This article originally appeared in the “Book Marketing Matters Newsletter.”
Based on my 25 years as a participant in, and consultant to, the publishing industry, I estimate that close to 100% of self-published authors and more than 90% of independent publishers seek sales only through libraries and bookstores (both bricks and clicks). If you are in that category you are
significantly reducing your ability to reach and sustain profitable growth.
But what can you do? Look for sales in a larger, more profitable arena – non-retail markets. Examples are buyers in corporations, associations, schools and the military. Re-allocate your publishing company’s resources by focusing on buyers who will purchase your books, not for resale, but
- Seek dual distribution. Selling only through bookstores is not necessarily bad, just limiting. It
should not be your sole source of revenue. Look for additional sales to non-retail buyers who could use your content as a promotional tool, purchasing your books in large, non-returnable quantities.
- Lower the cost. Non-retail buyers are looking for promotional items that will help them reach their company’s (or association’s or school’s) objectives yet stay within their budgets. In this model your emphasis is driving down your unit costs – without sacrificing quality – so you can compete against coffee mugs, thermos bottles
andsimilar items. You could do this by printing in larger quantities, eliminating unnecessary embossing or other frills, or publishing books in a more economical size.
- Raise the price. There are times when you might choose to be the high-priced entrant in your category. Reasons include creating an image of high quality, publishing content that is quickly
outdated with short-term profit potential, marketing through a relatively complex distribution channel, experiencing high unit costs and seeking selective market coverage.
- Customize the form. Instead of selling only printed books, you might produce content in the form desired by your prospect. This might be an ebook, a booklet, a DVD, an audio book or even
through personal presentations.
- Look for international sales. Generate additional revenue from sales outside our borders. This could be through selling the foreign rights to your books, having your content translated into other
languages or entering into other cooperative arrangements.
- Integrate Vertically. There is no formal distribution channel that reaches most non-retail buyers. However, there are thousands of independent salespeople who call on them. Find groups
or individuals to represent your books to corporate buyers. Or, you can sell directly to them. Or, we can do it for you (www.premiumbookcompany.com)
- Sell horizontally. If your content is suited for a particular function across industry lines organize
your business around selling to a prospect who might be Human Resources Managers, Marketing Managers, Safety Directors or Executive Directors of Associations. You may have multiple prospective customers or markets. If so, organize your business to focus on the needs of your primary customers and seek experts in other areas to extend your reach without extending your resources.
The key question is to ask yourself, “Does my current way of running my business optimize my revenue opportunities?” If the answer is no, look into other ways to generate more profitable sales. This does not mean abandoning that with which you are familiar, but re-organizing to create a new dimension for long-term growth.
For more information please visit www.bookmarketingworks.com
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS –www.bookapss.org), and the administrator of Book Selling University (www.booksellinguniversity.com) Contact Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.premiumbookcompany.com