“You’re a good salesman, if you make people buy product they don’t need.” —Toba Beta
I am not a sales person. I know how to market, but hand-selling through persuasion is not my strong point. A good salesperson knows how to play on your FOMO (fear of missing out). He or she will convince you that if you don’t buy what they are selling that you will miss out.
An independent author of a specialty book recently asked me for recommendations of who he should talk to in the publishing industry for furthering his distribution and sales. I gave him a list of a few companies and he set off to a trade show.
After the trade show, this author called and told me that the companies I told him to meet with did not impress him much. He then relayed that he had met a gentleman who had a publishing house that really impressed him. He stated that the man was interested in publishing his book and wondered if he should take him up on his offer.
With a little more questioning, I discovered that the “impressive” gentleman was the owner of a subsidy (sometimes called vanity or custom) publishing house. This gentleman was willing to take the author’s money to republish his book and place it into distribution.
I explained this to the author and told him that this publishing house would redesign and republish his book and place it in distribution, but they would not “sell” his book for him. This would still be his job.
It appears this author had been taken in by a salesman. The subsidy publisher knew his stuff and was able to “sell” his business well. The other companies I had suggested the author meet with were not about “sales”. These companies don’t take money upfront like a vanity press. Rather, they make money on how they perform (when they actually move product).
The companies that make money on their performance don’t need to sell anything. Instead, they want to make sure you, the author or publisher, has a product they think they can sell and sell well. They were not “selling” anything to this author, so they had no need to be impressive.
Later in our conversation, the independent author reported that the salesman who he had been so impressed with had admitted that the best way to make money on selling books is for authors to sell them direct to consumers.
Bingo! Mixed into his great sales pitch was the hard truth.
Few publishers—whether traditional or vanity—have a robust program to sell books directly to consumers. Selling directly to consumers is usually left to the author.
I explained to this author that the best marketing plan is a well-rounded plan that includes a variety of sales channels including:
- Distribution for bookstore and library sales.
- Marketing to bookstores and libraries.
- Direct to consumer marketing through a website, blog, social media, email marketing, and print media, as well as speaking engagements.
- Pursuing bulk sales via catalogs and organizations.
Don’t be taken by a smooth-talking salesman. Selling books is hard work. Anyone who tells you that they will take a large chunk of your money to sell your books will do just that—take your money. Remember, the vast majority of authors and many publishers struggle to sell enough books to make a profit.
Christian Indie Publishing Association exists to educate small publishers and independent authors on cost-effective ways to market books. All our marketing programs are cooperative and low-cost because we understand that return on investment when promoting books is slow and difficult. If you are looking for information and resources to help you develop a robust marketing plan, join the association today!
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Photos courtesy of Mohamed Hassan.