Good Books publisher Merle Good and his wife, Phyllis Pellman Good, the brains behind the Fix-It and Forget-It series, which has sold 6.7 million copies, have just launched a series they say functions as a "cousin" to Fix-It and Forget-It—and it looks like another home run. The 26-year-old Intercourse, Pa., company, which specializes in books on Amish and Mennonite cooking, crafts and culture, released Fix-It and Enjoy-ItCookbook two weeks ago. After just six days of sales, it was the fifth top-selling trade paperback at Wal-Mart, and the seventh top-selling nonfiction book for AMS (which services Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's)—without any advertising or promotion.
With nearly 700 recipes for dishes like Ham and Pea Casserole, Fix-It and Enjoy-It (first printing: 500,000) exudes the same homey spirit that the Goods believe attracted readers to the earlier series—but it's entering a much more crowded marketplace. While the first series drew on that workhorse of middle American kitchens, the slow cooker, the new series focuses on "regular, all-purpose cooking," i.e., using a stovetop, oven or grill. Hoping to differentiate the new series, but "not too much," the Goods came up with the "cousins" analogy.
Without the slow cooker angle, though, the book must hold its own against all the other books out there on how to prepare dinner for the family in less than half an hour—and do it without a tie-in TV show or sexy author. Still, the Goods are confident the Fix-It brand will draw readers familiar with the series' can-do spirit. The publisher played it safe with the new cookbook, practically duplicating the old series' look in cover design and interior layout (it's available in hardcover, paperback and plastic-comb binding).
The house has hired an independent publicity firm to promote the book and is running full-page ads touting the new branch of the Fix-It family in PW, the New York Times, USA Today and People. Phyllis Pellman Good, senior editor and the author of all the Fix-It books, will do radio, TV and print interviews. "I was worried buyers would say we'll bring the new one in and phase the old one out," Merle Good noted, "but nobody's said that."
The marketing strategy behind Fix-It and Enjoy-It certainly differs from the approach the Goods took with their first series. The first title in that series, released in late 2000, took off largely on its own; the 10,000-copy first printing quickly sold out without any advertising or publicity. Merle Good attributes the book's success to the excellent store placement (on the "cooking with appliances" shelf in bookstores) and the fact that it didn't intimidate inexperienced cooks. By late 2001, Fix-It and Forget-ItCookbooklanded on the New York Times extended list. Three more books followed. No additional titles in the new series are planned yet.