TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS: Special Sales, The Buck Starts Here

(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.

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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 brianjud@bookmarketing.com or http://www.premiumbookcompany.com and twitter @bookmarketing

 

 

What I Write and Why I Write

I read to escape and I write to do the same. I’ve devoured books since I was a child and discovered the joy of writing in middle school. I wrote articles for our local paper for several years focusing on school events and happenings. As I look back, I never considered writing as a career. It was always a fun hobby but not something I thought of as a real job. I retired a few years ago and have since dedicated myself to a second career as a novelist. I write in two genres–women’s fiction and mystery. I love the escape reading a great book offers.

I find the same enjoyment when creating characters and stories. My women’s fiction series is set in the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington state. While on a trip to the area, I saw a woman on the ferry with a golden retriever. As I watched her, the beginning of the story for my first novel, Finding Home, took root. In the Hometown Harbor Series, I created a community of people in one of the most beautiful settings I’ve visited.

Each of the stories features a different woman, who is in the midst of a journey of self-discovery. I love to read series and enjoy novels in which characters are intertwined and appear throughout. In these works, I’ve tried to create a place readers want to visit. They’re the type of books readers can curl up with and get lost in, while sipping a cup of tea. I also purposely created characters that were a bit more mature than those in many modern novels. The women in the series are easy to relate to and have problems readers in their forties, fifties, and beyond will find familiar.  The fifth book in this series, Finally Home, releases on June 20th.

My favorite types of books to read include mysteries and thrillers. While on a trip to Nashville, the idea for a mystery series was hatched. I created a lovable bachelor detective who lives with his aunt in the exclusive Belle Meade area in Nashville. My main character, Coop, and his dog, Gus, along with his right-hand woman, Annabelle, find themselves in the midst of twisty murder cases. I released the second book in the Cooper Harrington Detective Series, Deadly Connection, late in 2016. I find writing in the mystery genre to require a more detailed outline and process than the more character-centered women’s fiction genre. I enjoy the challenge of creating a twisty, but believable plot for the murder mystery.

I’ve discovered visiting new areas and travel inspire my ideas. I love character creation and spend a lot of time interviewing my characters so I’m able to develop them for my readers. I’m also a people-watcher and pay close attention to how people act and what they say. It’s a great exercise for building characters or coming up with a new personality.

In person I like no drama. Creating stories and characters fills the void in my otherwise predictable and prosaic life. I’m having much more fun in this next chapter of my life than in my pre-retirement years. I wish you the joy of finding many good books to fill your days. I’d love to hear from readers, so please connect with me by visiting my website at http://www.tammylgrace.com/.

– Tammy Grace

(Tammy L. Grace writes romance and mystery books. Visit her at http://www.tammylgrace.com)

 

Do TWO Things a Day and Succeed

How many times have I read an article or seen a program online that inspires me to start marketing my book with fresh enthusiasm? And then, HOW MANY times do I see that enthusiasm drop off a few days or weeks later? Marketing and sales activities are exhausting and even marketing experts find themselves moving in waves… fits and starts… it is natural and human. Large amounts of energy can only be expended for limited amounts of time. How do we overcome our human natures and our natural instincts? How do we sell and market our books consistently over time when it is so hard and takes so much time and energy?

 

The secret is to DO TWO. Do two things a day to promote yourself and your book. No more, no less. It is far better to spend fifteen minutes a day every day on a task than to spend four hours a day once a week. Why? Consistency comes from daily activity. Staying on course is easier with small adjustments and activities each day than one big push each week. It is also easier to skip a week’s tasks when tired or busy. It is not as easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to do something that only takes a few minutes.

Let’s look at my FORMER typical marketing and sales activity list:
  • Find all of the Top Amazon reviewers for my type of book
  • Send my book to prepublication and professional book reviewers
  • Pitch myself for interviews at book blogs
  • Send books to newspapers and magazines for inclusion in gift giving guides and new release columns
  • Send magazines and newspapers article ideas that I can write or for which I can be interviewed
  • Send bloggers information about my book
  • Contact bookstores and ask them to order my book
  • Contact libraries and ask them to order my book
  • Find buyer names and contact information for the major chains
  • Ask friends to write reviews on line
  • Contact famous people and ask them to give an endorsement or opinion on my book
I am exhausted just READING that list! Now, let’s look at my NEW to do list:
Monday: Find two top Amazon reviewers from https://www.amazon.com/reviews/top-reviewers and notify them about my book and ask if they would like a review copy.
Tuesday: Find two book review sites from http://www.midwestbookreview.com/links/othr_rev.htm, and send them a packet with a cover letter, copy of my book, one blurb sheet, and marketing sheet.
Wednesday: Find two websites, newspapers or magazines whose readers are the same as those who read my book. Reach out to them (JUST TWO) and suggest an article idea that I can write for them or about which I can be interviewed.
Thursday: Find two bookstores and get the name of who buys for them. Email them asking if I can send the information about my book so that they can consider stocking it.
Friday: Find two people (that I know or don’t) and ask them if they are interested in reading my book and giving me their opinion. (Oh, I must send them the book.)
Saturday: Follow up via email with all ten contacts I made in the previous week, just asking if they need any further information or if I can be of service.
Sunday: Rest. And rest again. After all, I need to DO TWO!

 

Honest to goodness…. This may SOUND like a little or a lot; and you are right. It is both. Spending your time, a little at a time, in these activities will yield a great deal of fruit over time. Small investments in time and energy will grow and build upon themselves until you have a huge wave of successes.

Amy Collins, publishing expert, Author of THE WRITE WAY.
amy@newshelves.com
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Jury Duty – Lessons In Fact and Fiction

081223-N-8848T-530 GREAT LAKES, Ill. (Dec. 23, 2008) Legalman 1st Class Christie Richardson, a trial services legalman assigned to Region Legal Service Office Midwest makes an opening statement for the prosecution to a jury during a mock trial. Richardson was part of a legal team demonstrating the legal system for 22 Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) cadets from Chicago-area high schools. (Official U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom, Naval Service Training Command.)

The other night I settled down to watch a courtroom drama. In the story, defense attorneys in a gun violence case try to bribe a jury. As a writer of fiction, I know that authors get to construct a world of such extremes that few of us would want to live there. So it was with this movie. Both hero and heroine and the bad guy attorney set out to get what they could, double crossing each other to the tune of $15 million, which was the price for buying the jury’s verdict.

Let me tell you about my own experience of jury duty. While called several times, I’d never been selected before. So it was as a complete novice that I entered the jury room and met my fellow citizens who would rule on a drunk driving case.

The defendant aroused some compassion. She was a pharmacy student, and conviction could have ruined her career. But as the case unfolded, it became clear that she acted deliberately to try to deceive police. Taken to the police station for driving erratically after leaving a bar, she refused to take a breathalyzer test. She promised to take a (supposedly more accurate) blood test at a nearby hospital and submit the results. She knew that the level of alcohol in the bloodstream lessens after several hours and so she waited to go to the hospital. She did not realize that the hospital would note the exact time of the test, and report this to the police.

In the jury room, we jurors got acquainted. We worked in construction, the post office, and in real estate. We were young and old, homebodies and partygoers, and people who enjoyed a drink or two. We were not judgmental. But we had to be. We discussed the case carefully. We talked about our values. We talked about the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions and for being honest. The young defendant had not injured or killed someone (though that was sheer luck) and so some of us struggled with the idea of hurting her future with a guilty verdict. In the end, we felt her lack of remorse and the fact that she’d tried to use her professional knowledge to escape the consequences of breaking the law must lead to a guilty verdict.

What I learned from my days as a juror was this: most people recognize what is right and what is wrong. Meet random strangers in a jury room and you’ll come out, as I did, full of hope for your fellow human beings. Still, criminal cases provide fodder for the writer. We have to create situations where characters do stupidmargaret-spence-5819_pp2-300x298 things. That’s because no one wants to read about perfect people. We
can all sympathize with a girl like our defendant, who was only as foolish as any of us. But we, her peers, found her guilty, because not to do so would make a mockery of the law.

Margaret Ann Spence

Margaret Ann Spence’s novel, Lipstick On The Strawberry, will be published by The Wild Rose Press in 2017. She blogs at http://www.margaretannspence.com.

Is cross-genre writing like cross-dressing? Yes! The benefits and attraction of cross-genre writing for readers and writers

 

dystopia manThe trouble with categories for books? Like categories of humans, as soon as you slap a label on a book, you limit it. People tend to avoid it unless it’s a genre they read. Of course many books, like people, don’t fit neatly into a pigeonhole. A major category, and one that some readers are uncomfortable with, even avoid, is literary. They assume the language will challenge them, the plot won’t flow.

You deny yourself a great deal of reading pleasure if you avoid literary work. On the flip side, you deny yourself a great deal of reading pleasure if you avoid genre work because you approach it with preconceptions. I’ve found some of my favorite novels are cross-genre, frequently sci fi or speculative with literary. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale is an example.

You increase your reading pleasure when you sample cross-genre writing, a hybrid of themes and elements from two or more genres. Often stimulating, it presents opportunities for creativity in writing as well as discussions among readers.

A new-ish, genre-leaping novel is Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel. This 2014 work shouldered its way into notice via a list of awards as long as my arm, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, 10 Best Books of the Year by the Washinton Post and others.

At this point, dystopian novels are as common as situational comedies on television. For many of us, our vision of the future looms grim, which might account for the popularity of the genre. I still enjoy a number of them, but a book has to possess outstanding writing for me to rave on about it.

This one succeeded not because it was more violent, bloody, action-packed, sexy, or even original. Mandel’s writing style appeals to me. She juggles numerous characters, leaps back and forth in time, switches voices, and encourages speculation from her readers about what has happened and might occur. No space aliens, nothing outside the realm of possibility. A new virus spreads rapidly over the world, killing 99% of the population. The remainders group together in new ways, intent on sheer survival, most of those the book follows eventually tied together in some manner. Mandel’s language is clear yet evocative; her control over her material, stunning. I ended the novel depressed over the world it created but in awe of the journey.

Readers and writers thrive on outstanding writing. It can be traditional or innovative in approach, of a genre or genre-crossed. Don’t miss this one.