Two sample notes to pre-test a niche book (Bundle Blog #9)


This is the ninth of 12 blogs explaining how to pre-test your niche book so you know, in advance, whether it makes sense (and cents) to actually research, write, and produce the tome.

In this step, as you are preparing the flyer (see Bundle Blog #10), a test note must also be composed. This is the first thing the packet recipient will read when he or she opens your test envelope. It tells why you are bothering them and what you want them to do.

Test notes are one-third the size of an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper, or 3 2/3” high by 8 ½” wide. (Simply print three to a page and cut it in horizontal thirds.) They fit in the #10 (business) envelope, unfolded, atop anything else, so they are first seen. Nothing fancy; they are black ink on white paper.

Let me share the contents of our test note. Above the body, centered but almost the full width of the note, is a thinly-bordered box that contains our company name, address, phone and fax numbers, and email address. (The box doesn’t appear in the blog.)

Note here that the company is CCU (Chiropractic Communication Unlimited), an imprint of Communication Unlimited, falsely created just for this sample. Alas, anybody can create a publishing imprint as long as nobody else is using it.) The body of the note, in letter style, says:

C.C.U. / P.O. Box 845, Novato, CA 94948 / (800) 563-1454 / fax (415) 883-5707

Dear Chiropractor:

Would you do us a huge 30-second favor? Read this note, skim the one-sided flyer enclosed, check the boxes on the postcard, and mail it back today?

Why? We need help! Dr. Ted V. Johnson, whom many of you know as a top chiropractor in the San Francisco area, has just written Standard Marketing Procedures for All Chiropractors. We think it will delight and significantly help chiropractors nationwide but we need a quick response from you and your colleagues to make it available soon in the best and most affordable format. So we are asking a select handful of top practitioners randomly chosen from across the U.S. hoping that they—you—will let us know your reaction to the book as proposed. How did you get so lucky to be in that wee number? Maybe brilliance! Maybe bad luck.

Your response is totally anonymous, but please know that we are grateful for your help.

Gordon Burgett
Publisher, Chiropractic Communication Unlimited

(The closing should be flush right as it is in the original note. You also see that in the note five items are in bold face type—30-second favor, today, why?, How did you get so lucky…?, and brilliance, and the author’s name, Dr. Ted V. Johnson, is also underlined in the original note.) Why? Because we want them to at least see those items and respond to them. The name of the book is also in bold type and italicized.

This is a straightforward request, in this case to a chiropractor to look at the flyer that accompanies the note, then respond (today please!) on the enclosed postcard by checking the appropriate boxes and putting it in the mail.

The test note must be written in a tone that the recipient will find businesslike yet friendly. A sprinkle of humor is acceptable as long as it is totally in context. Mostly, it must gently instruct them how to respond without attempting to overly influence their answer.

While there is a return address on the front side of the postcard (see Blog Bundle #11), we also put an address on this note so the recipients can see that we are totally accessible.

How do I know it will take the reader 30 seconds to read? I don’t, but it would take me about that long. That’s not where the war is at. It’s in the anonymity, that they are a very small group, and that we’re asking for help in a positive way.

A Different Sample Test Note

Take a quick look at a second example of a test note below, then we’ll discuss the differences between the note to chiropractors and K-12 school administrators.

Communication Unlimited / P.O. Box 845, Novato, CA 94948 / (800) 563-1454

Dear Superintendent or Principal:

Would you do us a huge 30-second favor? Read this note, skim the one-sided flyer enclosed, check the boxes on the postcard (it’s not a test!), and mail it back today?

Why? We need help! Three top school administrators in Illinois are finishing a book that we think will delight and significantly help every school administrator nationwide but we’re uncertain both how to package it and whether folks like you are interested in buying this kind of information. So we are testing about three tenths of one percent (.3%) of top school administrators throughout the U.S. hoping they—you—will help us make it available in the best and least expensive manner, if desired. How did you get so lucky to be in that .3%? Maybe brilliance! Maybe bad luck.

Your response is totally anonymous, but please know that we are grateful for your help.

Gordon Schooler
C.E.O., Communication Unlimited

[To see how these notes were spaced out, a digital copy of the education note is at]

The return address is, of course, different. Communication Unlimited is our core publishing company, and in the first example we used an imprint name, there abbreviated to C.C.U. but written out fully after the signature as Chiropractic Communication Unlimited.

Alas, I made a dumb error in this note, one that may have negatively influenced the recipients. We had decided to create yet another imprint for our then new educational branch, predictably Education Communication Unlimited, but I simply forgot to put that on these notes. It might have made the K-12 administrators feel more comfortable that we were an education-oriented firm, at least in title.

I also signed the note with a different name, and that wasn’t well thought out either. (Do it better!) The problem was that one of the book authors and I share the same surname, Burgett—because he’s my brother! And I felt that may be confusing to the readers of the note and flyer. So I used a close friend’s name, Schooler, never realizing that it might appear kind of goofy using the name “Schooler” in a note to school administrators. Oh well. Good thing I didn’t pick Fernao de Magalhaes (which is the actual Portuguese name of Ferdinand Magellan)!

The biggest difference, as you might imagine, is that the heart of the note is reworded to appeal to school administrators rather than chiropractors. And the number of .3% is accurate for school leaders but we simply didn’t use a number for chiropractors. I doubt that mattered at all. That we didn’t include the name of the book in the K-12 note is more debatable. I would include it if I were to test again. But at the time we felt the note was clear about the intent of the book and it was clearly what the flyer was all about.

Finally, this second example was actually part of our test packet for the first (of now four) niche books we created for K-12 administrators. The book was titled What Every Superintendent and Principal Needs to Know.

In summary, this simply provides a format we feel comfortable using because we think it is fairly compact, to-the-point, and clear as to what we would like the receiver to do. We avoid niche jargon and even try to be gracious.

You create your note so it works best for you. Use as much of this as you wish, except our names and address!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett
Author of Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time

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