When my husband and I started our software businesses, it took about four or five years of scrambling with each payroll before sales started taking off consistently. Talk about the pressure! But we’d send mailings, ask for referrals, post press releases, place ads, and keep chipping away “at the market” until, and even after, the sales became comfortable.
For almost twenty years I’ve worked in marketing, so this slog within the constant party mode of “I’ve a great product, want to buy it?” is very familiar to me.
When I received word that my novel would be published, I thought I was done with all that pitching and selling, other than for my marketing clients.
Ah, but there’s my old friend, FATE, who is giggling again. “Time to get back to work,” she says to me. “There are no free lunches. You only have the advantage of knowing the basics of marketing.”
The advantage of knowing I need to sell constantly in order to become successful at this writing thing. Hmm. Good notion. So now I’m turning around my writer’s hat and putting back on my marketer’s persona. One of the things I need to do is get my books into stores where they can sell. These things do no good sitting and collecting dust on my shelves. Book signings are great, but I need a daily push of my product, my dearest baby, Faith On The Rocks. But how?
Hello consignment selling, and becoming a writing “Rep.” This is a cool thing I was unaware of before searching the internet for ways to get my books on more shelves “out there.”
The way consignment sales work is essentially I buy my product from my book distributor (oh! that’s what that “Signing Event Certificate” thing is all about), and mark up the price to people in stores, who in turn mark up the price for the consumer. Why do I mark up the price? To cover gas and time spent running around from store to store to replenish stock. Why do stores mark up the price? Because they’re in business to make enough money to pay their staff. It’s straight forward, really; just a matter of negotiating the right division of funds to make the whole thing work. This reduces the risk for store owners, as they don’t own any books. I do. They just sell the items, collect the sales tax, and pay me my portion of the profits. Very cool system.
Thing is, stores aren’t running around looking for more stock to sell. They have plenty of items. Their focus is on selling those items. Everyone is scrambling for a piece of the American pie. So, I can’t expect shop owners to welcome me with enthusiasm and open arms. I need to make selling my book as easy and risk free for them as possible. Lucky for me, I have the time necessary to put together a Consignment Kit, that includes a brochure on how consignment selling with me works, a contract, and, of course, a set of stock.
I read in Writer’s Weekly that shrink wrapping my books for protection from sticky fingers, dust, and other retail hazards is a smart idea, so off to my craft store I went. It only took about three tries (and $35) before I was shrinking like a pro–almost. Still, the books look very good, and are now protected.
I’ve composed my brochure–“Let’s Work Together”–and will lay it out today. If I were to run into trouble, I’m sure my local printer would have clip art and a way to put the work on paper. As I’m just getting started and price is important, I’ll do what’s called a “one-color print.” For you and me, that means buying a bright-colored paper (not considered a color) and photocopying it (the black ink is a color) with my layout. That will take place this afternoon.
With my kit complete, I will start going to local establishments that seemed interested in holding book signings. I’ll try to make those events happen, and in some gift stores and local museums, I’ll try to interest the owners or managers in regularly stocking my book–risk free to them.
Now all I need are sales tax licenses from my state and city. Purchasing books from my distributor and avoiding sales tax on those purchases requires a license. It’s a good thing, as I hope to go to book signings and give talks where I can sell my book and then watch the sales just roll in.
This book authoring thing is such a snap, right?