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)


emeraldcite said...

Great plan. Make sure to update us with any info. I'm really curious how this will work out. Sounds like an adventure!

I'd certainly do it. I love that kind of gritty work. Must be those long nights in the lit mag office back in college that instilled in me a sense of hard work entwined with hope.

emeraldcite said...

ps. rooting for you.

pps. just finishing up Whiskey Sour.

Unknown said...

WOW! WOW, Joe! That's all I can say! Can I hire you!

Man, you deserve every success in this business...

I am impressed!


Author-Gerald said...

What a great idea, Joe. I love the way you make a real effort to market not just your books, but your name, hoping (and believing) it to be an investment. You deserve to succeed!

Anonymous said...

I actually think you'll recoup your costs in the longo-run, because once you're in each library's system you're likely to get picked up for continuing books. I think this is an excellent idea.

JA Konrath said...

I added pdf downloads of the actual library mailing to the end of my blog entry, if anyone is curious to see what it is I'm sending out.

The coaster is standard 40pt cardboard (about a millimeter thick) and 4" square.

Anonymous said...

I often check out ebooks from my library, but I think I saw an earlier post that said none of your books are available as ebooks. Why is that, any particular reason? While I prefer the old fashioned stuff, I'm looking for ebooks more often these days. As long as my PDA is in my bag, I know I always have a good book with me. I never even have to enter the library - I just search by author, I can download several of their books at a time, and there's nothing to return, the book just expires. All done from the comfort of my house, very handy. I'm also more apt to try an author I'm not familiar with, as the time investment on my part is minimal. If I don't like it, I just switch to a different book. But if I DO like it, then I know it's worth the time & money to buy the real thing.

In terms of "marketing" within the ebook library, there are staff recommendations on the main web page, as well as a list of featured books.

Just my 2 cents.

JA Konrath said...

My books are available as ebook downloads in a variety of formats, including audio.

If your library doesn't have me, please request me.

Anonymous said...

Make sure you sign out the CD version of Joe's autiobooks, then download them to your computer and load them onto all your friends' iPods. He likes it when you do that.

Do you realize the word verification spells out:
Bow Butt Fuck?

What am I to make of this, Joe?

JA Konrath said...

"Make sure you sign out the CD version of Joe's autiobooks, then download them to your computer and load them onto all your friends' iPods."

Get the MP3 version. That's only one disk, so it'll save you money when you burn it.

Mindy Tarquini said...

If your library doesn't have me, please request me.

Mine has you in cover, CD and cassette, but not eBook. Just found out I can make a purchase suggestion through their website, so I asked that they stock your eBooks.

I'm one of those strange people who will read a book online. That's because I can make the print bigger.

mapletree7 said...

I am so sorry to say this, but I found a typo.
Back page, right column, Andrew Vachss' last name is italicized.

Anonymous said...

I just re-checked my library. They've finally added Whiskey Sour as a text ebook, but still no Bloody Mary. They've had audio ebooks of both for quite a while. But the audio version isn't compatible with my iPod, and I'm not burning it to a disc, so forget it - I'm only interested in the text versions. Of course, I already have the hardcover of both, so it doesn't really matter at this point...

JA Konrath said...

"Back page, right column, Andrew Vachss' last name is italicized."

That's not a typo. I did it on purpose because, um, I really wanted to make his last name stand out. Yeah. Stand out.

Thanks for the heads up, BTW.

And thanks Julie for doing that with your library.

I just got advance reading copies of the next Jack book. For going above and beyond the call of duty, I'll send you one. Email me your address.

Anonymous said...


(Getting an ARC may not be a big deal to those of you already inside the publishing industry, but it's a huge deal to me.)

That's awesome, thanks!

My library will rue the day they missed ordering a Konrath book...

emeraldcite said...

I'm jealous...

I checked my county, the next county over, and my home county back in PA. They all had multiple copies of WS and BM in text and audio...but I would've suggested it...

Well, I guess I'll just have to buy it when it comes out...

mapletree7 said...

Would you do another post on what kind of response you're hoping for from the mailing campaign? I notice that the cost per package is roughly 62 cents. You get 55 cents per paperback. That means that even if every library bought a pb copy of your book, you'd be in the whole.

Of course you're more likely to sell hardback books to libraries which are often looking for the newest releases.

I think the coaster is a nice touch, by the way. I was a bit doubtful until I made the drink connection - and then it made sense. It looks great.

I know you said you doubt you'll recoup your money, but surely you've thought about what's going to happen, and what quantified at what response level you'd consider the campaign a 'success'.

JA Konrath said...

I have no expectations for the campaign.

The problem with hope is that it leads to disappointment.

No hope means you'll always be pleasantly surprised.

My main goal is to build name-recognition and brand awareness. This might not lead to direct sales, but could lead to sales down the road.

If I sell a few books, that's great. If not, it's a valuable learning experience, and a tax write-off.

Better to try than not to try.

Anonymous said...

love the books and waiting for the next but now how does one go about getting a signed coaster for their personal collection
thanks tim

JA Konrath said...

Anyone who wants a signed coaster, email me at and I'll drop on in the mail.

Anonymous said...

"My main goal is to build name-recognition and brand awareness. This might not lead to direct sales, but could lead to sales down the road.

If I sell a few books, that's great. If not, it's a valuable learning experience, and a tax write-off."

I'm going to take that as valuable advice. I keep trying to quantify marketing efforts with actual sales, and that only seems to drive me insane.

Mark Terry

JA Konrath said...

I've found that the only thing that can truly sell books is the author, handing copies to people and begging them to buy it.

Ads, websites, radio, TV, blogs, reviews, tours, vidlits, postcards, etc---none of that has the same effect of the real live author standing in front of you.

The fact is, nothing may work. But I still have to keep at it.

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