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Posts Tagged ‘book stores’

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Why isn’t my book selling?

From a client: 

My book is getting great reviews in places like Foreword Magazine, so why isn’t it selling better?

My answer:

There are two kinds of marketing - push and pull. Anything that is primarily for "the trade" (publishing) is "pushing" your message into the channels so that they know about it, can put it in their system if desired, and even stock it in the stores if they feel that there is/will be consumer demand. That includes most reviews, ads in trade publications, shows like BEA, etc. 

The other side of the equation - pull marketing - is marketing to the consumer so that they will "pull" the book through the trade channels. You have to have both types of marketing to the target buyers in order for your book to have robust sales.

The other parts of the puzzle are distribution (which you have), the product itself has to be done well (which you have) and it has to be priced right for the buyer - most people buying books today in your genre aren’t expecting a hard cover book and a higher than $20 price point, so that slows sales.

So you need to get the consumer to know about your book more widely - and that takes continuous exposure for as long as the book is selling.

So the question for you is what are you doing each month on an ongoing basis to create the consumer demand? There are lots of avenues to do that - radio, lifestyle stories in print or online, stories about parts of your book in article banks online, interviews in print, broadcast and online, live appearances and more.

Make yourself a calendar of your activities each month that are media related - make sure your distributor knows about all the media you are doing each month so they can tell the stores. If you have 2-4 things every month that are national or strongly regionally focused, you will see sales increase.


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Why won’t the book stores talk to me?


Recently I received an email from a gentleman who had his first book on the market. He was upset - he couldn’t figure out what he was doing wrong:

I composed what I thought was quite a good marketing email and set up a wholesale easy-ordering web page accepting purchase order, check or major credit cards through Paypal. All for naught.  I sent it to dozens of indie stores and got no takers.  Web stats indicated they never even visited the order page.  I phoned quite a few too, and they had very little interest in speaking to a (micro) publisher or author.  Do you think that’s a typical response, or might I be doing something wrong?

My response helped him see his plight from a very different viewpoint:

Put yourself in the place of the retailer. There are 500,000 new books this year to choose from. You have your accounts set-up with Ingram and maybe B&T. You can aggregate purchases onto a single order form, get one bill, have full return privileges, they keep track of everything for you – you have only one account (or maybe two) to keep track of and your buys and returns are all tracked perfectly.  Running a book store is difficult, but at least the ordering has been made easier with the advent of Ingram. The retailer no longer has to deal with thousands of vendors – if it is worthy, it will be available from a wholesaler at a minimum. It is a way of “weeding” things out too.

Then you get this piece of email from someone who you don’t know, don’t know anything about the author or the book – just one book that I’ve never heard of – and who is this publisher? – and I can’t just order it from Ingram or B&T?  DELETE….

Make sense?  It is a very tough business and no one wants to make life any more difficult than it needs to be.  Why would they disturb their business model to deal with you? What’s in it for them?  If you want to play their game, you have to use their tools – wholesalers, distributors, and mainstream promotion.  If you can’t or don’t want to do that, you are going to have to be happy with direct to consumer promotions – mainly through the internet, but others are possible.  This is what a marketing plan is all about – making those choices and having a business plan to back it up – how will you finance your choices and a million other decisions.

I feel badly for you because you are trying to do things right, but you are thinking in terms of your own self-interest, not the self-interest of the book retailer who is the "gatekeeper" to your success.


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10 Tips for Successful Book Store Events


Here are the 10 things that any author should REQUIRE of a book store when booking an event - if you don’t get these things, it will be a waste of time.

1) Stock books a month prior to the event and display prominently with a sign announcing the event
2) Have signs at the cash register about the event with fliers for patrons to take with them (better if they stuff them into every purchase bag)
3) Have the event and information about it on their website 1-3 months in advance
4) Talk it up in their newsletter at least one month in advance
5) Post it to appropriate "calendars" in local newspapers and other media
6) Send media announcements (PR) about event (author should send to their media list also) - written by either the author or the store
7) Author should attempt to get booked on local radio or TV within a day or so of the event
8) Author needs to post event on their website with a link to book store website 1-3 months in advance
9) Author and book store should utilize any local blogs or websites that will promote the event.
10) Author needs to post to Twitter, Linked In groups, FB and other appropriate social media several times in the week prior to the event.

Here is an article about one of my most successful events - in tiny, little Spokane, WA

Here’s to more great events that make independent publishers look great!

"If it is to be, it is up to me."


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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