John Kremer, Guest Author
This report summarizes a two-hour talk I gave at the PMA Publishing University several years ago. I tried to include marketing ideas that I hadn’t covered extensively in the Book Marketing Update newsletter or in 1001 Ways to Market Your Books. I hope these ideas will help you think of new possibilities for promoting your books.
1. Book Excerpts
To promote an upcoming book to bookstores, libraries, or readers, print an excerpt from your book in pamphlet or booklet form and mail it out to your major customers (or potential customers).
To promote Gloria Steinem’s new book, Revolution from Within, Little, Brown reprinted Bibliotherapy, a chapter that describes the books the author found helpful in writing her book and living her life. They sent 50,000 copies of this pamphlet to 1,000 of their major bookstore accounts who, in turn, passed them out to customers.
2. On-Line Ordering via Computer
David Unowsky, former owner of Hungry Mind, once a major independent bookstore in St. Paul, Minnesota, encourages smaller publishers to find a way to offer online ordering for bookstores. This process makes it much easier for bookstores to order your books. Of course, this suggestion is only valuable if you have a line of books that are popular with booksellers (and you don’t already have a distributor who offers such an option).
3. Offer Your Sales Reps Push Money
Whether you have a distributor or work with your own sales rep groups, you might find it useful to offer your reps push money—that is, some monetary incentive to push a new book, line of books, or display. For example, if you want your reps to push a new line of books, offer them an extra $5.00 or $10.00 when they sell a set amount of books into one retail account.
While push money is not common among book sales reps, it is common in other retail fields. If you do offer such an incentive, arrange to send the check directly to your reps. Don’t let the money come through your distributor. Make sure the reps know that the money is coming from you because they sold your books. Thank them for their good work.
By the way, if your books are distributed by another company, be sure you have the names, addresses, and phone numbers of the sales reps representing that company’s line of books (which includes yours). Then communicate directly with your reps to let them know about new titles, breaking publicity, rights sales, major special sales, and other noteworthy events.
4. Preprint Review Copy Envelopes
Woodbridge Press sends all review copies bulk rate inside envelopes that are preprinted with their address and the legend: “New Book: Review Copy.” This message gets the attention of reviewers.
Also, because they send the books bulk rate (using their meter imprint), they save money without affecting delivery compared to book rate.
5. Stay Alert to Media Opportunities
Watch for news items that you can use to promote your own books. Also watch for news items about other books that could tie into your own books.
At one time, Leonore Fleischer’s Talk of the Trade column in Publishers Weekly asserted that How to Profit by Setting Up Your Own Corporation “holds the record for being in print longer than any other book in its class [non-text business book] in history.” She noted that the book had sold 300,000 copies in 6 editions over 13 years.
Well, I knew a book on the same subject that had sold more and been in print longer: Ted Nicholas’s How to Form Your Own Corporation without a Lawyer for Under $75.00, which was originally self-published in 1972 and has sold over 900,000 copies.
I called the author as well as the new publisher, Dearborn Trade, and alerted them to the error. They followed through and received a notice several weeks later in the same column of Publishers Weekly .
6. Feature Booksellers in Your Ads
For a full-page advertisement for Alice Hoffman’s novel, Turtle Moon, Putnam featured the following headline: “From Moorestown, New Jersey, to Beaverton, Oregon, booksellers are falling in love with…” and a photo of the book jacket. The rest of the ad featured laudatory quotes from major independent bookstores as well as buyers from Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, and several wholesalers.
7. Promote Your Differences
When publicizing your books, look for ways that your books are different not only in content, but also in form. For example, Westcliffe recently promoted their line of calendars by pointing out that their calendars were the first nationally distributed line to be printed on real recycled paper (using at least 14% post consumer waste) —thereby keeping 2,925 pounds of air pollution out of the atmosphere, saving 829 trees, and preventing 147 cubic yards of paper from reaching the landfills.
They worked with their paper supplier, Conservatree, to promote the news to the media. Westcliffe also invited booksellers to a free seminar during the ABA Convention on “Why Recycling Is Better than Sex.”
Finally, they also promoted the fact that their monthly format was the largest of all calendar publishers — 14″ x 12.”
8. Provide Booksellers with Displays
If you are publishing a book with major bookstore potential (be honest in judging its potential), provide booksellers with posters, displays, shelf-talkers, or other in-store point-of-purchase material. Provide this material before publication date.
The publishers of Sue Grafton’s alphabet mystery series sent bookstores a cardboard easel announcing that her latest book in the series, “I” Is for Innocent, would be arriving on April 6th. The easel featured a full-color reproduction of the book’s cover. Since Sue has an avid fan club for the series, the display would draw immediate interest. I’m sure many bookstores displayed the easel.
9. Cut Costs with Postcards
When promoting a new title to your customer list, try sending a postcard. At 23¢, first class postcards are often less expensive than bulk mail—and you get address corrections returned for free! Have one side of the postcard feature a cover of your book, while the other side features your sales copy and a space for the recipients name and address.
To promote the new edition of Creative Cash, Barbara Brabec mailed out 5,000 postcards to a customer list that hadn’t been cleaned in 18 months. Her cost: $180.00 for printing plus $950.00 for postage. As a result, she received 153 orders (over $2,500.00 in sales) as well as 964 address corrections at no extra cost.
10. Market with a Greeting Card
In promoting books to your customers, especially stores and wholesalers, try different formats to get their attention. Most stores are inundated with catalogs, brochures, and media kits, but how many receive greeting cards, calendars, pop-ups, or other unusual formats?
Why not try a Valentine card when promoting a book during February. Or a Mother’s Day card during May? Or a flag on the 4th of July? Such items would stand out from the clutter on their desk. Just keep it simple so your card stands out (in other words, don’t stuff the card in with your catalog or a bunch of flyers; send it by itself).
Want more tips? Click here for 40 more!
Copyright © 2011 – John Kremer. Reprinted with Permission. John Kremer is the author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books as well as webmaster at http://www.bookmarket.com, http://www.bestsellerlaunchformula.com, and http://www.tenmillioneyeballs.com.
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