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Selling in the Business Market: 11 Publishers Share Their Stories

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Business books are popular at huge publishing houses, at least partly because the “general reader” they aim at figures to be willing to pay for advice that will lead up the career ladder to higher income. But smaller publishers are active in this sizable niche too, and, as usual, they seem to be working smarter. As these reports show, relatively small publishing firms often focus on what their readers’ needs are, rather than on simply selling them a book, and then they fulfill those needs not only with books but also with related goods and services.

— Judith Appelbaum

Books as a Kind of Continuing Ed

At Chammerson Press, we provide marketing how-to information to owners of small businesses, or people thinking about starting a business. To this end, we’ve just published The Marketing Toolkit for Growing Businesses, and we have other books in the works. In addition, we publish information products including special reports, workbooks, tip sheets, free downloads, and (coming this year) e-books. These other products have been available since 1994, when we realized that different people process information differently.

Our roots are in the marketing consulting business, where we offer seminars and workshops that feature workbooks and exercises. By selling books at these engagements, we provide the attendee with a walk-away product. Also, attendees can go online, after the seminar is over, and purchase workbooks, special reports, etc., to help reinforce their learning.

Jay B. Lipe, Chamm
n Press

Web site: www.emergemarketing.com

 

When the Core Market Wants More

In May 2000, DolphinTrainer.com was established by experienced marine mammal professionals as a free, interactive, and educational Web site. It provides accurate, hard-to-find information and rare behind-the-scenes views and insights into the fascinating world of marine mammal care and training.

Initially, our retail offerings were limited to lists of reviewed and recommended marine mammal books, videos, and posters that other publishers produced and that visitors could purchase via hyperlinks to major Internet retailers such as Amazon.com and Art.com, which pay us commissions of 5-20%.

We soon discovered that more than 90% of our visitors wanted additional marine mammal career information. To provide solid, in-depth answers to questions like “What does a trainer really do?” and “How do I pursue a career in this type of field?” we needed a comprehensive career guide and resource directory in traditional book form.

A thorough review of current titles confirmed that no book already did this, so we decided to publish our own. The result was Starting Your Career as a Marine Mammal Trainer by Terry S. Samansky.

Even before its official publication date, sales on our Web site and Amazon.com were better than expected. Public demand quickly took it to the top of Amazon’s “Bestselling” and “Most Popular” lists within the subject categories “Marine Mammals,” “Dolphins,” “Sea Lions,” and “Animal Training.”

Because our sales records indicate that most of our career guides are purchased by young adults (14 to 23) and by parents for their children, offering carefully chosen related products to this demographic group seemed to be the obvious next step.

Understanding that role-playing, fantasy, and fashion can play a big part in product appeal to young people, we have developed a line of DolphinTrainer.com T-shirts (Promo line: “It takes years of hard work and dedication to become a marine mammal trainer, but you can look and feel like one today…”). Our most popular T-shirt identifies the wearer as a “Dolphin Trainer in training.” Sales of this one quickly surpassed sales of all other styles combined.

For us, the sale of logo-wear products has not only increased our per-purchase revenues (we offer one-price shipping to further promote multi-item purchases) and overall profits; it has also driven new sales since each logo T-shirt is essentially a walking advertisement for our company, Web site, and entire product line.

Steven Essy, DolphinTrainer.com

Web site: www.dolphintrainer.com

 

 

Customizing Content

Besides books, Silver Lake Publishing produces several technical newsletters for corporate security managers, corporate risk managers and insurance professionals, and customer service professionals. All of these niche publications give SLP a reservoir of detailed information and data that we use in developing our consumer and small-business titles.

Another “product” that we sell is rights to reproduce our technical and consumer books. In these rights deals, we license specialized schools and certification programs to develop training materials and tests based on our content.

SLP’s business model is to develop content that can be customized to be

useful to:

  1. smart consumers;
  2. people training to enter professions; and/or
  3. professionals who need continuing education and reliable technical

    reference products.

We think of the markets as forming a sort of pyramid. The first level is the

largest, yet most price-sensitive; the second is smaller, but willing to pay

more for good material; and the third is very small, but willing to pay hundreds

of dollars a year for reliable information.

Ideally, the three markets are interrelated. The consumer market helps us

identify new areas in which to develop technical content… and the technical

content helps us maintain an ongoing source of technical data for consumer

books.

James Walsh. Silver Lake Publishing

Web site:

www.silverlakepub.com

 

Helping the Church Meet a Challenge

One sizable challenge for churches is finding and keeping dedicated and quality musicians. First Century Publishing–a Christian organization founded by David Noble Bubar and dedicated to ministry and spiritual growth in the new millennium–offers self-instruction, music course packages for church musicians using the play-by-ear methodology. The packages include a 136-page instructional songbook, an instructional video, and a finger chart.

Play Today The Bubar Way

is only one of the products First Century has cultivated to enhance ministry. For example, another book we offer, The Sheperd Plan, teaches congregational growth. In essence, all our products work together and share an underlying theme.

Kelly Murphy, First Century Publishing

Web site:

www.firstcenturypublishing.com

 

[subhead] Tying It All Together

INTI Publishing specializes in creating books for the direct sales and network marketing industries. To date, we have sold more than 4.5 million books to this special market on the topics of networking marketing, self-employment, and personal growth, along with tapes and CDs. Also, we run mentoring programs for our authors and speakers. In addition, we:

  • have a book of the month program and a speakers bureau
  • sell lots of personal growth books that we didn’t publish
  • do research and negotiate to acquire specified books for our customers
  • provide one-stop book shopping for our customers
  • provide bookstores for corporations online or on-site.

The services we sell were a natural outgrowth of our existing line of products. For example, the speakers bureau serves our customers who want to book the authors whose books they have used, and our mentoring programs serve author/speakers who need better forums for getting their messages out on a consistent basis.

If you have the right market, these other services are a natural by-product and they will not only increase interest in your books, but will be money-makers themselves.

Katherine Glover, INTI Publishing

Web site: www.intipublishing.com

[subhead] Building a Critical Mass of Credentials

As a professional recruiter for 15 years, I found that few jobseekers understand the process of executive search and how to get the most value from associating with “headhunters.” So, in 1999, I was inspired to write a book–Headhunters Revealed! Career Secrets for Choosing and Using Professional Recruiters. Published in 2000, it was reviewed in Publishers Weekly, the American Library Association’s Booklist, and Midwest Book Review, and it won the 2001 Clarion Award for Best Book from Women in Communications.

With the economy taking a turn in 2000 and then further dampened by world events and corporate scandals, I realized people needed help getting in the “back door” for employment opportunities, since everyone was knocking on the “front door” (classifieds, recruiters, etc.). Therefore, I became certified through the Career Planning and Adult Development Network and Career Coach U as both a Job & Career Transition Coach and a Career Management Coach. I then began offering personal career coaching to clients.

A final product I offer is free–The Career Secrets Newsletter, which is full of helpful tips on getting the most bang for one’s career buck. Since I offer myself as a one-stop shop for all things “career” (coaching, guidance, recruitment, resumes, interviews, etc.), the book serves as a nice calling card for promotion of services and/or speaking engagements.

Darrell W. Gurney, Partners/Hunter Arts Publishing

Web sites:

http://www.CVReferral.com/0/100388.html; http://www.HeadhuntersRevealed.com; http://www.CareerSecrets.com

 

[subhead] Impact through an Information Mix

As the Founder of Professionals In Transition®–a nonprofit support group

that has helped people find jobs, at no charge, since 1992–and as the

publisher of the Career Bounce-Back!™:Surfing the Emotional Wave book and the accompanying Career Bounce-Back!Re-Employment Toolbox (which will be

available via IPG starting in April), I have discovered that creating multiple channels for sharing information is the key to leveraging our message.

For instance, our Web site has generated stories about Professionals In

Transition on CNN and CNNfn and in TheWall Street Journal,Business Week,
Newsweek, and USA Today. It also has a click-through to the Barnes & Noble

Web site and offers the top re-employment books that our support group

members recommend.

Our other products include a video version of Career Bounce-Back! Surfing

the Emotional Wave and two complementary videos on penetrating the hidden

job market and interviewing success. We are also planning to syndicate

re-employment “minutes” targeted to television audiences that will share the

battle-tested tips, tools, and techniques in the Career Bounce-Back! Series,

and to create an easily downloadable 60-second media clip that clearly

communicates our message.

Damian Birkel, CBB Publishing

Web site:

www.jobsearching.org

 

[subhead] Advocating Articles

While we are fortunate to have sales to the bookstore market, we find that the small business sector doesn’t usually spark thousands of sales a month unless kindled with tons of publicity and fueled by money for ads or even a few telemarketers. For a two-person operation, we do OK, but I’m busy writing my fourth and fifth books so promotion falls behind. It’s funny because that’s what I write about–successful low-cost promotional methods.

So to pay the rent on my offices and the mortgage on my house, I supplement my book sales with marketing advice (consulting); writing sales letters, brochure copy, Web content, and press release writing; and special sales, including sales of books for premium use.

The way I generate most of our book sales is with articles I write about marketing, which also helps with consulting. I recommend this method as one of the lowest cost marketing methods I’ve ever found.

All the methods we use are symbiotic: Book sales fuel consulting work; consulting work spawns even more book sales. I’ve learned that you can’t do everything, and since I’ve got to do most of the work, I chose what I like to do over what pays better

Jeff Dobkin, Danielle Adams Publishing Company

Web site: www.dobkin.com

 

What Workshops Can Sell

My husband, Dr. Peter J. Esseff, and I founded ESF, Inc., in 1969 as a consulting company. We both have doctorates in Instructional Technology and teach trainers how to design, develop, and validate training materials using a “Systems Approach.” As pioneers in the field, we quickly realized that we needed to copyright and publish the series of books we called the Instructional Development Learning System (IDLS). ESF Press began by publishing that series, which initially covered 10 steps, each with a workbook, corresponding learner’s guide, and slide-tape presentation.

In the 1990s, we revamped the IDLSProcess and created software: TaskOutliner, which automatically produced the task analysis and performance checklists, and StyleDoc, which lets clients format consistent-looking training materials easily and quickly. Workshops we offer include Interactive Teaching Skills and Training Needs Analysis.

We constantly strive to keep a balance between our services and products. The services we provide sell the books. Whether we run our workshop or certify our clients to do so, each participant needs the materials (now including software). Certified instructors need the instructor’s guide and PowerPoint presentations. We encourage our clients to order materials for a year or two at a time, which allows us to cover the cost of printing not only for one client, but also for individual sales.

Mary Sullivan Esseff, Ph.D., ESF, Inc.

Web site: http://www.ESF-ProTrainer.com

 

How a Periodical Helps Books and Vice Versa

My line contains books and other information for the energy and international business arenas. I am the Associate Publisher of a monthly journal, Natural Gas magazine, which is in the same subject area as my books–the “Electric and Natural Gas Business: Understanding It” series of compendia. I did the journal first, then got into self-publishing (Natural Gas & Electric Power Industries Analysis, 2002) because I had edited a successful series of books for John Wiley & Sons on contract, and they offered it to me as something I could take on my own and run with. I’ve been in the black since the beginning, although not by as much as I’d like.

The journal pays a great number of bills and has made me a known industry figure; this makes it quite easy to commission book chapters that can be cut down and run as articles.
I’ve learned that some, but not many, marketing techniques work for both books and journals. For example, concerning journals, forget Ingram, Baker & Taylor, and distributors in general; use direct mail and maybe opt-in e-blasts. And recently I’ve had some serious talks with Wiley about joint marketing for my books and their/my journal via e-blasts and a common catalog. In this sense, the whole may add up to more than the sum of the parts (I refuse to use the word “synergy” to characterize this joint venture or anything else).

Bob Willett, Financial Communications

Web site: www.atlasbooks.com/marktplc/00705.ht

 

The One-Page Plan that Propelled

I was kicked out of corporate America in 1990. Unemployed for 18 months, I re-invented myself as a small-business consulting CFO. I quickly learned that one had to look long and hard to find a small business that actually had a business plan. The typical business plan was far too intimidating and of zero value to the average entrepreneur or business owner. So, in 1994, I re-engineered the traditional business plan as a simple, usable, understandable one-page document.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners loved it. Within a year, after a dozen speaking engagements, I was commanded by audiences to write a book. Three years later, I self-published the title, The One Page Business Plan. In April 2001, it became the best-selling business planning book on Amazon. Unit sales have surpassed 18,000.

What else do we sell besides books? Lots of consulting, workshops, corporate training, speaking engagements, and, starting two years ago, software!

Within five years of publishing the book, The One Page Business Plan, the business has grown from a singe consultancy into a national consulting company with 150 consultants. This year, it will begin to expand internationally.

Don’t just think about doing that book… do it! Mine has propelled my life and business forward in many wonderful ways!

 

Jim Horan, The One Page Business Plan Company

Web site: www.onepagebusinessplan.com

 

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