With everyone and his dog becoming self-publishers, it seems fitting that everyone (and his dog, if he can read) needs information about being a publisher. Which is, selling books. But, you may point out, bookstores are vanishing as quickly as people are self-publishing books. It seems we have an irresistible force falling off a cliff.
We have self-published all these books, and now the outlets for them have become fewer and fewer. What’s a self-proclaimed author/publisher to do with those crates and crates of beautiful books from Lightning Source?
From the publishing pro who gave us Beyond the Bookstore: How to Sell More Books Profitably to Non-Bookstore Markets comes a complete guide to the book publishers’ world of special sales. These are outlets and strategies that DIY publishers may have never heard about, hidden markets and intermediaries between the self-publisher and the end consumer and reader.
According to Jud, more than half the world’s annual book sales of almost $90 billion take place in non-bookstore settings such as discount stores, gift shops, museums and schools. All sorts of markets surround us, hidden only because we are not aware of their existence or hadn’t thought outside the big bookstore box to consider other venues. These are known as “non-trade” markets and it is non-traditional marketing. Why not? Self-publishing is certainly non-traditional publishing. The key here is to refocus from the overwhelming mass market of readers to the segments to which your book will appeal.
These practices apply equally to fiction as well as nonfiction books, especially if the content is popular and well-written. It is people, not markets, who buy stories, and who sell books, Jud says. And that’s where the self-publisher’s energy must be expended. His book explains how to figure out who your specific buyers are and how to match them up with many of the less usual book outlets. Have you thought about selling directly to book clubs (there are thousands of them, often associated with public libraries and branch libraries), or how about the racks in supermarkets and drugstores, on cable TV home shopping network programs?
But more than turning your mind and vision from bookstores to non-traditional sales points, Jud also details the methods for tapping non-trade, non retail markets like the military and government agencies, associations, business groups, and academic markets. He specifies how to define your true target buyers and perform the necessary market research or test market your book before jumping in with both feet.
You’ll learn how each of these special markets work, how to find the inside track and work out the best deal for you — preferably one that prohibits the dreaded returns of unsold books that can wreck a publishers plans and bottom line. I found the resource section particularly interesting and useful with its lists of distributors and wholesalers, specific non-retail markets, assistance with promotions and book industry groups.
Samples of a cover letter, business plan, sell sheet and press release comprise an Appendix of invaluable tools for any publisher. In my work as a book reviewer, I am constantly amazed at the “indie” publishers and publicity agents who have no idea what a “sell sheet” is and what information should appear on it. Jud’s book will help you avoid that pitfall and many others along the road to publishing success.