Sales vs Marketing
Marketing, Publishing

The difference between sales and marketing

When you first release your book, chances are as a first-time author, you’ll get a few sales. Excited friends and family will generally buy, as will a friend of a friend who trusts their friend’s taste. But unless you’ve actually put some sort of marketing plan into place, sales will soon stop. So … what is the difference between sales and marketing?

Let’s say you’re thinking about buying a new car. You’ve done no research, but you know you want an automatic sedan with four doors. You know roughly what colour and engine size you want, you know what extras you want, and you know roughly how much you’re prepared to spend.

Your purchasing path could work one of two ways …

Path 1

You go out one Saturday morning and visit a car yard which sells the type of car you know you’re thinking about. The salesperson tells you all about the model you’re looking at, encourages you to take it for a test drive, answers all your questions and then does their best to get you to sign buy it before they let you out of the showroom.

If they succeed, then they’ve sold you a car.

Path 2

You see an ad on TV for a car which matches the sort of thing you’ve been toying with in your mind. The ‘from’ price is advertised and it’s in your ball-park.

The next day you see an ad for the same car while you’re reading the news online. You click through and read a bit more. As a result of clicking that ad, you see more ads for the car over the following days, and eventually find a review page where you read about the things that other people do and don’t like about the car, all of which help you realise that this is probably the right car for you.

You go out one Saturday morning and visit a car yard which sells the type of car you know you’re thinking about. The salesperson talks to you a bit, but you already know most of what they’re telling you because of what you’ve already seen and read in the media. You take it for a test drive and it works for you, so you tell the salesperson you’re going to take it.

You’ve just bought a car. They didn’t sell you one.

In short …

Sales is the art of selling – it’s getting people to exchange their money for a product or service.

Marketing is the art of raising awareness of a product or service. If enough awareness is raised, then when the ‘prospect’ is in the buying zone (mentally and/or physically) there’s a much better chance of a sale being made.

So what does this mean for my book?

In simple terms, it means, don’t try to sell your book – it’s too much like hard work for too little return, and it won’t necessarily lead to good reviews. You want people to want to buy it. Those who want your book are more likely to leave good reviews which will help others know that your book is likely to be right for them.

Try to focus on marketing, on raising awareness, where those who are likely to be interested might see your book and consider it, and you’ll have a better outcome. This means blog posts relevant to your subject matter, or articles in newspapers or magazines (in print or online) which are relevant to your book, or suitable press, radio or podcast interviews. For example, if you’ve written a book about deep sea fishing techniques, you wouldn’t be looking to get an interview in a haircare magazine, would you?

In other words – think about who your likely buyers are and where you might find them. And then try to get news of your book in front of them.

Case study

Author Fred Wilkinson released My Life in the Ragtrade, an account of his many years in leading sales roles during the heyday of Australia’s clothing industry. Although he used email and the internet, Fred didn’t have a website or social media, and so had no way to actively promote his book online. However, what he did know was who his readers were likely to be and where he could find them.

Fred rang up ABC Radio and managed to get himself interviewed by ‘Macca’ (aka Ian McNamara) from ABC Radio’s Sunday morning show, ‘Australia All Over’. Macca interviewed Fred who, as a salesman, knew just the right things to say to push the listeners’ buttons, and when we came into the office on the Monday morning, the phone was already ringing with orders for his book! Eight months later the book was still selling based on the flow-on word of mouth from that one radio interview.

 

In short

Selling is hard work and doesn’t usually result in many sales.

Marketing takes the long and wide approach, but when done with the potential reader in mind, targets them so that you’re more likely to find buyers.

So flip the coin and don’t be a seller – encourage people to be buyers!

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Look for a book you've never heard of by an unknown author
Publishing, Uncategorized

Why you don’t want to sell your book in bookshops

Many of our new authors ask the same question when they’re near to releasing their first title: ‘How do I get my book into bookshops?’ The simple answer is, ‘You don’t.’

I realise this is counter-intuitive to what many of us have grown up with, and for people over a certain age, having their book in a bricks and mortar bookshop means it will sell – but it doesn’t! Getting it into bookshops doesn’t guarantee sales. Think about this:

When was the last time that you walked into a bookshop and bought a book you’d never heard of by a writer you’d never heard of? How often have you done that in the last six months? And how many books and authors in your local bookshop have you never heard of?

Now flip the tables – how often do you think other people have walked into your local bookshop and bought a book they’ve never heard of by someone they’ve never heard of in the last six months? And if they did, what would the chances be that they’d buy your book when there’d be so many other books and authors in that shop that they’ve never heard of?

But what if you really, really want to get your book into bookshops? Here’s what you have to do:

  1. Buy a stock of books – so tie up money in unsold books.
  2. Get at least one or more bookshops to agree to take your books on.
  3. Negotiate a number that you can supply to them. This will likely be less than five (5) books unless they know you and know that you can ‘sell’ these books for them.
  4. Negotiate a retailer discount for them. Most retailers are going to want an average of 50% off – some will want as much as 60% off the RRP (recommended retail price, also known as the list price).
  5. Negotiate a payment arrangement – will they pay you in advance and then ask you to collect the unsold books and you refund them the money on those that haven’t sold? Or will they take them on consignment and only pay you if the books do sell? And how long will they keep them for?
  6. Raise an invoice to the bookshop – you’ll need an ABN to do that. But you won’t be registered for GST unless you’re likely to earn more than $75,000 per year from your writing, so your invoice will be without GST in it – and you need to make it clear on your invoice that you’re not registered for GST and that the price doesn’t include GST.
  7. Arrange for the books to be delivered to the bookshop, or take them there yourself. (Delivery/postage expense vs your time and transport expense.)
  8. Monitor how many books have been delivered to which bookshops and under what arrangements.
  9. Collect unsold copies and potentially refund the stores six to twelve months down the track if they don’t all sell.

Seriously? Why bother? Why do all that work to take such a financial risk?

If you’re publishing your book the smart way – the 21st century way using print on demand technology and the internet as your distribution chain – then you don’t need to rely on bookshops to sell your book. All you need to do is raise awareness of your book and let the systems take care of sales, printing, distribution and paying you your royalties.

And if bookshops start getting enquiries for your book – they can stock it buy contacting the print on demand supplier for your book, and you don’t even have to lift a finger! Sure, you may wait a couple of months for your share of the deal to flow through to you, but that’s economically smarter than tying up valuable funds in printing and distribution in the hope that your copies sell.

So do it the easy way – focus on raising awareness of your book (i.e. get marketing!) with blog posts, interviews, social media posts, library talks, giveaways, connecting with others who might benefit from or enjoy the content in your book – and let the distribution chain take care of supplying your book for you.

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