Thank you, Sandy Baker, for permission to reprint your article here as a “Guest Blog.” You’re a FANTASTIC writing partner! Robin
To Consign or Not to
Consign . . .
By Sandy Baker
©Sandy Baker 2011
published your first book and 250 copies will be arriving soon! Now what? For
starters, you should have asked yourself that question four months ago. Who’s
your market, e.g. who’s going to buy your book? Will it be offered on Amazon? Your
website? Will it become an e-book? Do you have a niche market? If so, have you
identified the places where your book might be sold or the people who might buy
it? Make lists.
I’ll use my newish
book, Mrs. Feeny and the Grubby Garden
Gang, as an example; it’s a kid gardening book with a plot. Ooooh,
gardening grandmas love books like this for their kids. But how to reach them?
Garden tours. Garden shops. Nurseries. Florists. Gift shops. Botanical gardens.
Garden clubs. And, high school classmates who are all grand- or great
grandparents by now. Make lists. Get email addresses. Get to know teachers,
I did a lot of
cold-calling, totebag of books and bookmarks in hand plus a wire book stand and
several copies of my consignment form [attached]. Most retail places want a
discount of at least 45%, like Copperfield’s where it’s non-negotiable. Some
places are flexible; I offer 30%, hope for 40%, and will go to 45% if I must.
My grudging rationale is “Well, at least I get the exposure.” And if customers
don’t buy there, “Well, at least they have my bookmark and might buy later.”
Then I whip out my
consignment form, complete it, we both sign it, and I hope the shop, office, or
agency has a copier. On my calendar, I keep track of the contract duration,
usually 60 or 90 days. I add the consignee’s name and address to my website so
people know where to buy the book (in case they’re out and about). I send out
emails. Sometimes, the consignee will purchase the books outright because they
don’t want to mess with tracking a consignment and worrying about contract
deadlines. I like that—one less headache, and of course they still want the
discount. That’s how it works.
considering the consignment route, do the numbers and figure out what makes the
best financial and/or marketing sense for you. I’ve decided that I’m not doing
any more 45% discount deals. That number is not favorable for me. But if you
recall what our last year’s speaker Naida West recommended—no consignments,
only face to face direct selling at BIG events—that’s the best deal of all, and
she sells thousands that way. But you must attend fairs and fundraisers, make
presentations, get invited to places, etc. Consignments? Eh.
(Oh, one last
thought. We authors already know we’re not going to get rich—that’s not why we
do this. But we do at least want to cover our costs, right?)