Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Book Selling--5 Essential Tips

Thanks to this writers' group (which by the way is a great group), authors were invited to sell their books at at the Island County Christmas Fair on Whidbey Island this month, so that's what I did. Selling at these events can bring in more money than royalties, but only if you watch the bottom line.

Since my own experience was a learning curve on what not to do when selling books at events, here are five helpful tips from the wisdom of my rearview mirror:
  • First, determine the distance and cost for driving to and from the event. If you take a ferry, factor in that cost too, before deciding whether or not to participate. Knowing this cost can help you determine how much to ask for your books. (I always want to give people a deal, and if you're in this boat, beware of costs you might miss.)
  • Second calculate your gross sales for all the books you take. Deduct 15% or 30% from this number (or the percentage the event sponsers take from your sales); add the cost of your inventory, plus mileage costs and then decide if you still want to participate.
  • Third (and this is the most important) write down the number of books for sale on a receipt. Take two copies of the receipt to the event; get them both signed. Keep one copy and clearly mark every book for for sale in a unique way. If possible, count the books carefully in front of the person who will sell them, and be sure to ask when you'll be paid for the books sold. Leave your name (clearly printed) and address for the check. Specify that you want the number of books that were sold, listed. It's interesting how long it can take to get a check for books sold. And it's not fun when a smaller check arrives without a number of book totals for sales. It's much better to hash out these business details before selling books.
  • Fourth--inquire when you can expect payment. Also, ask what to do if your sales number doesn't match the event managers' accounting. (No one wants to go count receipts after an event is over.) It's up to the author to remember that book selling is a business; the state and Feds want to know how many books you sell.
  • Fifth--pick up your books at the time specified; make sure you have all of your inventory, and get a signature on the number of books you pick up. Make sure this is the only inventory left and other books will be accounted for in sales.
Promising events can go south when you don't plan adequately. Checks received may be less than expected, no book totals are listed, or missing inventory turns up in other peoples' hands, and suddenly it's inconvenient for a recount. Line up all your ducks beforehand and you'll have less surprises.

The bottom line is this: If you don't treat your book like a business, no one else will either.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Andy Warhol Marketing and Networking

I take this sign to book events and when I go home, I leave postcards for my book. See them in the little slot? The postcard has my book cover on the front and a recipe on the back. The most recent is a Kale, Apple, Cranberry and Avocado Salad. Revised from my blog, the idea is to keep it for easy reference, collect them all, and remember my book. These postcards are my current version of Andy Warhol marketing.

Years ago I was inspired by Barbara Winter who was the first and only person I know to talk about Andy Warhol marketing. The essence is simple--"be ubiquitous."

Andy Warhol was the definition of pop art in the 70s--Campbell's soup cans, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Warhol's face was on magazines and newspapers everywhere, and even today his face is on IPods, t-shirts, beach towels. Now twenty three years after his death the New York Times still says, "He's everywhere, like an aesthetic vampire haunting the culture, taunting the art world, making cash registers sing."

I can't help but think that Warhol would have loved the networking/marketing world today. Internet possibilities of reaching millions more people are endless. I love the idea of expanding my circles of friends, connections and interests and writing about it, whether it be for Foodista, Culinate, Cookstr, FaceBook Scribd, or Linked-in. But sometimes I long for more traditional ways of networking and marketing, that face-to-face contact we all seem to crave.

Grassroots marketing involves doing events and classes can also imply networking on a more personal level. I am a fan of writers' conferences like this one and this one. Or as a chef, I might want to find fellow writers in the ICAP (International Association of Culinary Professionals). But sometimes there are mixers like this one, open to anyone interested in food, you never know who will be there.

My idea is you should go to any event with high expectations (keep your goals in mind). Here are a five things to ask yourself these five things before you network:
  • What are my goals?
  • Who do I hope to meet? Why?
  • Will I connect with other people who can help me meet my goals?
  • How will this help my book sales or build my platform?
  • What are my limitations? Do crowds, dressing up and putting on attitude, or noisy backgrounds annoy me too much?
  • What takeaway will tell me this is worth a repeat?
Think social networking on the Internet has to be more effective? Maybe you should ask yourself these same questions when faced with an Internet site.

While both approaches may work, I think Warhol would have chosen making Internet connections. Just a guess; what do you think?