Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Book Marketing: Think and Think Different

IBM's motto is "Think." Apple Computer's motto is "Think Different." Authors would do well to adopt both mottoes in their marketing strategies.

So far over the past year, I've read about 15 books on book marketing. I've found the lack of redundancy striking. Each book shares fresh ideas, new experiences and recommends new tools and resources just begging to be explored. As a result, I have a much better handle on how to sell my books - what's most likely to work and what will most likely be a waste of time.

But beyond learning from the pros, I find the need to do my own thinking. After all, no book is exactly like my book. Isn't it likely that the marketing of my book should be just as unique?

Yesterday a chance encounter showed me the need to keep thinking and learning. I walked into the gym to see Henry walking toward me. Now Henry's hard to not notice - he's built like a tank, with arms the size of my legs. He tells me excitedly that he's been selling my personal finance books (Enjoy Your Money!) at his video game store.

(Why did I put it on consignment in a video game store? Well, the owner of our local SOHO HERO, a home office printing and mailing shop, told me that a local author sells children's books at her store because parents come in with their kids, who start reading the books while their parents make their copies, and then they want their parents to buy the book. I thought, "Since parents are more likely to buy my book, I need to find a store where the kids are doing stuff and the parents have the time on their hands to pick up a book and check it out. Thus, a video game store.)

I responded, "Wow! I was ready to collect all my books from local stores. I'd concluded that, although Amazon sales were great, that people simply wouldn't buy my book from stores." Henry said, "Here's how it works. People are waiting in line and pick up the book. I tell them that I respect the author and like what I see in the way he's training his kids. Then they want to buy it. Here's the secret to your store sales: the person at the cash register has to believe in the book and be willing to sell it."

So my conclusion about sales in local stores was apparently all wrong. They could sell. But I'd missed one little component that was sabotaging my sales: make sure that I sell the owner on the book and give them enough information to be able to encourage people to buy it. If someone asks the store owner about the book and the response is, "I don't really know anything about it. It's just a book by some local author" then why would anyone buy it?

It's just one little trick. But perhaps there are 50 subtle tricks to getting my books sold in local, non-bookstore outlets. Odds are, reading all the marketing books in the world wouldn't tell me all the tricks that would work for my book. That's why we need to keep trying new things, keep listening, keep thinking, and keep thinking different.