Category Archives: Product

Building Oneself In The Book Business

Rock 'n' Roll baby
Geoff Castle’s 2013 Celtic Xmas Concert in Anacortes, WA – photo courtesy of Chris Terrell

Lately I focused some of my time on studying how to build oneself in the business of self-publishing books — in other words, marketing.

When it comes to gaining attention, my knowledge-base was born out of the music industry — promoting bands, representing albums, and selling my services as a solo Highland bagpiper for people’s life events ranging from weddings to retirement parties and of course funerals.  I applied this DIY gumption and (albeit subtly) my rock ‘n’ roll marketing approach to period of my business when I was producing baked goods, and I have been continuing this into this new endeavour of writing and self-publishing recipe books.


thumbs up for the e-reader
Thanks Aleta!

As you will recall from my 07Nov2017 blog post, an online friend — Aleta — generously offered to send one of her earlier e-readers to me.  She wanted to support my plan to turn my first recipe book into an e-reader edition, and it helps to have a device to view your work as you are converting your book file into an e-reader file.  As I have been learning about the conversion process I have also started learning about other authors publishing and marketing their e-books.  Much to this voracious reader’s joy I have also learned about free e-books!  Among these I have found books and articles on marketing.  This morning I read a marketing article that enhanced both thoughts and plans I already had…

How to Turn your Book into 18 STREAMS of Income
by Kary Oberbrunner

Kary Oberbrunner
Kary Oberbrunner … we haven’t met.

Go-getters, movers and shakers, creative people, and artist have at least two things in common — we all have great ideas to work from and we all make mistakes.  When we learn from our mistakes or learn about mistakes to avoid and-how we all grow!

Kary Oberbrunner’s article “How to Turn your Book into 18 STREAMS of Income” points out marketing mistakes for writers to avoid (like thinking of books as business cards) along with options and opportunities that they may have not realized.  Some of what Mr. Oberbrunner presents in his article I am already familiar with and is parallel to my direction — other elements have shown me new ideas or ways to think differently about things I already know.

His main focus in this article is for writers to turn their books into an income stream.  One morsel — section 2 on ebooks, suggesting why most (every?) author should turn their printed book into an e-book — particularly resounded with my plans and I had an AH-HA! moment.  The gist of the writing was …

“Ebooks are as close as your smartphone. You can read an ebook while standing on a subway, sitting in a doctor’s office, or waiting in line at the grocery store.”

Relative to my recipe book everything before ‘grocery store’ made sense once I read ‘grocery store.

baking books
Recipe Books — JOY JOY JOY!

Folks haul their phones everywhere, and often folks with e-readers haul them everywhere, too.  They might have 100+ books on their e-reader but they don’t haul 100 books everywhere.  Most of the books I have put on my phone duplicate to my e-reader and vice versa.

While I have queried and found that most people prefer to NOT cook or bake working from recipes on an e-screen, it could still be beneficial to have your recipes — or preferably My Recipes (<– I am not above shameless self promotion) — on your phone or e-reader.   Folks don’t haul all their recipe books to work where they think about what they are going to make for dinner, and then haul those books to the grocery store where they double check ingredients they are going to buy.

The big AH-HA! I had was…

I had already planned to convert my book to an e-book, but now I am thinking — PLEASE put my recipe book on your electronic device.  If you don’t want to work in the kitchen from an electronic screen, I understand — to each their own — but bring it with you when you shop, or when you are going to be thinking about what you’re going to make for your friends or family.  Or what you might make for the hottie  in the accounting department at work whom you just landed a date with!

Does it make sense for me to convert my recipe book to an e-book?


All things Kary Oberbrunner

Book Title & Recent Work

So here’s a thing…

This is Tom. He’s taller in person.

I’ve been fortunate enough to gain a friend and self-publishing coach in one of my Whidbey Island neighbors, multi-book author Tom Trimbath.  My introduction to Tom came through attending his presentation at my local library — how to self-publish a book.  At that time I had a few books roughed out and privately socked away that I intended to work on publishing at a later time — a children’s book, a book on how to become a professional highland bagpiper, some screenplay ideas … you know, the usual.

Online booksellers — we can all think of one in particular!

One of the tips that Tom gave in his presentation was that because of online booksellers, book titles are no longer just book titles, they are also search terms … and by the way, book covers are no longer just a book cover, they are also an icon representing your book on that online seller’s site …  I mean, this all makes sense when it’s pointed out but you might not think of it if you’re not an author trying to self-publish or new to the arena.

So for the past 2+ years, the title I’ve been working with for my coming book has been “Bake Your Own Darn Good Cookies” — this was the kinder and gentler version of a title to another book I plan to publish (more on that later).  Good title, fun title — sure — but there are problems with it.  There aren’t really any good search-term words in it … it doesn’t represent the fact that my book gives recipes for various types of cookies, coffee, and main courses, so it kind of confuses the reader …. and it doesn’t really fit with my icon, er, I mean, book cover artwork.

All that to say … I’ve been working on a new and better title.  I’ve come up with one, it’s functional — it has many of the attributes I’m aiming for.  It might still stand a bit of work-shopping (polishing), but it’s encouraging to have something that feels like a better fit for the whole package.

How exciting is all of this — is this some Block Buster announcement?  No, not really — but for an author and their book, it actually is pretty important.  Also, frankly, I felt I needed to provide all the great folks who have been interested and supportive of my endeavour with an update.

So what’s also going on — what’s left to finish my book and when is it going to be published?

Those are questions I both do & don’t have precise answers for…

Some Additional Writing and Final Editing – This book has required an extra year due to my hard drive crashing when I was nearly ready to publish in January 2017.  Suffice to say, I’ve learned the hard way, BACK-UP YOUR HARD DRIVE.  I had to nearly start over, fortunately I managed to locate an early back-up along with smaller pieces I located in my e-mail history.  I’ve been working with these materials since June 2018.  The main writing is nearly done — I need to add some writing in the introduction to make the original writing make sense and complete the final editing.  That and re-doing the pagination.

Graphics – I took cover art photos last January; most of these were recovered.  I lately made two batches of cookies to take step-by-step instructional photos, showing how to roll & cut biscotti along with spreading & cutting cookie squares.  To the left is an example of these … unfortunately I picked up light flares in the stove top.  I’ve figured out the lighting so I don’t get these flares and I plan to re-take these pictures soon.  Then it’s a matter of inserting all of my pictures into my book.

Content Surprise – YES, I have a content surprise.  Something you have probably NEVER seen in any recipe book before.  Since my original draft of the book I have added 2/3rds more surprise to the surprise and I need to do the initial development on that 2/3rds.

So what is the final book looking like — and when is it going to be published?

Working on my book is one of my current top priorities, and it will be done as soon as possible …. when that is?  Could be weeks, could be a few months yet with everything else I’m juggling.  The EXCITING news is that it looks to have around 50 recipes ranging from numerous types of cookies, several flavours of my unique biscotti, hot beverages, coffee cake, easy applesauce, and some delicious main courses.  Also, I’m trilled to feature guest writers who have contributed both recipes and chapter introductions (you know who you are and thank you Thank You THANK YOU!).

I’m excited … it’s coming … finally, soon.

~ Don

All things Tom Trimbath…

Star Wars Cookbook II

If you’re like me, grinning from ear-to-ear having seen the latest Star Wars installment “The Last Jedi“!  In anticipation of the film, I looked on my library’s website for what material from the cannon they had available.  As it turned out, they had LOADS!

Star Wars films, Star Wars soundtracks, Star Wars books, Star Wars audio books, William Shakespeare‘s Star Wars books — AND THIS — The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes by Frankie Frankeny &‎ Wesley Martin.

Being into sci-fi, and soon to publish my own first baking/cooking book, I’ve started to look at recipe books with a different eye, and when it came to this Star Wars cookbook … I Simply Had To Check This Out!

Geared toward kids, over the course of its 60 wipe-clean pages it features hilarious photographs and fun Star Wars themed recipes.  This second installment of The Star Wars Cookbook series even includes a washable plastic stencil of Darth Maul’s iconic face to help decorate culinary creations.  This book doesn’t teach kids to play with their food but instead to get creative with cooking — while helping to bring them into the kitchen to learn to cook without the use of Jedi mind-control tricks.  Adults as well as kids will have a great time with this book.

The Star Wars Cookbook II -Darth Malt and More @
ISBN-10: 0811828034
ISBN-13: 978-0811828031

The Star Wars Cookbook II: Darth Malt and More Galactic Recipes @ Wookieepedia

NOTE – “Star Wars” and all other names, references, images, et cetera are the property of their respective copyright owners.  If I have somehow violated copyright, please instruct as to how to correct this ….. in other words, Disney, please don’t sue me … besides, I don’t have anything.

Publishing Update – E-Reader Edition

As promised earlier today on Facebook
a Publishing Update!
Big or small, here’s the thing & here we go….
{Coming up – E-Readers & a Big Fat THANK YOU}

Ooh — BOOKS!

How do you like reading recipes?

When it comes to baking & cooking, I’m not particular — I prefer working from a recipe card, a piece of paper, or a book. Most of my recipes have coffee rings and other bits of ingredients decorating their edges. When it comes to working from an electronic screen I don’t mind working from my laptop, and I often do.

About a year ago I asked on the WIBC Facebook page what people prefer to work from — paper, computer screens, recipes written in pen on their forearm, etc. Largely I learned folks prefer paper, and I’m all for it. I am, however, planning to get my book published and As Soon As Possible following up with publishing for e-reader.

I have a little more work to go on my book before analogue publishing, and I’m already taking steps toward the re-format to follow. With this I have been learning that e-publishing is a different game — you have to do all sorts of different things to have your book appear right on an e-reader and there are different things you need to include in the writing — not to mention the things you CAN include …… yep, try to put a web link in your paper book!

*To That End*…. I posted a question on my personal Facebook profile lately asking about what I need to know to reformat my book as an e-book … the answer, A LOT. Okay, so, I’m working on that.

Big Tex – consummate Texas State Fair resident from 1952 to 2012

One of the responses I got was from an e-friend, Aleta somewhere in the great state of TEXAS (<– Note, everything is bigger in TEXAS), very kindly pointed out that to reformat my book for e-reader I would want to see it on an e-reader as I work, and she offered to send me one of her earlier cherished models.

My mom has been using e-readers for years … I’ve helped her figure out a few bugs with downloading her books …. but otherwise I’ve never used one & barely touched the things. I like my analogue books and have a stack of them to plow through. I asked my editor, Linda, if I needed one of these & about taking Aleta up on her generous offer. Short-story made longish by yours-truly, I took Aleta up on her offer and a smart little unit arrived by post yesterday!

Ophiuchs wrasselin’ a serpent with Hercules lending a helping club

This looks like a great device! And now I have to figure out how to work it …?… which, when it comes to electronics, I have a knack for that. I’ll just have to control my temptation to peek at it when I’m not currently working on my practical-publication — gotta get that puppy DONE!

There’s this great thing about finding passion for something & being a DIY’er — you say you want to do something and people come out and volunteer their support. Aleta has certainly helped me to go forward with her support in the new direction of Whidbey Island Baking Company.

Thanks Aleta!
All the Best ~ Don

WIBC on Facebook

The Great State of Texas and

Ophiuchus AKA the Serpent Bearer

Hercules who occasionally lends a helping club

…it’s still morning somewhere, right?!?

Mmm …. pie!

Sunday afternoon on the WIBC-Facebook page I said that I had a progress announcement about my baking book — and that I was going to post this morning …. and it’s now PIE’o’clock (3:14PM) …. and I’m realizing I didn’t get to it*, ACK! I’ve been busy getting my BagpiperDon website working right so it’s as equally as awesome as my recent updates to this site. ANYWAY…

I had a conference call with my editor, Linda, on Sunday. She is A*W*E*S*O*M*E — she’s bold, she’s brilliant, she’s hilarious, Linda Makes Work FUN! (And yes, Linda, you may quote me on that for your portfolio.) We nailed down a number of things both having to do with my book and my plans to re-release it after paper publication as an e-book. I have a check-list of the things I need to satisfy (as provided by my friend & e-publishing coach, Tom) — toward the end of my call with Linda I ran down the list and updated it.
(PSST! – Linda has a bran-new website COMING SOON – see here at!)

Here’s the HURRAH Announcement

There are 18 total To-Do items on the list, I have 11 DONE, I have only 7 more to go!

Now — real quick — what does that mean?  Simply speaking, there are big tasks and small tasks in writing and publishing a book.  Usually writing the book is a huge task — DUH, obviously!  Other tasks may take a few hours, days, or weeks, and those are considerably short …. even if that means taking two days to craft a few paragraphs for the wings or back of a book.  There’s still the final edit work to do on my book, and the other tasks are really pretty small … but they add up & take time.  For DIY boot-strappers like myself that just means nose-to-the-gumption-grindstone!

“So when is your release date, Don?”

I am hoping to publish by Black Friday, however with everything going on I think it will be closer to Xmas. As many of you know I experienced a hard-drive crash early this year and have had to re-start my project working from old back-ups, e-documents I thought I had lost completely, and most but not all of the photos I had planned to include. Having received Linda’s added involvement has been nothing short of a GIFT! The book has been coming back together, and while it’s not done Right Now it is a better book than I had written last year. Do you think that this adds to my excitement???


So, work to go!
Back At It — Don

Tom and his many abilities at
Linda, my editor, at and her Check Chick Facebook page

* So here’s a little insight about being a small business owner….
It’s said that in ancient times if the gods wanted to get revenge on some humans they’d make them go crazy — and to accomplish this they make them fall in love. In modern times, I think gods make people go crazy by making them think “Hey, I can start & run a small business!”  Is a small business Love?  Well, if you’re passionate about what you’re doing…. then, Yes!

Baked Goods On The Horizon

Products I’m Considering

  • Scones – I considered scones, experimented with them (Blueberry, brown sugar, and a little lemon zest), but I have decided to shelve the idea for the time being – scones only hold (decently) for 24hrs and don’t travel well.
  • Muffins – I’m thinking of a variety of muffins.  Like some of my products I think they’re going to come out in two general classes.  Products that are ‘healthier’ and tasty and tasty products that are relatively no better than other things on the market.  Still, no added preservatives & blah blah blah.
  • Breakfast cookies – I frankly don’t know much about these, but they seem to be quite popular right now.
  • Granola – I’ve been turned on to this idea.  Sounds easy, sounds like something I can express with, sounds like something people enjoy.

GF products

  • Other Cookie Square flavours – Chocolate Peppermint, Lemon Orange, Lemon Ginger, Lemon Cranberry, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
  • Experiment with biscotti flavours I’ve had in mind

If you have biscotti flavours or other cookie/baked-good ideas, please send them to me.

Make it Tasty,

Sumer 2015

To put it lightly, WIBC has kept busy & kept me busy these past months.  In addition to supporting the shops & restaurants my products are carried in, most Thursday evenings and Saturday mid-days my company could be found at farmers markets.  On special occasions WIBC had the pleasure of appearing at a convention and a few annual events.

Farmers Markets – There is a pleasant number of markets on Whidbey Island, and WIBC participated in the Oak Harbor and Coupeville markets.  Similar to the product demos I’ve done at a couple of Island stores, it was great to connect with folks.  I enjoyed getting to introduce my products publicly and to talk about the direction of my company and my ideas for products – and often people would give me ideas for products, which was a real gift!  It was also through the farmers markets that I started giving a military discount.  Through this I get to help support the military, meet a lot of great people, and I get to say “Thank you for your service.”

Special Events – Bringing WIBC to various events was a considerable amount of work and it paid off in even more enjoyment.  The first experience was being both at the Coupeville Farmers Market while also being at a quilt show on the other side of town – I had a special tie-in because the show was hosted by one of my mom’s quilt groups.  I spent a weekend with my fellow sci-fi fans at Galacticon IV (a Battlestar Galactica & Firefly/Serenity science-fiction convention).  Soon following I was invited to bring WIBC to the Whidbey Island Highland Games – it was great to get to bring my products to one of my communities.  Toward the end of the season – last minute – I got WIBC registered to be a vendor at the Oak Harbor Music Festival.  Everyone came out for the great bands along with some sun & fun and more than enough rain.  I got to hear Willie Nelson’s son headline with his band – look out for a new star!

Summer 2015 proved to be a lot of work, and I’m already working on my list for 2016 events.

Okay, back to work.

WIBC – In-Store Demos

(January 10th & 24th 2015)

I got to do my first in-store demos of my product January 10th & 24th 2015 at Goose Grocery in Bayview on Whidbey Island.

The 10th preceded a professional football game. I’m not a game person but apparently this was an important one locally as the Seahawks were getting into the finals going toward the Super Bowl. I don’t know what the Super Bowl is, but by the name alone I suspect it is a very large bowl and people are very pleased about it. I on the other hand wonder if I can mix a lot of biscotti dough in it &/or fill it with biscotti and serve it to many people. I will set the official WIBC R&D Department on finding out the dimensions of this bowl right away – more will be revealed.

I sampled the January flavour array from WIBC – Double Chocolate, Almond, and Espresso. While I planned to be there for four hours I think I was there for five. It was great! Samples went out every minute. People talked with me about my company. A few even shared ideas they had – I love that! The Whidbey Island County Commissioner met me – COOL – saying that she is pleased to see new businesses on the island and enjoyed seeing mine. A few days later she started a very nice email dialogue and now I’m scheduled to meet with her on the 30th to talk about ways to further my company. All in all it was thrilling to get to this point – nearly two years in the making – getting to tell people about my product and seeing many people enjoy it for the first time. By the end of my time I was nearly out of samples and I had (basically) sold-out Goose’s stock.

January 24th I was back … this time having the nerve to do something in the way of marketing I’ve had in mind since early in the inception … I wore my kilt. I figure my biscotto is not like normal biscotti, so why should my advertising be … plain? Besides, it was the eve of Robert Burns Day (a Scottish poet from the 1700s who is still celebrated today … or, well, tomorrow as it was). My product seemed to get plenty of attention – which I saw as good since I really wanted to not get too much personal attention, kilt attention, or confuse the public. Again, samples flew off the table and much enjoyment was had (yea). By the end of my time I was nearly out of samples and I had (basically) sold-out Goose’s stock.

Here’s a few things with these in-store demos …

  • For all the performing I’ve done, wearing my kilt or as with the first week wearing jeans and a fitted dress shirt, I found myself extremely nervous. I believe in my product, and my baking has already made many people very happy; now that I am doing it professionally I have become very critical and I want it to show well. I want people to give it a chance.
  • When talking with people, while I had some speaking points, I wanted to not be scripted. I wanted to connect with people, and that’s what everyone gave back to me. We talked, we laughed, I told them about my biscotti, some told me some of their flavour ideas and baking tips, and I was flattered to hear many compliments on my biscotti.
  • In my now two demo experiences I’ve found that there is an energy level that comes up as you meet many people and talk constantly about your product. A few hours into each demo I found myself about as dingy as I could possibly be. The experience cooks your brains. Although I was pleased with what went on each day, afterward I was tired. I felt like I had spent all day playing my (bag)pipes at a festival with my Celtic-rock band – high energy, hard work, put all of your passion out. As much as it lifts you up, it can also wear you out.
  • In addition to samples I gave out small bags of my cookie crumbs. I’d look for kids, give these to them, and tell them to take them home and put the crumbs on their ice cream. The kids were pleased with this and so were their parents. No kid was more pleased than one little girl who I saw on the 24th. After I gave her a bag of crumbs she said thank you. Her and her mom came by my table about 3 more times as they did their shopping, and each time she said “THANK YOU FOR MY CRUMBS!” and the whole store knew it. As she passed by my table she did a skipping little dance holding up the bag of crumbs. I hope to never forget her – she was AWESOME!

Until the next one,