Like families, book publishers are worried in this economy. Many are wary of accepting new work and playing it safe, pushing the books in inventory. The economy has been especially hard on small and mid-size publishers who are struggling to stay afloat.
When a book author enters this economic scene, he or she has to be aware of the pressures publishers are facing. I’ve been trying to sell my latest book and, despite a track record as an established author, it is an uphill fight.
To foster a sale, I offer to pay for the front and back cover design and all interior photos, a pretty generous offer in my mind. But a publisher that is interested in my book has asked me to do more — sell copies in advance. While I’m willing to attempt this, it is a challenge.
How can I sell a book that doesn’t exist yet? How can I arrange for advance sales when I don’t have a book description that includes dimensions, page count, and price? How can I approach businesses and organizations without a bulk rate to give them? From my perspective, advance sales are a credibility problem.
Without any data, real numbers I can share, I look like a delusional grandmother or a door-to-door salesperson selling stuff from the trunk of my car. I don’t know whether to sigh or scream. You may be trying to sell a manuscript now and, if this is the case, I have some suggestions for you.
First, try to look at your manuscript objectively. This is hard, but with some effort, you can do it. Identify the target market. Does your prose fit this market? After I evaluated my manuscript I added two qualifying sentences, one stating the target market more clearly, and another stating the purpose more clearly.
Second, as you are writing your book, think about area businesses and organizations that may benefit from it. Could your book be a freebie? Is it suitable for a national organization’s website? Can you think of some marketing strategies?
Third, beef up the platform of your book proposal. List every marketing connection you can think of, whether it is large or small. A potential publisher will want to know about the networks you may tap, so list them as well.
Finally, create a one-page sales sheet that includes a brief description of your book, the estimated page count, and estimated price. If you have the money, ask a graphic designer to create a cover and add that to the sales sheet. Be sure to say that bulk rates will be available.
As I told a potential publisher yesterday, “Writing a book isn’t easy. Marketing a book is an added challenge for the author.” Though I’ve probably lost the sale, it is the truth in this economy. Writing a book isn’t enough any more. Authors have to be smart about marketing and I think we’re up to the challenge.