Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Thursday Excerpt - The Frugal Editor Herself!

Today I welcome none other than the Frugal master herself, Carolyn Howard-Johnson!

This excerpt is from a must-own & read repeatedly book for any author!

Outside by B&N Box

(This excerpt is from The Frugal Book Promoter, How To Do What Your Publisher Won't by Carolyn Howard-Johnson)

Chapter 34: Catalog Sales Are Exposure, Too!

Catalogs are show business. They spotlight a product for the sole purpose of selling merchandise but they also create a buzz, project an image, tell a story, leave an impression. They create celebrity for themselves and for each of their products.

Experts disagree about how extensive the crossover is between sales and publicity. The primary reason for your book to appear on the pages of a retail catalog is, of course, sales but that exposure is also extraordinary publicity for your book.

It qualifies as publicity because you don’t pay for it. It is paid advertising for the catalog company or store that issues the catalog; for you it is a free ride that will result not only in sales through the catalog itself but will stir up interest in other places.

Other advantages are:
* The catalog company will probably pay the freight for their book shipments.
* Their purchases are outright; unlike most bookstores, they will not return what they buy.
* They will reorder when their stock is depleted.
* They don’t care if your book is current as long as the information is accurate and it sells.
* Most don’t require exclusivity.
*Their orders will be substantial enough to make both you and your publisher smile. That your publisher probably will not attempt to sell your book this way is beyond understanding, but most don’t.

Disadvantages are:
* Learning curve ahead! You’ll need to negotiate sales to catalog buyers expertly.
* Because catalogs buy in quantity they may expect a hefty discount. If you or your publisher cannot give 50 percent or more, there is no point in pursuing this avenue. However, if you only break even on catalog sales, it may be worth pursuing them for the publicity benefits.
* Some authors and publishers fail to print enough books to supply a catalog’s needs.
* Nonfiction books are generally more suitable for catalogs.

Here’s how to find catalogs that might be interested in your book:
* Do an engine search on “retail catalogs.” About 600,000 lists and individual catalogs will appear. Narrow the search to include only catalogs that will find your book irresistible.
* Go to a bookstore or library for CATALOG OF CATALOGS. Find one or more categories that are a fit for your book and Bibbidi, Bobbidi, Boo! Another way to see your book cover in print and realize sales at the same time.
* The fast but more expensive way to find leads is to purchase John Kremer’s specialty retailer and catalog databases for about $60 from BookMarket
* Watch for catalogs that come to your home. Become familiar with their products. Ask your friends to pass their catalogs on to you. When you find an appropriate one for your book, go for it!
* Read BEYOND THE BOOKSTORE by Brian Jud. Call (800)-43-BRIGHT.

Hint: It is almost a certainty that your publisher won’t pursue this avenue for sales. If you can crack a catalog deal for a gross or more of your title, it is highly unlikely that your publisher won’t see the value in it and work with you. If you approach your publisher first, they most probably won’t be up for it. They may not understand the potential until it is laid in their laps.

Carolyn is an author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of Books for writers, including USA Book News' award winners:

The Frugal Editor Amazon

The Frugal Book Promoter Amazon

The Great First Impression Book Proposal Amazon

Find her at How To Do It Frugally and at Linked In & Twitter and blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick:
Sharing With Writers
The New Book Review
Sizzling Book Fair Booths
The Frugal Editor Blog


  1. This is an interesting idea I haven't tried. I write fiction, but it can’t hurt to look around and see what kind of catalogs are out there.

  2. Sounds like a great resource book for authors. And this one idea is a fresh one. Thanks, Diane.

    Straight From Hel

  3. Wow- this sounds like a useful book to have on my shelf. Thanks for highlighting this. I always learn something from your blog!

  4. Nancy, Helen and Jane, thank you for coming by to partake of some of Diane's spunk. And thanks, Diane, for featuring my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers.

    Jane, we writers of fiction must work even harder to find new ways to promote. There are thousands of catalogs out there and even a book of fiction is sure to have some angle that will appeal to their customers. Good luck!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging at Writers' Digest 101 Best Websites pick

  5. Glad you could pop in today, Carolyn!

    And sorry everyone, been on the road for two days without Internet...

  6. Ahhhh, bedtime. Thought I'd check in to see if you are back, Diane. Hope your subscribers found the column useful. I loved working with you.


  7. AnonymousJuly 30, 2009

    How would Print-on-Demand authors be able to do this with E-books and print materials?

  8. I have read Carolyn's books and they're very, very helpful and full of ideas.

    I'd like to try this catalogue option, but it's not easy to find the right contacts by doing a google search. Maybe it's better in the long run just to buy a list.