Once you select a subject, stick to it; stay in one field. Too many author-publishers who write books on a subject they know well, and market the books to their own (reachable) field, suddenly decide that selling books is easy (because with that formula it is–at least relatively speaking). So they write about a totally different subject and their books flop (because they do not know how to reach the buyers in that particular market). In fact, they do not really know who their buyers are, where they are, and what they need.
Search, Replace, Destroy
One day, I received a call from a customer. He said, “I’m a chiropractor, and I recognize that while chiropractors are good at what they do, they are not good at running their offices. But I have solved that challenge. I have just finished my book–How to Run Your Chiropractic Office.”
“Sounds good,” I said, and I thought to myself: “Now here is an author who can look into the mirror and see a refection of his customer. He knows who the customer is, what the customer needs, and (most important) where the customer is.”
Then the caller continued, “I have a packaging idea that I would like to run past you.” I leaned back in my chair and listened. “Once I sell this book to all the chiropractors, I’ll go through the manuscript with search& replace and change the word ‘chiropractor’ to ‘dentist’ and sell the same book to all the dentists. Next, I’ll sell to all the medical doctors. Isn’t that a great plan?”
“No,” I said. “It sounds great but it’s a terrible idea. First off, it will not be all that easy to sell your peers. As the author and speaker Jeffrey P. Davidson once pointed out in the Washington Post, the average sale is made after the prospect has said no three times. Even to sell to your fellow chiropractors, you will have to get reviews in your magazines and displays at your conventions, and you will have to send out lots of mail and make lots of telephone calls until, finally, word of mouth from one chiropractor to another sells your book.
“Do you really want to learn all about dentists: read their magazines, join their associations, and attend their conventions? You don’t have time for that.”
Spinoffs & Add-ons
“What you should do,” I told my caller, “is publish this book. Then publish the advanced version, then the office forms version, and then the little books chiropractors give to their patients. You want to become known as the publisher for the chiropractic industry.”
New customers have to be bought. Existing customers are free. Anyone who has ever been in sales will tell you that it is far easier to sell an additional product to an existing customer than it is to find a new customer.
Stay in one field and keep adding products until you own the territory.
Dan Poynter is the author of “The Self-Publishing Manual” and a past Vice-President of PMA. His company, Para Publishing, provides guidance on many aspects of book publishing. For detailed info, visithttp://ParaPublishing.com.