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Don’t Say This

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A few phrases that sales reps
hear all the time make them cringe. If you use them, you’re probably sending a
signal that selling your book will be a challenge. So bite back the urge to
proclaim:

 

“This book sells itself!”

 

If only it were true. The books
that sell themselves say “John Grisham,” “Harry Potter,” or “Danielle Steele”
on the cover. OK, yes, there are quite a few authors whose books will sell at
some level without promotion—but we still see them promoted, don’t we?
Even the large houses know that they can’t take anything for granted. And the
key is that these are famous authors (or characters, like everyone’s favorite
boy wizard), but none of them got to where they are without serious efforts by
their publishers. Please know that no matter how brilliant a book is, most
buyers won’t be reading it. What they care about is the publisher’s ability to
promote.

 

“There’s no other book
like it!”

 

There’s always another book like
it. To be fair, someone had to be the first to write a book about the Internet,
low-carb dieting, or Michael Jackson, but it’s unlikely that the first book on
the topic did well. And, yes, you may be approaching the topic in a way that no
one has before—that’s expected. (For example, the South Beach Diet is
just a new approach to Dr. Atkins, but it came along at a perfect time, as
Atkins was at the height of its popularity. And now South Beach books sell
better than Atkins.) What’s really helpful to reps and buyers is to know about
other, similar books on the topic, how they compare, and how they’ve sold (and
it’s good for your book if they sold well).

 

“The audience is anyone
who reads.”

 

No book will appeal to everyone.
Not even a huge bestseller. To market effectively, you will need to define a
specific audience. (If you can’t, then you may want to reconsider publishing
the book.) Reps must be able to tell buyers who the target audience is. Who is
your core reader? Once you answer that question, planning your promotional
campaign will become relatively simple.

 

“Its ranking on Amazon
went from 30,987 to 4,234.”

 

Amazon rankings are among the
mysteries of the publishing industry. They’re the result of a variety of
different metrics, and may have no more than a distant relationship with
overall sales. Unless your book is in the top 25, then the fact that its rank is
going up (or down) is virtually meaningless. Unfortunately, authors are often
so hungry for information, and Amazon is so easily accessible, that they live
and die by these rankings. It’s fine to watch them and be happy when they go
up, as long as you know that the fluctuations are normal and that nothing
significant can be deduced from them.

 

Jen
Linck has been the director of Biblio Distribution and a superstore manager for
Crown Books in northern Virginia. She is now director of marketing programs for
National Book Network and director of trade marketing for the Rowman &
Littlefield Publishing Group.

 

 

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