In this month’s installment of “my journey as an author” let me share my newfound knowledge of inventory management. As an experienced writer of everything but books, I am still learning many concepts about the publishing world. Like figuring out how many books to keep on hand.
When I retired from the Washington State Patrol, the agency was just hitting its stride on something called “Lean.” It’s not an acronym. Lean means doing business in an efficient and cost effective way. The concept was pioneered by Toyota but adopted by many other organizations. There are many component of Lean, but one is to limit stock on hand. “Inventory” is really money, stacked up in a warehouse. WSP applied Lean to the task of outfitting troopers’ cars, arranging just-in-time delivery of accessories like two-way radios and flashing lights.
For an author/publisher, there are a few more variables. The biggest one is having a successful day at a farmers market or other event. Then you realize next week is an even bigger event like a kid’s fair. You go from fist pumping to nail biting in the blink of an eye.
Print on demand, the genesis of self-publishing, can fix some of that. But print and deliver times for authors are usually just over one week, so a sellout Saturday can put you out of business for the next weekend.
My solution- I will now keep 50 copies of all four books on hand as “inventory.” Even though that’s several hundred dollars in “cash” sitting in my home office, it beats not being able to sell anything at all.
I was a reasonably experienced Public Information Officer prior to my retirement, and kinda knew the ropes. Being an author/publisher makes me a total rookie again, and it’s very refreshing. Keeps my mind active.
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