A sample flyer like those used in niche book pre-testing (Bunch Blog #10)

When you are pre-testing a niche book it’s one thing to have a list to mail to, it’s even more important to have something worth mailing, to see if they will buy what you want to sell.

Of the three items you will send to each recipient, nothing is more important than the flyer. Beyond its professional appearance and impeccable spelling and grammar, it must tell precisely what the buyer can expect to receive—and why they should go through the hassle and expense of buying it.

The flyer is one page long, black on white. It must answer all the logical questions the reader might ask. (You can add a line that says “details” followed by a website link that tells much more. But don’t rely on the recipient even seeing that line, much less linking to it. Presume that they will respond only to what is in front of their eyes.)

In a moment you can link to and I will describe a copy of a sample flyer like one I might send in my mailing. Yours, like it, probably should include the book title prominently located; some promotional copy, a table of contents, sometimes a book cover, some bio information about the author (less likely, a photo), a satisfaction guaranteed box, and the critical details about the book format, price, size, number of pages, ISBN number, date of availability, and perhaps that website link for more information or details that I just mentioned.

Mostly, I’m going to focus on the benefits the buyer would receive, why its contents are critically needed now, any unique features it contains (first of its kind, first in this easy-to-use format, cutting-edge information, author is a top expert, and so on).

Take care when you compose the flyer because the test only tells you if the respondent will buy what you promise on its page. They are saying yes or no to a book with the title and contents shown, at that price, that size, and fulfilling those promises. If you decide later that you want a different title or price or slant, you’ll have to conduct another test!

In other words, I would invest about $500-700 to see if the chiropractors contacted would pay $149 dollars (or more) to buy the information and the hope that flyer promised or implied. If nobody or only a few responded positively to my first test, I might use the 200 names left to test a different book title, redesigned contents, or different prices, but that gets to be risky business. My first flyer should be the best I can do, then I’ll be able to test it a second time with the rest of the 500 names I have.

I only have one side of an 8 ½” x 11” sheet of paper from which to determine if I should invest thousands of dollars and months of time!

What follows is what my flyer for this chiropractic-directed books looks like. (The text usually enlarges if you double-click on the image.) I’ll also describe its contents in case they are difficult to see or comprehend.

Imagine the flyer being divided into two columns and that there are four islands of copy in the first column and five in the second. Let’s number each island 1-9.
#1, at the top of the column on the left, would be the book’s title, in solid bold type. This is usually the most prominent wording on the page. Here it says, centered and in bold type, “Standard Marketing Procedures for Chiropractors.”

Below the title, #2, comes the benefits text. We began by saying “Let ‘Dr. Ted’s’ sixth SOPs book walk you through …” and continue for two paragraphs that tell what the book contains, why the buyer should want it, and how SOPs are used to improve the practice’s marketing.

Next down, #3, a Table of Contents with the six key elements the book contains and explains.

The last “island” in the first column, #4, is a short biography of Dr. Ted V. Johnson, this book’s imaginary author—in our case, me! (Incidentally, Dr. Ted’s rather heroic virtues came from other chiropractors picked randomly in Google listings!) Your bio or bios, however, must be accurate and should support the author’s authority to write the book. This, incidentally, is the most challenged item in any book review or flyer.

At the top of the right-hand column, #5, is a mock book cover. It needn’t be fancy nor the final cover but it must include the title and the author, and probably some form of related artwork (this was plucked from my Windows form designs). Incidentally, because the two titles sort of run parallel on my flyer, I might have put the cover as the ninth, or last, item, for balance. The cover is here mostly to reaffirm that what you are selling is a book.

Below the cover, #6, is an open-topped box, a sort of cover continuation, that explains the CD that accompanies each printed book.

That’s followed by what I call the “facts box,” as #7. It needn’t be run in large type but it must contain the vital info that bookfolk seek. In order, it tells how the book is bound (here, a white 3-ring binder), and its cost all in the top line. (Note that this is where you change the price on the respective A-E mailings.) The next line explains anything else included with the book. Here, the accompanying CD with 55 SOPs.) Line three gives the physical book size (8.5” x 11”) and the number of pages, in this case 140. (You can guesstimate but in a bound book make the page total divisible by four.) Then the ISBN number. (This needn’t be accurate if you don’t have an ISBN yet; just put the correct number of digits down, 13.) The fifth line down tells when the book is available. BRAND NEW! says all. And the last line tells at which web page the buyer can find more information. (This webpage should be legitimate in a real test, though here it’s simply an unclaimed page.)

A good quote telling why a buyer needs these words also makes sense, so that is #8.

And you always want a SATISFACTION GUARANTEED box, saying what it says in #9, although very few will ever return the book. Particularly if you make it even better than their expectations!

What are the most important elements on the flyer? Certainly the title is number one, then (2) cover, (3) contents, (4) benefit copy, (5) authorship, and (6) cost and size. When the book is paid for by a firm or institution, benefits probably move up to second place.

Two more points.

Your test flyer could be two-sided but I advise against it. Many will never turn it over, and many more don’t want to read (or even know) that much. Plus, it costs you more to print.

And there is no reason for the testing flyer to be multi-colored unless the cover is so spectacular that it is the strongest selling tool. One might use pastel or colored paper if that is consistent with the tone of the book, but black ink on white paper is probably safest and certainly the least expensive.

That’s it for the flyer. In the next blog, #11, I will describe (and show) the postcard that will also be part of the testing packet. (We just saw the note that accompanies the flyer and postcard in the last blog, #9, of this 12-blog series.) The entire process will be summarized in Bundle Blog #12.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. The entire niche publishing process is, as you might imagine, fairly comprehensive, so I published a book that goes into it in step-by-step detail. It is Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time.

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Writing and Speaking Your Way to the Top of Your Field

If you are in or near Los Altos Hills (near Stanford, in California) at Foothill Community College on Wednesday Oct. 19, from 6-10 p.m., I’m offering this four-hour seminar. I hope you can attend. Details follow, then the registration particulars.

“The two most important moneymaking expertise-validating tools to reach the top of your field are usually books and seminars, with articles, a newsletter, a blog, speeches, and a website following dutifully behind.

“What up-and-comers usually need most is help clarifying their vision and creating a step-by-step strategy, a structure to put the tools and means in order and flow, a business model and plan, a realistic timetable, and a way to get their starter products or services out and widely salable while other, ancillary means are developed.

“Becoming the person who all must read and hear is the quest. Gordon Burgett’s expertise is empire-building. This is empire-building. Through this seminar and workbook he can help you create your own unique path.”

A free workbook will be given to all registrants.

If you’d like more information from Foothill College or you wish to register, either call (408) 864-8817 or contact

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Publish Your Own Book in Less Than 30 Days!

If you are in or near Los Altos Hills (near Stanford, in California) at Foothill Community College on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 6-10 p.m., I’m offering this four-hour seminar. I hope you can attend. Details follow, then the registration particulars.

“You can actually publish your own book in nine different versions in less than 30 days with first-rate houses at no cost! It doesn’t matter if it’s a novel, a non-fiction how-to, a cookbook, a memoir, naughty, niched, or for kids. The publisher(s) will prepare the book in bound and/or electronic form, sell it, and pay you royalties.

“Which of the seven open publishing houses is best for you–Kindle, Nook, CreateSpace, Smashwords (including iPad), Lulu, Blurb, Scribd, and (maybe) Lightning Source? Or why not use all seven at once? Better yet, why not publish your book with them and simultaneously create your own self-published version? No copyright difficulties and one of those publishers pays 85% per copy sold.

“I’ll explain all of that in four fast hours! You’ll get a take-home workbook as well that will take you through the process step-by-step, so you can quickly prioritize and submit. The procedure is almost the same whether you are just starting out, have an unpublished final draft sitting around, or you are a small publishing house or a speaker seeking secondary, passive income.

“Do I speak often? I’ve given more than 2,000 paid presentations, mostly seminars just like this one!”

If you’d like more information from Foothill College or you wish to register, either call (408) 864-8817 or contact

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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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Turning your blog into a book?

That can be the best or dumbest idea ever to flit through your mind.

On the surface, it sounds so easy. Just let your fingers fly for a few minutes each day, post that daily patch of genius, and delight the world before six each night! Imagine how much more delighted both readers will be when you take 50-150 of these snippets, stitch them together chronologically, and let them fly in some book-like form! Done just right, you won’t need a proofreader, cover designer, layout plan, illustrator, table of contents, or even an index. Why not rush this off to CreateSpace, PubIt, Lulu, Smashwords, Blurb, and Scribd so they can print it almost free, to sell worldwide in days or weeks?

The only problem is, somebody may buy it, and like the bell that can’t be unrung, there it is in print for the world to see, proof that you, like 99.9% of the rest of us, can’t really write solid, compelling, error-free books that flow and capture from the first page to the last. The book will probably look just like you ripped it out of the blog files–and it may also be missing a point or purpose.

On the other hand, once you know where your book is going, why it is being written, and what you expect back from it, that’s almost an ideal plan to get the contents pounded out and down in re-readable form. Instead, most new writers compose a paragraph (some, two), then spend twice as long massaging and tweaking and moving the words around; they do it again for every succeeding paragraph (or two), then they go back and redo the whole day’s output once more. Day after day. Chapters take months, books take years, and by the time the last word of the first draft sees life, back it goes to the editor and proofreader, to be repackaged again. There’s a reason that one-book authors call their tomes “life books.”

Let me suggest a compromise, having written 40 published books and edited maybe twice that many more.

Spend several days (maybe even weeks) planning your book. Part of that includes browsing closely a couple of other well-received books similar to yours. See what they included, the voice they used, how they took the reader from the first chapter through the last. If research was used, where did they get the facts, quotes, anecdotes, and artwork? How many chapters, words, illustrations, and references did they use (or need)? What else can you learn from them that will make your words special?

Then build the framework. A table of contents. A one-page summary of the whole book. A one-page summary of each chapter. A step-by-step order for each segment.

Finally, unveil your new blog and write x number of pages a day–but unedited, spelling however it happens, underlines where you still need the facts, and so on, like professionals write rough drafts. You don’t want that rough stuff seen by your friends and fans? Then don’t post the blogs. Just keep writing them, fiercely, until you’ve found the 40,000 or 60,000 words or 12 chapters you want in the final book. Then go back and reread the entire unedited book and add what’s missing, move things around, find the missing facts to fill those underlines, and keep adding–but still don’t edit. (And still don’t post that blog because it’s not ready to be seen by others.)

Now go back though the forest of words and turn this stone into a gem. Challenge every thought and every word, cut out the dross, dump most of the adverbs (usually the “ly” words), tighten up the adjectives, insert more speaking and quotes, make monologues dialogues, pump life into that inert mass–and go back again and reread the whole thing from front to back, and word-play until every word sings.

Time to post?

Wait a second. Now that your book is ready to be bought and praised, why would you give it away free on your blog? Why would you share it in the ugly blog layout form when it could be dressed in finer text, adorned with art (or at least charts and graphs), wrapped in a fetching cover, and sold just as you want it, as a full-blown book?

Maybe there’s a middle ground too. A bunch of blogs that collectively say something you want shared under your authorship, reworked, edited as a unit, and packaged to look as good as it reads (or better). Blog bookettes maybe.

(I wrote a book more or less about writing and publishing a book just a few months ago. If you want to read the first couple of chapters, here they are.)

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

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What should you publish as an e-book?

Are you wondering if your book should be an e-book, since it’s common knowledge that they will soon conquer the publishing world? I mean, why bother to print an old-fashioned paperback or, heavens, a cloth version?

Take a breath. That’s common wrong knowledge, and there will still be a sizeable ink-on-paper market (plus other digital variations) for a long time to come, though it’s anybody’s guess where and how you will buy (and sell) them.

A point-on article by Dominique Raccah, CEO and publisher of Sourcebooks, in the September IBPA Independent does a great job of telling what kind of books are selling right now. See “Ebooks: How Far, How Fast?”

Adult nonfiction comprises 42.3% of the physical books sold; 25.2 % are adult fiction, and only 7% are juvenile/children’s nonfiction and fiction (from Bookscan). Yet among the 100 (paid) bestsellers in Barnes & Noble’s Nookbook and the top 100 (paid books) from Kindle, the nonfiction e-books were only 12 (12%) and 16 (16%), respectively. Raccah concludes that less than 20% of the bestselling e-book titles were nonfiction. “What’s selling in e-book formats is primarily narrative.”

Add to that her own firm’s (Soucebook) numbers: most sales of physical books for adults were nonfiction, and e-books for adults were overwhelmingly fiction.

She says that the most difficult to get right in e-book format are reference and children’s books.

What works as an e-book is fiction.

What kind of nonfiction is selling in e-book form? Stories and all linear reading experiences, like memoirs, biography, and history.

My reminder is that in memoirs, biography, and history (for example), it’s a small step to produce both a physical book and e-book, and print the physical books modestly unless or until the demands dictates otherwise. It’s not an either-or.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett / Monthly free newsletter at / / Tweet at GLeeBurgett

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How much does it cost to pre-test your niche book? (Blog Bundle #7)

In this 12-part Blog Bundle we are designing a niche book pre-test. That can be a huge financial boon to you.

Still, nothing’s totally free (except this information!). So how can we test our niche book as efficiently as possible yet still spend the minimum amount of money doing so? Here’s a quick list of expenses we might incur if we contact 500 potential buyers, probably in two test mailings (one of 300 plus the validation test of 200). All US dollars.

* mailing list ($0-$300), figure $200
* 500 printed 1-sided fliers, $50
* 125 copies card stock cut into postcards, $20
* 500 ? -page notes (8.5” x 11”/ 3), $18
* 500 #10 business envelopes, $35
* 500 Avery labels self-addressed, $30
* 500 .44 stamps for envelopes, $220
* 500 .29 stamps for postcards, $145

Thus, the estimated total cost would be from $518-718.

The mailing list is the unknown. In our experience it usually costs nothing or $25-50. But it could cost whatever the list broker says is their minimum charge, which might be $150-300, in which case I’d get my testing addresses some other way (I suggest several in Blog #8, Mailing List.) Let me put $200 down here—which may be $200 too high.

The most important element is the one-sided flyer. They can be black and white and copied, but the end result must look professional in appearance, be accurate, and honestly convince at least some on your test list that the book you describe should be bought. So, 500 times a dime each to reproduce will cost $50 to print, but composing clear, grammatically correct, selling text and an appealingly designed layout or design might involve some paid outside labor.

To evaluate your potential windfall, you need reply postcards. Use card stock, 8.5 x 11” in size, to print out your message on one side, then cut each sheet into four postcards. That may run $20. You also have to pay the return postage, so figure that actual stamps directly (and neatly) applied on the other side, at 28 cents a card (as this is written), will cost $140.

You will also need a return address (yours) applied on each postcard on the stamped side. Use Avery address labels, 500 for about $30.

What’s left are the 1/3-page letters, so on 167 sheets of regular paper you will print (and cut into thirds) the short greeting/explanation message: figure $18.

(We will look at the flyer and postcard in Blogs 10 and 11.)

Finally, to get the packet (flyer, note, and postcard) mailed you will need 500 #10 business envelopes ($35) and 500 stamps, now at 44 cents ($220).

That total is $713—or $513 if the list broker let’s you test the list free and sends it you, probably on a promise of later use if the test is positive.

More important, if $50,000 is the profit you want (and expect back) from the tested book, your return (without empire building factored in) is 70 times greater than the pre-run test.

And if you hadn’t tested more or less as described in this series, you would have had to print most of the items described plus a run of test books. That would cost you at least twice (and more likely three to four times) the $513-713. And the book might still bomb, except that it would take much more time and work to know!

Another way to measure the worth of the pre-test is to figure the break-even point. Say your book is priced at $149, you must sell just five books (of the thousands you plan to sell if the test is positive). You’ll even have enough money left over for a supper and a movie. (If it’s a $24.95 book that break-even would be 29 books for the $713 test.)

In the next blog of this series (in a week) let’s discuss the mailing list—and how you might get to test it free!

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett
Author, Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time

P.S. If interested, I publish a free, monthly newsletter. Sign up and you get three free reports too. Hard to beat that!

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Get a free mailing list for your niche book pre-test (Blog #8)

Central to conducting a time- and money-saving pre-test of your coming niche book is finding a group to test!

You do that by getting a mailing list, as free as possible, to send your three-item test packet: a test flyer (see the coming Blog #9), a test note (Blog #10), and a response postcard (Blog #11—those blogs will posted here on successive Fridays). So what follows are some mailing list details that may help:

You will actually use one Nth label excerpt of a larger mailing list for your two niche book pre-test mailings.

Get or rent 500 PS labels (PS means pressure-sensitive, the kind of labels that you peel off and press on), each label containing the snail mail address of, in our example, a practicing chiropractor. You’ll rent them in Nth selection, ZIP order nationwide. Nth selection means that if you need 100 addresses and your list, in ZIP order, has 1,000 names, every tenth name will appear on your test list—by ZIP, lowest to highest.

When the selected labels arrive, you will figuratively put an A by the first (lowest) ZIP address, a B by the next, a C by the third, a D by the fourth, and an E by the fifth, then doing the same again with the next five, and so on until all 500 addresses have a pile number. That would give you 300 labels (A, B, and C) for the first test mailing and 200 labels (D and E) for the second. Because they are in ZIP order, each category (A-E) will be sent across the country in about equal portions to each region.

Then you must decide what you are going to test. It could be the title, the cover, the promises, the price, or the author(s). I suggest that you test the price. Therefore, all the other information must be exactly the same in all 500 fliers, postcards, and letters, while the testing prices will likely vary for each of the five categories.

In this case, since the letter I will send to all the chiropractors will be exactly the same, without any price reference, I could start by printing all 500 copies of it.

The next two items, the postcard and note, will differ from each other, by pile, only in the price.

Say that I am using $149 as the lowest price at which I can get the kind of return I want. I might start my test at that price plus add prices at two plateaus above it, $169 and $199, to let the buyers tell me where their buying resistance lies (what they will pay).

That means that on the A label mailings, the postcard and flyer will both have $149 listed as the book price. The B labels will say $169, and the C labels, $199.

Let’s say I send out the first test and the results show that $149 will bring me the highest earning return. The 200 remaining labels (D and E) are already in two piles. Both would receive the same letter. But here, 100 would have the $149 price on the post card and flyer (they are the D group), and the remaining 100 would have the price at $169 (the E group).

All things equal, we would determine the book’s final price from the results of both tests.

We’ll talk more about these testing tools in a moment.

How do you find a good mailing list and what does it cost?

I used to go to the library, find the most recent Standard Rate and Data Service Direct Mail Lists book in the reference room, and spend an hour or two identifying all of the kinds of readers who would benefit from my book. I’d review the accessible lists, the brokers or managers handling them, the quantity of names listed, how they were compiled, how frequently they were cleaned, the cost, and anything else that seemed relevant. From that, I would copy the contact information from the top three lists, to pursue later from my office.

All of that information was in the SRDS book. But now that book is virtually impossible to find in any reference section. If you do find a current copy, simply do as I did.

When I used the SRDS book, three things concerned me. I preferred big rather than small list providers (since the bigger houses did it full time and the quality of their lists seemed to be better). I liked list managers willing to work with me to find the specific kinds of names and categories within the larger niche universe that would serve me best, and it was supplemental good sense to contact other firms with products similar to mine that used direct mail marketing to see which lists and mangers they recommended.

Our alternative now is to use the web. In Google, or your choice search engine, type what you want to review (like chiropractor + mailing lists) in the subject box. Up will pop a wide selection of mailing lists for chiropractors.

Sometimes just the niche itself should be tested too, since it will give you the name(s) of the corresponding association(s) (like ACA, American Chiropractic Association), plus access to current data and vocational changes that might find its way into your flyer sales text.

There are other choices:

* Often the association rents its mailing list, usually to members only. Will a member friend give you access to a test list that they request?

* You can put together your own test list, or hire somebody else—one of your kids? Someone living in the U.S. that you contact through or—for them to use their computer or the phone books at the library to find 500 chiropractor’s addresses. The best list blends contacts from big cities, suburbs, and rural towns scattered across the U.S.

* Sometimes you can get the base names from an association directory.

If you do it yourself, put your list in ZIP order and run it off on Avery 5160 peel-off labels.

How much does it cost to rent the names from a list vendor?

I try to get the 500 names free, and I usually succeed.

There is no magic to making that happen, nor any guarantee that it will. After you put your list vendors in preferred order, call the list manager of your #1 pick. Explain that you have a book about to be offered nationwide and why you chose his or her list—most likely because it is the best directed to the very group to whom you are selling. Tell the manager that you plan to eventually rent and use the entire list at least once, probably more often. What you’d like to do is test his/her list at various book-selling prices using 500 PS labels (Nth selection in ZIP order). And, naturally, you’d like to do that free—that is, with free test labels from his list—if possible, on the understanding (which you’ll gladly put in writing) that if the test proves positive, you will rent that list. Also, that you’ll gladly send a full description (and later a copy) of your book and you’ll fax samples of your marketing tools, if necessary, to prove that your request is legitimate and sincere. (For that reason, you may want to wait to make the contact until your testing tools are in final form.)

In my experience, the list manager usually laughs, then asks a few questions to make sure I’m not totally daft and that in fact such a book (or at the least the potential of it) exists. Then he usually says “Okay, give me a couple of days. When would you expect those results back?”

Or he will ask you to pay for the labels and shipping, which may be $25-$75. If the manager says no or talks about minimum fees to rent any part of the list (which usually costs $100-300), I courteously thank him, try the second list, then the third, until I get a go-ahead or I have to swallow and pay the full minimum. (Once, I did have to pay the full minimum; otherwise, it’s been about 50-50 between the free labels or paying modest costs.)

Incidentally, there are list brokers who will find lists for you, act as an intermediary, and put it all in motion. They cost you nothing since they are paid through a commission paid to them by the list company. That would always be my first choice except that they don’t like the free test list idea, despite the fact they’d earn well when you actually rented the full list later. You can find the brokers in the Yellow Pages (or the web Yellow Pages), usually under “mail,” “mailing,” or “direct mail.”

Since our example is fictitious, it seems improper for me to see if I can actually find a list broker who will send me free test labels for chiropractors. On the other hand, I did just check the available commercial mailing lists at Google, found six that merit a longer review, and am confident that this process is every bit as valid as it was using the SRDS book. And the direct mailing still makes sense. In fact, it might even be a bit more valuable since the average chiropractic office, like others, receives less snail mail these days (and more e-mail) than before. They may pay more attention to what you send.

From those six lists I discovered that I could rent the names and addresses of from 47,000 to 72,242 practicing chiropractors or those with current licenses. Also, It seems that there are about 54,000 chiropractors actively practicing and accessible by mail, so let’s use that number for now. The lists costs run from $65 to $80/thousand, or 6.5-8 cents per name and address.

That’s it. Run your test first. Then later, if all goes well, go right back to the list manager and remind him that you are the person who requested free labels (he will remember). Try to get the best price you can on your first list rental.

You will want to use a mailing house for the bigger mailings later, so find one you feel comfortable with. See the phone book or Google and call for rates. When you pick a house, ask what’s the best procedure for getting both the flyer and the addresses to the house. Also confirm the size of the flyer before you get it laid out and printed, and where the indicia should appear and if you can use their bulk rate on it. If so, ask if he will mail, e-mail, or fax a copy of the indicia so you can see the size, layout, and contents. A good mailing person can save you lots of money and make the whole process smooth.

But for now, get the list info, then the PS list, that you need to put this pre-test in motion.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. Why not sign up for our free monthly newsletter and get three free reports right now? Also, keep an eye on this blog. There are seven blogs already here and four more to follow, all explaining, step-by-step, your niche pre-test process.

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What must be included in articles that editors buy?

I was asked on the phone a few minutes ago what has to be included in an article that will sell. So let me answer it, very briefly and broadly, in a blog in case you wondered the same thing!

(Who am I? Writing teacher, editor often, 1700 freelance articles and 40 books in print.)

The three almost mandatory tent poles that hold up good selling articles are facts, quotes, and anecdotes. Sometimes there’s a fourth pole: artwork (which includes almost anything that isn’t text, like actual artwork, photos, charts, and the rest.) It’s the same for most books and articles.

The facts are the core of the piece. They are to be accurate, on target, well stated, as concise as possible, and in keeping with the style of the article and the publication. If it’s a humor piece, you need some humor consistently, to the same degree. (If puns, sprinkle around a few clever puns; if a light, fun style, the same kind of light fun from start to finish. But if it’s written to make the reader laugh—pure humor—it also needs a funny title, a funny lead, dependable fun throughout, and some fun in the conclusion.)

Quotes are too often forgotten by freelancers. Find three people with credentials or who are well versed about the subject, get quotes from them (directly, by e-mail, in print, etc.), work in the quotes, and also tell who these people are and/or why they are being quoted. (Don’t just get random people off the street for your quotes, unless the article is about talking to random people on the street.)

Readers love stories (anecdotes) so if you can work those in, super. They can be from the quoted souls, historical (from print), your own fabled life, or from others with true tales to share. Keep them fast-flowing and relevant. It never hurts to weave in a bit of Lincoln and Buddha—but not if you are writing about how to pick an iPod.

The article also needs some over-all structure. It’s best to hint early where the thickets of prose will take the reader, then take them, and perhaps gently remind them at the end where they just were. Journalistically take their hand so you all end up where you want, together. Writers often say, in the second paragraph, something like, “In today’s economy, the three quickest ways to excel in ___ are ___, ___, and ___.” That’s your structure: put some lovely tent skin around those poles, explain fetchingly the three ways, and you will get paid!

Read some articles in the feature sections of newspapers or magazines to see how artfully the writers weave in the necessities.

If you know the publication you are writing for, read three articles similar to your topic (or style), see what they have where, and do yours one better. Everything you need to know is in what the editor just bought.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett

P.S. Interested in three free reports about book and article writing and publishing? Then just sign up for my free monthly newsletter

and they are yours!

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How much should you charge for your book? (Blog Bundle #6)

If you’re going to test a niche book, what you really need to know is whether the buyers will buy enough copies and pay enough per copy to make the time, energy, and money needed to produce and market the book worthwhile.

So you need to set a price to test. Better, three prices in the first test, and maybe two prices (or three) in the second test.

There’s another important consideration too. If this niche book is simply part of a much larger empire of products and services you are offering to the niche, then it needn’t carry all the profit freight alone. But if it’s simply an important positioning book, will it be seen and bought by enough people (best, leaders in the field) to get them to buy the other offerings too?

A quick example. If you’re a professional speaker and you earn, say, $2500 a pop, then a $25 book is 1/25th your speaking fee, and if you give 15 books away to get the booking and you sell 100 books to the listeners, you are way ahead of the game. And if you speak 15-20 times a year and sell books each time (or they are bought and provided to the listeners by the sponsor), then the book is a nugget of gold—and the pre-test is probably more a matter of testing the title and you as the author than how many mail sales you will make.

In any sense, the best way to start testing a price is to see what other experienced writers in the niche are charging for similar books or like products, then see, if sold at that price, will you make enough profit to write and publish yours?

Let’s say that a similar product sells for $149, and you want to earn $100,000 in sales to earn $50,000 in profit, and you have a niche buying universe of 54,000, your buy response at $149 must be 1.244%. And if you are going pre-test to 500, you then need 6.2 positive postcard replies.

Is the test worth doing before you write and publish? Let’s say the test costs you at most $700 (see the next Blog Bundle #7). Then if you sell only five books you will have paid for the test.

(If your book will sell for $24.95, with the same universe of 54,000, you need 28 sales to pay the test cost and your buy response to reap $100,000 must be about 7.45%. Tightly-targeted buy responses often top 10% so this ratio—and the low price of the book—is very much in the likelihood of possibility.)

A legitimate question is whether that buy response to your pre-test will in fact equal the number of sales you will receive. Usually it is, approximately, if your book does what you promised in the flyer for the amount stated and there are no other variables, like a changed table of contents or a different author. The lowest return my firm got was 85% of the test buy ratio; once it topped 150%. Although some buys take much longer to get than others!

So the questions you must ask yourself are:

• what kind of profit return must I receive to produce the book?
• what percent of the sales price will be profit?
• what is the most likely price the buyer will pay?
• how many of them will pay that amount?
• what other income will this book generate that will lower my must-have profits solely from the book?

My suggestion is that if you are going to conduct two pre-tests, each to 250 niche buyers, you guesstimate the absolute lowest price you can ask to receive enough profit. Is it $105? Then you don’t test below that amount. Your second tested price in the first test might be the $149 we mentioned, and the third $179. That is, you will send about 85 ZIP Nth selection test packets listing the price at $105, another 85 at $148, and a third at $179.

Responses to the kind of test I suggest are usually quick. You usually have a solid sense of the buying ratio in about 10 days. Let’s say you estimate a 5% buy rate at $179, 7% at $149, and, oddly, another 5% at $105.

Do the same test again, but this time divide the remaining 245 into two groups, and test again at $149 and at $179. (You could even divide it in three and test at $149, $179, and $199.)

Then it’s simply a matter of calculating the response ratio times the total 54,000 universe times the respective price they are responding to, and you will have your book price. Or if you discover that the book alone will not carry its own weight, then you must see what other information dissemination products like or related to your book are likely, and ask if the book will justify its existence so it can help make that greater income possible.

We will look at those testing tools in the coming weeks: the pre-test cost next, followed by getting a (free) mailing list, the test flyer, the test note, and the postcard. In Blog Bundle #12 I will wrap up the process in 25 steps.

Thanks for taking this journey with us.

Best wishes,

Gordon Burgett
Author, Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time

P.S. I publish a free monthly newsletter. Subscribe! You’ll even receive three good reports, also free. Wow!

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