Sunday, December 10, 2017

Marketing 101: Build Your Key Contact List

One of the fundamentals:  If your book proposal were to be accepted by a traditional publisher, you would be asked to submit a key-contact database along with or before finishing your book. As your own publisher, you should certainly do the same. You should start doing this now, even if you haven't started writing your book. A good key contact list has four categories. 

Category One: Contacts Who Will Get a Complimentary Copy of Your Book Automatically. Almost every author gives away some free copies, but you need to keep it limited to your immediate family, direct contributors to the book, and people who have been instrumental in helping you get your book off the ground. At The Publishing Pro, LLC, we recommend that this be a short list of no more than twenty-five contacts. Of course, your list can be longer. But be careful! And remember this list is for people who will get a complimentary copy—automatically. 

Category Two: Contacts Who Will Get A Complimentary Copy of Your Book On Request. You will have some contacts, many I hope, who should get a complimentary copy of your book. Likely candidates include book reviewers; editors of newspapers, magazines, and newsletters that might run an excerpt of your book or interview you; radio and TV personalities who might want to interview you; instructors who might want to adopt your book for their classes; people in your field of expertise whose word might inspire many to buy your book; and so on. In general, you should ask such people to request a copy of your book rather than sending them one automatically. For three reasons: First, sending books automatically wastes money. While some complimentary copies hit their mark and are appreciated, many go astray. They are lost in the mail, trapped on an assistant’s desk, or just ignored as advertising clutter. Or maybe they just don’t want your book. Why send them one? Second, if someone requests a copy of a book, they really want it. That means you have hit your target—and you know it. And if they really want it—and have taken the trouble to ask for it—they are more likely to do something with it than if they got it automatically.Third, if someone asks for a book and you send it to him, you have a built-in reason to follow up. You can call him, ask if he received the book, maybe find out if he plans to do something with it, and give him a chance to talk to the author. You. There is no telling what can come of that. All this while being perceived as someone helpful rather than pushy. When your book is published, you will send this list of contacts a press release along with a review copy request form. The more reasonable contacts you have in this category, the better. If you find that you can’t afford to snail-mail press releases to the entire list when the time comes, you can always send your press releases to part of the list initially and to another part of the list when you can afford it. (Or you can try an email mailing, which is the norm anymore.) In the meantime, you can keep building your list of contacts.   

Category Three: Contacts Who Should Know about Your Book but Who Should Not Be Offered a Complimentary Copy. As you build your database of key contacts, you might have some who might be interested in knowing about your book but who should not be offered a complimentary copy. I expect this would be a smaller category for most authors—only because I would offer most media contacts the chance to ask for a complimentary book. However, there will be some. These contacts will receive a press release only.

Category Four: Contacts Who Should Buy the Book. Obviously, the more you have in this last category the better. Your professional contacts, business associates, even friends and most family members should go in this category—unless you can definitely justify putting them in one of the categories above. These contacts will get some kind of order vehicle—or maybe just a postcard or an email telling them a bit about the book and how to order it. If you have a clear production date, you might consider offering people on this list the opportunity to order a pre-publication copy of your book at a discount and with your autograph. You might even be able to pay for your printing this way. However, we don’t recommend that you accept payment unless you know you will have your book printed within a short period of time.ThePublishingPro

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