Diary of an Ad Man

November 13, 2007

An Open Letter To Anyone Tempted To "Self-Publish"

Filed under: Business,Increasing Profits,Uncategorized — linwoodaustin @ 2:56 am

An Open Letter To Anyone Tempted To “Self-Publish”.

Especially if your name is C. Ben Bosah


The above link is an article from the Wall Street Journal about a fellow who got hammered in trying to self-publish a book.

The article discusses various aspects of “normal” channels of getting your book into the public hands. But I’m scratching some notes below to show you that there could be another way to publish… or “self-publish”.

1. Never write a book until you know there is a market for it.

2. You can prove to yourself the size of a market by hopping on down to your local library and looking at the SRDS book of mailing lists. It’s as thick as the NY phone book. But it contains hundreds upon hundreds of mailing lists you could rent. It has everything from hunters and fishermen… to subscribers to Catholic magazines. It has business opportunity seekers who have recently bought a course to learn how to buy real estate for nothing down… to multiple buyers of weight loss pills. As your thumbing through the book… have a scratch pad handy. Add up the amount of names you come across. Under the business opportunity seekers section there are some 5 million names that pop up every year.
3. You want to compare the names available to the type of book you want to self publish. If the target audience is big enough… proceed.
4. Next, you may want to rent 5,000 names and send a direct mail package to them, selling your book.
5. Can you price your book so that you can live with a 1% or 2% response… and cover all your mailing costs?
6. Are you taking a long-range view with this book of yours? Or is that a one-time deal. Typically speaking, the successful publishers live for the “back-end”. That means, they might even lose money selling by mail… at first. But they make it up by selling more… books… or more expensive information packages to their first-time buyers. They live for the second-time buyers. They make even more money by renting the mailing list. I know one fellow who has about 150 books he sells by mail. All are HOW-TO books. He has about 5 million names. He rents his names to everyone from insurance companies to Oreck Vacuum cleaners. He does about 11 million a year in gross sales with double digit year-end profitability.
7. Years ago, direct mail publishers used to do “dry-runs”. They would mail out a letter offering a book on a specific topic. If they got enough orders, they would hurry and write the book. If the orders were too few, they would return everyone’s money and go on to another project.
8. I have a method of taking the pulse of the target audience BEFORE you publish… and of finding out HOW MUCH money your target audience would be willing to pay for your information.
9. This form of marketing does not work for novels. But for HOW TO books. How to invest… how to seduce women… how to start a business… how to lose weight… how to fix a computer… etc.
10. Direct mail is a fine way to market this information… but direct response TV and radio and web marketing are good too. However… if you’re going to publish and your aim to go up against major publishers who have systems and procedures in place to get books placed in big-named book stores, with PR, distribution… timing… etc… you’ve got your work cut out for you.
11. In some cases you can do both… you can run “direct response” advertising… selling the book direct… while at the same time selling through the local bookstore. Historically the direct response marketing will drive sales at the outlet too.
12. There are plenty of marketers selling ebooks… with no printing costs.

Just thinking.
Call me if you want help with direct marketing.

Linwood Austin


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