The Second Annual APSS Book Marketing University
October 24–25, 2014
Embassy Suites Airport Hotel • Philadelphia, PA
Sponsored by Bowker
The Association of Publishers for Special Sales is conducting its second annual Book Marketing University, with lots of great speakers and events. The program opens with a presentation by Dan Poynter, noted self-publishing guru. There will be an additional keynote by John Groton, former Vice President of Special Markets at Random House.
At Book Marketing University, you will discover how to sell your books in more ways than you ever imagined and to people you never knew existed— in large, non-returnable quantities.
My recent article (Why It Can Take Months To Sell Books To Non-Retail Buyers) described how the trek to special-sales success can be long, arduous and frustrating – but profitable. Through it all, a strong and determined attitude can serve as your GPS on your path to success. There are several basic axioms in book marketing in general — and special sales in particular — that may have a negative impact on your attitude. If you can know in advance that these are going to occur, the negative impact on your attitude may be reduced.
- Rejection is a way of life. Be forewarned that you will be rejected far more times than you will be accepted, and this may wear away at your attitude. But do not take rejection personally. That is easy to say, but it can be done if you accept rejection as a challenge to learn, improve your strategy and tactics and thereby increase the likelihood that you will close the sale next time.
Many independent publishers try to sell their books only to bookstores and other retailers. Their efforts consist primarily of securing distribution partners to funnel books to retailers who put them on their store shelves. There the books remain, nestled among their competitors for a quick comparison of benefits and prices. The point-of-purchase sales process may take 10 minutes, since the risk of making a wrong decision is low. If the book does not meet expectations it is returned, and eventually makes its way back to the publisher.
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.
Here are some questions to answer that can help you define and expand your target readers, leading to 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, but as examples I have focused on how they relate to a publisher trying to market a career or job-search title.
It’s one thing to write and publish a book; reader engagement is a whole different ballgame. Reader engagement gives you longevity and helps you sell more books, so it should really be the driver for all of your book marketing. But I’ll be honest, it’s also really hard, especially when you’re just starting out.
I’ve collected a few tips to jumpstart reader engagement, but really the key to book marketing isn’t doing everything, it’s doing what works for your genre and your reader market. It will take some trial and error before you sell more books in response to your efforts, but it will be worth it because reader engagement is the key to a long and prosperous publishing career.
An added bonus is that developing and encouraging reader engagement also creates a community of likeminded souls who can keep you connected and grounded during the very strange times we’re currently living in. And that may be an even bigger win for everyone involved!
The question most publishers periodically ask themselves at this time of year is, “Did I achieve the goals that I set?” The numbers are easy to measure and compare — you either reached your sales objectives or you did not.
Due to this perceived simplicity, publishers stop there and recalculate their objectives for next year. The problem with this process is it measures something you cannot control — sales and revenue. If you could control them, then reaching goals would be a given. But you can only influence the attainment of those metrics by the actions you take.
Publishers can significantly improve upon this process by seeking several questions, such as, “Could sales have been higher? How? Did sales maximize my revenue and profit?” And if objectives were not achieved, “Why not?”
Is your website working for you? Is it helping you sell more books? So many authors really don’t know the answer to this question. And with so many options out there for websites, how do you know which elements you must have to be successful?
Most authors want to sell more books, and that is (or should be) the main goal of your website. If you wrote a business book to help you sell more services, build your business, or book more speaking opportunities, then you may have slightly different goals. However, even with that in mind, a successful website should still have many of the same key attributes.
Here are 12 simple things you can do to make your website a more effective and efficient vehicle for your book marketing promotion.