I’m trying to sell two books now and it is turning out to be harder than writing them. Publishers are scared in this economy and getting hold of one, by email, phone or fax, is virtually impossible. Time and again, I’ve navigated the telephone “tree” only to find myself back at the beginning. It’s enough to make a patient person like me scream in frustration.
How can experienced and new authors sell their work? We have to get smarter.
Minnesota business guru Harvey Mackay, author of “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” has come out with a new book based on his marketing savvy. The title is “The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real Word.” If you’re trying to sell manuscripts as I am, you know the real world of book publishing, and right now it is bleak.
Some publishers have gone out of business. Other small publishers are joining forces just to survive. Many are in a “wait and see” mode, hanging on and pushing their existing inventory. I came across an informative (and scary) website the other day that lists the number of books publishers have put out during the calendar year. After looking at an entire screen of zeros I exited the website; it was too discouraging.
Before Mackay’s latest book was released he asked colleagues to pick the 10 most valuable tips. These tips were detailed in his article, “A Street-Smart MBA Knows How to Adapt.” I think a street-smart author also knows how to adapt and his business tips may serve as a starting point.
According to tip number one, “nothing can beat a hungry fighter.” Nothing can beat a hungry author either. We have to continue to write, continue to produce quality work, and continue to market our work. As we do these things, we may tap professional organizations, networks, and local contacts.
Doing everything “exactly right” is another one of Mackay’s tips. This is really hard for authors because the devil is in the details. This past weekend I spent hours on a fundraising letter for a political candidate I am supporting. Careful as I thought I was, I kept finding typos and it was embarrassing. Finally, with the help of other proof-readers, all of the typos were corrected.
Mackay believes in confidence so much he thinks it can do almost anything. In fact, he says confidence “beats IQ nine times out of 10.” I believe in my work and you believe in yours. Our enthusiasm is evident in emails, publisher contacts, query letters, book talks, and autograph sessions. Remember, a confident author is more appealing to the public and to publishers.
Doing our homework, another point on Mackay’s list, may be a wakeup call for some authors. Before you query a publisher you should know something about the books it produces. The same is true of contacting a literary agency. You should know something about the manuscripts the agency sells.
Mackay thinks older salespeople, and I would add older authors, need to understand today’s workplace, which relies on the Internet, webinars, Facebook, Twitter, and other technological advances. I try to keep my website up to date, post on blogs and Facebook. Persistence counts in the book business and I think of it as an extension of confidence. Hopefully, marketing tips and my track record as an author will lead to sales.
I’m working so hard “adaptation” could be my middle name.
Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson http://www.harriethodgson.com
Harvey Mackay’s Business Tips May Help You Sell Books
By Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 35+ years. Her 26th book, “Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief,” written with Lois Krahn, MD, is available from Amazon. Centering Corporation has pulished several of her books, including “Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life,” a companion journal, “The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul,” and “Happy Again! Your New and Meaningful Life After Loss.”
Hodgson has two other new books, “101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grif Journey” and “Real Meals on 18 Wheels: A Guide for Healthy Living on the Highway,” Kathryn Clements, RD, co-author. Both books are available from Amazon. Please visit Harriet’s website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.
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