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Archive for December, 2009

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A Bad Distribution Experience

I recently had a conversation with an author who was trying to understand why her distributor “oversold” her book and she got so many returns. She had even done an additional print run to try to keep up with “demand” and was now stuck with hundreds of books that didn’t “sell through” to the consumer. This is a very good illustration of what can happen when you decide to play with the “big boys” without really understanding the full implications of doing that. The sad thing is that this author really only wanted her book in a few local stores, but didn’t fully realize what she was getting into when she signed on with a distributor. Here is part of the advice and information I provided to her:

 

A distributor only responds to the demand placed by the book stores and wholesalers – they weren’t “unsure of the demand” – they were obviously getting orders.  They don’t order books from you just to have them sit in the warehouse.  If orders are coming in from their clients, they fill them – and order more.  They are used to the returns game, so they just keep ordering.

You have to realize that this is a huge business – you can’t just play the game “partway” – it is an all or nothing game.  The distributor doesn’t “test the waters” – their job is to sell books and to fill orders – nothing else. The book sellers want to sell every possible book of yours they can – they have to have them in the supply chain to do that – in their warehouse, in the stores.  And they do this thousands of times a day – they don’t have time to worry about your individual titles – you’ve signed up to play the game and they are “gaming the system” for you.  It is nothing personal – it is all done by computers – no one is looking at your titles – it is only numbers.  YOU are the only one looking out for you.

As I said, you needed to understand that all the books “in the field” weren’t sold.  Your distributor can look that up for you, but they won’t unless you ask. Their computers are just whirring away placing orders and taking returns.

So, all that being said, what are you going to do now to sell your books?  How many do you have left?  Unfortunately you just have to chalk this up to experience and move on with your sales efforts.

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This is why having people on your team that have been through these very situations is so important. A few dollars spent on some consulting would have saved her a print run, a bad experience with distribution and a lot of heartache.

 

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The Power of Publicity

Just to point out the power of publicity, let me share a little story. In 2006, I had an opportunity to be interviewed for Money Magazine (circ. 2M) on a topic totally unrelated to the book. The story ran many pages with lots of pictures. They even sent a photo crew - it was great fun. See the online version here:
http://money.cnn.com/2006/09/07/pf/retirement
/retire0610_prosperlifetime.moneymag/index.htm

Buried several pages into the article was this one little statement:

That money helped to finance a retirement dream: She and her husband Phil spent a year in an RV visiting all 48 contiguous states and even wrote a book about their adventure.

That was the sum of the mention of our book - no name, no website URL, nothing. So how was I to capitalize on this "non-mention"?

I had my webmaster add "Money Magazine" "Retire Rich" (that was the cover banner), and "Can you Live Long and Prosper" (the article name) to my key words for the website (our names were already key words). We also put the cover on the home page so that if people found us - they would know they had reached the correct website.

Our sales doubled that month! I figure we sold somewhere between 100-200 books extra due to that non-mention in a major magazine. So what are the "take-aways"?

* All publicity is good publicity - never pass up an opportunity.
* Be creative in how to take advantage of your publicity
* Always be on the look out for a way to get mentioned - and don’t be shy about asking for a book mention.

In November, GEICO gave us a nice mention in an article about traveling with your grandchildren - also unrelated to the book. That pumped sales for November nicely.

They even mentioned the book name this time!
http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/6b02c1a9#/6b02c1a9/11

Hope that gives you some inspiration for your own publicity.

 

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New Google Tool for Key Words

Here is a really interesting video for those of us who are trying to market on the internet – it describes a new free tool that Google is providing to help you analyze appropriate key words, but it also goes on to describe how to use some of Google’s other great features that will help you find appropriate blogs, discussion groups, videos in your niche, etc.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGxOPUNzBj4

This may be a way to decrease your risk when using Google Ad Words as a marketing tool.

 

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"And I thought after 40 years of writing, I could write a sales letter... WRONG! Carol White's letter went beyond my imagination and into the sales stratosphere. Thanks, Carol! " -- AD Walker