I asked a question of members of the PMA-L Listserv and received lots of wonderful response. Since not all members are either subscribed to this list or have the time to spend on the list, I thought that others might be interested in reading the response of a few and also invite those of you who may have other opinions to fax your tips to me (310/374-3342), mail them (627 Aviation Way, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) your ideas to me and I will include them in a future edition of the PMA Newsletter. Thanks to all who participated so far. You are definitely fulfilling the PMA motto of “helping each other achieve and succeed.”
Question: For those of you who have had success in selling your books through the national bookstores, I wonder if you might share the three most important things you did after you got your title or titles on the shelves of the bookstore that caused it to experience a successful sell-through. This may help others who are just now getting into the bookstores and don’t know what to do to cause those sales. Thanks in advance. Jan Nathan, PMA
In order of cost-effectiveness:
- Publicity in niche magazines/websites/newspapers
- A website
- Display advertising in niche publications
I put the emphasis on niche because this has been essential-throwing money at the general market by doing things like radio shows and reviews in general publications (outside of the few big trade pubs) has been a total waste when viewed against the three methods mentioned above. Advertising direct to the public generates a huge number of bookstore sales. As always, your mileage may vary.
— Cynthia Kim, Turtle Press, Wethersfield, CT1. Define Success . . . with EACH bookstore. For some, it’s publicity. For some, it’s a designated number of sales. For others, it’s developing new people for their mailing list, etc.
2. Support that definition of success. Often that means creating custom materials for each store, such as custom invitations to a book signing and poster-sized announcements for their window displays.
3. With the publicity that you generate for each store, reproduce the clippings or quotes from broadcast interviews onto colored foamboard that coordinates with your book cover. This takes planning and finding someone local to help with the logistics each time, but it’s worth it.
You may not sell a ton of books at each event, but you’ve created valuable relationships that will produce surprising benefits (and support for your other titles) for years to follow.
Hope these thoughts help.
— Irene L. Gresick, Publisher, Premiere Editions Intl., Inc., Corvallis, ORWe’ve had two titles in national chains for the past couple of years. For one of the titles, it was a help having a feature article by the author in Family Circle. (Even though the magazine only gave an obscure mention of the book in the author’s byline.) The author also has had quite a bit of good newspaper coverage. And we’re still pushing the book and pursuing new publicity avenues.
With the second title, we didn’t do so much publicity really, but it is a good book on breast cancer. I think the book’s “claim to fame” is that it is a “quick reference,” as the author (both a doctor and breast-cancer survivor) intended it to be. It contains immediate answers to pressing questions from women and their families. Also, the book was unusual in that it had “unflinching” photos of breast reconstruction, along with messages of hope and inspiration from breast cancer survivors on each page. Readers have appreciated these messages as much as the information. We’re now seeking some women’s magazine coverage for this author.
Finally I should add that we never skimp on covers and TRY to put out a very attractive book, inside and out, and price it right.
I’m eager to hear other publishers’ experience.
— Rod Colvin, Addicus Books, Omaha, NE
News from the Board of Directors
At the first meeting of the new Board of Directors of PMA in August, our incoming board members arrived with lots of energy and ideas. Aron Trauring, New Media, Inc., will be heading up a new committee for PMA (SIGs-Special Interest Groups). If you are interested in helping him in this area, you can contact him most easily by e-mail, since Aron spends part of his time in Israel and the other part in New York. He can be reached at email@example.com. Robin Bartlett, Medical Economics Press (New Jersey), another new board member, has leaped into the fray and is putting together the 1998 Publishing University, with the assistance of Amy Mascillino, last year’s chairperson. Robin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, if you wish to offer any suggestions or volunteer to help him. The other newest board member is Kent Sturgis, Epicenter Press (Seattle, WA). He will be chairing the Member Services committee of PMA. So if you have any ideas or projects you might like to have him consider, please contact him at email@example.com.
Our new Marketing Chair, Nick Weir-Williams, has added some new programs for our membership. Beginning in January 1998, in addition to the regular general Public Library mailings at the end of the month, we shall be instituting some very targeted mailings to specific buyers in the middle of every other month. All flyers within the confines of this mailing must relate to subject areas as noted:
January 15 — Health
March 15 — Psychology/Self-Help
May 15 — Fiction/Literature/Poetry
July 15 — Business/Career
September 15 — Children/Young Adult
November 15 — Religious/Spiritual
Mailings will go out within 15-20 days of the deadline dates. Further information on these programs can be found on pages 14-15 of this newsletter.
Another new program under development is Academic Mailings. These will be mailed to specific, potential buyers for course adoption. Each program will be defined by a letter from Nick explaining the free, reading copy concept with the potential of sales if the book is adopted.
For the academic mailings, we plan to try five areas this year: 1) Women’s Issues, 2) Multicultural, 3) History, 4) Business, 5) Performing Arts.
The mailings will contain a personal letter from PMA explaining the uniqueness of the program and its members titles. No date has been set now for this program, but we will be announcing that shortly.
Trade Distribution Committee Choices
The Trade Distribution Committee met on Friday, August 21 so that Board Members who wanted to observe this program in action could do so. Several of them attended. Again we reached that magical one-third factor number (each time, no matter how many books seem to be entered into this program, approximately one-third are accepted). To inform others on the types of titles considered to have a chance of successful bookstore sales, I have included the titles that were accepted this time around:
All About Escrow and Real Estate Closings
Alzheimer’s Disease: Questions and Answers
The Artist in Business: Basic Business Practices
The Arts Festival Work Kit
Ayn Rand’s Marginalia: Her Critical Comments on the Writings of Over 20 Authors
Best Jokes & Other Humor from the Internet, Volume 1
Chattanooga Great Places
The Cheaters: The Walter Scott Murder
The Concealed Handgun Manual: How to Choose, Carry and Shoot a Gun in Self-Defense
Fun in the Yellow Pages
Fundamentals of Local Arts Management
Going Public: A Field Guide to Developments in Art in Public Places
Healthy Back Building: Tips and Exercises to Prevent Back Pain
How to Cut Tuition: The Complete College Guide to In-State Tuition
How to Make Money Performing in Schools
The Interview Rehearsal Book
Koryu Bujutsu: Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan
Loves Me . . . Loves Me Not: The Art of Choosing Who’s Right for You
The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale
The Non-Profit Handbook
The Nurse’s Story
The Official Baby-License Exam
On and Off Broadway: A Theater/Dining/Lodging Guide to New York City
Parkinson’s Disease: Questions and Answers
Rest Lightly: An Anthology of Latin and Greek Tomb Inscriptions
Sing Down the Rain
The Soccer Mom Handbook
Stewed, Screwed & Tattooed
The Importance of Good Nutrition, Herbs & Phytochemicals
Waiter, There’s a Fly in My Soup! How to Make Megabucks Waiting Tables
Work Less & Play More
Your First Horse: How to Buy and Care for Your First Horse
You’re Not in Mom’s Kitchen Anymore: College Cooking for the Dorming Gourmet
The next round of books to be included in the distribution program will be selected in February. For more information on the marketing program, see the President’s column by Curt Matthews on page.
We’re on the Road Again
We’ll be on the road a lot this month and next, visiting Boston the first weekend in October, and displaying at the New England Bookseller’s Association (NEBA) show there as well. Then it’s off to Frankfurt for the Frankfurt Bookfair October 12-20, and then on to Seattle for the Book Publishers NorthWest & PMA Mini-University at the Claremont Hotel in Seattle on October 24. This will be followed by the MidAtlantic Publishers Association/PMA Mini-University in Baltimore, MD on November 1. If you’re in any of those areas, please stop by and say, “Hi” to us. Terry will be at the Northern California Booksellers show the first weekend in October and also looks forward to meeting all members and friends of PMA at this event.