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:
- A Professionally Constructed Biography – Your biography should set you up as the expert. It should be concise.
- 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.
- Cover Art
- 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.
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.
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 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.