Special Sales: The Buck Starts Here
The term special sales is commonly used to describe revenue opportunities outside of bookstores, and it can be a profitable source of new sales. But that definition is hard to get your arms around. The special-sales process is easier to mange if you divide the opportunity into two segments. The first is the retail segment. In it, you work through a distribution network to reach buyers who sell books off the shelf. The other segment is comprised of direct sales to non-retailers that use books as marketing tools to sell more of their products or help their employees, members or students. A brief summary of each is below, and I will discuss each more fully in future blogs.
1. Selling to retailers. You are already familiar with this sector. You find distributors or wholesalers who sell through retail outlets where your books are sold off the shelf to consumers. Payments are made in 3-4 months and unsold books are returned. Examples of retailers include:
• 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. The store buyers purchase through established distribution companies.
• Airport stores. Titles on management, investment, economics, business biography, personal finance and health sell well among business travelers. Children's titles also do well in these outlets, especially "activity books." Wholesalers to this segment include Anderson News, Baker & Taylor, Hudson and Ingram.
• Supermarkets and pharmacies. Cookbooks, travel books, fiction and regional titles sell well in supermarkets, but health-related topics move better in drugstores. Consider Choice Books to distribute your books (http://www.choicebooks.org/).
• 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. Event Network (http://www.eventnetwork.com/) operates gift shops at zoos, museums, aquariums, science centers and botanical gardens, and Eastern National (http://www.easternnational.org/) serves the national park system.
• Gift shops. This category includes large chains such as Pottery Barn, Yankee Candle, Bath and Body Works, Pier One, Crate & Barrel, Hallmark Stores and Spencer Gifts. It also includes hotel and hospital gift shops. Reach these outlets through direct marketing, sales-representative groups and by attending trade shows and gift marts.
• Specialty stores. You could sell your 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. Home Design Alternatives (http://www.hdainc.com/) is a major wholesaler in this segment.
2. Non-retail sales. Corporations, associations, foundations, government agencies and the armed services buy books directly from publishers for use as promotional items, and sometimes for resale. The factor differentiating this segment from the retail sector is that you sell directly to buyers in these organizations. Sales are typically made in large quantities, returns are rare and payment is received more quickly.
Content is king in this sector. Companies and associations want to use the information in your books to help them sell more of the products or services they offer. They use your content as a tool to reach their goals.
• Businesses. There are two areas of opportunity in the corporate setting. One is Human Resources, whose managers may seek books on retirement-planning programs or how to save money on insurance premiums by showing employees how to improve their health. Employee recognition and motivation is also a growing trend.
Next, 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. The company may customize your book by placing its logo on them. Contact Guy Achtzehn (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a commission-based sales force to represent your titles to this segment.
• Associations. Consider two major ways to sell to associations. The first is termed "cause marketing" where you donate a percentage of each sale to a charitable, non-profit organization to help finance their cause. The other approach is to sell books directly to the association, to be used as a premium to increase membership, or to re-sell in their bookstores.
• Schools. The academic marketplace impacts people of all ages, from pre-school through graduate school, distance learning and adult education courses.
• Government. How would you like to sell to a customer that needs your content, has virtually unlimited funds, and does not return your books? There is such as customer—and it is your own federal government.
• 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. Do this online and through commissaries and direct marketing.
• 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 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."