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The $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM is a detailed two-part resource for shareware authors who need creative ideas and a RATED mailing list of over 800 major shareware distributors, large computer clubs and recommended BBS systems. The first part of the package, the shareware distributor's database, contains mailing addresses, phone numbers, a SHAREWARE DISTRIBUTOR RATING and other detailed data which can be used to prepare envelope mailing labels or BBS calling uploads. The database file is rated by shareware distributor so you can mail your shareware to vendors rated A, B or C. The database file is supplied in standard file formats such as dBASE and 123 which can be directly imported into your database! Sort lists of shareware distributors by zip, state or other criteria. Foreign and U.S. distributors and computer clubs are included. The second part of the package is a detailed newsletter and marketing strategy guide, prepared by an established shareware author. It contains dozens of creative tips, tricks and traps which every shareware author should know. Written by the author of the PC-LEARN computer tutorial, the $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM provides detailed and valuable information in a frank, candid and sensible style.
THE $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM (c) 1990 (A shareware software package) from Seattle Scientific Photography EDITOR, JIM HOOD (206) 236-0470 MAILING ADDRESS: PO BOX 1506, MERCER ISLAND, WA 98040 ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ NOTES ABOUT THE DATABASE BUT FIRST A HOT TIP! ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ This file contains ESSENTIAL information describing the database file(s) on this disk. Be sure to read ALL items of information prior to using the mailing list database! But first this special hot tip for shareware authors! ██████ HOT TIP ██████ Here is an interesting idea: I would like to find 20 or 30 dependable shareware authors to form the Bulletin Board $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM NETWORK ($M$ Net). Here is how it works: When my shareware package is released by myself in my city (Seattle) I mail disk copies to 30 willing shareware authors in New York, Orlando, Sacramento, Washington DC, etc. These people IMMEDIATLEY upload it to 10 HOT BBS systems in their city. In exchange, EVERYONE does the same for EVERYONE else in $M$ NET. Nothing like knowing that 300 guaranteed copies (10 BBS uploads times 30 major US cities) of your program are somewhat simultaneously being shipped to major BBS systems throughout America within one week for the simple cost of a little postage! And obviously there are more than 30 major American cities - if you follow the drift . . . Contact me if you would like to participate. Key criteria: you have to live in a large city and have routine access to the HOT BOARDS in your city. You must be a shareware author. One author per city. No cash flow or charges, just a common sense courtesy among authors! In future issues I will include a database listing of members in $M$ NET within this shareware package which you can search to see if your city is represented and thus if an opening (for you) exists! The listing will also have the HOT BBS phone numbers we intend to upload to which should also be useful to you as a shareware author! This way we all get a shot at the brass ring by helping each other at the cost of a little postage! ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ABOUT THE SHAREWARE DISTRIBUTOR DATABASE ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ DATABASE FILE FORMAT You must have a database product or spreadsheet to use this data. This package contains data files which can be loaded into products such as dBase, PC-File, Wampum, Rbase, Reflex and other popular database packages. Alternatively you can use any popular spreadsheet program which can import Lotus (tm) files in WKS (Lotus Ver 1) files. A hard drive is suggested, but the author can supply the file in smaller portions suitable for floppy drive systems if you do not have a hard drive. The database file is supplied in a self-extracting format. DISTRIB1.EXE will unpack to produce a dBase III format file while DISTRIB2.EXE will produce a Lotus 123 (tm) WKS format file. Both files are large when unpacked and are best unpacked from a hard drive. To unpack the files, once you have safely copied them onto your hard drive into the same subdirectory or area as your database or spreadsheet, simply execute the command: C>DISTRIB1 <then press return> produces dBase format file: DISTRIB.DBF ------ or ------- C>DISTRIB2 <then press return> produces 123 format file: DISTRIB.WKS Depending on the database product you use, either or both file(s) should import directly into your database software. Write the author of this package if you need an unsual format or prefer an ASCII text file version which can also be imported into many database products. For those not having a hard drive, a special "multi-part" database file is available which can be used with floppy systems. Contact the author. The file has "live data" already inserted and ready for you to import into your database. The data consists of lists of shareware distributors, BBS systems and computer clubs which maintain shareware libraries. Basically the list of organizations within the database is the "target audience" for your mailing or BBS upload campaign. PC File (tm) and Wampum (tm) are popular shareware database products which will accept the dBase III (tm) file format. The primary database is retained in Borland's Reflex V2.0 (tm) which can export to MANY popular formats. The author can ship you a copy of one or several shareware database programs or you can contact any of the shareware distributors in the distributor database for a database program if you do not currently use a database package. This package only contains the data, not the database program! Next, let's look at two typical records with a few notes about field usage. DATABASE RECORD EXAMPLES DISTRIB_MNEUMONIC: D RATING: A DATE LISTED_REVISED: 8/21/90 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ LABELTOP: AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES COMPANY: SOFT A'WARE FIRSTNAME: George LASTNAME: Van Valkenburg ADDRESS: 1221 CUSHMAN AVENUE, SUITE E POSITION: CITY: SAN DIEGO STATE: CA ZIP: 92110 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ DAY TEL: 619/298-3392 BBS TEL: FAX TEL: 619/298-3619 TOLLFREE_ORDER TEL: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ REMARKS1: Owner, George V. is superior source of ideas, enthusiasm! REMARKS2: ASP says catalog has "best descriptions . . . one of best seen" ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRINT?: DISTRIB_TYPE: DISTRIBUTOR AFFILIATION: ASP ========= (second example:) ========= DISTRIB_MNEUMONIC: M RATING: A DATE LISTED_REVISED: 8/21/90 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ LABELTOP: COMPANY: Seattle Times FIRSTNAME: Paul LASTNAME: Andrews ADDRESS: POB 70 POSITION: PC Columnist CITY: Seattle STATE: WA ZIP: 98111 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ DAY TEL: BBS TEL: FAX TEL: 382-8879 TOLLFREE_ORDER TEL: ------------------------------------------------------------------------ REMARKS1: Paul's Compuserve ID is 76050,161, Paul is a key contact! REMARKS2: Paul writes an extremely well-respected column for major newspaper ------------------------------------------------------------------------ PRINT?: DISTRIB_TYPE: MAGAZINE OR NEWSPAPER WRITER AFFILIATION: (end of records) A few field names deserve closer examination. The DISTRIBUTOR MNEUMONIC is used by myself as a simple entry code: D=DISTRIBUTOR, C=COMPUTER CLUB, B=BBS SYSTEM, M=MAGAZINE OR NEWSPAPER WRITER, A=ASP KEY CONTACT PERSON. This code causes the Reflex (Ver 2.0) database to automatically enter data for both the DISTRIBUTOR TYPE field and LABELTOP field. This saves me some typing and adds a little clarity and usefulness to the data. The PRINT? field can be used by yourself to mark selected entries prior to printing. Both the RATING and DATE LISTED\REVISED fields are somewhat obvious and are discussed in greater detail below. My favorite use of the data fields for mailing label production is to use the LABELTOP as the first line, COMPANY as the second line, ADDRESS as the third, and finally CITY, STATE and ZIP on the final line(s). Add the FIRSTNAME and LASTNAME to the LABELTOP field if you have a name in the name(s) field. An example printout of a mailing label series is presented in a few paragraphs . . . USING THE DATABASE Just as there are many different types of shareware packages and authors, there are many ways of using the database list of shareware vendors. Some authors may prefer to sort the database by RATING and mailing exclusively to the "A" rated vendors or BOTH the "A" and "B" rated vendors. This can be EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE. You might also wish to sort by distributor type (D=DISTRIBUTOR, C=COMPUTER CLUB, B=BBS SYSTEM plus other codes as mentioned above) which will allow you to separate out certain classes of vendors for consideration. Other shareware authors may wish to mail only to vendors within their state or possibly only computer clubs. Other unusual mailings might involve sorting mailing labels by zip code, by state or even by ASP (tm) affiliation. Yet another way to use the database is to import the list and then ADD additional custom fields yourself to track response time by the distributor, date you mailed your shareware, name of key contact person or even a tracking field to show you which distributor has higher response for your package judging by registrations from that state, city or county! If you stumble upon a NECESARY FIELD let me know and I will add it to the database in future editions of this package! Some shareware authors may wish to ADD field(s) describing particular distributor specialization (e.g., bible shareware, graphics images or application packages.) In future editions of the database I could add fields to indicate number of pages in the distributor's catalog or other data. Wouldn't it be great to mail your shareware to distributors having the largest catalogs or some other criteria which is important to YOU the author? I am open to other constructive suggestions to modify or enhance the master database field structure! I have carefully added a field showing the date the distributor was revised or listed in the database, so if you only wish to examine or append the latest updates to the list, sort on the date field and you will quickly find the latest revisons which need to be added to your list. Most database products will let you append a similar file to an existing file. Thus you may add to your list or simply start over with the newer, larger and revised list from my quarterly update. If a distributor has a new phone number, rating or other update, the date field will be changed in my master listing so you can always spot changes by sorting on the date field! PC File (tm) offers a mailing label generator directly within the package and may be attractive if you have not as yet selected a database package. Other packages also have mailing label generators, of course. Here is an example of one sample printout of a small portion of the database file in mailing label format which might give you an idea of both the "live data" inside the database as well as consideration of a user selected subset of the data: AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES CALIFORNIA FREEWARE, Unit C-1 COMPUTER HUT 1747 EAST AVENUE Q 1825-F1 TAMIAMI TR. PALMDALE CA PORT CHARLOTTE FL 93550 33948 SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION CHICAGO COMPUTER SOCIETY FOG POB 8681 POB 3474 CHICAGO IL DALY CITY CA 60680 94015 AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES DATA OUTLET DISK COUNT DATA BOX 776 PO Box 36 MACON GA Lake Hamilton AR 31202 71951 AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES DISK JOCKEY FLORIDA PC LIBRARY POB 7009 P.O. BOX 2878 BOCA RATON FL LEESBURG FL 33431 32749 SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION BOSTON COMPUTER SOCIETY CAPITOL PC USERS GROUP ONE CENTER PLAZA 4520 EAST-WEST HWY, STE 550 BOSTON MA BETHESDA MD 02108 20814 SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION HOUSTON AREA LEAGUE OF PC USERS NYPC POB 61266 40 WALL ST, STE 2124 HOUSTON TX NY NY 77208 10005 AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES GEMINI SHAREWARE GENERIC COMPUTER SYSTEMS 12404 SE 38TH ST 22612 FOOTHILL BLVD, STE 200C BELLEVUE WA HAYWARD CA 98006 94541 AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES NEW ENGLAND SOFTWARE LIBRARY PC ARCADE 9 DAVIS AVENUE 276 MOREHOUSE RD. SHELBURNE VT EASTON CT 05482 06612 AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES AUTHOR SUBMISSIONS & UPDATES PC SHAREWARE PC-SIG 1943 FELSPAR ST. 1030D EAST DUANE AVE. SAN DIEGO CA SUNNYVALE CA 92109 94086 SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION SHAREWARE LIBRARY SUBMISSION PASADENA IBM USERS GROUP PHILADELPHIA COMPUTER SOCIETY 711 - EAST WALNUT ST LA SALLE UNIV, 20TH & OLNEY AV PASADENA CA PHILADELPHIA PA 91101 ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ABOUT THE SHAREWARE DISTRIBUTOR RATING SYSTEM ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ The rating system for each shareware distributor in the database listing is very simple to sort, use and understand in maintaining your direct mail campaign. Each distributor receives a rating of A, B or C. A rating of A is PREFERRED status. A rating of B is COMMENDABLE status. A rating of C is ACCEPTABLE status or PENDING FURTHER RESEARCH. Affiliation with a professional group if noted means membership in the ASP (Association of Shareware Professionals (tm) or other trade group as noted. Ratings of shareware distributors are based on a variety of factors in approximately the following priority (highest to lowest): evidence of customer volume, volume of direct mail advertising, national magazine advertising, quality and size of catalog, degree of feedback and support to AUTHORS, years in business, professional trade affiliations, telephone support, multiple offices/sales locations, BBS support, response to request for information, promptness of shipments, refund policy, reporting of sales volumes to authors and other criteria. I also consider requests by vendors for extreme discounts on registered packages and overt requests for advertising revenues or other solicitations of money or exclusive distribution rights from authors by a vendor as negative factors. In general a high distributor rating may indicate a high volume of customers and thus a more attractive distributor to whom a shareware author might wish to submit software. The rating does not in any way provide an endorsement and as such is is offered only as a SUGGESTION. The purpose of this document is to serve shareware authors as a primary concern and shareware distributors as a secondary consideration. INVITATION TO DISTRIBUTORS: If a shareware distributor provides updated information concerning the points of evaluation listed above, I will enthusiastically consider revising the rating in future issues of this package. Unlisted distributors are encouraged to submit a catalog and detailed letter ON DISK (ASCII format) explaining helpful evaluation factors if they wish to be added to or revised in the mailing list database. The reason I would like the detailed letter on disk is that I may more easily insert all or part of that distributor's comments or supporting statements directly into the remarks field of the database if I determine this is helpful to shareware authors. I harbor no particular ill feelings towards distributors and recognize that they provide a valuable service to authors. However I have noticed that some distributors could improve in many areas. Here again are the points of evaluation a distributor should discuss on DISK in ASCII format: Ratings of shareware distributors are based on a variety of factors in approximately the following priority (highest to lowest): evidence of customer volume, volume of direct mail advertising, national magazine advertising, quality and size of catalog, degree of feedback and support to AUTHORS, years in business, professional trade affiliations, telephone support, multiple offices/sales locations, BBS support, response to request for information, promptness of shipments, refund policy, reporting of sales volumes to authors and other criteria. I also consider requests by vendors for extreme discounts on registered packages and overt requests for advertising revenues or other solicitations of money or exclusive distribution rights from authors by a vendor as negative factors.
Disk No: 2315 Disk Title: $hareware Marketing $ystem PC-SIG Version: S1 Program Title: The Shareware Marketing System Author Version: 90.FA Author Registration: $10.00 Special Requirements: Database (DBF files), or Spreadsheet program (WKS The $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM is a detailed two part resource for shareware authors who need creative ideas and a RATED mailing list of over 800 major shareware distributors, large computer clubs and recommended BBS systems. The first part of the package, the shareware distributor's database, contains mailing addresses, phone numbers, a SHAREWARE DISTRIBUTOR RATING and other detailed data which can be used to prepare envelope mailing labels or BBS calling uploads. The database file is RATED by shareware distributor so you can mail your shareware to vendors rated A, B or C. The database file is supplied in standard file formats such as dBase and 123 which can be directly imported into your database! You can also sort lists of shareware distributors by zip, state or other criteria. Foreign and U.S. distributors and computer clubs are included. The second portion of the package is a detailed newsletter and marketing strategy guide which has been prepared by an established shareware author and contains dozens of creative tips, tricks and traps which every shareware author should review. Written by the author of the PC-LEARN computer tutorial which has accumulated over 9000 registrations in 3 years, the $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM provides detailed and experienced information in a frank, candid and sensible style. This is a package for the shareware author who desperately needs CREATIVE IDEAS for positive financial results. PC-SIG 1030D East Duane Avenue Sunnyvale Ca. 94086 (408) 730-9291 (c) Copyright 1989 PC-SIG, Inc.
████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ REGISTRATION BENEFITS, SUBSCRIPTION BENEFITS ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ $10 registration per issue brings latest LATEST MAILING LIST DATABASE on disk and any updates to the newsletter portion of this system. $30 yearly subscription provides four quarterly issues with updated information and revised distributor mailing lists! If you are a shareware author preparing a new release or updated version, can you afford NOT to have a CURRENT VERSION of the mailing list of RATED shareware distributors? Submitting your disk to the RIGHT distributor can mean MANY FUTURE REGISTRATIONS! Think of it this way: would you pay someone $30 a year to come in to your office and maintain your mailing list of vendors? ██████ TIP ██████ If we get considerable momentum behind this publication I may consider going monthly. That is a lot of information flow in a very concentrated forum. Encourage me to work for YOU! Monthly updates if there is a large volume of interest! This is a shareware software package: PLEASE make copies for your friends and associates. A WORD ABOUT SHAREWARE: If you are new to computers you may not have heard the term SHAREWARE. Basically this means an author or group has prepared a software program which you are free to copy and encouraged to share with others, but the author requests a REGISTRATION FEE. If you received this disk from a shareware distributor who charged $3 or $4 you have only paid a DISTRIBUTION/HANDLING FEE to copy and produce a disk of which NO PORTION goes to the author of the software. You are encouraged to pay the final REGISTRATION FEE which goes to the author of this software. This fee is also a matter of good conscience. The idea is that if the program is useful, you become a registered user of the program. $10 registration per issue brings latest LATEST MAILING LIST DATABASE on disk and any updates to the newsletter portion of this system. $30 yearly subscription provides four quarterly issues with updated information and revised distributor mailing lists! If you are a shareware author preparing a new release or updated version, can you afford NOT to have a CURRENT VERSION of the mailing list of RATED shareware distributors? Submitting your disk to the RIGHT distributor can mean MANY FUTURE REGISTRATIONS! +--------------------------------------------------------------------------+ | Turn your printer on and press both Shift-PrtSc keys together to print. | | Please make sure entire form appears on screen! | | | | To: Seattle Scientific Photography Optional on the back: who | | Dept SMS provided your copy of | | POB 1506 THE $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM | | Mercer Island, WA 98040 Improvements? Have a question? | | Telephone (206) 236-0470 | | | | From: __________________________ What program version | | of $M$ are you | | __________________________ using? _______ | | (see version number | | __________________________ on the top README screen | | | | qty ordered: ____ SINGLE ISSUE REGISTRATION | | $10.00 postpaid (Check in US funds) | | Washington residents add 8.1% sales tax | | | | ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION - 4 ISSUES | | qty ordered: ____ $30.00 postpaid (Check in US funds) | | Washington residents add 8.1% sales tax | +--------------------------------------------------------------------------+
THE $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM (c) 1990 (A shareware software package) from Seattle Scientific Photography EDITOR, JIM HOOD (206) 236-0470 MAILING ADDRESS: PO BOX 1506, MERCER ISLAND, WA 98040 ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ SHAREWARE MARKETING STEP ONE - THE SOFTWARE MUST FILL A NEED! ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ To begin at the beginning, you have a software package or at least an idea for a package. The first question is does your software fill a market need? And is the need so great that someone will pay money for your solution? It is easy to confuse the hard work and frustration of programming - which is considerable - with the perception that the package must be worth something since you worked so hard to produce it. In reality there is NO relation between your programming effort and the real need for the program. Spend some time imagining and researching a large group of computer users who have a need for a package you could produce. I'll present a list of "new ideas for shareware" in just a few paragraphs. Successful shareware fills definite market needs. Glance at the following list of truly successful shareware authors and ponder how your package fits into the market pattern of these documentable winners. You don't have to offer a similar package, just something that fills a real need that people will pay for! Notice that the serious players offer SEVERAL packages or offer one mainstream package and develop it to near commercial quality. Another pattern is that the successful packages tend to be somewhat mainstream (databases, spreadsheets, serious utilities, accounting) BUT NEW IN CONCEPT. Still another pattern is that the winners hang in there for the long haul. They have patience measured in a duration of years. Another pattern is speed: successful shareware authors bring a program to market quickly before any other shareware (or commercial) company can. In some ways this is the advantage of remaining an proudly independent programmer: you can quickly decide on program features and bring your new idea to market faster than a large organization. A final pattern is dedication to excellence - successful authors continually refine and hone their programs to be the fastest, most user friendly then continuously update them which itself attracts considerable market attention. Study this list for patterns of SHAREWARE SUCCESS carefully! LARGEST SHAREWARE ENTERPRISES Buttonware - Baker's Dozen utilities, PC-Calc, PC-Type, XD, PC-File Datastorm - Procomm telecommunications package Quicksoft - PC-Write, PC-Browse, PC-Write Lite Brown Bag - Homebase, Powermenu, Goalseeker, PC-Outline, Cash-Trac Magee Enterprises - Automenu, Treeview Expressware - File Express, Express Calc, Check, Graph, Onside. PKWare - Pkzip Hooper Inc - Finance Manger Accounting Series, Cheque it Out MAJOR SOFTWARE COMPANIES Trius - ASEASYAS, Draft Choice AM Software - AM-TAX Sydex - 22 Disk, Teledisk FormalSoft - CubeCalc Mustang - Mortplan, PrtLabel, Wildcat Omniverse - Galaxy Word Processor REASONABLY SUCCESSFUL INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS Neil Wagstaff - Family Ties Justin Boyan - Boyan Telecommunications program Mark Adler - NY Word John Friel - Qmodem Mark Harris - LQ utilities Dennis Lozen - Fastbucks Robert Hime - Letters and Labels Jerry Medlin - Medlin Accounting, PC-GL and others ██████ TIP ██████ Know thy timeline: it will take 3 to 5 years to build critical mass behind your product. Be patient and hold on to that mail room job for a while. Fill a need. Don't program games (low registration potential) if you can program an application. Don't spend hours programming a killer database when 1,760 databases already exist. Find a niche market, create a niche market or spot a problem that isn't being solved. Watch for commercial software packages that seem new or unusual in concept then see if you can "shareware" the same concept to market quickly. Study other shareware that is "almost" market perfect but somehow misses the mark. Consider weaving the good ideas from several packages into one package. Consider collaborating with another shareware author. You will have to write more than one package if you are serious about shareware as a marketing method! As a starting point, consider these concepts for shareware packages: Mapping and plotting of contours, conversion of satellite imagery, business plan creation tools and templates, decision making software, IEEE 488 interface programming tools, contractor accounting package for DOD 2002, OCR with spell checking and AI, Criterium clone, AI resume generator, VGA demonstration systems, Windows 3.0 programs and toolkits, toolbook clone, libraries in C and pascal, dBase compiler, label printer with AI which can scan in any source document and find and format label information, Rbase clone with royalty free runtimes, AI Video store management system, clone any of the programs in the PowerUp software catalog, Reflex clone, extremely complex vertical market management and market research packages for banking, law, medicine and biotechnology, database compilations of selected mailing lists, shareware magazines, package-specific tutorial systems, home business planning and marketing packages, shareware distributor inventory and billing packages, direct mail planning and marketing kits, how to deal with lower back pain for computer programmers, planning and pricing a move to another state, job finding kits, foreign investment guides, lists of Russian entrepreneurs, emerging home office income opportunity newsletters, tropical fish disease database, packages for senior citizens on a state by state resource basis and on and on! This is just a little from the "fat idea file" on my desk! If you really want to stretch your thinking, go down to your local library and scan through shelves of books and magazines and ask the question: could I do this as an interactive shareware package and find the precise market niche for the product? Books and magazines are the ultimate random access device - a floppy disk and computer are really just the same thing with a little more speed and intelligence. A beautiful concept for a package I had is a TOTAL management and billing control package for a person taking care of a senior citizen - the package would manage medical billings, physician appointments, banking and money, dental claims, unpaid bills, income sources and so forth. With the graying of the baby boom generation this is sure to be an explosive opportunity. I have hundreds of ideas and more like this in a fat folder on my desk - and I don't have the time and programming skills to make these ideas happen! Write me if you want to brainstorm ideas for packages nobody has yet done which may have incredible market potential as the shareware market matures. I would like to see shareware distributors start compiling a list of "needed software" derived from actual requests of their customers. Better yet, this could become the "bright ideas" database within this $hareware Marketing $ystem: you submit an idea which is maybe a little too complex for you to program or team up with a programmer to write the tough code while you work on an elegant user interface - follow the drift? There are MILLIONS of programs which have yet to be written and I would like to see shareware authors capture the largest part of the pie. I'm on your side since I am a shareware author too! My next bright idea is a shareware DISTRIBUTORS newsletter with a compilation of the best and brightest marketing ideas I have seen and discovered from shareware distributors throughout America. I'll bet most shareware distributors would find such a newsletter interesting and my idea and concept file for that package is already 8 inches thick (still too thin for me to get interested just yet!) I hope you sense the concept: ORIGINALITY, PROFESSIONAL EXECUTION AND RAPID DISTRIBUTION are more important that raw programming skills! Avoid the standards which everyone else writes such as bible search programs, text managers, hard drive menu systems, checkbook programs, general ledgers, genealogy systems, tiny little printer utilities, games, lotto pickers and spreadsheets. There are millions of other brighter ideas. PC-LEARN evolved in a more or less logical fashion. As the coordinator for a computer club I noticed an insatiable need for a SIMPLE tutorial for beginners. I wrote a few articles for the club newsletter which were avidly snapped up. Next I compiled several articles into what might be termed a PC-LEARN prototype. Response was good, but the articles were deemed too complex! Back to the drawing board and another try. Each time I got a little closer the market told me what to do next. I searched shareware catalogs for competitors to PC-LEARN (there were some, but lacking in some areas of content and simplicity). I checked commercial sources for similar tutorials which gave me further encouragement. Finally I submitted an early version of the package to several BBS systems and PC-SIG which is a large shareware distributor in California. Still more revisions and more aggressive marketing followed. I was prepared to wait about five years and then abandon the product since my commercial photography business was far more profitable with a lot less effort. But then the magic happened and PC-LEARN began to bring in registration checks and I knew I might be onto something interesting. Moral: programming a package is the easy part. Marketing persistence and patience measured in terms of years is where the work really starts! Reasons to try shareware distribution methods? You can't afford a major advertising and promotion budget. You need extra income but already have a job. Your existing package for a consultation client is good and might be adapted to a larger audience. Your small utility or game just wouldn't be attractive in the commercial software market, but a realistic extra $50 or $100 per year for your small package might be a stroke to the ego. ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ SHAREWARE MARKETING STEP TWO - PROGRAM LOGISTICS ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ The best shareware adheres to certain common formulas: Strive to have your package run on humble monochrome machines as well as sophisticated VGA graphics computers. Can your software auto-detect various graphics resolutions and adjust accordingly? Remember that there are more monochrome machines out there than anything else. The customer can't send you a registration if he/she can't even read the registration request screen! High end packages have a very narrow base of support for registrations! Make the program run by intuition. Meaning: can the user fire it up and run your program without even glancing at the documentation. Good shareware is self-documenting as it runs! Don't rely on windows specific programs unless you are willing to wait until the majority of users run Windows. If you must, offer a version for windows and a non-windows version. Don't program specifically for 286/386 chips or math co-processors unless you want your program to leave the majority of users behind. Auto-detect these chips but don't hardwire instructions for these chips directly into your code. Make sure the program is REALLY bug free. If necessary reduce your program features even if you suspect a bug might be contained in a flashy graphics or machine code sequence. Shareware already has a reputation for being buggy in the eyes of many users. Consider having the program display a copyright and registration notice as the first welcome screen. This protects you and certainly reminds the user of your program of the need to register. In the shareware trade this is usually called the "beg screen." Will your program fit in whole or logical portions of standard 360K floppy disks? This is essential. Don't require a hard drive unless the program absolutely needs it. Provide two versions - one hard drive compatible and one floppy compatible, but don't neglect the big market of users with simple machines. While we are speaking about drives, do not ever hard code a floppy drive or directory into your program. Always allow a default directory and user selectable switching to other drives and directories. If necessary provide either a separate configuration program for drives, colors, and options or provide choices from a menu within the program. Not everyone's computer is the same as yours! The majority of machines out there are probably simpler than your machine. ██████ TIP ██████ Consider "brain bartering" Example: your package has many software features, but you need some excellent documentation upgrades for your package but aren't a good writer. Try swapping some programming skills with another shareware programmer whose package needs some revision or bug fixes in exchange for that author doing a serious rewrite of your documentation. No matter how proud you are of your programming skills, there is another shareware author out there who is better at machine code, documentation production, beta testing or something you can't do. Make a list of what your program needs but you don't know how or have time to accomplish. Post a message on a BBS system or write directly to another shareware author. Brain bartering! I would like to list in this publication a brain barter database: send me a note about what programming skill you can offer and what programming skill you need. Write it like a little want ad, ship it to me on ASCII disk and we thus have the brain barter database! I have some definite needs for programming upgrades to my own package PC-LEARN that I do not know how to accomplish. Write me! Believe it or not I don't know how to program in BASIC, C, PASCAL or even dBASE. I just tinker with batch files and program in the english language. Take a look at PC-LEARN and you will see loads of English but little programming! Crippleware (a program with limited features, date or time traps, or other cripples) is a sure looser. No crippled programs have ever made it in shareware! At one time the famous WAMPUM database had a date trap cripple which has now been removed. Moral: As soon as a user even faintly smells a cripple your program is out of the running for that registration check! If you make references to DOS commands be PAINFULLY clear. A lot of users still don't understand statements such as "boot DOS then diskcopy your master floppy onto a backup diskette then prepare two HD subdirectories, one for the program and one for the data." This seems pretty simple, but will confuse a lot of users who will not even try your program. Explain DOS commands clearly with painfully simple examples in both your program and documentation. Consider offering a detailed DOS training course in your documentation which some users will register even if they could care less about your program! See my DOS Tutorial in PC-LEARN if you want to examine painfully simple examples of DOS commands which many users can't seem to get enough of! Notice that many good shareware distributor catalogs always have little mini-DOS courses on the inside cover. Notice that commercial software houses such as Borland include mini-DOS courses in the appendix section of their program manuals. Moral: there are a lot of computer novices out there who need clear instructions and will send you a registration check if you can keep your documentation clear, simple and useful. ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ SHAREWARE MARKETING STEP THREE - DISTRIBUTION AND MARKETING LOGISTICS ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ The final product pending yet another inevitable revision is the DISTRIBUTION DISK which is duplicated and submitted to shareware vendors, computer clubs and unsuspecting neighbors and co-workers. Some checkpoints: Always include a file named README on the disk. The README file must be sorted to the top of the directory listing. No exceptions! I suggest not even using a file extension (e.g., don't use README.TXT.) Here is why: when you sort the files in final distribution order (best by extension then filename) the README file will sort to the top of the directory where it belongs and where it will catch the eye and serve its purpose. Within the README file the first item at the top of the should be the program name, version number, author mailing address and provocative description including some "sizzle words." The top of the README file is the most valuable real estate in a shareware disk! Use it well! It demands more programming time and thought than the rest of your program code! Your program description must be provocative and precise. A reviewer will look for this first and frequently use it verbatim as a catalog listing. A user will be encouraged to try the program. The description isn't just a description, it must sizzle with what might be termed marketing adjectives! Obviously don't overdo the sizzle to the exclusion of the steak. Look again at the first item in the README file on this disk. (example follows:) VERSION 90.FA (1990-FALL) THE $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM (c) 1990 A shareware software package from Seattle Scientific Photography Editor, Jim Hood (206) 236-0470 Mailing address: PO BOX 1506, Mercer Island, WA 98040 ----> To start: A>GO <then press return/enter key> DETAILED DESCRIPTION The $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM is a detailed two part resource for shareware authors who need creative ideas and a RATED mailing list of over 800 major shareware distributors, large computer clubs and recommended BBS systems. The first part of the package, the shareware distributor's database, contains mailing addresses, phone numbers, a SHAREWARE DISTRIBUTOR RATING and other detailed data which can be used to prepare envelope mailing labels or BBS calling uploads. The database file is RATED by shareware distributor so you can mail your shareware to vendors rated A, B or C. The database file is supplied in standard file formats such as dBase and 123 which can be directly imported into your database! You can also sort lists of shareware distributors by zip, state or other criteria. Foreign and U.S. distributors and computer clubs are included. The second portion of the package is a detailed newsletter and marketing strategy guide which has been prepared by an established shareware author and contains dozens of creative tips, tricks and traps which every shareware author should review. Written by the author of the PC-LEARN computer tutorial which has accumulated over 9000 registrations in 3 years, the $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM provides detailed and experienced information in a frank, candid and sensible style. This is a package for the shareware author who desperately needs CREATIVE IDEAS for positive financial results. Updates are planned (4 issues per year) and monthly updates are contemplated. Program runs on ALL systems and does NOT require color or special graphics. You will need a database program such as PC-File, Wampum, dBase, Rbase, Reflex or any database program which can load in files in dBase III format (DBF files). You may also use any spreadsheet program which can load in Lotus (WKS) files as an alterntive if you do not have a database. (end of example) Notice that IMMEDIATELY the reader locates the essentials: what is the name? What is the version? What is the description? Is the description interesting? If space permits within the README file also include a list of files and their descriptions, sizes and dates as well as further instructions on how to start the program and print the documentation. A distribution disk should be defragged, date cleaned, EN sorted and spell checked. What does this mean? 1) Use a file defragmentation program to make all files contiguous prior to preparing the distribution disk. 2) Run a small utility like TOUCH.COM on the disk so all files have the same date/time stamp. 3) Run a file sorter like Norton on the disk to sort the files first by extension then by name (EN sort). 4) Use your word processor's spelling checker to clean up unprofessional documentation spelling errors (we're all human!) I am always amazed at how many shareware authors overlook these basic requirements! Also never use subdirectories on your main distribution disk!!! Prepare thorough documentation in ASCII text for your program. Include instructions on how to print it for the novice user. Maximum suggested text width is about 65 columns to allow for margins and printer variations. Consider ALL of your documentation for novices and prepare it accordingly. Document all auxiliary programs, special drivers and configuration programs as well as the main program! Don't use jargon; give examples of steps you intend. Moral: Good software gets the customer interested, but good documentation gets the registration sent! Many programs require adjustment of the AUTOEXEC.BAT or CONFIG.SYS files. Explain this in detail and give examples! You cannot explain BATCH files, AUTOEXEC.BAT or CONFIG.SYS too frequently!!! If possible provide example letters, files or other data so a user can play with the software with dummy data to quickly see if the package is useful. Many shareware authors ship large programs in ZIP or ARC compressed format. Be sure to thoroughly explain how to unpack to single drive systems, double drive systems and hard drive systems! Harder than it sounds when you consider the variations! Try to construct batch file(s) to unpack or configure the program to various systems. As a clue to unpacking to single drive systems, instruct the batch file to create a ramdrive, ukpack the archive file into the ramdrive and then copy it back onto a formatted floppy. Conversely, you could copy the archive into the ramdrive and then directly unpack onto one or several floppies. You get the idea . . . Recently PC Magazine offered a batch file compiler utility which makes slow clunky batch files fly. Consider compiling your batch files. The little compiler is named BAT2EXEC.COM and was discussed in VOL9N15 of their Magazine. The utility itself is contained on many bulletin boards and the PC MagNet service on Compuserve. It is sure to become a classic! Always include an invoice in standard layout format in several areas of the program as well as an exclusive menu option. Some shareware programs even make it an option every time the program exits! Corporate users and Government offices require an invoice to process billings. The simple statement "$30 registration required" doesn't cut the mustard! Include a line for purchase order number if space permits. Whenever you ship a disk to a distributor or customer the prevailing thought is to enclose a pleasant business letter describing the program and asking the reader to consider using it or adding it to his/her list. My own personal opinion is to reprint the README file from your disk verbatim and submit it instead of the pleasant business letter! If you can't submit it verbatim, fix your README file! It should be more effective than the polite business letter because it has a clearly focused market style understandable to readers, reviewers and users of shareware. ██████ TIP ██████ Make sure you receive a catalog from each distributor to whom you have sent a disk. Jot a note in your computer database about the date you shipped them a disk. Get a catalog from them 4 to 6 months later to determine if your program has been listed. Call their toll free number. Give them the name of your cat and mailing address for a free catalog so they don't cross reference your name on their mailing list. Some distributors are notoriously stingy sending out free catalogs and thus won't send you one if they know you are only a shareware author poking around trying to see if your software is finally listed in their catalog - they may have your name on file in their computer, but certainly not your cat's name! Two disk-based catalogs which I especially enjoy are from PrairieWare and Disk Count Data, both of which are listed in the main database. Disk-based catalogs are interesting in that we are beginning to see some distributors exploring new frontiers in catalog production using disks which are infinitely more recyclable than chopping down trees for paper - call this a personal bias, but I wish the shareware industry would head this direction. When you are tired of the disk, put something new on it and send it along to someone else! I don't think most trees will complain, and the petrochemicals used to make disks are already dead! If you are archiving all or sections of the program be logical! Will each unpacked archive still fit on a single 360K floppy? I have seen many archived programs which are too large to unpack to single floppy disks. You can kiss many registration checks goodbye from owners of simple machines. Is the archive file name descriptive and possibly hint at the version number? (e.g., THE LAWNMOWER REPAIR UTILITIES Version 3.6 = LAWNUT36.ZIP) Label your disks professionally. On a single label at the top of your disk use a large font for the program name and version, a medium font for the startup command and finally a small font description of the program. Some shareware authors use oversize labels and almost squeeze the entire README file onto the label - which is not such a bad idea! Just as the README FILE is the most valuable real estate inside a disk, the label is the most valuable real estate outside a disk! Think like a marketing animal and program like a marketing animal! There are many good label programs which will run on humble dot matrix printers. Many of these programs are shareware or public domain. Speaking of labels, I prefer to make mailing labels (for the outside of the shipping envelope) on plain paper, two or three up, and simply cut and glue them to the face of the envelope. Saves a lot of money on sticky Avery labels when you mail out a lot of disks if you think about it! Update your database list and record to who and when the distribution disk was mailed. Make a note to check back in 6 months to see if the distributor added your disk to his/her catalog. In general, mailing your shareware to a distributor not within the United States is a waste of time. I have received little if any response from either distributors or customers outside the United States. In some respects this may represent a poor understanding of shareware and how the cash flow should work. My personal opinion is that while about 85% of U.S. users won't register your package even though they use if for many MONTHS, somehow about 154% of foreign users won't register even though they use it for many YEARS! In many respects U.S. distributors maintain operations in other countries (e.g., PC-SIG and GEMINI) so if you submit your shareware to them, it will find its way overseas anyway. ██████ TIP ██████ I have put a single blank space in the database listing of shareware distributors in FRONT of the city field for foreign distributors. So if you sort the database by city, the foreign distributors will jump to the top of the list and you can ignore them or use them in your mailing as you wish. ██████ TIP ██████ Use "distributor leverage" to get your foot in the door. Example: once my package PC-LEARN was officially listed by PC-SIG, most other shareware distributors were willing to add it to their library just to "maintain marketing parity" with PC-SIG. Moral: work hard on listing with the big distributors, then let the smaller ones know via a printed letter accompanying your submission that major distributors have assigned your program to their catalog. Include the disk number/catalog number for that major distributor as evidence! Should you distribute to computer clubs/users groups? My personal opinion is to mail to the shareware distributors first and mail to only the largest computer clubs sparingly. The reason, although this may raise the ire of computer clubs, is that most club members are awash in shareware anyway and seldom check each new offering. Only the largest clubs have a newsletter which might feature your shareware as a new addition to the library. The rate of registrations I have experienced in my own documented analysis of registrations coming from computer club sources versus shareware distributors is about 20:1. Meaning I receive about 20 registrations from distributor's clients for every one from a computer club member who directly traced their source copy to the club library. In general the shareware distributors catalogs reach more people who need shareware than those who are already awash in shareware! Mail to a few of the largest clubs and skip the rest. Them's the hard facts . . . ██████ TIP ██████ Two superb target audiences are 1) folks living in smaller towns beyond the major metropolitan hubs and 2) seniors who have a little more time than most of us and are just getting started in computers. Sounds crazy but many registrations I receive are from little towns and are seniors if you carefully read the notes, questions and comments. However your package must be simple and attractive for this type of audience: a database, gardening guide, genealogy system, or personal accounting package would be a good candidate. A cross compiler wouldn't, obviously! Moral: if you decide to buy a small ad in a publication to try marketing your package directly, go for a logical four star choice like the TOPPSQUASH TRAVEL AND LEISURE GUIDE. Or even your own church bulletin if you have a religious software package. Skip the expensive ads in computer magazines. Are you after money or an ego stroke in an expensive magazine? You might consider joining the ASSOCIATION OF SHAREWARE PROFESSIONALS to further your education if you are serious about your software. The ASP has the backing of major players like Buttonware, Magee and Quicksoft and some fine ideas for marketing and mutual support. Dues are $50 per year. One drawback is that currently information flow is limited to Compuserve meetings on line and personal updates at Comdex. I don't belong simply because I am just too busy, but I certainly endorse the concept of shareware authors banding together and helping each other in a constructive fashion. The ASP publishes a disk based catalog which freely circulates among U.S. BBS systems which you might wish to examine. The ASP was formed in 1987 and members subscribe to a code of ethics. No ratings are given to member shareware. The ASP Ombudsman can help customers resolve disputes with ASP members. The ASP maintains four forums on Compuserve: IBMJR 8, 9, 10 and 11. IBMJR 8 and 9 are open to the public. Type GO SHAREWARE at any prompt. In addition a recent agreement with Compuserve will allow any shareware user who registers an ASP shareware program a free membership to Compuserve and a $15 usage credit. ASP members agree to allow their programs to be examined and approved by the membership board. In addition, ASP members must agree not to cripple the program and must provide adequate support and documentation. Their trademarked symbol and address follows: ┌─────────┐(tm) ┌─────┴───┐ │ ──│ │o │────────────────── │ ┌─────┴╨──┐ │ Association of │ │ ├─┘ Shareware └───┤ o │ Professionals ──────│ ║ │──────────────────── └────╨────┘ The Association of Shareware Professionals P.O. Box #5786 Bellevue, WA 98006 ██████ TIP ██████ You can also try to simultaneously distribute both commercially and via shareware. Kevin King, the brilliant owner at DISK-COUNT DATA shareware distributors, is one of the most amazingly creative people I have bumped into. He developed a little commercial retail package and distributes it to small stores with shareware packed inside. It is easy to understand: Obtain standard 7 x 9 inch poly plastic bags. You can use the expensive ones with ziplock seals from your grocery store or just look in the yellow pages under BAGS and order 1000 count non-ziplock types. Next design some nice artwork via a desktop publishing program and professionally print it onto stiff colored card stock exactly 7 x 5 inches in size. A printer can put two of these labels on a single standard sheet of card stock. Fold the newly made card label across the top of the bag, staple it shut and punch a hole in it for hanging on a rack. Cheap, effective retail packaging. I have extended the concept with PC-LEARN so that users return the yellow label for their bonus disk which tells me they got it from a retail location. Good locations for this kind of humble retail package are college bookstores, retirement homes, libraries, small stop and shop convenience stores and many stores with magazine racks. It has worked for me. Be sure to contact Kevin King at DISK-COUNT DATA for one of his amazing little DISK-BASED shareware catalogs. Kevin runs a major business out of Hot Springs Arkansas and is a bottomless fountain of SUPERIOR marketing ideas! His address is in the main database. Next let's examine superb author feedback and shareware distribution the way the pros do it: at PC-SIG and Public Brand (addresses in the main database.) At PC-SIG you will first be sent an application form which must be scrupulously filled out and returned. The review process takes from one to three months. A reviewer will eventually check out your shareware and send you a second response as the process moves along. The front of the PC-SIG form is a combined submission and update form. At the top right is a submission tracking number for packages under evaluation but not yet accepted into the library. Also on the front are spaces for the following: program title, version number, update or new submission checkboxes, author name, address, city, state, zip, day tel, evening tel, checkboxes to acknowledge that you are the author and submitting it as shareware or public domain, signature and date. On the reverse of the form are spaces to assist the reviewer. It is highly suggested that this information be submitted in ASCII on disk. The information on the back of the form is as follows: program title, detailed description, who is intended user, (if this is update,) what are improvements over old version, unique features/why is your program better, program's capacity or limitations such as record capacity, special system requirements such as memory/drives/monitor, how to start program, registration fee, materials or services which come with registration, list of files and one line description (ASCII file preferred). Many packages don't make it at PC-SIG because of poor quality and software bugs. The second advisory letter will acknowledge that PC-SIG is reviewing your program in greater detail. Finally if all goes well, the final acceptance letter arrives noting the formal PC-SIG catalog number. A nice shareware author's newsletter is also sent from time to time to keep you abreast of catalog deadlines and deadlines for their CD-ROM disk of library offerings. When you submit an update, the special submission form always accompanies your disk. Nice, effective and very professional. The newsletters give you an inside track on the shareware industry and you have a chance to change or edit the description of your program if the reviewer places your program in the main catalog. PC-SIG is one of the few distributors which can actually track and tell you how many of your packages have been shipped. They decline to give you customer names and addresses which makes sense when you consider the logistics, but this is a REAL PLUS which few smaller distributors can provide! Public Brand is similar yet different. Step one is a submission and acknowledgement form similar to the PC-SIG method. Step two involves posting on their BBS system for review by many others as well as their own reviewers. Step three, of course is an acknowledgement letter. They do an equally nice job and in some ways their catalog with ratings, registration prices and new releases of previously commercial products like X Tree and (previously Brown Bag Software's) VP-Info Relational Database places them among the best. Many other fine shareware distributors exist on the scene, but these two place a premium on author feedback, acknowledgment letters, and logistic support systems that redefine the word distributor. If nothing else, information about these two companies will prepare you for what lies ahead and give you a yardstick by which to gauge other distributors. As a minimum even the smaller distributors should at least send an inexpensive postcard to authors to acknowledge submission of disks - many don't however! Many smart shareware distributors are now paying for or swapping mailing lists of customers. Moral: keep a tight database of customers who register your product and resell it or swap for more names with a shareware distributor. Remember you can make money selling information and information ABOUT information. ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ SHAREWARE MARKETING STEP FOUR - CASHFLOW AND REGISTRATION CONSIDERATIONS ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ You will never forget the day. The day you open the mailbox and your FIRST registration check arrives! My first check came from Orlando, Florida several years ago. Orlando is a long way from Seattle where I live. It boggles the mind! You design something and toss it out on an electronic wind called the shareware distribution network and it finds someone who will pay you for your package. Over the space of about three years, more than 9000 little envelopes arrived. Shareware is amazingly heady stuff! But let's back up a few steps. How much should you charge for your package? A good place to do some research is catalogs from Public Brand Software and PC-SIG which are listed in the main database of this package. These catalogs list the registration fees for many shareware packages and will give you some ideas about what you should charge. In general, graphics packages, games and small utilities are in the $5 to $20 range. Larger applications packages like databases, accounting systems or word processors typically are priced at about 30% to 50% of their commercial counterparts. Specialized vertical market software (e.g., a billing system for a dental office) are priced higher in the $50 to $300 range due to the smaller market and frequent need for higher and more sophisticated customer support. PC-LEARN, my package, is priced at only $10.00. My interest is volume and a more than attractive price. What goodies or "carrots" should you offer to induce registrations? Traditionally a printed manual, telephone support and a free update are commonly needed by users. Update notices should be mailed out giving the chance for customers to upgrade. Upgrades are usually priced at about 15% to 25% of the original package price. Other goodies might be a bonus disk which is the method my package PC-LEARN uses. What's in the bonus disk? Why a BONUS, of course! Site licenses for larger software installations, universities and businesses should be mentioned even if no price is given. Other goodies to be considered are newsletters, source code or utilities which augment the main package. Registration cash flow is serious business. As a minimum PROMPTNESS is essential. Train yourself to provide same day or next day response to all arriving registration checks. Even if your package promises no support or update, send out a registration number and thank you letter as a minimum. Going on vacation? Hire a friend to cover your registration system. Visa and Mastercard are good possibilities if you want to aggressively enter the profitable phone order business and is a good thing to mention in your documentation. Your bank can provide information about setup procedures which are fairly simple. A fee is charged to you for each transaction. You will probably be asked for trade references and account status information so be prepared to provide some financial background information. If you raise the price of your program you will have to content yourself with honoring the lower price for a few years since any older version of your software will inevitably sit on a bulletin board in Southeast Toppsquash for years before it is updated. Don't even be tempted to raise the price on a customer who sends you a check. You might, however make it a condition in a polite letter than you will give him/her the newer higher priced version at the old price if they will tell you where they got the old program so you can update it and get it forever out of your hair! Telephone support is a pandora's box. It seems to be a bottomless pit of time with no recognizable income potential. But just remember that Wordperfect (tm) has become a major word processor for, among many reasons, the unlimited excellence of its support. The toll free Wordperfect telephone number even appears on the help screens of the program itself! One reasonable way to provide support is to note in your documentation that support is available only evenings or weekends or at certain times of the day. Next an amazingly powerful idea from Bob Wallace of Quicksoft and PC-Write fame: On the subject of unregistered users, it is best to answer a few questions and politely suggest that other calls are on the line and mention that the caller may register for full support. The PC Write offices of Bob Wallace use PC-Browse (one of their products) to pop up over ANY application they happen to be running and quickly scan for a registration number via a hypertext link. If the number is there, bingo, you are talking to a registered user. Yet you don't have to dedicate one computer to a registration database when everyone in the office can pop it up over any screen at any time. Clever, don't you think? Take a second look at PC-Browse with this idea in mind and DON'T FORGET to register PC Browse if you use it. Both Bob Wallace (Quicksoft/PC-Write fame) and Jim Button (Buttonware/PC-File fame) have personally presented programs at our small Mercer Island computer club in past years and I am impressed that authors of major programs like Jim and Bob as well as authors of little programs (like me!) appreciate and deserve that registration check! ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ SHAREWARE MARKETING STEP FIVE - COMMERCIAL AND SEMI-COMMERCIAL MARKETING ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ So that is the system, right? Hardly. The next step which the largest and most successful shareware authors have followed is both commercial and "semi-commercial" marketing. This means stepping outside the shareware distribution network into the real world of commercial advertising and marketing. Consider PC-File from Buttonware. A classic product with superb features and ease of use. A shareware product which has also made its way into commercial distribution channels like the Egghead Software Stores. Another is Procomm which now has a commercial version. If you follow the drift, the next target is to push yourself and your product a little harder. Can you convince a local retailer to carry your product on his or her magazine rack? Will a local software or magazine company accept 50 free copies of your product (in attractive packaging) for a test market run in their outlets? With PC-LEARN, my product, I place small ads in local and community papers and allow editors of those local papers to serialize the package in print as a computer column with questions, answers and of course sections of PC-LEARN. I require that the editor run a display ad featuring PC-LEARN next to each reprinted section of the article in each issue of the paper. The traditional channels of shareware distribution can only take you so far. Buttonware knows this and so do most of the major players on the shareware scene. By carefully, inexpensively and cleverly finding or bartering for commercial advertising space you ramp up your project just as the major players do. Remember I said that PC-LEARN received about 9,000 registrations in three years? I would estimate 1,500 to 2,000 came from traditional shareware sources. The remaining majority from semi-commercial routes like newspaper ads and bartered swapping of sections of PC-LEARN in exchange for advertising space. The point is this: to play for serious registration money you must be prepared to put in as much (if not more) time on marketing than on programming. ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ SHAREWARE MARKETING STEP SIX - CURVEBALLS AND "SNAREWARE" ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ Into every life a little rain must fall, as they say. If you choose to actively and aggressively market your shareware through established distributors, be aware of "interesting offers." Most shareware distributors are reputable and fully understand that authors are their lifeblood. However a few distributors like to put a spin on things and will call you with various "pitches." Examples: one shareware distributor has an interest in offering registered versions of your program in addition to shareware versions. Nothing wrong with that, but be aware that the distributor may want a DEEP discount for volume packages of the registered version which cuts into your profit, depending on your interest. The distributor may propose that deep discount registered versions be offered by you to him as a requirement to listing your program in that distributor's catalog. Other distributors may call asking for exclusive rights which locks your package to them as a sole distributor. Still others may call or write asking you to help pay for advertising or mailing of their catalogs as a condition before they will accept your program. I personally feel there is nothing wrong with purchasing advertising in a distributor's catalog or mailing if the opportunity presents itself, but making this a requirement prior to listing your program is an arm twist of a different sort. Still another distributor who we shall leave unnamed proposes that gold stickers (costing $1.00 each in minimum rolls of 100) be required to be placed on your disk and exclusively available from that one distributor - before other distributors can further pass around your software. The gold stickers arrive with a serious legal contract which other distributors must sign. You get the drift. Human ingenuity can put a mischievous spin on a simple idea (shareware - try it before you buy it.) Basically, be prepared for interesting calls and proposals if you get involved with distributors. For some reason a few distributors seem to feel that they can obtain money both downstream (from the customer) as well as upstream (from the author). Keep your antennae up. By the way, some of these "interesting proposals" have come to me from ASP affiliated distributors which is a curious twist on ethical standards, to say the least . . . Moral: don't allow shareware to turn into SNAREWARE! Thanks for spending some time browsing through this article and considering the opportunities in shareware. By helping each other we all have a little fun and share in a little income. Even if you may not be interested in registering or subscribing to the $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM, drop me a note if you would like to share an idea or provide constructive criticism. If it is a good idea, I'll give you a free one year subscription (four quarterly issues.) My best regards . . . I'm a very small shareware author by most standards, but my hope is that you will borrow some of my tricks and go for a shot at the brass ring. My sincerest wishes for your success in the shareware industry! ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████████ Jim Hood is a commercial photographer by training and a computer hobbyist by preference. He resides about 3 miles from Seattle, Washington on Mercer Island, a city of about 24,000 people in the middle of Lake Washington. A former coordinator for the Mercer Island Computer Club, Jim divides his time between computer related hobby activities and the operation of Seattle Scientific Photography which produces 35mm lecture/presentation slides for a variety of clients. Jim attended the University of Sophia in Tokyo, Japan and Seattle University in Seattle. He has taught classes at the University of Washington Experimental College. His first shareware program, PC-LEARN was written using the PC-Write word processor. That program absorbed approximately 950 hours of programming, editing and research time. PC-LEARN is distributed by many reputable shareware software distributors. Your honesty in submitting a registration fee for using PC-LEARN or THE $HAREWARE MARKETING $YSTEM is appreciated!
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