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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
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
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
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
5. Why sell one, when you can sell a
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
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.
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
9. Market a la Volkswagen.
Americans buying Hitler's "the people's car"
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
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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