Four Elements Of Strategic Income From Your Book Sales

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By focusing on the value, variety, volume, and velocity of strategic revenue, you can maximize your sales and profits now and over the long term.

When authors create content and publishers introduce it to the world, both parties want to maximize their sales, revenue, and profits. That certainly makes sense, but why does it elude so many of us? The strategies to reach these three goals are dissimilar and sometimes mutually exclusive. You can increase sales by selling your books for 99¢ but that will not maximize revenue and will probably lead to negative profits (loss).

By focusing on four elements of strategic revenue, you can maximize your sales and profits now and over the long term. The fearsome foursome are value, variety, volume, and velocity of revenue.

Increase the value of your revenue

You may think that all revenue has the same value, but then you ask, “How do I make it to the long term without short-term revenue?” The answer is to understand that some marketing actions have impact on revenue in the short term and some over the long term, and some contribute to exposure in either the short or long term. Your task is to create a series of short-term wins that lead to long-term success. Use this chart as an example of how to create a customized, assorted and coordinated marketing mix to maximize the value of your revenue.

strategic income chart

Increase the variety of your revenue

How stable is a stool with one leg? Two legs? Three or more legs? The more stable the stool. Similarly, the more sources of your income, the more stable your business. Create a business model that builds stable and profitable revenue growth in several different ways. Here are some examples.

Sales through an array of retailers. Based on who your target buyers are, have your books available where they shop. This could be in bookstores, supermarkets, airports, gift shops, discount stores, specialty stores, online, or through book clubs and catalogs.

Sales to non-retail entities. Buyers in businesses, associations, schools, the military, and government agencies can purchase books in large, non-returnable quantities. However, for that reason these are typically long-term sales that could take a year or more to finalize.

Generate income from consulting, seminars, or personal presentations. In each case, you could give your book away as an expensive brochure, building your credibility (and revenue) in each of these techniques.

Increase the velocity of your revenue

Net cash flow is the difference between the amount of cash received and paid during a specific time period. Think of this as passing “Go” in the game of Monopoly more frequently. As you generate income faster, the need for working capital decreases accordingly. There are several ways you can use marketing tactics to improve the speed of your cash flow.

Create different incentives. Offer increased discounts for larger orders or for books purchased on a non-returnable basis. Similarly, offer greater discounts for buying more frequently.

Reduce or eliminate inventory. Use digital printing to test new titles, to meet demand during slow periods, or for keeping backlist titles in print.

Generate cash before you incur costs. Seek bulk sales among corporate buyers before your book is published. There are instances in which a book’s production costs may be covered before payment is due.

Automate the payment stream. Direct more people to your website to purchase your books and have them use PayPal or similar service so you are paid immediately.

Pool marketing activities. The Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS) has cooperative marketing programs in which you present your titles to genre-specific booksellers, librarians and media reviewers in combination with other publishers. Thus, you share the expenses with them.

Increase the volume of your revenue

Revenue is a function of sales. The more books you sell, the greater your revenue. Of course, your net profit is more dependent on your price/cost structure, but this discussion will focus on building overall unit sales. You can visualize this process as building a series of growth platforms — synergistic sales techniques that build upon each other. Each platform is a new revenue source, contributing to your overall revenue.

Sell in non-bookstore markets. One growth platform is to expand from your core business into special markets. This could entail selling your book into retail and non-retail segments as described above.

Give your customers ideas for using your books. Retail stores in special markets create a unique opportunity for cross merchandising (also called the related-item approach) or promoting your book by pairing it with a related product. The purpose is to get customers to buy both items; perhaps at a lower price than if they bought the same two items separately. Show retail-store buyers how your cookbook might be the perfect match for a promotional program with barbeque grills, or how your children’s book might pair with games or plush toys.

Sell your content in different formats. It is not necessary to sell your content only in the form of a book. Consider the title, Job Search 101, that describes the proper techniques of writing a resume and cover letter as well as interviewing for a job. The publisher found it challenging to describe the subjective functions of interviewing, such as eye communication, posture and gestures. These were better portrayed in a video program titled The Art of Interviewing.

Find new uses for your content. Taking The Art of Interviewing example one step further, the publisher recognized that the content of this video also demonstrated the functions of performing on TV and radio shows. So, the content was adapted to this purpose under the title of the video program You’re On The Air. Each product extension provided a new growth platform.

Help your customers improve their employees’ productivity. Employee recognition and motivation is a growing trend. According to Karen Renk, executive director of the Incentive Marketing Association, “There is tremendous potential there because every organization has employees they need to keep engaged and motivated.” More than half of companies implementing employee programs use merchandise — including books — as a motivational technique.

Help your customers help their customers. A national health insurance company was interested in promoting a healthier lifestyle among new clients. To accomplish this goal, Premium Book Company implemented an ongoing educational program for them. After signing a new member, a mailing was done on behalf of the company. First, a book promoting the benefits of walking was sent. Next, a cookbook was provided showing busy people how to prepare healthy meals quickly. The result was several thousand books being sent each of the first two months.

Show your customers how they can use your books in their marketing campaigns. A publisher of children’s books worked with a small chain of children’s shoe stores to implement a punch-card program where every $25 spent was worth one punch on the card. Every time a card was punched four times, the child or parent was able to select two books from the books available on display. The theme was “We’ll take care of your child… From their head to their feet!”

The future — your future — starts tomorrow, and the more you can reduce its uncertainty by increasing the value, variety, velocity, and volume of your book-sale revenue streams, the more profitable you can become in the long run.

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