I decided a good place to start was libraries. They buy books constantly and always need new and exciting books for their readers. I found a list of all the libraries in New Zealand and their contact details. I created a script so I could hit the call with professionalism and to conquer my nerves. The aim of the call was to get their email address and send them some ordering information. Here is the script so you can see how I went about this.
Hello, I’m after the person in charge of buying books for your children’s department.
My name is Amy Burrell and I am an author illustrator from Wellington. I have just published a hardcover children’s picture book called ‘Catch that Fly!’ and am now doing a ring around libraries to offer you the chance to buy a copy.
Have you heard of it?
The story is about the all important family dinner. The characters work together to keep their family dinner ritual perfect without an uninvited guest! THE FLY
So I have a special bonus for libraries where on purchasing a copy of the book you also receive a fun kit with activities and colouring pages as well as a poster to hang up in the library.
So there are two ways you can purchase the book I have a library page on the website where you pay via credit card or you can just order through me directly via phone or email and I will send you out an invoice once I have shipped the books.
So what I need form you is your email address and I can send you some info.
Wrap it up.
My first call was horrible I was so nervous I was actually shaking on the end of the phone, I stuttered a few times and probably sounded like a complete idiot. I managed to keep a conversation going and get their email address. After about five phone calls I started to get the hang of it all. I started actually having conversations with the person on the other end of the line. The better the conversation the more likely they were to buy the book. Most of my sales came from people I spoke to for more than the standard script. I ended up with a pretty good conversion rate of around 40%. Not bad odds really.
One of the problems I en-counted was that the person I needed to speak with wasn't there. I started to email the library email address and ask the following:
I am trying to track down the person responsible for the XXXXXXX Libraries collection development and book buying. Can you give me their name and contact details? Your help would be most appreciated.
This had around an 80% reply rate and allowed me to say to the person I was contacting that I received their details from someone within the company. They were a lot more accepting of the email and what I was offering. I sent them the following:
I have recently written and illustrated a hard cover children’s book which has proved very popular throughout Wellington Libraries, schools and retailers. I would love it to be available for the children of blabla to read.
Whats the book about?
I grew up on a dairy farm just out of Wellington and I spent my childhood watching my mum chase fly’s around the house. They would make her soooooo mad. So I took this memory and turned it into a story about the ritual of a family dinner and the fun around mealtimes and food.
I have attached the new title information to this email and for more information about the book visit the website: www.catchthatfly.co.nz
To order copies just email me back at this address and I will ship your order and send you an invoice.
I can also email through a fun kit which includes colouring sheets, posters and author information for your libraries promotions.
I look forward to hearing from you.
This had a pretty good conversion rate with around 30-40% of people I contacted purchasing the book. I think there are a few factors that contributed to my success that need to be mentioned. New Zealand is a small country and less and less books are produced here so as soon as you say you are a New Zealand author they are interested in what you have to offer. So make sure you find a way to be relevant and relate to the person you are selling to. They want to connect with you and your work.
Give them a specific deal or add on that will give them an incentive to order through you rather than a distributor. I had a few libraries say they only order through a distributor, I asked who that was then made sure they stocked my book. This lead to a few sales but I get more profit if they order directly through me.
Next mission selling to pre-schools!! Watch this space:)