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How to Sell Your Small-press Book to Retailers Part 2: The New Series Retailer Portal Site

| June 15, 2015

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Today, convenience is king.

I know people who buy EVERYTHING (books, music, household goods, food, toilet paper…) at Amazon.com.

A big part of Wal-mart’s success is the fact that you can literally get almost anything you’re interested in purchasing under their roof.

It’s this “all-in-one” and “one-stop shop” philosophy that inspired me to create this first tool in my “How to Sell to Retailers Tool Kit.”

Last time, we reviewed in depth the “Why?” side of the importance of selling retailers on your new comic book series.  The rest of this series will focus on the “how.

Tool #1: The New Series Retailer Portal Site

What Is it?

I’ve created a private retailer portal site that can serve as a one-stop shop featuring everything a retailer needs to know about our new series OXYMORON: The Loveliest Nightmare, presented in (I hope) the best possible light.

This is a micro-site.

It’s not a few pages added to this already busy ComixTribe.com website, or trying to serve many functions and masters. Rather, it’s a site that consists of just five total pages, which I’ll detail below.

I’d love to include a link to the site, and I may go back and update this article in the future to include a link to it. However, right now, the site contains some private, for retailer-only content (advanced review PDFs) that we’re not interested in leaking to the general public.

This retailer portal was made in about five hours with ClickFunnels, which is a tool I’m using for a ton of ComixTribe stuff, and is making a huge difference in our business.

The Pages of the New Series Retailer Portal Site

The About the Series Page

This is the first page or home page of the portal site. The goal of this page is to first capture the retailers’ interest and attention, and get them to watch the series trailer and/or download the PDFs.

Ideally, the retailer will also opt-in to the ComixTribe email list if they are not already on it, and go deeper into the portal site.

Portal_1

Elements of the About the Series Page

The Hook – Front and center, the page leads with the pithy, one-sentence, grab the reader by the throat high-concept of the series. In this case, that would be “What if The Joker came to a Gotham WITHOUT Batman?” What’s solid about that hook is that it will resonate with 100% of our target audience (comic book retailers.)

Trailer – A short, under-two minutes long video trailer. Nothing fancy… some voice over of script from the first issue, some royalty free music, and a montage of shots from the series.

Advanced Review PDF Downloads – This was a tip I picked up from Jim Zub – Sending retailers an advanced review PDF of the first issue of a series is good… but sending the first TWO issues sends the message that this book will actually come out on time.

E-mail Capture – While most of the traffic that hits this site will already be on our ComixTribe retailer contact email list, some may not be. And even if they are already on the list, anything we can do to get retailers to engage with this page is a win.

Links to the How to Sell Page – At the end of the About the Series page, there’s a call to action to get the retailers to go to page two, the How to Sell page.

The How to Sell Page

There are some great salesmen and women in the world of indie comics. Plenty of creators absolute crush it at conventions or raise big time bucks on Kickstarter by effectively selling their work to a captivated audience.

“If only retailers would give my book a chance,” they might think.

The problem is, there’s a HUGE difference between a smiling, passionate creator pitching his book in person or virtually to a prospective customer, and that same book sitting on a shelf, alone, next to hundreds of other titles of established brands.

You and I can’t be in hundreds or thousands of retail locations around the globe pitching our books.

We need a retailer on our side, advocating on our book’s behalf.

When a customer asks, “Anything new?” we want OUR books to be on the retailer’s mind.

Portal_2

So, the idea behind the “How to Sell” page is simple…

Explain to retailers in a short, concise video EXACTLY what pitches work on a series at conventions that lead to customers purchasing your book.

Here’s the video included on the how to sell page:

After watching that, any retailer on the planet could (if he or she chooses) replicate the success that I have pitching this book at shows with their own customers.  (That’s the theory, anyway.)

Other Elements of the How to Sell Page

The How to Sell Script – Some people love video, but since I wrote out the script for the video, I decided to put in the full transcript as well. Can’t hurt, and if they decide to reference it, it’s easier to scan text than a video.

Addressing Retailer Concerns – Indie books have a shaky reputation in the direct market. This section is an attempt to address some of the major concerns retailers might have about this series, and anticipate and reframe any of the objections to carrying the series retailers might have.

Links to the Offer Page – A call to action to go check out a special offer.

The Special Offer Page

As creators, we can get romantic about comics. And I’m sure the same goes for retailers…

But I imagine the romance fades pretty quickly when the rent is due and you’re sitting on a ton of unreturnable inventory that will never sell.

Small press books are a risk.

They’re a far bigger risk than whatever the Big Two are putting out… even if what they’re putting out has Nick Lachez eating a Twix Bar where the next panel should be. (Don’t get me started…)

CaptureLachey

(Batman #1, Guest Starring Nick Lachey and Twix.)

So, we’re going to incentivize them to take that risk with an offer to get free copies of OXYMORON Vol. 1 and THE RED TEN Vol. 1 hardcovers, two premium products (MSRP $54.98).

Portal_3

 

We’re only asking retailers to cover the shipping costs in order to get the books.

The idea behind the Special Offer is three-fold:

1)      Let’s reward the select few retailers who actually took the time to check out this series by visiting the retail portal and making a click or two. They are elite company.

2)       Let’s mitigate their risk of investing in a new series by giving them more than $50 worth of complimentary back-list product.

3)      Let’s qualify the retailers who actually take us up on this offer and pay for shipping. By them putting a little bit of “skin in the game” (covering shipping costs), we’ll know they’ll at least have some incentive to try to move that product, and may be good long-terms partners.

At the end of the day, one of the biggest factors in a retailer’s decision to carry a book is this:

Has this publisher/creator/character ever made me any money?

Until that answer is “Yes,” you and I are always going to struggle selling books into the direct market.

So, over the past few years, and over the next few years, ComixTribe is on a mission to make actual retailers actual money…

And if we have to give them some product to prime that pump, so be it.

The Order Form Page

Retailers who choose to click on the offer to get a free hardcover are then taken to an order form page, where they’ll plug in their credit card information and shipping address to cover the shipping.

Portal_4

You’ll notice I also have “bump” on the order form, where I offer them the opportunity to “Double Their Order” for $19.99 more.

It’s a universal truth of sales: the best time to sell someone something is when they already have their wallet open.

As this order form bump offer is still a better deal that Diamond offers, it’s no surprise that about half of the retailers who hit this order page take the offer bump.

Thank You Page

Finally, the portal concludes with a simple Thank You Page retailers will see after they’ve order a book, or entered their email address.

Portal_5

 

 

***

So, there you have it.  Those are the elements to the new series retailer portal site I’ve created for OXYMORON: The Loveliest Nightmare.

Some of you are now probably thinking…

“Okay, cool idea, I guess. But how are you going to actually get any retailers to the portal site?”

Great question.

I did say this was a multi-part series, didn’t I. So, stay tuned for more on that one.

Some of you might also be thinking, “Okay, ummm… I can’t do all that. I don’t have the funds. I don’t have the hardcovers to giveaway, I can’t afford ClickFunnels…”

I get it.

While there are some general principles at play here, and strategies many of you can steal and modify… not everything is going to be something you can use right this minute.

But, that’s how it will always be.

This is a plan taking into account the strengths and assets ComixTribe currently has on hand at this point in our journey… and them putting them to focused, strategic use.

I often say making comics, small press publishing, building a career… it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And that is so true.

It just so happens, that ComixTribe is no longer at the very beginning of the marathon any more.  We’ve got thousands of steps behind us. Maybe we’re on Mile 2…

Which, of course, means we have millions more still ahead.

Are You a Retailer? Get on the ComixTribe List and Get Access to this Portal Site, the FREE Hardcover and More!

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Keep Reading!

How to Sell Your Small-press Book to Retailers Part 1: Why Bother?

Another Creator-Owned Sales Monster in the Making

Everything You Need to Know About Small Press Distribution

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Category: Comix Counsel

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics.

Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at [email protected]

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