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10 Ways to Rev Up $ales
by Beth Fowler

Sure, it's fun cracking jokes about used car salesmen and women, but writers can benefit by reading pages from their sales manuals. Park the stereotypes and test drive these strategies that work for word sellers as well as car sellers

1. Don't foist Jags on Hyundai devotees and vice versa.

Analyze magazine articles and advertisements (several issues' worth). Content and ads profile readers' age brackets, desired or actual income, passions, education, marital status, pastimes, fantasies, family relationships and hang-ups.

A glossy magazine showing multi-step recipes by Julia Child is unlikely to accept the manuscript Cool Meals with Hotdogs. Editors tow mismatch submissions to the junkyard in favor of queries and completed works that satisfy readers.

2. Botch a name: Lose a sale.

Addressing queries incorrectly or to former editors after the new ed took the helm proves the writer isn't current with the publications' evolving style and content, let alone personnel. "These queries will go the lowest editor (the slush pile)," John Wood revealed in How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query and Cover Letters (http://www.writersdigest.com).

Check newsstands, libraries or websites for a publication's telephone number or e-mail address. Call or e-mail for the editor's name. Find out if your house-hunting article goes to the lifestyle or finance editor. Get correct spelling: Debi or Debby? Find where departed editors who'd previously bought your stuff work now. Send queries and manuscripts.

3. Pitch to the customer.

The query is a writer's sales pitch. Would you rather buy an article from an author who queries, "I'm a Toastmasters member and a freelancer. I want to write for Toastmasters International Magazine," or from the writer who queries, "Toastmasters International Magazine readers need to know that professional speakers are increasingly in demand. According to a recent survey, a majority of…" You chose the latter pitch, didn't you?

4. Throw in add-ons.

Think like dealers who, "for a little extra," throw in monogrammed floor mats. Add-on champs acknowledge the customer's first purchase, say thanks, and offer a logical extension that'll satisfy the customer's needs. For example, after designing and presenting a two-hour writing workshop, I proposed a six-hour workshop to the same satisfied customer. She not only accepted. She scheduled two sets of the six-hour workshop.

5. Why sell one, when you can sell a fleet?

Writers aiming to rev up sales use sales multipliers. They sell second, anthology, foreign, electronic and other rights separately. They sell series (i.e., a monthly column) instead of one article, mention another product in the context of a current product, sell excerpts of book-length manuscripts and rework related shorter works into books.

6. "Call anytime."

Sales-savvy writers answer calls at weird hours from the newspaper editor who's putting tomorrow's edition "to bed." They install voice mail or answering machines to catch messages, they access host servers to send and receive e-mails when traveling beyond the local Internet Service Provider's (ISP) reach or use automatic responders. They include physical and URL addresses (see www.authorsden.com), and phone, fax and e-mail numbers on all correspondence and business cards. They slip business cards into snail-mail envelopes and notify customers of contact info changes…especially if money's owed. Tip: Put your address on the upper left corner of SASEs, so if the publisher stuffs an overweight contract into the envelope the good news should still land in your mailbox.

7. Persist with selling.

Car dealers talk to dozens of people before clinching a deal. That single sale puts a jingle in the pocket. Persistence pays. Like finicky car shoppers, editors reject manuscripts for myriad reasons indecipherable in the generic, "While we've given your submission serious consideration, it doesn't meet our editorial needs at this time." Perhaps the topic was published within the last two years, headquarters revamped the publication, bean counters slashed the budget, or the editor has a personal sore spot about the topic. Try later, try something else, try somewhere else listed at http://www.writerswrite.com/guidelines/ and Writing for DOLLARS! Guidelines database. (http://www.writingfordollars.com/guidelines.cfm)

8. Offer black and rainbows.

"You can get any color Ford you want, as long as it's black," goes the vintage quip. Look at the rainbow of vehicle colors nowadays! Anne Lamott's first novel, Hard Laughter, was published in 1980. More novels and memoirs followed. She wrote magazine columns and then "Someone offered me a gig teaching a writing workshop, and I've been teaching writing classes ever since."

Market your rainbow of skills. When offers come down the pike, don't admit you've never taught writing classes, written a column, or whatever. Accept and fill your tank with high-octane skills and knowledge.

9. Market a la Volkswagen.

Americans buying Hitler's "the people's car" after WWII…Who woulda thunk it? Marketing wunderkinder, that's who. Dig up past and present friends and foes as J. Henry Warren does who says he's sold thousands of his thriller Storm Keeper by relentlessly promoting his book "future books, and writing career to anyone who will listen and even those who won't." For more marketing techniques kick the tires on 1001 Ways to Market Your Book at http://www.bookmarket.com/1001ways.html.

10. Keep the pedal to the metal.

Novelist Wilbur Smith says, "If you just let it happen, then it's not going to happen." To make it happen, Wilbur gives himself a date to start producing a new bestseller. John Gardner (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/2469/) told students to write continually to achieve mastery.

Create "to do" and "due by" lists for market analysis, query writing, manuscript writing, editing, soliciting critiques, rewriting, proofreading and more writing. To avoid detours, traffic jams and potholes coordinate multiple writing projects for a smooth ride.

Keep your eyes on the road and you'll reach your writing destination in record time. Here's hoping the streets to your success are paved with dollars.

© Copyright 2002, Beth Fowler

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