Last week I looked at just some of the online watering holes where your readers and other writers gather. This week it is time to face your public and whilst that can often be more daunting than an audition on X-Factor, it can seriously up the sales for your book.
I have sold more print copies face to face than I have ever sold online. As with local marketing to local radio and media, this can very often be the most effective way to sell your books.
To be honest we have got carried away with the notion that we have this global market place that we must conquer. I never did like competing with millions of others and much prefer a smaller pond. I had two opportunities for selling my books when I was in the UK looking after my mother. Through specific outlets, as part of my nutritional therapist work and by signing up for summer and Christmas fairs.
Just Food For Health is a big book. A4 and 250 pages, and many of you who have read my health posts will have already seen most of it. It covers all the major organs in the body and the diseases that affect them along with the nutrients needed to keep them healthy. It began life as a monthly and seasonal newsletter that went out to my listeners on Spanish Radio. When I went over to the UK to look after my mother I worked out of three alternative therapy clinics and we published the book as a manual for my clients.
However, a copy was always left in reception and sold well to clients coming in to see other therapists. I also had a review copy in local hairdressers and beauty salons, two dentists and a doctor’s waiting room. So basically anywhere that people would be sitting around waiting for appointments. Pop in with your latest book to your local dentist and doctor’s surgeries, beauty salons and hairdressers and suggest leaving a review book with a label indicating it is not to be removed. It has to be more interesting than the 3 year old National Geographics on offer. With the surgeries you can put a sticker on the front with your Amazon Account or your email for print copies. I used to drop a copy around or stick in the post if it was not local enough.
At the hairdressers you could leave them three copies of your book and offer to give them 10% – 15% of the cover price if they sell.. Go back in two weeks and if it has not worked then take your books back.. But if they have sold you can leave them another three books.
I also signed up for local fairs such as Summer, Christmas and Health events and usually there was a section selling health products or books that were appropriate. I would also slip in my other books that had been released such as Size Matters and I certainly made my entrance fee back and a profit.
As a presenter with Express FM, I would also take along my recorder and do interviews with visitors to the shows to air later, as well as join forces with another therapist to share costs, and to add extra interest to the stand.
Because I was cutting out the middle man, I was able to reduce my books considerably to make them more attractive.
There was no point in getting involved in Spanish fairs with English books, so I am delighted to be back in familiar territory and have already signed up for one Christmas fair over the first weekend in December. My neighbour is a seamstress and makes great bags and other items perfect for Christmas and she also takes casts of newborn’s feet and then produces the sweetest silver and gold sculpures that are framed as a memento. So we are sharing the cost and we also have cover over the six or seven hours of the fair each day which is very important.
We are exploring another three fairs at the moment and I am looking forward to reducing my stock of print books considerably..The first weekend is costing us just 50Euro between us and we have bought some inexpensive carrier bags for another 20Euro. I only have to sell three books to cover my costs and no commission to Amazon or a bookshop!
I am also going to use my ebooks as an incentive by giving all print customers a gift certificate for one of three ebooks. It is no cost to me to email them their preferred format and it is an added incentive to buy. Hopefully that will lead them to buy more of my books and certainly leave a review.
Book fairs are another terrific opportunity to sell your print versions and I will be exploring those here in a 50 mile radius for spring and summer next year. Book fairs of course bring the most likely customers right to your doorstep and whilst you may be asked to help promote on your blog or social media, the majority of the hard work is done by the organisers.
As I mentioned earlier, because you are not paying another bookseller commission you can reduce the cost of your books. Do however factor in your costs for your spot at the show and also any promotional materials you have produced.
Someone that you should follow if you are not already, is author Judith Barrow who organises the Narbeth Book Fair in Pembrokeshire and heavily promoted the event in September by interviewing all the authors attending: https://judithbarrowblog.com/2017/06/12/my-series-of-author-interviews-authors-narberth-book-fair-mondayblogs/
and also Christoph Fischer with the upcoming Christmas Llandeilo Christmas Fair http://llandeilobookfair.blogspot.ie/2017/10/christmas-book-fair-in-llandeilo-to-be.html
Remember what I reminded you of repeatedly over the last few posts, you are an author but you are also in business. That business is to sell books and I suggest that you start finding out about your Christmas fairs in your area and book fairs in the next year. They don’t have to be in the City Centres as most Churches and other organisations hold gift fairs from mid-November through to the day itself. Some are free and others only charge £10 to £30.
What about bookshops
To be honest I avoided the mainstream bookshops as they were rarely interested in Indie authors and their books.. But, there are independant sellers on the side streets who have a good foot traffic and who are delighted to do a display of your books. They will take a percentage of course, but I usually negotiated around 25% which is 15% better than the usual high street rate.
Now that nearly all of us have an Amazon presence with reviews it is much easier to go in and persuade a bookshop to trial your books for a few weeks. If they sell some copies they well be open to doing a book-signing with you on one of their busiest days of the week and then you can really establish a long term relationship for any other books.
There are just a few ideas for you to play around with but the ball is now in your court. I can help promote your book here on Smorgasbord but at the end of the day, it is you who has to reach out online and offline to sell those books.. They sure as hell don’t sell themselves very often!
I will leave you with this thought.
There is an argument for large organisations to centralise their operations to achieve economy of scale. However, with corporations such as Amazon who have created a centralised book selling operation, the only profit is made by them. At the end of the day the weeks, months and sometimes years of time, paying for editorial, formatting and design services (unless you do yourself and for the majority tying yourself to Amazon for ever), is going to take a long time to turn a profit at 1 or 2 dollars a book sold.
Everyone else is getting their cut of your work instead of you. There is only one clear option. Treat your writing as a business, get out there and find readers to buy your books by finding where they are. They gather in large numbers in certain places, so it is much easier for you to find them, than it is for them to find you.
To make a profit on your work you need to sell books.
I hope you have found this series helpful and if you have any comments or questions, fire away. Here is the link for the other posts so far.
Thanks for dropping in and please feel free to share. Thanks Sally