The Backlist Sales Initiative

At the beginning of the 2013/14 academic year, Ooligan Press started restructuring its operations to include project work groups responsible for individual new titles. Departments became training grounds for assisting members of each project group in doing the various tasks assigned to them by their project managers.

At the same time Adam Salazar spearheaded the “Backlist Sales Initiative,” whose goal it is “to build familiarity with backlist titles within the project teams and to explore promotional efforts outside a book’s initial publication period.” He explains further that “in the press we have a tendency to focus almost exclusively on front list titles up until publication date, and for the most part they fall off the radar afterward. This initiative was an excellent opportunity to help rectify this oversight while at the same time getting team members to think creatively about promotional and sales efforts for titles they would otherwise not have focused on.”

When questioned about the overall mandate for the initiative, Salazar described a two-phase process: The first phase—which we are about to finalize this term—focused on promoting appropriate backlist titles to educational institutions and instructors for course adoptions. Project teams were instructed to conduct research into Northwest educational institutions and instructors that fit each group’s assigned backlist title. They then drafted a letter that was sent out this term to prospective professors and lecturers whose classes fit the material. For example, most recently Erika Schnatz and I corresponded with various universities’ instructors of economics and urban studies, encouraging them to consider adding Brew to Bikes to their course reading materials.

Phase two of the initiative had only been discussed in the abstract over winter term. The vision involves team members going out into the community and approaching retail venues about carrying Ooligan backlist titles. The teams would have to take care not to target locations covered by sales representatives from Ingram because of contractual agreements for the sales of those titles.

Adam Salazar has since taken on a different project, and Ariana Vives has adopted the initiative for the marketing department. When asked how the second phase was coming along, Ariana reported: “Although we will encourage project teams to continue reaching out to educational markets with the titles they were assigned during winter term, for the spring term we will be shifting our attention to three different backlist titles: Oregon Stories, The Portland Red Guide, and Alive at the Center. The plan is to market these books to gift and specialty stores nationwide (for Alive at the Center we plan to market the city-specific books in their respective cities—Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver). The end-of-term goal is the same as the previous sales initiative’s: research contacts, create a pitch letter that can be tailored to each contact, and send out emails.”

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