How I did it Part 2 – Booklocker
Around the time of the publication of ProphecyQuest, my life abruptly changed direction in ways that would affect my writing career for years to come. I moved back to Colorado and took over the Korean Academy of Taekwondo, which is one of Colorado’s oldest and most successful martial arts schools. I also took over the Taekwondo program at Metro State College of Denver.
Running a small business is difficult for anyone, and I put even more effort than usual into things because I wanted to rebuild everything from scratch. There is a saying among companies that try to sell things to martial arts school owners. “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” However, I realized that I like inventing wheels. It’s just part of my nature.
That said, over the next several years my career as an author was put on the back burner. However, at this time I turned to non-fiction books primarily as a way to support my other endeavors. I wrote the Korean Academy of Taekwondo School Handbook in 2005, and re-released editions in 2007 and 2011, updating and adding each time. I also made videos of all the techniques and put them together into a DVD-rom that I sold with the books. Despite the fact that this book was targeted only to my students, it became very profitable. I would buy 100 copies at once for under $10, and sell them for $30. It’s a great deal for the students for the amount of information and help they are getting. It covers requirements from white belt to 5th degree black belt. Earning over $20 per copy sold is great, but the real value in this book is if it helps us attract students or keep them longer. They see how professional our school is and they don’t get frustrated by having trouble learning things.
In a similar vein my wife and I wrote Teaching Martial Arts: A Practical Guide. (2008) This is also targeted towards a niche market. I got reviews from Chinedum Osuji, who is a Yale professor and Taekwondo Olympian, and Dan Chuang, who is the head of MIT Taekwondo, one of the top collegiate programs in the US. The book is one of the more comprehensive ones written on the subject, but there have been only minimal sales, as we have put minimal work into marketing. The primary reason for writing this was to train our own instructors. With booklocker and the $199 setup fee, it makes this really easy.
We next wrote The Way of the Dojo: Opening and Operating your own Martial Arts School (2012). This was probably the easiest book I ever wrote. For one thing I used a lot of our internal documents. For another, I spend 80+ hours a week in this field so the words flowed very easily. The market for this book is even smaller than that for Teaching Martial Arts, but it helps us in other ways. For one it was great just to get all our thoughts down and organized. My wife and I also have a company that takes pictures of martial arts students and we also host tournaments. Both do much better if the schools around us have more students. It creates a lot of good will when we share this book with other owners in our area.
It is a huge credibility boost when prospective students come in and see that we literally wrote the book on running a martial arts school. It’s hard to say what that is worth at the end of the day, but I have no doubt it has helped our school be one of the largest and most successful in Colorado.
We used POD technology and booklocker for all three of these books as well as for ProphecyQuest. I started marketing ProphecyQuest like DreamQuest, and had some early success. I got some great reviews, including one from the Midwest Book Review, which is difficult for POD authors to get but one of the top ones.
The sales of ProphecyQuest topped out at only a few hundred copies. It could have been a lot more, but I was really involved in running the small business. As if that wasn’t enough, I expanded locations, met my wonderful wife and got married, and began having children.
Through all this time I was working on Alizel’s Song, a book that I had started back in 2005. I knew that this one was something special, so I set back to work on looking for a publisher who would put some marketing muscle behind it. It is a Christian book, so I thought I might have more luck finding a small Christian publisher. Booklocker.com has been great, and I may use them again in the future, especially for non-fiction books with a niche market. However, my writing career had grown again, and it was time for the next step.