October, 2012

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Which PR Efforts Turn Into Book Sales Take two…

—  By Amy the Meanie —

For several years now, I have watched authors focus their PR efforts on TV and Radio.  TV and Radio are wonderful tools for advancing the author’s name and message. They are a great way to get the author “out there” and help them become an acknowledged expert in their field.

But very little TV and Radio turns into book sales.  Local morning shows are perfect for the author trying to get national media and speaking engagements.  Local morning TV and radio shows showcase them beautifully.

But in my experience, they do not sell many books.

Readers read.  If you want to really move books, go where folks are reading. Magazines, newspapers, newsletter, online, blogs, news sites, etc.  These are the sites where a reader sees an author’s potential and message, can write down or click over to the book mentioned and either buy it or file it away for a future purchase.

How many folks in their cars on the way to work can write down an author’s name?

There are exceptions of course!  Imus, NPR, Ellen, Oprah… but let’s take a look at some numbers.

Below are some stories and numbers in my recent experience that support my opinion about print and online vs. TV and Radio.  Each of the books mentioned below are beautifully designed, appropriately priced for the marketplace, well written and professionally edited non-fiction books.  They look like any other book on a bookstore shelf.  They are all published by micro-publishers or self-published.

Last year, a New York Times bestselling author/client in my distribution company roster self-published a non-fiction book.  He had the pedigree, the press.  He was on 60 MINUTES.  That week, he sold 113 books.  He was on NPR.  That week, he sold 121 books.  He was in the New York Times and sold 567 books.

Another client of mine was on the 700 Club last month.  She sold 3 books.  3.  Two months before, another 700 Club guest who was an author in my distribution company sold 6.

I have had over a dozen clients on local morning talk shows this summer. None have sold more than a 21 books that week.

This is not to discourage you from hiring and working a strong PR plan.  Just the opposite!  Let’s look at a few other numbers.

An author with a personal finance book was in the Roanoke newspaper a few months ago.  Sold 57 copies THAT DAY.

Another author (business leadership book) was in the Louisville Courier last week.  She sold over 40 books that day.

Readers read.  If you are trying to launch your media and speaking career, than please focus on TV and Radio. But if you trying to sell books, please consider an on-line and print heavy focus to start.

Readers read.  You’re reading this aren’t you?

For more information and guidance on how to affect book sales, please visit www.newshelves.com or email info@newshelves.com

See how that worked?  Couldn’t do that on the TV!

Distributors vs. Wholesalers

What is the difference between WHOLESALERS and DISTRIBUTORS?

A Distributor will sell and promote your books to the bookstores and libraries. They will have reps contact the stores and wholesalers who are most likely to want your book and pitch them the merits of your title.

A wholesaler has a warehouse and is a passive company that will purchase books from you, and then resell the books. They do not pitch your books, they wait and handle incoming orders only.

A distributor also has a warehouse.  But they are not passive.  They will store, pick, ship, invoice and collect on your behalf as well as handle customer service and most likely offer sales and marketing services as well. They are not your customer, they work for you.  You give them money in exchange for the services they do for you.

A wholesaler is your customer.  They buy books from you.  Some of the bigger ones are called Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bookazine, Brodart, New Leaf and Quality.

Ingram and Baker & Taylor are two of the largest book wholesalers in North America and they have warehouses all over the US.  These warehouse hold book and when a retailer (bookstore or library) asks for a book, Ingram or B&T will send it to them.  Both Ingram and Baker & Taylor offer distribution services as well, but only to a certain group of publishers and even though they have the word DISTRIBUTION in their names, they are most likely not distributing your books.

When a bookstore asks who your distributor is, you should be using names like NBN, IPG, New Shelves Distribution, Atlas Books or Book Hub.  Ingram and B&T are not your distributor, but the bookstores will be happy to know that your book is available at those wholesalers.

Hometown Book Sales

– By Nicole Riley

Once you have a completed book in your hands, it’s time to get out there and show it to your hometown.

The first step is to be vigilant. The key to direct selling is to look for opportunities everywhere.  Very few places will be as excited about your book than the area where you live.

 

Remember, people in your hometown will be more receptive to hearing about your book than those that have no connection to you. Sell your book to friends from church, work, local bookstores, local places you shop, the local gym.   If your town holds any festivals or fairs, rent a booth there to promote your book as a local author. If people from your area like your book, they’ll tell their friends and a ripple effect will form.  You might want to volunteer with organizations with whom you identify. Get involved and your customer base will grow.  Civic Organizations are often looking for speakers in various topics.

Try not to be scared of giving copies of your book away. 

Donating is a great way to build a name in the literary community. If appropriate, give copies of your book to local schools or reading organizations. Those who get a copy of a book for free may enjoy it and recommend that their friends buy it. Some customers may be reluctant to buy a book they don’t know.  Word of mouth is a valuable effect of direct sales.

  • There are a few suggestions for you to follow when visiting your local bookstore.

  • Visit your local store between the hours of 10-11 or 2-5.  Avoid busy traffic times such as lunch time.

  • Identify the shelf your book may fit on.  Is there a section for your category?  Is there a local author section?

  • Each book store and buyer will have its own personality.  It is important to evaluate and adapt to the stores culture before speaking with the person in charge of ordering.

  • When dealing with retailers always remember to look and act professional.

  • Identify the person you may need to speak with.  In Independent bookstores it may be the owner or the book buyer.  In a chain store such as a B&N you may want to ask for the Community Relations Manager or the store manager.

  • Have promotional material and a copy of your book at your fingertips.  Promotional material may include a Sales Sheet or a Press Release.  Make sure any material being given includes correct contact information.

  • After identifying the appropriate person to speak with introduce yourself as the author, and offer a copy of the book and materials for review.    Be confident but not pushy.  You will be asked where your book is available.  You will need to provide availability and ordering information.

  • Ask if the store participates in any type of author events or book signings.

  • Ask when and if, following up with them would be appropriate.  Making a follow up connection is much different than being overly harassing.

  • Be considerate of a store’s right to turn you down, and simply move on to your next location.

Now that you have the basics to selling to your hometown, please do not be discouraged if you are not receiving desired feedback. New Shelves Publishing Services is dedicated to being a resource for you throughout this process.  We can sit down and brainstorm ideas that will help you stick to your goals and stay focused.  Good Luck!