Create marketing magic with energized editorial and electrified titles, part four

Posted By on September 12, 2012

This is part of a continuing series based on the forthcoming Jump Start Your Book Sales, 2nd Edition, by Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier. The book is scheduled for publication in early 2013. Don’t miss part one, part two, and part three of this series.

Planting strategic editorial “zingers”

Just as one has to water, fertilize, weed, and otherwise nurture a garden before it produces, there are more things you can do at the writing stage to boost sales later. Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to mention key places or people.

When Marilyn wrote her first book, Discover Your Roots, back in 1978, she tried to sell it to the bookstore at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, which is the most visited of all such sites in the U.S. Their answer was “no.” The book had no relationship to the monument, they said. She filed this away for future reference. When writing Creative Loafing a year later, guess which national monument was prominently featured in this guide of leisure pursuits? Sure enough, they were happy to carry the book.

In Marilyn’s How to Make Big Profits Publishing City & Regional Books, she shared hundreds of specific anecdotes and referenced book titles within the body of the text to show how broad this specialty publishing field actually is. When making the index, she listed each book that was mentioned.

Then she used the index to help prepare a special mini-mailing to the publishers covered. It cited the page on which each was mentioned and suggested purchasing a copy of the book. The orders rolled in. One marketing director even sent along this note: “Enclosed is our order for a copy of your new book. We received your flier and I do want to congratulate you on a clever and effective marketing technique.” You can use this tip to increase your sales as well.

Adding quotes from key people can also boost interest in your book. Let’s suppose you hope to make a bulk premium sale to XYZ Corporation. If you include a relevant statement or two from the CEO it’s only natural they will look more fondly on your project. You might also want to mention key companies or products in the text. Imaginative use of a tie-in can lead to corporate sponsorship of your project.

Corporate America is always looking for creative ways to draw attention to itself. And these companies have gigantic advertising budgets. Let’s say you’re an author or publisher doing a cookbook on southwestern foods. Many of the recipes will contain salsa as an ingredient. If you mention a particular brand of salsa, your book could launch a whole national publicity campaign for the company that manufacturers that salsa. They might buy books in the tens of thousands of copies. The author could even sign a deal to be a company spokesperson. Yes, premium sales can equate to enormous profits. Yet the groundwork must often be laid early.

You may not want to mention a specific company or product, however. Why? Because staying generic is far safer if you anticipate making bulk sales of this title to several different companies in the same industry. If you plug XYZ company, sure you’ll make points with them. But should you also hope to sell this book to ABC firm, and DEF, Inc., and GHI corporation, it is wiser to stay neutral and not mention any company or product by name.

Today speakers, doctors, attorneys, and a wide variety of entrepreneurs contact Sue’s publishing consulting firm, Self-Publishing Resources, to help them put their specialized knowledge between book covers. Most of them do it not only to create a new revenue center, but also to use as a marketing tool. People read their books, perceive them as “the expert,” and want their services or products.

In such cases, it’s prudent to sprinkle a few self-serving plugs in the manuscript. This can be done tactfully by citing examples of what you’ve done, including case studies, mentioning “my patient, my client, my customer,” etc. Be sure to make it obvious how to contact you both at the front and back of the book. Include not only the usual information, but also an email address and a URL if you have an Internet site. (No, a URL is not a European nobleman. It’s the abbreviation for your Web address and stands for Uniform Resource Locator.)

Another ingenious approach is to build your book around your target audience. Who is your customer? Truly know this person. What are their problems and frustrations? Their bliss? Their buzz words? Their educational and income level? What do they read? What groups do they join? How can you reach them? If you create a manuscript with the end user constantly in mind, you’ll build a better book.


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