Selling 16,000+ Cookbooks on QVC in Minutes

Jun 242014
 

A guest post by Rebecca Lang

My heart leapt when my publisher, Oxmoor House, told me I was going to sell my cookbook on QVC, the television shopping channel network.

Before becoming a talent on QVC, though, I had to be trained on the QVC campus in West Chester, Pennsylvania, about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia. My training took place about three months before my segment, though a shorter turnaround time is much more common. The one-day training is part media training and part QVC academy.

Training takes place before your first appearance only. The atmosphere was comfortable and welcoming and I received constructive criticism on all aspects of my presentation. My book, Around the Southern Table, is a personal reflection of the table I inherited from my grandmother that still serves as the center of my home. To nail a one-minute pitch that summed up my product, when it’s that close to my heart, was no easy task.

In my group were others training with their products, which included skin care, exercise equipment, and lawn tools. But we had one common goal: To represent our products the best that we could. Taped practice sessions with a host provided a hands-on experience of how the set feels and what it was like to spend time with the host on air.

Cookbook segments on QVC are not cooking segments, like they are on most channels. They are more visually based, with a large table of styled dishes in front of the author and the host. I worked with our vendor for weeks in advance to choose 10 to 12 dishes. I needed a variety of recipes: ones that would look scrumptious on camera; and those that represented the food in the entire book.

When I arrived at QVC for my first segment, the grand lobby was nearly silent, with monitors on the walls. The screens showed live views of QVC in other countries around the world. The vendor who handles the book sales from my publisher to QVC was also my driver, host, friend, and advisor. Having him there made me much less anxious about the entire process.

Once in the studio, guests go to the green room and choose one of the dressing rooms. These rooms are usually shared but provide plenty of space for hanging clothes and steamers. Thankfully, they have good light for last minute cosmetic retouches. All guests receive a pager so they can be notified easily when they’re needed on set or in the salon. The atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable, unlike a lot of studios.

Guests should arrive with hair and makeup ready, but the salon provides touch-ups. It’s definitely the best touching-up I’ve ever had in a studio. I’ve always had a fascination with makeup, so I enjoyed sitting in front of that sea of colors and soft brushes and someone who knew what to do with it all.

My publisher hired a food stylist to make the dishes look beautiful for television. Walking into the kitchen and seeing all the dishes already made was unreal, because I’ve hauled equipment and props and styled food for my own segments for years. Even better, the stylist chose the props to match the feel of the book.

Just before going on set, I was given my microphone and an IFB (an earpiece worn so I could hear any possible callers). I was delighted to be on David Venable’s show, called In the Kitchen with David. He was as comforting and personable as he is on screen. He knows cooking and he is a much beloved friend to his viewers.

The segment seemed to fly by. David was infectious with his passion and enthusiasm. It was similar to being at a lively party where the energy radiates in the room and no one wants to go home. To my delight, the food was still warm when we tasted it during the segment. The stylist times it all like a dance.

Cookbook Author Rebecca Lang.

Cookbook Author Rebecca Lang.

David and I sold about 3,500 books in about seven minutes. Since that first segment, I have been back to QVC for two other segments for another book, The Southern Cake Book, which includes two of my recipes. On my second segment, we sold out completely and it was an incredible thrill ride. I returned a third time, also with The Southern Cake Book, and sold almost 6,000 copies. So far I have sold more than 16,000 copies of both books.

How might it work for you to get on QVC? My publisher sold my book to QVC through an independent vendor, who handles the sales and details of delivery and appearances on QVC. If your publisher does not have a connection with QVC or you self-published, apply to become a vendor to sell your own product on QVC.

If and when the call comes, remember that showing enthusiasm, pride, and a real relationship with your book is imperative to connecting with viewers. Most of us are head-over-heels in love with our own books, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. Know your book and know it well. It’s common for a long time to pass between turning in a manuscript and a publication date. Study it again. Take it all in and enjoy every moment.

Got a question for Rebecca about appearing on QVC, or a comment?  Leave a comment below.

* * *

Rebecca Lang is the author of Around the Southern Table, Quick-Fix Southern, Mary Mac’s Tea Room, and Southern Entertaining for a New Generation. Rebecca is a contributing editor for Southern Living, and she and her cooking have been featured in more than 50 nationally televised Southern Living food segments and in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Glamour and Fitness magazines. 

A ninth-generation Southerner, Rebecca teaches cooking classes across America, and writes a blog. Her writing has appeared in many publications including Disney’s Family Fun, Taste of the South, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She has worked on the editorial aspects of more than 30 books. A former assistant food editor at Oxmoor House, Rebecca earned a journalism degree from the University of Georgia and a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University. She apprenticed with Southern cooking legend Nathalie Dupree. 

Find her on Twitter @rebeccalangcook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  20 Responses to “Selling 16,000+ Cookbooks on QVC in Minutes”

  1. Woohoo on your QVC success! It doesn’t happen that way for everyone! Here’s to many more successful segments.

    Martha

  2. great job Rebecca, I’m so happy for you!

  3. Was there anything you felt could be improved upon?

    • Nicola,
      In the last segment, I had a moment where I forgot the title of one of the cakes. David knew it and propped me up. I also forgot my “tv” shoes and wore my comfy travel shoes on set that day. Luckily the camera never looked down.
      On my first appearance, I talked a bit too long about my grandmother before I got into the book. I tend to do that since I loved her so dearly. I needed to have it shortened slightly. Thanks for the question!

  4. Rebecca is absolutely adorable, and I can see why David got the job. I’m guessing that Rebecca’s demographic is QVC’s, so not everyone would be a great fit, but definitely a super savvy and fun way to sell books. This post may have just birthed a new life goal. ;)

    • Yes, that job of David’s is not for me but he is so good at it — warm and friendly. It must be calming for a nervous author. Your new life goal is daunting. Good luck, Jamie!

    • A new life goal is always good! I’ll take absolutely adorable any day! Thank you Jamie!
      David is calming and enthusiastic at the same time. Truly a gift.

  5. Wow! Rebecca, that is how I felt when I read your story. What a fantastic opportunity. I appreciate your journey (and that you told us about it) prior to your QVC moment(s). This cookbook writing thing is a long process, and I’m just beginning my journey with my first-meaning an agent is interested! Your story is an inspiration. Thanks for the back of the house QVC info and kudos to you!

    • Thank you Maureen! It was an almost unreal opportunity. It is a very long journey. My 3rd book was nearly 5 years between my first agent query to publishing. I can certainly understand. Try not to get discouraged. Every “no” just means a perfect “yes” is on the way. Please do keep me posted on you new book!

  6. Rebecca, thanks for sharing your story and all the details. Your books are perfect for QVC and you did an awesome job. I really liked your rapport with the host. Congratulations on your success!

  7. Huge congratulations on your QVC success, Rebecca! You made the whole process very much less intimidating. The media training sounds like an incredible benefit. I wanted to underscore your comment, “Know your book and know it well.” I always re-read my books before starting any interviews, events, etc., and if I’m doing an event after a hiatus. It’s such a long time between handing in the MS and starting to sell, it’s worth thoroughly reacquainting yourself. For the best credibility and infectiousness, you want to sound as if you know every word, cover to cover, and use your book every day!

    • Jennie,
      That’s such good advice! Authors should read their own book before any promotion. As you know, it’s even more difficult when you’re already working on another book and your mind is absorbed in that project. Thank you!

  8. Good for you Rebecca. I had quite a different experience 15 years ago. Quite exciting, of course. I went on QVC with my book A Biblical Feast, which I have reprinted since. My publisher (Ten Speed) hired a food stylist and a cook on site, so I just flew in from SoCA. The table was gorgeous, the green room people were great, and I thoroughly enjoyed my 10 minutes of fame.

    QVC judged I didn’t sell enough books to have me back. What authors DO NOT REALIZE, is that you need to give a HUGE discount to QVC.. practically free books..and there are many many returns.

    Best of ulck.

    • Kitty,
      Thanks for the insight. Yes, just like what we all dread in bookstores, what doesn’t sell is returned. The books are discounted, but I’m not sure what the percentage was. I wouldn’t say free at all, though. You make up for discount in quantity.
      Another benefit is sales on online retailers go up as well after a QVC appearance. That tide rises all the boats.
      Thanks so much for the comment!

  9. you looked like a PRO good job

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