Tuesday, August 31, 2010

That Marketing Thing

I kind of wish I knew more about marketing than just what I glean from blogposts, the odd book here and there, and personal experience. Of course, knowing how to sell what people need might not help when I'm offering books that I want them to want. But perhaps if I write what I've found out so far, it might at least help me determine how to move on.

First: Have something worth selling. I think my books are worth selling. People who read them, even strangers, tell me they're good. Of course, I'm sure they could be better, and I'll keep working on that 'cause it's what I enjoy.

Second: Have a venue to sell from. The internet's a start--I've got a virtual store with lulu, but so have lots of other people. Meanwhile, the only real bookstore selling my books is at Kanuga, an Episcopalian conference center in North Carolina. My local stores tell me too many people self-publish so it's simplest just to say no; maybe I should learn not to take no for an answer. Then there's local bazaars, like last Saturday...

Third: The price should be right. Online I price my books based on what I'd be willing to pay; it means the profit is mostly measured in pennies. At bazaars I take advantage of buying in bulk to sell cheaper, but customers ask "Can you give me a deal?" then say it's still too expensive. I sell home-made books, bookmarks, and greetings cards, in hopes of attracting people to stop and look with lower prices, but looking and buying, of course, are two different things.

I sold four greetings cards on Saturday. Customer number one asked "How much?" and I answered $1.25 each. Too expensive, they walked on. Customer number two said $1.25 was ridiculously cheap; he explained how much cards cost in stores but didn't buy anything. Customer number three wanted to know how much the materials cost. And customer number four bought cards. So, should I increase or decrease the price? And how important is the cost of materials? What about time and effort and imagination?

A friend suggests I price high then cover my stall with "special offers" to sell low. Another says price low so people will look. A third says if things are priced too cheaply the customers think you're asking for money for nothing. And a fourth says, of course, people don't really buy books these days.

Ah well, that's what I've learned so far. I'll keep trying, keep writing, keep drawing, keep hoping, keep dreaming... and maybe one day... Meanwhile I'll keep reading other people's blogposts in hopes of learning more.

10 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I still read books.
Glad I didn't have a hand in pricing mine, though.

Clarissa Southwick said...

Great thoughts on marketing. When it comes to books, I read what I want, and don't really look at the price as long as it's not outrageously high. (Like college textbooks)Love the cover photo on Retracted.

Bearman said...

$1.25 for a greeting card is very inexpensive.

Maybe put a sign up that says $2 with a line through it that says $1.25 today.

Or create a volume discount. 5 for $5 (hey it works for Arbys)

Helen Ginger said...

I kind of think maybe the friend who said offer "sales" is right. Folks are always looking for a bargain. Don't bargain yourself right out of a profit, though. Create the illusion of a bigger sale than it really is, if that's possible to do.

Helen

Cheryl Snell said...

When you consider that conventional wisdom says we must pass our products under potential buyers' noses ten times (up from 7) to get their attention, you're doing very well.
Are you thinking of a blog tour?

Kathryn Magendie said...

The hardest part of this business - promo, marketing, ugh ugh!

sarah said...

A good friend of mine who sold natural muffins.. once told me..he can only sell a product he is excited about...something he believes in and his excitement excites others to buy. That's helped me so much in marketing my book.

maryrussel said...

I wish I could find a publisher who would do most of the marketing for me so I can concentrate on what I love to do.

Sheila Deeth said...

I'm thinking of a blog tour now. Thanks for the suggestions Cheryl. Don't know if I'll ever manage to set it up.

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