You might look at the non-bookstore market for your books and think, “Is there a place for me in that market, or is it too big?”
At the start of the year, it’s common for authors of every ilk to resolve to sell more of their books than they did the year before. Then comes February when, according to BJ Fogg in a piece in the Wall Street Journal, “upsurges of enthusiasm in early January are generally followed by flagging commitment in February.” When people see what needs to be done to sell more books, they often feel they cannot do it and they give up.
One way to avoid this deflation in commitment is to change the way you approach a large opportunity (such as selling books to non-bookstore buyers) by not trying to do too much too quickly. Most people looked at Goliath and thought he was too big to hit. David looked at him and thought he was too big to miss.
You might look at the non-bookstore market for books and think, “Is there a place for me in that market, or is it too big?” The answer is yes! A special-sales market of $14–$16 billion is too big to pass up, but it can be too big a market in which to compete profitably if you look at it as one colossal entity. To find success, divide your special-sales opportunity into manageable segments. The Wall Street Journal article gives four steps to do that.
Step #1: Get motivated
Pick a behavior or activity you want to do rather than one you merely feel obligated to do. Do you really want to sell more books? Then set SMART goals for yourself this year.
Stretch your goal to sell books. Go a little outside your comfort zone by picking up that 200-pound telephone to call a prospective buyer. Successful performance expands your zone little by little.
Set measurable goals. Your objective should not be to “sell more books than last year.” In that case, an increase of one book would meet your goal. Be specific in the number of books you want to sell. Also, set goals for specific increases in revenue and profits. You can easily sell more printed books if you sell them for 99¢, but that might not increase your profits.
Set actionable goals. Your goals should be in the realm of your abilities. If you don’t have the time, desire, or skills to sell to corporate buyers, hire someone to do it for you. Find a distribution partner to sell your books for you to non-bookstore retailers (airport stores, supermarkets, gift shops, etc.)
Be realistic. A rubber band will break if you stretch it too far. Don’t think in term of millions of books initially, but perhaps a 10% increase over last year. Reach for the stars but keep your feet on the ground.
Set time-oriented deadlines. Set a date to reach your goals. Begin with an annual deadline, but also set interim goals (three, six, nine months) to monitor your progress and make necessary changes.
Step #2: Make the steps simple and small at first
Do not look at special sales as a big project requiring you to change your business model overnight. Instead, what is the minimum you can do to get started? How about committing five minutes a day for the next week thinking about how a corporation or association could use your content to help them. Could a school use your material? The military?
Next week, spend 10 minutes a day searching for potential buyers in each relevant segment. The following week, write a script to use when calling or emailing buyers. Then make a few calls or send emails. As you begin to experience success, your enthusiasm will overtake you and you will launch yourself into a new way of doing business — without giving up the old.
Step #3: Trigger new behavior
The best way to prompt a new habit is to anchor it to an existing routine in your life. When you read and respond to your emails each morning, for instance, send one email to a corporate buyer. Then two, then three…
Step #4: Celebrate your new habit
Find ways to reward yourself so that your brain associates your new behavior with positive feelings. When you finally connect with a new buyer after leaving several voicemail messages, feel good about yourself in that exact moment with an internal “Good Job!” or an outward fist pump. As BJ Fogg says in the article, “The more intense the positive emotion, the faster your new behavior will become automatic.”
You know the adage, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” The same concept applies to setting and reaching new goals this year without getting overwhelmed and giving up. Do not try to do too much so soon that you burn out. Approach the enormous opportunity in non-bookstore sales one bite at a time.
Alternative Ways to Sell Fiction
Sell Your Book Through All Retailers… Not Just Bookstores
Selling to Non-Bookstore Retailers
How to Relax During A Book Sales Presentation
Selling Books to Business Buyers? Think Small.