(In this guest blog by Brian Jud, learn some marketing tips that apply to many products and services in addition to the book business.)
The term special sales is commonly used to describe sales opportunities outside of bookstores. Also referred to as non-bookstore (or non-traditional) marketing, it can be a profitable source of new revenue.
The best way to exploit this opportunity is to divide it into two segments. One is retail in which you reach buyers using a network of middlemen. The other segment is comprised of direct sales to non-retailers that use books as marketing tools.
1) Selling to retailers. You are already familiar with this sector. You find distributors or wholesalers to get your books into retail outlets where they are sold off the shelf to consumers. Payments are made in two or three months and unsold books are returned.
* Discount stores and warehouse clubs. Books are discounted heavily and do not offer the same margins of some larger-ticket products. Therefore, these retailers limit shelf space to the “brand-name” authors and top-selling books.
* Airport stores. Books on management, investment, economics, business biography, personal finance and health sell well among business travelers. Books for children also tend to do well in these outlets, especially children’s “activity books.” Popular fiction always sells in this environment.
* Supermarkets and pharmacies. Cookbooks, travel books and regional titles move in supermarkets, but health-related topics sell better in drugstores. Children’s titles also seem to do well in supermarkets, but fiction remains the mainstay there.
* Museums, zoos and national parks. Most of these have a gift shop, and to get in them you must demonstrate how your books can educate and entertain their guests.
* Gift shops. This category includes large chains such as Pottery Barn, Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works, Pier One and Crate & Barrel, Hallmark Stores and Spencer Gifts. It also includes hotel and hospital gift shops.
* Specialty stores. You could sell your “expert” books in home-improvement centers, pet shops, auto-supply stores, camera shops, toy stores or business-supply stores – retailers that serve identifiable groups of people with a common interest in your content.
2) Non-retail sales. Corporations, associations, schools and the armed services buy books directly from publishers. You sell directly to buyers in these organizations. Sales are typically made in large quantities, returns are rare and payment is received more quickly.
* Businesses. Call on product or brand mangers who may use your books to introduce new products, to reward buyers for making a purchase or as a gift to customers.
* Associations. There are over 135,000 nonprofit membership organizations worldwide. Consider donating a percentage of each sale to a charitable, non-profit organization to help finance their cause.
* Schools. The academic marketplace is an opportune segment for publishers, one using books as a foundation for its existence. It impacts people of all ages, from pre-school through graduate school and adult education courses.
* Military. You can sell books domestically or overseas, to military exchanges and libraries, Department of Defense Dependent Schools, onboard ships, to retired military personnel and to the families of military personnel.
Special-sales marketing is not a separate way of doing business. It is not even a new way of doing business. It is an integral part of overall marketing strategy. Simply divide non-bookstore marketing into its two component parts and you may find hundreds, if not thousands of prospective customers for your titles.
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – http://www.bookapss.org – formerly SPAN) and author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and Beyond the Bookstore. Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.premiumbookcompany.com and twitter @bookmarketing