100 So. Auto Mall Dr. (801) 790-0003 (Brent/Larry)
(Sold 49 there on 8/17)

Murray Costco (4:30 PM)

September 26 (Sat.) Day off. PARK CITY

September 28 (Mon.) West Valley City Costco (4:30 PM) PARK CITY

West Bountiful Costco (10:30 AM) PARK CITY

September 29 (Tues.) SLC Costco @ 1818 So. 300 W. (10:30 AM) PARK CIT

B & N Signing @ Gateway @ 6 No. Rio Grande St.
SLC, UT (801) 456-0100 (4-6 PM)

September 30 (Wed.) No Meetings. Family Party PARK CITY

October 1 (Thurs.) Sandy Costco (4:30 AM) PARK CITY
Murray Costco (10:30 PM)

October 2 (Friday) Lehi Costco (10:30 AM)

B & N signing: 10180 So. State, Sandy, UT (4-6 PM)
(801) 233-0203 Michelle TYLEE

October 3 (Sat.) Orem Costco (4:30-8:30 PM ) M

October 5 (Mon.) Return to Moses Lake, WA

October 10 (Sat.) Wenatchee, WA Costco (10:30 AM)

October 12 (Mon.) Spokane, WA Costco (11 AM)

October 16 (Fri.) Kennewick, WA Costco (10:30 AM)

October 19 (Mon.) Drive to Ketchum, ID

October 20 (Tuesday) Will set up signing @ Chapter One Bookstore
Ketchum, ID

October 21 (Wed.) Orem Costco (4:30 PM) SHAYNA

October 22 (Thurs.) Lehi Costco (10:30 AM)

October 23 (Fri.) Orem Costco (10:30 AM)

October 24 (Sat) Orem Costco (10:30 AM)

October 25 (Sun) Drive to Moses Lake, WA

His schedule continues through Christmas, but I think you get the point. Mike literally put life on hold and put every effort imaginable into making his book a success. The first couple of weeks Mike went through a definite learning curve as he became familiar with how to make signings a success, but at this point he could pretty much teach a course on handselling a book since he is now inching towards the mark of selling 1,000 books per week. And yes, you read that right. PER WEEK. Come Christmas time I believe he will easily be doing just that.

Some of you may be thinking, Well, that's because you got him into Costco! I would be selling more books if I were in Costco, too.

Notice, however, how Mike supports Costco sales and gives them high incentive to carry him. Those of you who have shopped at Costco know that Costco likes to carry the currently bestselling books at highly discounted prices. This means that at this time of year they want a book to sell 200 copies per week, per store for them to carry it. But even though Mike isn't quite reaching that benchmark, Costco sees his schedule and is willing to bend over backwards a little bit for him. They know that he sells out every Costco he walks into so they try to have 50-100 books in each store he's scheduled to sign in. Add that to word-of-mouth sales he's starting to generate and you can see why--months after his book's release--his sales climb higher each week.

Mike is a great case study of an author who chose a marketing plan, stuck to it and is finding publishing success. Cedar Fort literally can't print books fast enough to fill the orders, which means Mike is on the top of our list for Christmas advertising in radio and print. His efforts will be more than matched by Cedar Fort's investment in radio ads, large catalog placements, media mentions and more, which means his first royalty check should be a happy day indeed.

The thing Mike did right was treating his book like an investment. In the beginning he put more into than he was getting out of it, but soon that coin will flip to create an income while he works on his next book.

Mike's business model certainly isn't for everyone, but his example is worth emulation. Plus, he embodies one of my top rules for authors: NOTHING takes the place of face-to-face time with consumers. Nothing.

So get out there and meet your audience today!


  1. And for those of you who are wondering, Agent Bishop is currently Cedar Fort's #1 top selling title.

  2. This is amazing! What steps do I take to get that many firesides set up? And how do I get my book into Costco in Arizona where the LDS population is not very strong?

  3. First step, show them that you can sell your books. Keep in mind, in Costco you are competing with Dan Brown, not Anita Stansfield. If you only have one local Costco, are you going to be there 4-6X week and treat signing like it's your job?

    And Mike got his firesides set up by simply talking to people and asking. If you were to join him at a signing, you would notice that Mike, on average, gets 2-3 speaking or fireside leads at every signing, which he follows up on and schedules. It's all him!

    As for getting into Costco, I wouldn't put too much focus on that right now. Liz does a great job of getting CFI authors into Costco (although they have the right to refuse any book they want), but the authors who have been there can attest that it's not a low-maintenance gig and, if after a few weeks, they don't see the numbers they want to see, you're out as quickly as you came in. I believe Mike is the author with the most Costcos for the longest stretch of time at CFI.

  4. Wow. Congrats to Mike for being so diligent. I have heard wonderful things about his book. I'm definitely picking it up when we sign together in Orem on December 5th.
    Thanks for the PR help Sheralyn. You're amazing!

  5. Bellingham, Washington is patiently waiting and hoping for Mike McPheters to arrive here...SOON! I'm planning to buy more copies of that great book for gifts to friends.

  6. And I'll answer for Mike and say he's excited to come! He loves anything in Washington!!!