Carolyn has just published a new book, Frugal and Focused Tweeting for Retailers: Tweaking Your Tweets and Other Tips for Integrating Your Social Media. I have asked her to share with authors and publishers some of the wisdom she has gained from being both an author/publisher and a retailer.Welcome Carolyn. First, let's talk about what retailers and publishers have in common.
You’ve always had a way of getting to the crux of an issue, Dana. (-: In terms of marketing—online and about every other way—they have just about everything in common. Marketing is marketing is marketing. Great tweeting for marketing in one arena is about the same as great tweeting in another. The differences are only in the details.
What can authors and indie publishers learn from studying how retailers operate?
Right up front I have to tell you that my retailing experience informed my ability to further my career as a writer. What we writers sometimes forget is that we are selling a product. We might not like calling it that, but that’s what our book is. And it makes no difference whether we are self publishing or publishing traditionally, we’re still selling our books. A good knowledge of marketing—meaning marketing and all its sisters like promotion, publicity, and advertising—is a career builder for sure, in just about any endeavor.
By the way, authors and retailers—brick and mortar retailers as well as online retailers—can both benefit from partnering in promotions.
Can you give us any tips on how authors and indie publishers can work more effectively with bookstores and other retailers, to help them sell more books?
For details on how to work with retailers, I'd like to refer your readers to an article that I contributed to: How to Sell Books to Gift Shops and Specialty Retailers. Authors will immediately see that the more they know about retailing, the better spot they’ll be in to partner with retailers. And the better equipped they’ll be to convince retailers who aren’t in the know what fine partners they’d make. This article will help them do that.
There are as many ways to work with retailers as there are kinds of retailers and types of books. There has to be some retailer out there who would benefit from hosting an author’s workshop, seminar or signing, no matter what the topic of the book.
I caution authors not to dismiss this notion. If you think your book doesn’t fit with any retailer’s goals, maybe you should reread your book to find the promotional nuggets in it. There are is a short section in The Frugal Book Promoter that shows even fiction writers how to examine their books to find those commercial nuggets.
Any other words of wisdom for authors and publishers?
When authors approach retailers with a plan for partnering, it is a bit like coming up with a book proposal. We must think of the retailer’s audience as our audience. Then we must be sensitive to what the retailer’s needs are. Right now when many retailers are suffering from the recession, more money is likely their greatest need. And they are probably also shorthanded because they’ve had to let people go. So an author can jump in with his or her marketing skills, her contact lists, and her speaking ability and help a retailer in the ways he or she needs it most. If an author has a plan in hand—maybe even one with graphs showing projected gain in sales for an event—retailers should be especially open to suggestions right now.
It has been a pleasure talking to you and your great group of readers and clients, Dana. I feel very privileged.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson consults in the three Ps: publishing, promotion and publicity. She is the author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and award-winning books of fiction and poetry. She has nearly three decades of retail experience plus oodles more in the fields of journalism, public relations, publishing, and marketing. Learn more at http://carolynhoward-johnson.com, http://sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com, www.howtodoitfrugally.com and www.frugalretailing.blogspot.com.