Monday, November 21, 2005

Library Redux

So the great library campaign is reaching fruition. For those who are just tuning in, here's the skinny:

Award winning author Julia Spencer-Fleming and I interviewed each other. We each made a brochure. I had Bloody Mary coasters made and signed them. We're sending this package out to 6500 libraries.

Here are the specifics:

The coaster creation entailed Photoshopping an image (got some help from a friend for $50), I bought 6500 coasters at 12.2 cents each ($800), bought 6500 addressed envelopes ($350), printed 6500 double sided brochures (lazer printer $179, cartridge $80, two toner refils $30, 13 reams of paper, $43).

Plus, postage, which is $2400.

So far, I'm into this for just about $4000. I'm spending roughly 62 cents on each library.

I'm paying for postage, because Julia compiled the library list, which cost her a pretty penny. She's also paying to print the interview (about $350) and she supplied the library labels ($200) and her own brochures.

Libraries do their ordering from catalogues supplied by the publisher, by catalogues supplied by the distributors (Ingram and Baker & Taylor,) and through reading reviews in Library Journal, Kirkus, PW, and Boolist, plus others. Patron requests and word-of-mouth also are a factor.

I earn 55 cents for each paperback sold, $3.44 for each hardcover, and between $5 and $8 for each audiobook.

To earn back my investment, I'm going to need to sell 570 audiobooks, or 7272 paperbacks, or 1143 hardcovers, or any combination thereof.

I have two hardcovers in print, one paperback, two MP3s, two cassettes, and two CDs. I'm also got another paperback, hardcover, MP3, CD, and cassette that I'm including information about, coming out in June of 2006.

So basically, I'm selling fourteen things.

The brochure includes pictures of the book covers, blurbs, ISBNs, ordering info, brief synopses, contact info, and reviews. It took me 8 hours to create, and looks pretty good.

The interview is fun, light, but also imparts some detailed info about each of our series and why we love libraries.

So far, I've signed 3200 coasters. It's taken me three days, three hours a day, and I've gone through five Sharpies.

The printing is a huge pain in the butt, because the brochure is double-sided, but the printer only does single-sided, so everything has to be fed through twice. I spent four hours printing today, and got through 1000 copies. I could have had this done for 6 cents a copy, or $390. I bought a printer, toner, and paper for $332, and I get to keep the printer, so I went the do-it-myself route.

I figure I can be done with the signing and the printing by Thanksgiving.

That still leaves the folding (the brochure is tri-folded) and the stuffing envelopes and adding stamps. I looked into bulk mailing, but to set that up is $300 right off the bat, and postage would be the same.

Besides the 4 grand, I'll be into this project for about 80 hours when I finish.

Is it worth it?

I doubt I'll recoup my money, let alone my time. But I have no way of knowning, because no one has ever hit the library market like this before. I'm in uncharted waters.

This isn't an impersonal postcard. This is actual correspondence from real writers, with readable content. It's funny. It includes a signed coaster. It's presented in an unique way, and it's focused on only two authors, rather than hundreds in a catalogue or review magazine.

This is cheaper than an ad in a big magazine or newspaper. It's direct marketing in it's purest form--selling to a specific target audience that wants to buy books.

I'm assuming 1/3 to 1/2 of these libraries already have something of mine. This will help reinforce my brand, make them aware of my audiobooks, add to name recognition, and perhaps make them take notice of the books they already have sitting on their shelf, which would result in larger orders down the road.

We'll see what happens.

And for all who are interested, here's what the package looks like (I'll add Julia's brochure when she sends me a pdf file)