Saturday, June 28, 2008

Q&A a la Ann Landers: Do You Know WiseRep?

How Do YOU Evaluate Paid-For Services?

Question:
Thank you for your wonderful newsletter, I always find ideas for something new and leads to follow!

I am wondering if you or your readers have heard of WiseRep.com? They sent me an e-mail and I checked out their website; apparently they are a distributor to large department stores. They make some big claims about getting your book into these stores in large numbers. They have a pretty high enrollment fee (close to $200) and a monthly fee (about $30) to list your book, which means there would really have to be those big numbers in sales in order for it to be worthwhile. I am wondering if you know of anyone who has used them and what their results were. Can they really do what they claim? (Obviously I’m doubtful since I’m writing to you about it!)

Thanks for your help,

Patricia Dischler, author, Because I Loved You, From Babysitter to Business Owner and The Patty Cake Kids

Answer:
Patricia, I don't know about this business. They sound like a specialized distributor. My knee jerk reaction is that the service can't possibly pay for itself when one factors in generally low royalties and then projects how many books would have to be sold to break even. But I don't believe in knee-jerk reactions so, because I have had 30 years experience in the retailing business, here are some things that occur to me.

1. Check to see if books are returnable. Department stores usually don't work on a return basis like bookstores do. If books are sold as a final sales, that is something to factor into your calculations.

2. Determine how well your title matches the audience that frequents department stores.

3. Look at Wise.Rep's sales structure. Do they only send out a catalog or do they have sales representatives. Buyers -- all buyers -- including both bookstore buyers and department store buyers--are human. They tend to buy more readily from a representative they know, love and has provided them with saleable merchandise in the past.

4. Consider if this approach fits with your larger campaign. It is often difficult to ascertain which things work and which don't and everything you do in terms of promoiton accumulates.

As you are assessing, know that this and most other sales and promotion tools can't be completely measured in book sales. Rather we need to look at exposure, how the project builds credibility and how it works in terms of networking. I also like to look at the opportunities the specific effort afforded me to do things like send out invitations, media releases, etc. All those things help us keep in touch with our contacts and the public at large.

In the meantime, I hope Sharing with Writers readers will give you some input. E-mail me with WiseRep in the subject line. HoJoNews@aol.com.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

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