How to Sell 100 Books a Day

I met Terri Long on Twitter early in 2011 and quickly became a fan of this generous, upbeat, talented, hard-working indie author. I’ve watched as she’s achieved a level of success that, frankly, I believe we all aspire to. Her marketing efforts have paid off so well that her debut novel, In Leah’s Wake, often sells at a rate of over 100 books a day. I’m thrilled to host Terri as a guest on my blog as she shares a few highlights about the impressive road she’s traveled:

Indie publishing is a new frontier. Like all frontiers, it’s both exhilarating and scary. We can go it alone, feeling lonely, making avoidable mistakes. Or we can do it together – helping, promoting and supporting each other. Publishing my novel has been a learning experience. Among the most important lessons is our need to build a community. A community of author friends brings an enhanced network of readers and writers that only a bestselling author can create on his or her own.

Cross-promotional support is also important. With teamwork, by joining forces, promoting events – and each other – everyone wins. A good example was the 2012 Indie Book Blowout, sponsored by the Indie Book Collective. On Labor Day weekend, over 100 authors lowered their eBook price to 99¢. Authors were featured on a special site created by the IBC and promoted in daily IBC newsletters, all for a ridiculously low fee of $15. Their only responsibility was to promote the event across their own network.

As anticipated, the event was a huge success. On September 2, the day In Leah’s Wake was featured, I sold 600 eBooks, tripling my all-time high. Organized cross-promotion also pushes the participating authors’ books into the “If you liked this, you’ll like this” chain on retailer sites. Exposure on the product page of a popular book can do wonders for sales. Different groups offer various cross-promotions throughout the year; research which might be right for you.

A supportive author community can also help us navigate the indie publishing world. In October 2010, I put In Leah’s Wake on Amazon, did nothing more for five months and sold a few hundred books. My laxity grew partly out of embarrassment – self-promotion felt slimy; mostly, it was because I had no idea what to do. At times, I had questions or needed help and I had nowhere to turn. What’s the best place to publish an eBook? Amazon? Smashwords? Barnes & Noble’s Pubit?

As a result, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I published my paperback on Createspace, for instance, then republished with Lightning Source (the POD publisher/distributor for the big guys like Random House), because I felt they had better distribution. Now I have two paperback versions with different ISBN numbers, which lowers my rankings online as well as on Book Scan, the provider of point-of-sale data on book sales for the publishing industry.

in March 2011 I hired a publicist. If you can afford one, hiring a publicist is a step in the right direction. They will speak for you and can open doors you may not be able to open on your own. Mine was a godsend. She helped me build a solid social networking platform and created my media kit, video trailer, and book club discussion guide. She gave me an Internet presence and arranged two blog tours, which introduced me to lovely blogger friends. Today we have websites, blogs and other resources to help us.

But nothing carries the weight or provides the comfort of a friend who’s been there. Writing is a lonely profession, lonelier still for indie authors, who face a sometimes harsh or hostile environment without the traditional support team of agent, editor, and publicist. To my good fortune, my publicist also became a caring and supportive friend.  A writer herself, she understood the emotional rollercoaster we ride. More than once, when I’ve been angry, frustrated or sad, she talked me down from the ledge. This is what supportive writer-friends do. It’s one of many reasons we need them.

About In Leah’s Wake: The Tyler family had the perfect life – until sixteen-year-old Leah decided she didn’t want to be perfect anymore. While her parents fight to save their daughter from destroying her brilliant future, Leah’s younger sister, Justine, must cope with the damage her out-of-control sibling leaves in her wake. Will this family survive? What happens when love just isn’t enough?

Jodi Picoult fans will love this beautifully written and absorbing novel. In Leah’s Wake can be purchased through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also available at local indie bookstores through IndieBound

About Terri: Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows better than anything else can. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a writing instructor at Boston College. She blogs about writing and the writing life at http://tglong.com/blog On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/tglongwrites  and Twitter: @tglong

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! Just enter your email address in the upper right corner of this page. It’s easy, and I won’t share your contact information with anyone!

, , , , , , , , , , ,

54 Responses to How to Sell 100 Books a Day

  1. J. Whitworth Hazzard September 13, 2011 at 1:30 am #

    Great post. As someone who is just getting started on this path, the article gives me hope that authors have options other than banging their head against the query wall for years on end. Those books are now on my “to buy” list.

    Congratulations on your success and good luck!

    • Molly Greene September 13, 2011 at 1:36 am #

      I agree J.W., Terri’s experiences and success give us all hope!

  2. Jacqui Murray September 13, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Great story. I’m motivated just reading your post. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  3. artsmuklermd September 13, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    Thank you. Very informative and helpful. I am signing up to receive your blog! Art Smukler MD, author and psychiatrist

  4. Sharayah Pranger (@LB_Books) September 12, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    Wonderful tips! I think I speak for everyone who has gotten to play a tiny part in the publicity of this book in saying that we wish you the very best and are excited to see it doing so well! If I ever reach the stage of having something publishable, I’m going to look back at your experience! :)

    • Molly Greene September 12, 2011 at 11:20 pm #

      My sentiments exactly – thanks to Terri for the guest post today and thank you so much Sharayah for stopping by!

  5. Alicia Sparks (@aliciasparks) September 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Thanks for writing this, Terri, and thanks for posting it, Molly. Definitely helpful information!

  6. Emlyn Chand September 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm #

    Thank you, Molly, for spotlighting this phenomenally talented and unbelievably hard-working author. She’s also a wonderful friend and inspires me every single day! #teamterri

    • Molly Greene September 13, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

      Emlyn, the pleasure is all mine. Terri Long is an inspiration to us all!

  7. Cyndi Tefft September 15, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    Congrats on your success! :)

  8. Jo VonBargen (@jvonbargen) September 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Hey, this is a great read, Molly! Brilliant ideas and great to meet the lovely Terri. I look forward to reading more here!!

    • Molly Greene September 15, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

      Jo, thanks so much for stopping by. Terri is amazing, can’t wait to see what she does next!

  9. Elizabeth Ann West September 16, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    Awesome guest post and information! It really helps those of us with those same questions. :) I just published this week and marketing is far, far more scary than it was before I published. Now it’s go time, and it feels weird to ask my friends to help me promote. But, none of us can do this alone. Glad to hear of the success of In Leah’s Wake. The cover has intrigued me many times, and reminds me of a book I read as a kid called Beat the Turtle Drum.

    • Molly Greene September 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      Thank you so much Elizabeth, and best of luck to you as you market!

  10. Debra Burroughs September 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Great post, Molly. As a fellow novelist, I’m always happy to hear more about how to successfully market my books. Seems like an unending, daunting job some days. Best wishes for continued success to Terri!

    • Molly Greene September 16, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

      I think it always will be a bit of a daunting job, but thanks to authors like Terri at least we have a few signposts along the way. Thanks Debra, for the read and comment!

  11. Laura Diamond September 17, 2011 at 11:51 pm #

    Great post! Very helpful.

  12. Phantomimic September 19, 2011 at 2:45 am #

    Thanks Terri for the guest post. I don’t have the money to hire a publicist but the Indie Book Blowout and other similar community events are a good idea. We indies are stronger when we support each other. Hope the book sales keep improving!

  13. mystriterdva September 19, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    I can’t agree more with this article. An indie author needs a road map big time to become successful in this publishing game. The book “Dollars and Sense” is what I’m using now for my guide. I wish I had read it three books ago!

  14. Liza Kane September 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    Molly–Thank you so much for sharing this again on Twitter, because I completely missed this post!

    Thank you Terri for sharing great insights with us! I like knowing about the self/indie published side of things! I feel like I’m observing the beginnings of a grassroots movement!

    • Molly Greene September 29, 2011 at 2:24 am #

      HI Liza! Thanks – Terri gets all the credit, isn’t she the greatest??

  15. Elisabeth Hirsch (@ECwrites) September 30, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    This sounds like such an AMAZING book :)

    -Elisa
    ecwrites.com

  16. Niamh Clune September 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm #

    This is what we are talking about! Mutual cooperation. Inspiriing story…thank you!

  17. Yemi Elegunde September 30, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this brilliant insight Molly.
    Very very useful and interesting.

    Yemi

  18. Terri Giuliano Long October 1, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Thank you all so very, very much for your kindness!! Molly – you are the most amazing, generous, caring friend!! How can I ever thank you for all you’ve done for me?!

    This is a wonderful time for indie writers! We have opportunity that’s never existed for us before. My hope is that this post inspires other authors and shows what we can accomplish together!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

    With love to all,

    Terri

  19. bridgetstraub October 5, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    another great post! I need to get that book.

  20. philsrogers October 31, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    Very useful information – thanks for posting this.

  21. Mary Yuhas November 3, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Thanks to you both, Molly and Terri. Trying to write, market and stay positive in an uncharted territory filled with pitfalls is daunting. I appreciate hearing about your success and how you have done it very much! Thanks for sharing and thanks Molly!

    • Molly Greene November 3, 2011 at 5:27 pm #

      Thanks so much Mary, and best of luck to you on your project!

  22. Deborah McMenamy November 10, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Very interesting approaches to increasing sales! Thanks for sharing your insights with us.
    Deborah

    • Molly Greene November 11, 2011 at 1:22 am #

      Thanks so much Deborah for the read and comment!

  23. Jenny Twist March 3, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    One of the most useful posts I’ve read in a long time.

  24. Teresa Cypher-Willowlive March 4, 2012 at 10:24 am #

    Good post…information I had never given a thought to. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. The rookie mistake–two ISBN numbers…yep, I can see how an author could do that (speaking of myself). I like to think that I think things through…but sometimes I don’t know enough to be thorough. The best laid plans can be corrupted by a blind-side. Once again, thank you. And thanks for posting this, Molly. :-)

    • Molly Greene March 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

      Thank you so much Teresa for the read and comment!

  25. Chris Gallagher March 17, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    As a recently published indie author myself the advice you give is encouraging. It’s a minefield out there and advice such as yours is a safe stepping stone on the path to success. Many thanks, and all the best in all you do.

  26. Jenny Martucci April 14, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Thank you for posting an Indie Author sucess story! Marketing makes writing and publishing seem like child’s play by comparison. I’m glad to see Ms. Long has done so well!

    • Molly Greene April 14, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

      Hi Jenny – Marketing is definitely challenging. That’s why it’s so great to learn from those who have gone before us.

  27. Carol J. Hansen April 21, 2012 at 6:57 am #

    Thanks for sharing. It’s so nice to have others who are also willing to help us “indies” succeed. I believe in helping each other:)xo

  28. Barbara October 20, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Thank you, Terri and Molly, for sharing! This is an extremely inspiring and helpful post.

    • Molly Greene October 20, 2012 at 11:12 am #

      You’re so welcome Barbara! Terri is my hero. Thanks for visiting, come back soon!

  29. Tammy Robinson February 4, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Great blog post :-) We Indie authors definitely need to stick together and support each other. Thanks so much for sharing this!

  30. CF Winn May 8, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    What a wonderful post! The tips are helpful and now I’ve discovered a new title to add to my TBR list. I wish that same success for all of us Indies out there…there are many stories to be told and enjoyed!

  31. PSKarr May 27, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    This is a very encouraging post. It looks like you got good sales even without any promotion, which says a lot about the quality of your book.

    I think many authors face an uphill task from the moment they hit ‘Publish’.

    Your post is an inspiration to many such people. Thanks..

  32. Denyse Cohen July 5, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Wonderful advice! I’m one to say, nowadays, even if you have a publisher you’re still bound to have to do a lot of marketing yourself. With the ascension of social media, if you have to sell your product you have to be “social.” Not just blurting out updates that carry a link to your books, but engaging your audience — your community.

    • Molly Greene July 5, 2013 at 8:31 am #

      Hi Denyse! No doubt about it, authors can’t afford to be hermits anymore, we have to get online and engage our readers if we want to sell books!

  33. Paul Akpomukai January 22, 2014 at 6:30 am #

    I too have written and created an audiobook, it is indeed a very demanding as well as challening task to introduce your book to a global audience. The sooner you start with the promotion the better it is, it’s still going to be difficult, but at least you will know what you are up to. Good luck to all the authors who attempt self publishing. The road maybe be unfamiliar and harsh, but don’t give up! And thank you Terri for sharing this inspiring article.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. CreateSpace or Lightning Source: Which is the more intelligent choice for self-publishing? | Novel Publicity - October 19, 2011

    [...] visit her awesome blog, http://www.worthbecoming.wordpress.com. You may also enjoy the post “How to Sell 100 Books a Day” that appeared on Molly’s blog and was written by Ms. Terri Giuliano [...]

  2. Risking Some Green « Kate Policani - March 28, 2012

    [...] I tried something new and risked a little bit of money. I read Molly Greene’s article here http://www.molly-greene.com/how-to-sell-100-books-a-day/ and liked the first step in the 100 books a day story. (Hint: it was the [...]

Leave a Reply