Sunday, May 04, 2014

Costco Can Mean Big Book Success--Or Big Profit Headaches


Joan Stewart, the well known marketing expert, offers information on selling to Costco on a new video.  I talk about selling through retailers like Costco and pricing your books with the required discount in The Frugal Book Promoter but this is a more extensive tutorial. In her Publicity Hound newsletter Joan says, “When it comes to choosing a limited number of titles for coveted table space in its book section, what Costco wants, Costco usually gets.

“Authors lucky enough to be chosen must agree to sell their books at a 55 percent discount, minimum.

“As painful as that sounds, work the numbers. If you sell 200 books yourself at the full retail price of $19.95, you've made almost $4,000. But if you sell 1,000 books at 10.97 each, that's $10,970.

“How long would it take you to sell 1,000 books on your own? How long do you think it would take a big chain like Costco to sell 1,000 of your books?

“Agreeing to a deep discount is one of several important factors in convincing the big chain stores to carry your title.

“You also must do your homework before approaching the stores. That means walking the aisles to see what they're already selling, talking to the people who buy the books, and creating an attractive book marketing package that makes it easy for them to know immediately what your book is about and why people would want to buy it.

“Amy Collins of New Shelves Distribution sells books to the big chains five days a week. Even though these stores favor books from major publishers, indie authors can claim their share of shelf space. Amy was a guest on one of my webinars, and you can watch the video replay of "How to Convince Costco, Walmart, Target & Other Huge Chains to Sell Your Books," You'll
get a peek at Amy's Rolodex, and access to her contact information for the big chains. Some of the other tips she shared are at my blog. See 5 tips for getting fiction or nonfiction books into Costco, Walmart, Target.’

I would like to caution you about Costco's contract, though. Like bookstores they buy their books on a returnable basis and if they order 30,000 (and that's not all that unusual!) books and “only” sell 2,000 of them, independent authors are going to have a garage full of books and a big investment that may take a great deal of time to recoup. So consider carefully before you use your valuable marketing time to approach them.
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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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