Self-published authors wear a lot of hats, and I’m going to speak for many of us and say that the most boggling of them all is book promotion. We’re pretty much always trying to think up ways to get ourselves and our titles in front of readers, am I right?
So while we’re spending a ton of time figuring out how to promote our 99 cent sales and which book marketing vendors will give us the best bang for our buck, we might overlook the chance to make direct sales and meet potential new readers one-on-one. And when we do consider it, bookstore signings and book festivals are often the only thing that comes to mind.
But other venues are available.
To be successful at direct sales, you’ll need a print version of your book(s), giveaways such as bookmarks, a laptop so people can sign up for your newsletter right on the spot (or a notebook to record email addresses), a huge smile and lots of energy. And a place to go, of course. The great news is that these places provide a great opportunity for you to say, “Buy my book!” Here are a few ideas:
- Book festivals. As I mentioned, most authors think of book festivals when they think of direct-sale venues, and they’re a great place to start. Check out Jodie Renner’s comprehensive list of Writers’ Conferences & Book Festivals in North America in 2014. If the price of a booth at the festival you want to attend is too expensive, consider sharing with an author or two who write in the same genre. Here are Tips to Maximize a Book Festival Appearance.
- Bookstores. Let’s face it, book signings can be dull and the buzz is that they’re often not lucrative for the author. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them – especially locally – it simply means you need to think outside the box and make YOUR book signing special. Consider giving a “talk,” a reading, sponsor a contest, provide special giveaways. Although mass distribution to national bookstores remains mostly out of reach for self-pubbers (at this writing), local bookstores can still be approachable.
- Local and regional fairs, meetings, and specialty events. Whether you write sci-fi, historical fiction, westerns, or nonfiction, Belea Keeney’s post, Selling Your Books at a Booth will give you lots of ideas about venues and the process to prepare for one. Think conventions, conferences, club meetings, even rodeos and sci-fi confabs. Choose a venue that syncs with your genre and/or subplot or characters. Is your protagonist an avid gardener? There you go.
- Libraries. My local library system offers all sorts of classes and entertainment, and there’s something going on nearly every week. Consider preparing a presentation – not just a book reading or signing – and use it to draw an audience, then sell your books in the back of the room.
- Not-so traditional-methods. This author spreads his books out at his table when he’s at Starbucks. He hangs out in the hotel bar during travel conventions. Cheeky, but funny. You might get some ideas!
Work hard to maximize book sales per event
If you’re going to all the effort required to appear at an event, be sure to go the extra mile so you can maximize the number of books you sell. That means you’ll need to help promote the event, be able to accept multiple forms of payment, create special book sale bundles and offer special pricing, and gather email addresses so you can touch bases with the people you meet after the event is over. Penny Sansevieri’s post, 12 Secrets to Selling More Books at Events provides lots of ideas.
Accept multiple payment methods
Today, only 27% of purchases are made with cash. One in five people in the United States do not regularly carry cash, and an additional 40% carry less than $20 at any given time. That means that most people rely on credit cards. So if you set up events that require you to handle check-out and sales, you must be able to accept credit cards as well as cash, debit cards, checks, and PayPal. Many vendors provide free card readers for your smartphone or tablet, and businesses like Shopify make it possible for you to expand into cashless markets.
Readers, have you tried any direct-sale methods? Do you have venues or ideas to add? Please leave a comment and share!
Enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! Your email address will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, please follow @mollygreene on Twitter! And last but not least, this original content by Molly Greene is copyright protected. Mwah! Thank you so much.