Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Marketing 101: Drop Shipping, Distribution, Promotion.

by Louis Bertrand Shalako

c2010

All Rights Reserved


On Lulu.com there is a bulk cost book calculator. One hundred copies of 'The Case of the Curious Killers' would cost about $1,018.00. A thousand books was about $8,500 and ten thousand was $76,000. First, we see that the cost per book goes from $12-$13 down to $10, then $8.50, and then to $7.60.

Presumably there might be some price break on bulk shipping. In this example, an extra 4,000 words in a manuscript, half a blank page in nine differenet places, and excessive end matter, bring costs up significantly. The minimum order to put one title on shelves across a territory would have to be something on the order of $100,000 to $200,000.

A few years ago, I ordered something from the east coast and it was shipped from the west coast. The product was made in Japan. That's called 'drop-shipping.' It saves the retailer and ultimately the customer money, if this is indeed an edge on the competition, and if it results in lower cost to the consumer. This could be done creatively with POD publshers in different parts of the world. Much food for thought here. Essentially what we need then is a POD platform in Germany, a translation, some kind of quality control, and a German 'campaign.'

A Print On Demand publication solves the problem of lack of initial capital. It replaces physical plant and material costs. It is a kind of 'drop-shipping hyphen drop manufacturing,' which has certain limitations. Lulu offers a cheaper grade of paper, but only inside the US shipping; i.e., a limited market. One book would cost $21.00 to ship to my house here in Canada, and that's a hard sell for a paperback book.

Starting up a business and learning one's way around by serving a niche market is not exactly unheard of, but the fact is I have no experience in retail sales or management. However, I have gone past business planning to, er; 'business experimentation.'

One thing I remember from being a stock boy at K-Mart (going back a few decades,) was that they had regular promotions. 'Dollar-forty-four days,' and things like that.

The e-books lend themselves to this very nicely, because I can literally give a different one away every month, for free. This is why reading my own stuff and revising the hell out of it, is a necessary part of the process. Before I can effectively promote a product, I prefer to have full confidence that it actually does the job.

E-book sales generate data. If I shoot my yap off about the government one day on facebook, and the next day see a spike in sales figures, well, it's an obvious inference, isn't it?

Forgetting that, it appears that a little over a hundred previews, which are people actually downloading a sample and 'viewing' it, sells two e-books. Bear in mind that people don't necessarily judge a book by its cover, but the cover is an important key to attracting their attention.

So what I want to do in the short term is to generate views. I want people to sample the product, to enjoy it, to see that 'it really isn't so bad after all,' and then I want them to tell two friends, who hopefully will also tell two friends.

If my product is any good, someone will buy it. The most expensive product I have is twenty bucks; and the e-books are all under two bucks as I recall. I've got them in pretty much every major online bookstore, except the iStore, iTunes, and Apple...and I'm not even too sure about that. They might show up there sooner or later.


No one knows what a difference a year of thoughtful, professional applicaton might bring in terms of sales results. Assuming that I have a pretty good chance of living to about 85, this could go anywhere.

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