How to Find Potential Book Buyers in Special Markets

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September 16, 2013

Brian Jud has a wealth of articles about book marketing on his website http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/ (Click on the Free Articles link). He’s given us permission to reprint his articles here. In the spirit of helping the author who is new to independent publishing, I looked for one that gave an overview of the marketing process and where to start. Instead, I decided to present the following article 17 Ways to Find Potential Book Buyers in Special Markets because, after all, it all starts with your buyer: the reader. Before you can start selling your book, you need to know to whom you are selling. Unfortunately, simply having a page on Amazon is not enough. People won’t necessarily find you; instead, you need to find your readers and tell them how (and why) to buy your book. And as Brian says, it’s much better if you can find one or two buyers who will purchase a significant quantity to distribute to their audience, rather than you having to reach those people directly. So read on, and feel free to leave a comment letting us know which of his 17 Ways you have tried, what has worked, and what has challenged you. (Note: While much of what Brian says may seem to apply only to nonfiction books, later in the article he makes a special point of speaking to authors of fiction as well.)

If you want to sell 10,000 books through a bookstore, you must get 10,000 book buyers to go there and buy one. If you want to sell 10,000 books in non-bookstore markets, you find one person to buy 10,000 of them. Before you can start selling, you must have the names of people to whom you will sell.  Prospecting is the process of searching for people who can buy your books in large quantities.  A prospect is the person in a company that may buy from you.

Miners searching for gold know that to be successful they have to prospect where the gold is most likely to be found. Follow their example by narrowing down your likely buyers as much as possible. Define your target reader and list the benefits your content provides to them. Divide your readers into groups with similar needs, and then search for the names of potential customers in each segment. (For more information on this topic see my Independent article Make It Personal: A Three-Step Program for Increasing Sales, October 2006.)

How to search

You can prospect in person or indirectly, since there are techniques to fit any personality. Here are some of the most widely used ways to find the names of potential customers.

1. The telephone may be your most productive prospecting tool. Write a script to guide you through your calls. It is not something you read word-for-word, but a list of the points you should bring up, and the order in which to discuss them. Use the prospect’s name often, and identify yourself and the reason you are calling. Always check to make sure you have called at a convenient time. List questions you can ask to get and keep the prospect involved in the call and lead the conversation toward its logical conclusion. (For more information on this topic see my Independent article Smile, Dial, and Pile Up Sales, August 2009.)

In most cases your telephone calls will be answered by voicemail. The likelihood of you getting a return call is directly proportional to the quality of the message you leave. Create a 20-second voice-mail message that includes your name, a brief attention-getting statement, why you are calling, the reason it will benefit the recipient to return your call, your contact information and the best time to call you.

2. Networking is an organized way to making links from the people you know to the people they know, expanding your base of prospects. It is the personal process of connecting with others to find opportunities. Network online using www.linkedin.com to identify people who can connect you to target companies and key individuals.

3. Prospect at trade shows. Find a list of conventions for your target segments at 10times.com. You do not have to exhibit at each, but attend them to learn about the industry and talk with the exhibitors and attendees who may be potential customers.

4. Advertising can generate leads economically. For example, associations need content for their newsletters. Allow them to excerpt from your book in exchange for free advertising. When considering advertising, evaluate each medium on its cost-per-thousand (CPM). You may find it efficient to reach a large number of people quickly.

5.  Associations offer other prospecting opportunities. Search their websites and contact the membership chair to use your book as a fundraiser or a premium to increase membership. Explore http://www.weddles.com/ for associations related to your topic and work each website for the bookstore manager, program director and meeting planner who may hire you to speak to their association or become its spokesperson. Find a database of over 85,000 non-profit organizations at www.guidestar.org.

6. Get prospects to come to you (called “Expert Pull”) when you increase your visibility and reputation as the expert in your field. Stimulate word-of-mouth communication through personal presentations, by publishing articles and writing a blog on your subject. The publicity you get from winning awards or getting positive reviews can stimulate attention among potential buyers, too. These honors also give you credibility when you make your personal calls.

7. There are many sources of leads for corporate prospects. Read their annual reports and visit their websites. Search the NAICS (formerly SIC) database (https://www.census.gov/naics/). This is a government system that classifies companies by the type of products or services they offer. Find free access to the Thomas Register of American Manufacturers at www.thomasregister.com.

9. Explore http://www.usnpl.com/, a free directory of newspapers worldwide with links to many newspapers’ web pages.

10. Search the web for potential buyers. A free device that searches all search engines (and eliminates duplicate sites) is at www.copernic.com. Join forums and discussion groups to increase your visibility and extend your reputation as the expert in your field.

11. Reach large numbers of people via postcards, letters and email. List brokers such as USAData (http://www.usadata.com/) sell consumer leads, business leads, new homeowner lists, physician lists and specialty lists for accountants, boat owners, churches, insurance agents, new parents, voters and many other categories.

12. Get referrals from your customers. Ask your customers for the names of other buyers who could use your book as a promotional tool.

13. Read trade magazines in your target industries. Familiarize yourself with each industry by reading the articles. Look at the ads for names of companies that could be prospects. Write an article for the magazine for Expert Pull. Find links to major magazines in the US at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_magazines

14. Conduct webinars and seminars. The key to a successful seminar is offering a solution to a problem that your target market really wants to solve. Webinars can be done inexpensively. The costs for in-person seminars are comprised of room rental, refreshments, audio-visual equipment, and promotion. Teleseminars are the least expensive, with the only costs being conference phone line rental and promotion.

15. Dissect each major segment. For example, libraries represent a target market of almost 120,000 locations. But that segment can be divided into many sub-segments. In addition to the 16,000 public libraries, there are libraries in colleges, as well as public and private schools. Libraries serve prisons and armed forces personnel. And special libraries include corporate, medical, law and religious libraries.

16. Build a prospecting element into your website. Put benefit-laden descriptions of your titles on your website, and make your catalog easy to download. Make sure there is a contact link on every page. Gather names by offering something for free. Add call or email links, and reply to people quickly.

17. Apply these sales-prospecting techniques for finding contacts at radio shows using http://www.radio-locator.com/

 

Searching for prospective buyers of fiction

Many of the techniques described above apply to fiction, too. But authors of fiction have even more opportunities. People read novels while traveling, vacationing or as a convenience in the case of hotels, hospitals and navy personnel onboard ships. Search for buyers at cruise ships, passenger trains, travel agents/sites, bus tours, airlines, limousine services, restaurants, B&Bs and others as appropriates to your title. Suggest your book as a premiums or gift to be given to people for doing business with one of these companies.

 

When to contact

At this point you have lists of names, but not all are equally interested in your content or able to purchase your books in large quantities. Go through your lists to disqualify those who cannot buy (no need or money). Finally, rate the remaining prospects according to their ability to buy your books and rank them in descending order. (For more information on this topic see my Independent article Prioritize to Boost Sales, March, 2006.)

 

Prospecting for new business is similar to exercising. It is good for you and it will produce positive results if you do it routinely. Do something every day. Prospecting takes time, but if your sales pipeline is always filled with potential customers, then you are in for a future of positive revenue flow.

 

Finding prospects is only the first step. Now you must nurture and develop your leads into customers. The remaining articles in this series (go to http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/index.php?pg=articles.htm)  will show you how to do that.

 

******

Brian Jud is the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books and now offers commission-onlysales of nonfiction, fiction, children’s titles and remainders to buyers in special markets. For more information contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT  06001; (860) 675-1344; Fax (860) 270-0343: brianjud@bookmarketing.com or go to www.premiumbookcompany.com

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