Marketing in any business is performed via two basic methods: pushing and pulling. What do I mean by that? It's quite simple. When you place an advertisement in a magazine for a product, you're trying to pull customers directly to your product. They see the ad, call you direct or call a retailer, and buy the item.
Pushing is when you try to enlist the retailers to sell your product. It's a subtle difference. When I sell a widget to a customer directly, it's a done deal. When I sell ten widgets to a retailer, my work isn't done yet. Though I'll mark those ten widgets as "sold," they really aren't until they make it into the hands of the final consumer.
Following? Okay, what does this have to do with selling my books?
You probably won't sell books directly to the consumer, but you will market to him or her. We've already discussed how this is done. Blogging, websites, direct mailings, etc. are ways to "pull" the consumer to your product. Now the consumer needs a place to buy it.
"Easy," you say, "Amazon!"
Not quite. The last numbers I saw reported that less than 25% of books are sold online. Those other 75% are picked off the shelf. Someone has to put them on the shelf. In order for that to happen, someone else has to convince that bookstore buyer to put them there.
Don't wait on your publisher. They'll do the usual marketing campaign for a new book. If you're Stephen King, sit back and relax, they'll jump through burning hoops to market your book. For the rest of us, we got calls to make.
Calls? Yes, see that gadget on your desk that you normally use to order pizza because you spent all afternoon looking for the right active verb in the opening of chapter 23? That's your best tool for selling your book. Barbaric, isn't it? In the day of the internet, when you can reach millions of people instantly, why bother with the phone?
Here's a shock for you. And it's like this in my "widget" business as well. Retailers aren't scouring the internet looking for the next great product to put on their shelves. Most likely, the very first time a bookstore buyer hears about Ron Estrada is when I introduce myself over the phone. Today, I will probably call about twenty widget dealers in the hopes they'll carry my product. Maybe one will place an order. The rest are just relationship building. It'll work that way for you, too. A "no" is still contact. You'll be calling again.
Since this is a task I perform daily, I'll pick this up again next week and talk about how to organize your contacts and script your calls. Oh my, it's almost like real selling, isn't it? Don't panic, if I can do it with my widgets, you can do it with those stunning novels.
And remember, make sure your agent or editor knows you're willing to take on this task and, of course, coordinate with your publisher. This is a team effort.
In today's news: James Cameron has announced that he's discovered the lost driver's license of Jesus. In news that will rock the religious world to its core, the birth date on the driver's license is December 26th. While church leaders mourn, retailers rejoice at the added day to the Christmas shopping season. In more news that will rock the religious world to its core, the driver's license is from New Jersey. More on this as it develops.