Thursday, February 17, 2011

Selling an Expensive Item: Does it Translate to The Book Industry?

by Jamie Freveletti

I spent the weekend in Florida, speaking with publishing professionals, editors of the books section of the local newspaper, and other writers. We, of course, all discussed the rise of the e-book and the change it will bring in the industry. But it was a discussion with a man not in the book industry that made me think.

I visited one afternoon with a writer friend whose husband sells high end merchandise. In particular, grand pianos. These beautiful musical instruments are costly, easily selling in the high five figures and above, and are geared to a wealthy clientele. We talked about how one ships the instruments, tunes them, and runs the stores that display them. He commented that not all the franchisees were profiting, especially in this current economic climate. When I asked him what advice he would have for a struggling franchisee he said:

"They should think about what the ideal piano store would look like, how it would function, who would be drawn to the store, and how one would provide stellar service. Then he should look at the stores in his control and strive to make them this way. Not in two years, not in six months, but in two weeks or shorter if humanly possible."

It wasn't until much later, on the flight home, that I got to thinking about what he said. What he seemed to be saying was: "visualize your ideal situation, then make it happen."

Except he was really saying something a bit more concrete. If one took his advice, one would have to not only analyze the store under their control, but then take the steps to make it happen.

It's the last part that writers often stumble upon. Dreaming of the ideal situation is easy and fun. Creating the manuscript that will make it happen requires dedication and time. In short, keep writing. The writer, whether faced with a hardcover, paperback, ipad, nook or kindle, needs to remember that she must make the story happen. Without that story, the career doesn't exist. Without it, all the marketing in the world will not provide long term sales.

And isn't that the best part anyway? The creation? It's a magical thing that all writers love to do.