There is a widespread misconception within writing circles that an author’s job is done once the research, writing, editing, and proofreading of their book has been completed; and all remaining investments—financial and otherwise—are the responsibility of the publisher. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether your book is picked up by a trade publisher or you choose the supported self-publishing route, the number of copies you sell will be significantly influenced by your willingness and ability to promote yourself. The responsibility to market/sell a book doesn’t lie with the publisher alone. The author is equally—if not more—responsible to sell their own work.
What sort of emotion does that first paragraph rouse inside you? Do you feel a tinge of resentment and denial? Or do you hear a ring of truth when you repeat the words to yourself a second time around? Authors are entrepreneurs. Once you match your mindset to that of an entrepreneur, you’ll not only find the adventure in sales and marketing, but you may also find your wings.
On that note, here are three great ways for you to move more of your books in addition to your publisher’s contributions….
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Community Craft Sales
Community craft sales provide a cost-effective setting where new authors can sell a few books to an audience that might not otherwise hear about them. Although not everyone will buy from you straightaway, this is a great place to hand out all those postcards and promo sheets you had printed. People are more likely to read (and respond to) a handout they received from a “flesh and blood” human being than any of the impersonal flyers they find in their clogged mailboxes. It might just lead to additional sales later on.
Your only investment for a community craft sale is: your books (which, presumably, you purchased beforehand); your time (craft sales generally run from around ten o’clock in the morning to three o’clock in the afternoon on a Saturday); your table registration fee (which is usually somewhere between $35 to $50 depending on the location); your presentation (anything from a simple table cloth to display stands to posters); and your cash float (so you have change available for paying customers). That’s all there is to it.
It is possible to sell a considerable number of books at a signing if the author and bookstore work together to host the event. While the store owner is responsible to set up your display table and collect payment for each sale, it is up to you to engage customers in conversation and convince them to purchase your book. To improve your success, it’s wise to do a little self-promotion beforehand rather than relying solely on bookstore traffic. You can generate buzz by posting event notices in community newspapers and on nearby bulletin boards. Social media sites and blogs are also great places to advertise your signing.
Your only investment for a bookstore signing is your books (which, presumably, you purchased beforehand), your time (signings generally last for two to three hours during an afternoon), and any paid advertising you placed to promote the event. Everything else will be taken care of for you. When the signing is over, the bookstore will send you payment for your portion of the profits (which is typically 60% of your book’s retail price). They may choose to keep additional consignment copies on hand if they feel there is a good chance they can sell them, or they may return the leftovers to you.
Book Launches (Readings)
A book launch is not only a celebration of your new release; it is an artist performance. It is an opportunity for you to share your book with others for the very first time by reading a few select paragraphs or poems to them over wine and appetizers. Or, maybe it’s not done over wine and appetizers in the evening. Maybe, instead, it’s done over coffee and eggs in the morning. Whatever you decide, this is a fantastic (fun, exciting, emotional, nerve-wracking) way to move more books!
Next to the venue, your investment for a book launch consists of: your books (which, presumably, you purchased beforehand); your time (time to organize the event plus three or four hours for the event itself); your presentation (anything from a simple table cloth to display stands to a cash box); and your cash float (so you have change available for paying customers). There is a fair amount of work involved in organizing an event like this, so you may want to enlist the help of volunteers.
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Don’t wait for your publisher to take charge and invest their time, money, and effort into selling more of your books. Take charge of yourself right now. The most successful authors are the ones with an entrepreneurial spirit. They aren’t sitting back and waiting for someone else to bring them success; they are proactively venturing out there each day to find that success for themselves.