Ask the Right Questions and Find More Sales Opportunities
Many independent publishers ignore non-trade sales because they do not know where to start selling. Their definition of non-trade marketing is selling books "outside of the bookstore." However, that only suggests where not to sell books; it offers no direction, insight or instruction about where or how to actually do it.
Asking and answering certain questions can help you overcome these initial concerns about entering the world of non-trade sales. To make it easier for you to conduct your own question-asking sessions, I have compiled a list of basic questions about different topics to give you a jumping-off point.
- In how many ways can we change our book to make it more marketable? Should we make it smaller or larger? Increase the spine width or make the typeface on the spine more legible for better visibility on the shelf? Come up with a new title, color combination or cover design? What else can we do?
- In how many ways can we work more successfully with our distributors? Can we communicate better? Share our marketing plans? Participate in cooperative advertising? What else can we do?
- In how many ways can we improve our pricing? If we lower our production costs, could we make more money at the same list price, or even at a lower list price? What else can we do?
- In how many ways can we improve the quality and quantity of our promotion? Should we try to appear on targeted television and radio shows? Improve our performance on each by taking media training courses? Improve our press release and kits? Hire a publicist? Create more and better sales promotion items? Improve our website? What else can we do?
These questions do not represent an exhaustive list. Let your conversation lead the way and when you least expect it, you just might stumble upon that one great idea.
Additional Questions and Example Answers
The following are some additional questions you can ask to find new ways to sell your books and new places in which people can buy them. The questions themselves are universal and apply to all subject areas; however, in this example I have focused on how they relate to a publisher trying to market a career or job-search title.
- Who could use the information in your book? The answer to this question should direct you to broad market segments. In this case, it is people seeking employment for the first time or trying to find new employment after being laid off.
- Where do people generally look for the information in your book? Your first answer is most likely bookstores. Keep adding places like colleges and high schools, state employment departments, employment agencies, outplacement firms, and networking groups to your list.
- Who else could use the information in your book? Finding new niches in which to sell existing titles may be the most efficient way to increase your sales and revenue. You might be able to sell your content to high school or college students, people who are over 50 years old, women, blue-collar workers and more.
- Who influences the people that use your content? Instead of marketing directly to prospective customers, you may want to market to people who can influence them. You could potentially sell your book to career development officers at colleges, to guidance counselors in high schools, or to the parents of graduating seniors.
- Who uses (or could use) your book in large quantities? You can sell 10,000 books to 10,000 different people one at a time, or you can sell 10,000 books to one person at one time. Clearly, the latter option would be more profitable. Find people who can buy in large quantities. They may be in government offices, corporations, schools, or many other places.
- Is there an aspect of your content that could lead to a new product form? Certain things are difficult to verbalize. In this case, it may be difficult to adequately portray in writing certain interview skills like body language, eye communication, and facial expression. This might lead to demonstrating those skills in a video or DVD.
- What information about your customers could lead to a new product form? Once you determine who your target audience is, find out how they like to get their information. Research among college students may uncover the need for job-search information in a more easy-to-use format. Instead of one long book, a series of booklets could be created, each devoted to one traditional job-search tactic such as writing a resume or interviewing.
Asking and answering these questions for your titles will help you formulate ideas about how to take them to new markets, possibly in different formats, to meet the needs of new groups of people. In short, they will help you find new ways to make more money selling your book without worrying about returns.
Seek new opportunities with a clear eye and an alert imagination. Be open to at least evaluating a different way of reaching the goals you have set for your business. Non-trade marketing is like electricity. It gives energy and power to the publisher, author and title. It brings good books to life.
For more information on special sales in general, and conducting creative marketing sessions in detail, see the book How to Make Real Money Selling Books (without worrying about returns), by Brian Jud.
Brian Jud is an author, book-marketing consultant, seminar leader, television host and president of Premium Book Company, which sells books to non-bookstore buyers on a non-returnable, commission-only basis and conducts on-site training for publishers' sales forces.
Brian is the author of "How to Make Real Money Selling Books (Without Worrying About Returns)," a do-it-yourself guide to selling books to non-bookstore buyers in large quantities, with no returns. He has written many articles about book publishing and marketing, is the author of the eight e-booklets with "Proven Tips for Publishing Success," and creator of the series of "Book Marketing Wizards." He is also the editor of the bi-weekly newsletter, "Book Marketing Matters."
Brian is the host of the television series "The Book Authority" and has aired over 650 shows. In addition, he is the author, narrator and producer of the media-training video program "You're On The Air."