When trying to get the attention of someone important, be it a CEO, author, or politician, we’re all familiar with the gatekeeper who can sometimes keep us from our goal—be it a receptionist, a dry email form to fill out, or the eternal voicemail.
As an author, however, you have a powerful tool at your disposal for this situation: your book! To help you reach that seemingly impenetrable contact, send a copy of your book along with a handwritten note. Odds are much better that your next call will go through. “This is Annie Author calling…”
We’ve all heard of gimmicks in the sales world. One of my favorite examples that I heard several years ago was when a salesperson sent his prospect a VCR with a video inside (the VCR is a good indicator of how old this trick is!). He stuck a note on top that said, “Play me.” The package was bulky, which made it more likely to get opened than a sales letter shoved in an envelope. Even the most guarded administrative assistant is bound to inform her boss that a VCR arrived in mail! Though it was a creative idea that actually worked for that salesperson, it was also an expensive gamble to send a package like that.
With a book, your hard costs are the book itself (which you should be able to purchase from your publisher for just a few dollars) and postage. So even if it cost you a grand total of $10 to send the package, ask yourself how much this kind of marketing is worth to you. If you reel in the business of a prestigious client that you wouldn’t otherwise have had, the return on investment is HUGE. I’m not suggesting that you send books out in the same volume you would send a direct mail campaign, though some authors do. But strategically sending out books is a solid technique for making important new contacts with the potential to pay off big time.
When sending out copies cold, it is wise to follow up with the recipient. Send a short email asking if he or she received your package. I personally receive a lot of unsolicited books, primarily from authors seeking endorsements of some kind. The ones that get my attention have several qualities in common:
- The book arrives with a personal note from the author.
The author gets bonus points if the note indicates that he or she has read or benefited from my books, blog, website, etc. That instantly creates a bond between us and inspires me to want to help.
- The book is somehow related to my industry.
Children’s books and pizza cookbooks are nice, but they have nothing to do with my business or expertise. It would make no sense for me to endorse them. However, if an author wants to pitch me on her personal chef services and sends me her cookbook, now she’s got my attention!
- The book is professionally produced. I don’t care if it is self-published as long as it looks like a book I would find on a bookstore shelf. It should be professionally edited with an impressive cover design and quality binding.
Someone once sent me a “book” bound like a booklet from Kinkos. I love booklets; they can be great promotional tools. But sorry, you can’t call it a book. Aside from that, the production quality was beyond poor. Images were hand-drawn by someone who clearly wasn’t an artist. She would have been better served to use some basic clip art—and called it what it was: a booklet!
- The author sends a follow-up email within a couple of weeks of the package arriving.
Again, here the author is attempting to make a personal connection with me (not sending me some form letter that is clearly going out to tons of people). Receiving a brief, friendly e-mail is a gentle nudge that is easy for me to respond to.