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Tracy (T.L.) Higley here, posting another marketing lesson I’ve learned from my years in online retail sales. As I’ve mentioned in previous months, I’m currently in the midst of an experimental year, applying principles from my retail business to the marketing of my fiction.

So, on to Principle #5…  People will act if you make them a good offer.So, on to Principle #5…  People will act if you make them a good offer.

For the past six years, as I’ve run a For the past six years, as I’ve run a retail internet businessretail internet business and experimented with various kinds of marketing, the one thing that has consistently been true is this – if the offer is good, interested people will take action. 

You already have interested people – on your website, on your mailing list, reading your newsletter. If you craft an offer that is good, these people will take the action you’re looking for. 

Perhaps you’d like a newsletter subscriber to purchase one or more of your books, or perhaps the desired action is to have a website visitor sign up for your newsletter. Tie these actions to incentives that are desirable, and people will act.

What incentives? you ask.

Here again, my retail experience may be of some benefit. Over the course of sending out literally thousands of different email promotions over the years, I have discovered a few things.  Stay tuned after these three points, when I’ll let you know about a  great way to sell your books yourself, if you don’t already have one set up.

1.1.     The word “free” is more powerful than any percentage savings.  In other words, people like the concept of “Buy One, Get One Free” better than they like “50% off,” even though it’s essentially the same savings.  But you don’t have to give away free books, remember. Think creatively about something you can give away free with a purchase or a signup, preferably an information product that costs you nothing to give away free after its initial creation, like a short story that correlates with your novel, or some “bonus” information not included in your non-fiction book, or any content that amplifies your primary product. 

2.2.     The next most powerful words are still “__% Off.”  In the thousands of promotional emails I have sent for my retail business, I’ve discovered that (of course) the bigger the percentage, the better response, but also that it seems to take about a 25% discount to get a decent response. 10-15% off does not usually motivate people enough. You may not be able to offer your books at deep discounts and still make a profit, but if you can give them 25% off the retail price they will feel like they’re getting a good deal.

3.3.     People appreciate a “value added” offer. In other words, they like to feel as though they’ve gotten something extra with their purchase, without spending additional money. It doesn’t need to be a big thing. Bookmarks, bookplates, some simple “souvenirs” from your books’ locations, even your signature inside a book can be an added value that can motivate a purchase.

All this talk of selling your books yourself may have you thinking, “Oh, great. Now I have to figure out how to sell stuff online,” so I want to make you aware of an alternative. Even if you are currently selling books on your own website, you may be interested in Signed By The Author.comSigned By The This is another site that I have set up, to give authors a simple way to sell autographed copies of their books online without the hassle of setting it up themselves. 

Basically, you refer readers to your books on this site, and when they purchase, we handle the credit card transaction, any sales tax applicable, and the shipping costs. We send you a postage-paid label with the Signed by the Author return address, and you simply sign the book and send it on to your reader. You receive the reader’s email and snail mail address for your records, and we pay you 75% of the retail price you establish for the book.  We can even create special coupon codes for you, so that you can offer readers a % Off sale, or an extra bonus. 

If you’d like more information on this service, you can request an immediate auto-response email here: If you’d like more information on this service, you can request an immediate auto-response email here: Signed by the Author information

Signed by the is just one way that you can make your books available to readers, with special offers and value added. Get creative and think of more ways. People will act when you make them a good offer!

4 thoughts on “Marketing Lessons from the World of Retail

Karen Whiting

January 7, 2010 - 09 : 15 : 05

Thanks for sharing such details (% etc) as that’s great to know when I do some marketing next month for a new book.It’s valuable info.


Rick Nau

January 8, 2010 - 11 : 56 : 47

Thanks so much for the tips. I’m just entering the online publishing world (The Ruby Float: A Tale Of Hope) has just been launched) and am happy to have found your blog.


Kliplist Bookmarks

September 18, 2012 - 01 : 25 : 58

This blog is truly awesome in all aspects.


Tracy Higley

September 18, 2012 - 01 : 26 : 22

Thanks for sending your message, but Ive recently changed my email address, and havent received your email.
Please change the address you have on file for me to and resend your email.


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