Authors: Increase Your Success Rate with Book Buyers

by | Feb 20, 2015

By Mike Monaco

Approaching retail book buyers and convincing them to purchase your book can be a daunting task. Mike Monaco offers suggestions, based on feedback from actual book buyers, to increase the likelihood that your book will get their attention.


 
Every word is beautifully in place. Your masterpiece is finally finished. You feel like you are on top of the world for finishing your book all on your own. Confident in your story, you send your materials off to as many book buyers as you can. As the silent days, weeks and months go by, your confidence dwindles down. You thought you did everything right.

Ready to put an end to these days of despair? In order to do that you would have to know what book buyers want to see in order to make a decision.

Book Buyers Surveyed

A survey of book buyers was conducted to find out what would help them in the decision making process, and what type of marketing material would help them do that.

Book buyers reported that they received everything from a postcard with a book on the cover to a packet with 50 pages of material about the book—both of which would be ignored.

Authors, put yourself in the shoes of these book buyers. You receive submission upon submission each day. Would you take a chance on a book that you hardly had any information on, only trusting a little postcard? Conversely, would you take the time to look through all 50 pages of material?

What Book Buyers Want

The results of the survey helped us understand that book buyers essentially want four pieces of information:

  1. A Professionally Constructed Biography – Your biography should set you up as the expert. It should be concise.
  2. A Book Description – The book description should be a short and simple synopsis of your book. You may use a review or an excerpt, along with the ISBN.
  3. Cover Art
  4. An Introductory Letter from a Third Party – Now for the hard part, about 85% of book buyers surveyed said they will look at submissions from a third party before they will look at submissions from self-published authors directly.

    Tip: When crafting a cover letter to assure buyers that your book is suitable, let them know that they were found using target marketing and analytics, and weren’t chosen at random.

Postage Costs

The book buyers surveyed said that on average, the packets they received were about $8 in postage. If you follow the plan laid out above your expenditure per kit should be around $1.70 in postage. That equates to $34 for 20 book kits mailed. Using the 20 kit standard the resultant savings is $130. These savings can then be put to better use by increasing the quality of your marketing materials.

Research the Demographics

The demographics of the city that your buyer is located in should be researched to make sure that is where your intended readers are. For example:

  • When marketing a romance novel, is the book buyer located in a city with a divorce rate above the national average?
  • If you have written a children’s book:
    • Are you targeting a toy store that sells children’s books?
    • Do you know the age of the parents in that city, the age of their children, and their literacy rate and income rates?

All of this information is available and should be presented to the book buyer to assure them that your book is a good investment. Your success rate goes up if you can have a third party present this information to the book buyer. Following these steps will increase your success rate while saving you money.

Follow Up

The last step, and for some the hardest step, is to follow up. If you have experience in sales this should be a simple task to overcome. However, most authors don’t have any sales experience.

Many find it unnerving to pick up the phone and place a follow up call, especially when it is to sell themselves. This is a crucial step because authors don’t ever follow up a mailing with a phone call.

One of the survey questions asked was “if a book piqued your interest what could make you change your mind?” About 15% of those surveyed indicated that it has to do with the volume of submissions they receive. A buyer may be interested and sometimes they will be thinking about ordering a book based on a kit and then the phone rings or an email drops in to steal their attention away and they get distracted or decide to put it on the backburner to be acted upon later.

By making follow-up calls you put a voice to the submission and get a chance to interact with the buyer to make it a memorable experience. A general rule of thumb is people buy from people they like so use this opportunity to help them get to know you.

You worked hard on your book. You spend countless hours writing, reading and editing. Give your book the chance it deserves by following the steps laid out above.

Mike Monaco 11-5-14Mike Monaco is Managing Partner of Author’s Marketing Pro, and holds a BA from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from the University of Southern California.

His background is talent representation having started his career in the motion picture literary department of the William Morris Agency. He specializes in helping authors, screenwriters, producers, studios and talent find their audience.
 
Photo: bigstockphoto.com

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10 Comments

  1. Greg Stranberg

    Wow, $500 a month you charge on Author’s Marketing Pro for eBook marketing? Wow.

    Reply
    • Mike Monaco

      Greg,

      No, Author’s Marketing Pro Basic is $29.99.

      Reply
  2. Alan Drabke

    What about libraries?

    Reply
    • Mike Monaco

      Alan,

      Our survey included libraries as well.

      Mike

      Reply
  3. Michael N. Marcus

    Even though my father was a “buyer” for various stores when I was a kid, and I accompanied him to conventions where hundreds of other buyers gathered, I suppressed my ancient history and assumed that this posting was about reaching individual book buyers, i.e. readers.

    I doubt that others without my intimate knowledge of retailing will properly interpret the headline.

    Also, POD self-publishers who want their books to be sold by terrestrial booksellers have bigger issues than the format of promotional materials, notably discount and returnability.

    Reply
    • Mike Monaco

      Michael,

      The section about researching your demographics is about reaching individual readers. The idea is to find what cities have a large population of an author’s target readers, then identify places that these readers frequent. As far as our survey goes, these places include book buyers such as bookstores, gift shops, aviation musems, toy stores that sell books etc.

      Reply
      • Michael N. Marcus

        The recommended demographic research seems like wasted time.

        Are you sure that most readers of romance books are divorced women, or that census data for divorced women are current?

        Should an author of a book about breakfast choose bookstores in areas with a high percentage of people with mouths?

        Statistical analysis can be wonderful, or fruitless.

        Reply
        • Mike Monaco

          Michael,

          Thank you for your comments, we appreciate the opportunity to exaplain in more detail how targeted marketing works.

          We use many different sources for data including book sales data, not just census info. If you would like reference material that explains our approach to analyzing character, story line and demographic analysis, please see analysis of our research as highlighted in the textbook “Human and Mediated Communication Around the World” which was published by Springer.

          The answer to your question about the author of a breakfast book choosing areas with a high percentage of people with mouths would be no and would definitely be fruitless. The approach you described is way too broad and works counter to what statistics is all about.

          The idea behind most statistical analysis is to mine alot of data to find meaningful and actionable insights. Since almost everyone has a mouth, I would suggest narrowing down your search to areas with a high population of commuters, such as Rancho Cordova, CA. If you probe further, you can find the major employers in that town as well as working class people with children who would be prone to make breakfast at home before the commute to work.

          Reply
  4. Jon Jackson

    Who are “book buyers”? When you began, I thought you were talking about readers, but when you put in the word “submissions” I began to think you writing about publishers. After rereading the piece, I’m beginning to think you mean buyers for retailers.

    Reply
    • Mike Monaco

      Hi Jon,

      I’m not sure if you saw my reply to Michael’s similar question above, but here it is:

      The section about researching your demographics is about reaching individual readers. The idea is to find what cities have a large population of an author’s target readers, then identify places that these readers frequent. As far as our survey goes, these places include book buyers such as bookstores, gift shops, aviation musems, toy stores that sell books etc.

      Reply

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