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[Marketer] Book Marketing Works

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LindaJeanne

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A. They say they sell "directly to non-bookstore buyers", but they don't say (at least, not where I saw in a quick look-over at the site -- and this is something you'd want to see up front, not buried) who they are selling to or why they might be interested in buying novels through this outfit. (Readers are more likely to buy from B&N and Amazon, they say they don't sell to bookstores, so who do they sell to?)

B. 5000 commissioned sales people? Sounds like people they've roped into a "make easy money working from home!" scheme.

As best as I can tell, it looks like their business model may be:
1. Charge writers to make their book available
2. Hand it out to anyone who wants to sign up as a commission - only salesperson.

If they never sell any books, well, they have the money from the up-front fees, and they don't need to pay the salespeople anything. If the salesperson actually sells something, that's a bonus commission for them. (Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if they sell the catalog to their "salespeople", and make money off both ends, even if they never sell a book. I'll admit that this is pure speculation, however).


It may not be as bad as the impression I'm getting, but my take is to doubt you'd see any return on that "One-time setup fee of $250".

(I say "they", but this looks like it could easily be a one-person outfit.)


Edited to add: they also don't give any specifics regarding their experience marketing books (claiming to "know the industry inside and out" isn't very specific). And do all 5000 of those "commissioned salespeople" have genuine experience in the book industry?

Edited again: sure enough, Google Maps reveals their business address to be residential. Not that there's anything wrong with this in and of itself -- there are plenty of perfectly legitimate home based businesses. But most of them don't try to give the impression that they are multi-thousand person companies.

Only takes one person to sell space in the catalog, and then give/sell the catalog to people who answer a work-from-home-in-your-spare-time ad. (Again, the latter part is pure speculation. But if it quacks like a duck...)
 
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Old Hack

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They're a marketing company, not a publisher, so if your book isn't already published, then these people are not worth considering.

If your book is already published then your publisher should be doing all the marketing and distribution for you, so if you're with a trade publisher then these people are not worth considering.

If your book is self published, then I doubt they can help you much. There are many free articles on the site: I've had a look at a few of them and they talk in very broad terms about distribution, but miss out on the specifics and confuse the effects of marketing and distributors in odd ways. For example, this piece doesn't give a clear view of how things work.

I would steer clear.
 

BrianJud

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Response from Brian Jud re: my sales program

Here are responses to all your comments – In the future please verify your facts before posting erroneous information

They say they sell "directly to non-bookstore buyers", but they don't say (at least, not where I saw in a quick look-over at the site -- and this is something you'd want to see up front, not buried)

We say we work through a national network of promotional products salespeople, not directly to non-bookstore buyers

who they are selling to

We are quite explicit that we sell to non-retail, non-bookstore buyers in corporations, associations, schools, gov’t agencies and the military

or why they might be interested in buying novels through this outfit.

We say they buy books as promotional items – in large quantities, non-returnable

(Readers are more likely to buy from B&N and Amazon, they say they don't sell to bookstores, so who do they sell to?)

As listed above – we don’t sell to retailers, libraries or to consumers who purchase one book at a time – only large-quantity, non-returnable orders

B. 5000 commissioned sales people? Sounds like people they've roped into a "make easy money working from home!" scheme.

Totally untrue and libelous

As best as I can tell, it looks like their business model may be:
1. Charge writers to make their book available
2. Hand it out to anyone who wants to sign up as a commission - only salesperson.

Again, you are wrong – we have upfront charges and break even on the registration fees – we only make money when books are sold

If they never sell any books, well, they have the money from the up-front fees, and they don't need to pay the salespeople anything. If the salesperson actually sells something, that's a bonus commission for them.

That is how commission sales work –people who sell on commission only have to sell to make money. It’s not a bonus, but revenue

(Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if they sell the catalog to their "salespeople", and make money off both ends, even if they never sell a book. I'll admit that this is pure speculation, however).

It may surprise you that we do not sell the catalog; we produce a printed, four-color catalog and give it to the sales people; you can see it at www.premiumbookcompany.com and I will send a copy of it to you – send me your mailing address

It may not be as bad as the impression I'm getting, but my take is to doubt you'd see any return on that "One-time setup fee of $250".

Some have seen no sales, others significant sales; I tell people that it could take a year or more to get a large, non-returnable order

(I say "they", but this looks like it could easily be a one-person outfit.)

We have four full-time people and two virtual assistants


Edited to add: they also don't give any specifics regarding their experience marketing books (claiming to "know the industry inside and out" isn't very specific). And do all 5000 of those "commissioned salespeople" have genuine experience in the book industry?

I (Brian Jud) have 25 years in the publishing industry and have sold over 500,000 copies of my own books to non-retail buyers – my 20 years of corporate marketing experience prior to that helped me understand the buyers’ side; my business partner has 25 years in the promotional products industry; the salespeople have various levels of experience from 1 – 40+ years of experience

Edited again: sure enough, Google Maps reveals their business address to be residential. Not that there's anything wrong with this in and of itself -- there are plenty of perfectly legitimate home based ebusinesses. But most of them don't try to give the impression that they are multi-thousand person companies.

I work out of my home – but check where our sales office and warehouse is – 1320 Toronita St, York PA

Only takes one person to sell space in the catalog, and then give/sell the catalog to people who answer a work-from-home-in-your-spare-time ad. (Again, the latter part is pure speculation. But if it quacks like a duck...)

[FONT=&quot]Again, your speculation is wrong. In the future please get your facts in order before slandering a person for helping others sell their books. BTW, I am also the Executive Director of the Small Publishers Assoc of North America (SPAN) – not a position held by a person out to cheat people[/FONT]

[FONT=&quot]Brian Jud[/FONT]
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Mac H.

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Hi Brian,

It's good that you are here to clarify things.

Since Joe is thinking of paying you to market his novel, can you walk us through what this means?

For example, if he takes you up on the offer, he'll be paying you $250 to have his novel listed for your network of salespeople who market 'promotional products'.

Would you typically then be offering him an opportunity to pay $450 to be mentioned in an email blast to your 'top sales people'? That is the kind of pricing you have here: http://www.premiumbookcompany.com/index.php?pg=emailblast.php

Would you normally offer him that opportunity immediately, or wait a couple of weeks first?

Or is it separate? Do you ever give him further opportunities to pay money to you?

Mac
 
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LindaJeanne

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Brian Judd,

Thank you for coming and clarifying. I've over-struck the speculative portions of my post.

However, I have to contest your accusations of "slander" and "libel". Skipping over the part where we beat the dead horse of clarifying the distinction between the two, I think it's farily clear my post does not fall into either category.

I'm glad you're here to clarify. I'm sill a bit confused on several points; perhaps you can help me out?

We say we work through a national network of promotional products salespeople, not directly to non-bookstore buyers
Still not sure what this means, in terms of book marketing.


who they are selling to

We are quite explicit that we sell to non-retail, non-bookstore buyers in corporations, associations, schools, gov’t agencies and the military

or why they might be interested in buying novels through this outfit.

We say they buy books as promotional items – in large quantities, non-returnable

I'm still not clear on who's buying and why. Can you please give an example of why an institution would purchase large quantity of novels as a promotional item?

It sounds like these are customers that would be interested in pamphlets, handbooks. instructional manuals, motivational materials, etc. I'm having a hard time figuring out how fiction fits into this model.


It may surprise you that we do not sell the catalog; we produce a printed, four-color catalog and give it to the sales people; you can see it at www.premiumbookcompany.com

Thank you for that link; that's very helpful.



I (Brian Jud) have 25 years in the publishing industry
Great to hear! Can you be more specific? (What positions have you filled, and with whom?) This would be valuable information to those considering your services.

and have sold over 500,000 copies of my own books to non-retail buyers
Again, fiction or non-fiction? I'm still confused about how fiction fits into this model.

my 20 years of corporate marketing experience prior to that helped me understand the buyers’ side; my business partner has 25 years in the promotional products industry; the salespeople have various levels of experience from 1 – 40+ years of experience
Great -- Then you can surely give a few examples of corporate customers buying works of fiction in bulk, and why. I understand if you can't give actual company names, of course, but something like "A ______ company bought _____ copies of a ______ novel, for the purpose of -______" (Consider it a chance to boast about your favorite success stories.)


PS -- If you get a chance, I'd also like to see you address Old Hack's and Mac H's points. (I don't feel personally qualified to evaluate the contents of the articles Old Hack references, but she has always seemed knowledgeable about the subject to me and to many others on the site; therefore, I'd like to see the concerns she raises addressed.
 
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mellymel

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:popcorn:

Can I just say this is totally and completely...fascinating? Man, I love AW! LOVE. Such smart people. I feel so protected here. Seriously. This is the safest place in the world for a writer to be.
 

francisbruno

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Hey Guys, thanks for helping Joe out. I saw the two printed pages he brought to the NH writers night out and suggested that he check around here before he did anything. The up front fee really stood out. Page two was also pretty telling. I think it has been pointed out that they offer an email blast service as well as other paid services.

On the sheet he brought, it mentioned placing in Airports and some other places. I'm not sure why that wouldn't count as retail. My understanding is that Airport locations are pretty much paid for by the publishers due to their captive audience, so I'm not sure how they could get someone placed there.

I'm glad to be a part of this community :)
 

francisbruno

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Here is the page for fiction: http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/index.php?pg=fictionprogram.htm

From the website:

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]T
fictionprogram_html_c434c27.png
fictionprogram_html_m441e4157.png
he chances of your book begin accepted is enhanced because we know the decision makers. We follow their specific guidelines for sending your book to distributors in non-bookstore markets like...
[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Warehouse clubs Supermarkets[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Discount stores Military exchanges [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Airport bookstores Museums, Parks[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Specialty stores (Home Depot, Michaels Crafts, Williams [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Sonoma, Toys R Us, Petco, Ace Hardware, etc)[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Home shopping Networks Display Marketing Companies[/FONT]
 

priceless1

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I don't understand how you can make this business plan work, especially with respect to fiction. What corporation or agency is going to buy a novel? Can you please give us some examples of what you've sold and to whom?

For example, we've sold a few of our titles in large quantities to groups - Alzheimer's Assoc./Jan's Story...UCLA (for incoming Freshman)/You Let Some Girl Beat You? - but I certainly can't claim that I can do this for all our titles. These are cases where the author has a very big platform, national exposure, and the book is relevant to the corporation or association. How do you accomplish this with fiction?

I took a look at your Retail Distribution page, and this sounds like you're a broker for publishers.

You say:
We Submit Your Book to Distributors that Can Sell It to Non-Bookstore Retailers For You

  • We know who they are and what they want to see

  • We fill out the forms in the proper format, with a copy to you

  • The distribution companies contact you to finalize the agreements[

  • You get 100% of any sale -- we do not take a percentage of it
Would you be able to speak to this in more detail? For instance, we're with Consortium/Perseus, and there is no way they would listen to a broker. You make this sound like a slam dunk, and obtaining a distribution agreement is anything but easy. They check your sales, your finances, what you spend on marketing and promotion, print run averages, and the quality of your books. For instance, we had to send in five of our best selling titles.

Any publisher who has this already going on isn't going to pay a broker to do their legwork for them because contacting quality distributors is sinfully easy. Could I ask you the kind of publisher who contacts you to obtain a distribution agreement for them?

You also make this same offer to fiction titles, and this really raises my eyebrows because fiction is the most difficult genre to snare a distribution deal. I wonder if it's a good idea to have books by Nora Roberts and Ken Follet on that page because it presents a skewed view - as if all the author needs to do is sign with you, and they'll be up there with Nora and Ken.

Your page says:
They can get it on the shelves in Wal-Mart, Costco, airport stores, business stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, specialty stores such as Home Depot, Michaels Crafts, Williams Sonoma, Toys R Us, Petco, Ace Hardware and many others.
Yes, major distributors do work with these national accounts, but you have to realize that getting your books actually placed in these locations is extremely hard...and expensive. For example, Hudson News (who has stores in airports and train stations) charges an enormous fee for any title that's chosen for shelf space. It's beyond many publishers except the large conglomerates. Additionally, you need to sell a certain amount of books before the likes of Hudson News will even consider looking at a book.

The other national accounts require very large print runs, which could very well be beyond the abilities of your publisher clients you're trying to broker. In short, big distribution requires very big money, and I'm concerned that you're painting a lopsided view.

The idea of 5,000 sales people takes my breath away. I've never heard of a sales force such as this. Could you elaborate on who these sales people are?

What worries me most of all is the lack of success stories that name names. You're asking for a considerable up front fee, and there are no guarantees your clients will enjoy any level of success. Chances are that your core clients will be undereducated about the publishing industry and don't know how books are sold, and your site practically guarantees success, yet you don't list any qualifications for those who are eligible for your services, nor do you list any of your success stories. One should ask for more proof that you have a winning business plan that offers authors and small publishers a chance at making solid sales.

So perhaps you could shed more light on:

  • Who you've sold to, and what the titles are
  • How you're able to broker distribution agreements more effectively than if a publisher does this on their own
  • Distribution deals you've made, and the name of the publishers.
This would go a long way to giving you the credibility you need.
 
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Torgo

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The idea of 5,000 sales people takes my breath away. I've never heard of a sales force such as this. Could you elaborate on who these sales people are?

It appears they work on commission, so it doesn't sound like a salaried sales force like a publisher would have.

I imagine the model is that Mr Jud takes money from authors to put their books in a catalogue, and then sends the catalogue out to the salespeople, who then go and try to sell the books. But I'm sure he'll be back to clarify.
 

priceless1

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It appears they work on commission, so it doesn't sound like a salaried sales force like a publisher would have.
Yes, this is my thinking as well. However, what most people don't know is that commissioned reps usually work for large distributors, and that takes up most of their time because that's the place where the most sales will happen. Anything left over is spent on business ventures like this. Also, buyers are very faithful to solid distributors because they're known for repping publishers who put out a consistently good product. At that, even the really huge blue chip distributors don't have 5,000 commissioned sales reps. It defies gravity. More to the point, sales reps come in all shapes and sizes, and the ones who have established relationships with buyers don't have the time to fit an unknown marketing company into their schedules. So quality is a real issue.
 

Sheryl Nantus

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Here is the page for fiction: http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/index.php?pg=fictionprogram.htm

From the website:

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]T
fictionprogram_html_c434c27.png
fictionprogram_html_m441e4157.png
he chances of your book begin accepted is enhanced because we know the decision makers. We follow their specific guidelines for sending your book to distributors in non-bookstore markets like...
[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Warehouse clubs Supermarkets[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Discount stores Military exchanges [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Airport bookstores Museums, Parks[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Specialty stores (Home Depot, Michaels Crafts, Williams [/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Sonoma, Toys R Us, Petco, Ace Hardware, etc)[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Home shopping Networks Display Marketing Companies[/FONT]

Are they claiming to be distributing Nora Roberts and Ken Follett, as this part seems to be saying?

This should be easy enough to prove or disprove. And if it's *not* true I daresay the publishers involved might have a word or two to say about their authors being featured on this website...
 

LindaJeanne

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The more I see, the more confused I am as to how this would work.

Now I'm having a hard time reconciling this:

http://www.bookmarketingworks.com/index.php?pg=fictionprogram.htm said:
You get 100% of any sale -- we do not take a percentage of it

with this

we only make money when books are sold

and the idea of commission-only salespeople.

If the author gets 100% of every sale, where do the sales commissions come from? And how does Book Marketing Works make money "only when books are sold"?

I'm sure that if I were a marketing expert, I'd understand all the jargon I'm seeing. But to me, the website looks like buzzword soup. Can you help those of us who aren't in the marketing biz understand what, exactly, the business model is here?
 

Old Hack

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I'm sure that someone will drop an email to Mr Follett before too long, to ask him what he thinks about this. Heh.
 

mellymel

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why do i have a feeling he will not be back to answer these questions? sigh.

ETA: Who is Mr. Follett?
 

Old Hack

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Check out the book covers, melly.
 

mellymel

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Ahh, okay. Sorry 'bout that. I missed a few posts. Derp.
 

JournoWriter

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I've always thought of "promotional products salespeople" as the guys and gals who pitch custom, logo'd keychains, shirts, pens, mugs, caps, Frisbees and all that other throwaway junky crap to other businesses. Not at all sure how books enter into that sales stream.
 

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