Self Publish Australia

Learning to Love S&M...(Sales & Marketing)


by Peter Bowerman

I saw a great series of billboards recently. It was for Apartments. com, an online clearinghouse for apartments that allows you to search for exactly what you want in any state. The first billboard had just one short sentence (their tag line, actually) across the middle: " You want what you want ." Then, simply their logo and the name; a thing of simplicity and beauty. In one five-word sentence, they nailed THE hot button for their audience: personal taste and choice in an apartment.

But, say "marketing" or "sales" to a roomful of right-brained author types and watch the sweat beads pop. But, getting comfortable with the whole sales and marketing thing really is easier than you think...

It's ALL About the Customer    

In the course of promoting your masterpiece, you'll be crafting a pretty steady stream of promotional materials: press releases, marketing proposals to wholesalers, distributors, and booksellers, email pitches to book review targets, queries to publications to submit articles, notes to groups soliciting invitations to speak ( and accompanying promo materials, and much more. As such, it's good to understand what's important in this process (your audiences and what they want) and what's not (you and your book).  

Here are the three fundamental principles of sales and marketing - principles that, incidentally, are already a part of your frame of reference as a consumer:  

1) "Audience" - Always understand who your audience is and what language will best get through to them.

2) The Features/Benefits Equation - Focus on driving home what you know is important to your audience, not just talking about you and your book.

3) The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - Figure out what sets your book apart in the marketplace and drive that difference home - early and often.

Sales = Making it Easy

Developing a marketing mindset means always looking at things through the eyes of your target audience. For example:

•  You want someone to post an Amazon review (after they gushed on about your book in an email), so you send them the actual Amazon link to your book.

•  When sending out review copies (and the heads-up emails), you include a prominent link to your "Media Resources" section, which includes everything a potential reviewer might need to put a review together.

•  You want some "key influencer" to promote an upcoming event of yours, so you send an actual ready-to-go promo blurb, as if written by them, so that it's just a simple cut-'n-paste to get it handled.

•  You contact a journalist to get some publicity, and you include a link to "News Pegs" in your Media Resources section.

In all these cases, you're thinking about their reality and that you're not a high priority in their world. As such, you need to make it as easy as humanly possible for them to do what you're asking them to do. Let's explore each of the three in a bit more depth...               

"Who's the Audience?"

This is absolutely THE first question you need to ask yourself whenever you're about to put together any promotional copy. When you buy a product you heard about through some form of advertising, it's because something spoke to you . Someone knew what to say to make you sit up and take notice - which is exactly what will happen when a message is well crafted. What's amazing - and tragic - is how much marketing material, put together by authors and prestigious publishing houses, is poorly written and doesn't consider the intended audience. If you can get it right, you'll set yourself apart.

The Features/Benefits Equation

Some time back, I was contacted by an author who wanted me to review a press release for their new book. It was full of superlative adjectives about the book, hyperbolic gushing-on about the author, and other unforgivable self-indulgences. In short, tailor-made for a quick trip to the circular file. So common. So unnecessary.

The Features/Benefits Equation is an absolute cornerstone of sales and marketing and a concept with which we're already intimately acquainted.

Basic Definitions

In the publishing context, features are all about a book and its author. Benefits are about your target audiences - what's important to them, and how your book addresses those issues. Always begin with benefits, follow with features. The more you make it about you and your book, the more likely your intended audience will ignore you.

A Book Example

Okay, using my first book as an example, you think people care that Peter Bowerman leveraged a sales and marketing career into a new career in the lucrative field of commercial writing and then wrote a book about it? That the book covers X, Y and Z subjects? Yawwwwwwwwn. That's all about me and my book.

If you were a prospect for my book, I'd wager good money that you'd care far more about the fact that there's this lucrative field called commercial writing, where you fulfill your dream of making a good living (i.e., $50-125 an hour) as a writer. A field that can provide a great income while letting you work from your home, have more time for life, loved ones, and leisure. Sound better? Course it does. Because that's all about you - your favorite thing in the whole world! Then, once I get your attention with things I know mean something to you, I can tell you more about me.

Just remember, if you're an unknown author, journalists couldn't care less that you've written a book. A release about a book and its author is... features. That reporter wants benefits: " Tell me why that book is important to my readers/viewers."   Not the book, but the angle represented by the book. Those are the benefits.

USP - The Unique Selling Proposition

Every book is unique in some way. Once you determine the audience for your book, zero in on its Unique Selling Proposition (USP) - THE thing that sets that book apart in a marketplace full of competitors (more important with non-fiction than fiction). What does it do that others don't? Once you determine your book's USPs, make sure they show up in your back cover copy and in most everything else you send out. Drive the message home.

Getting comfortable with sales and marketing doesn't have to be painful. And when you make these concepts your friends, and they become second nature, you set the stage for some serious promotional success.


Want to get published, and make a living from it? Check out a free report " How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living" at , home of author Peter Bowerman's August 2006 release, The Well-Fed Self-Publisher (and powerful companion marketing guide, The Well-Fed SP Biz-in-a-Box). Bowerman is the self-published author of The Well-Fed Writer titles ( ), multiple-award winning selections of Book-of-the-Month Club and others, and acclaimed "standards" in the field of lucrative commercial freelancing. Over 50,000 copies of his first two books in print have earned him a full-time living for over five years.

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  It's ALL about the customer
Book Sales = Making it Easy
"Who's the Audience?"
The Features/Benefits Equation
Basic Definitions
USP - Unique Selling Proposition
About Peter Bowerman

Ceating Childrens Books

Sheryl Clark

Jesse Blackadder

Publishing a Childrens Book

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