Friday, May 5, 2017

Books Sold By Author

I had three book signing events last month. I have one scheduled for each of the next four months and will be looking for additional venues where I can sell books during that time as well.

After that, I will be traveling some. But, even while vacationing, I look for ways to peddle my books. For example, we will be in Hilton Head for a week in September so I'm looking for places there. Last year when we were there I learned the two bookstores had closed. This time, I will look for other retail stores.
Before they went out of business, I did several book signings at the local bookstore in Georgetown. The first time I was there, I bought a nice ad in the local paper to announce the event. I sold 18 books and the bookstore owner was thrilled. We had agreed on a 60/40 split. I provided the books. She sold the books for full price plus sales tax and I got 60 percent of the selling price for each book. The only problem was the ad cost was about $200 and my income for the books was $172.

After six years of experience, I've learned to use advertising carefully. However, I learned also that ads a provide may provide future sales. Only recently, I had a call from someone wanting me to talk to a group and sell books afterwards. I learned they called because they saw an ad I'd posted in the local paper announcing another book signing. I agreed to talk and sold 14 books.

There are many places to consider when scheduling book signings. In the past, and perhaps still for some known authors, the ideal place for such events was at bookstores. I've done that a few times. However, there are no bookstores where I live and I haven't considered those in nearby Austin, Texas recently. When my first book came out in 2010, I held a book signing in the largest independent bookstore in Austin, Bookpeople. Only once. At that time, the fee for a book signing was $200. It is probably more now. Even at that I had to wait until they had another author to share the time slot with me. It turned out our target readers were about as far apart as possible. Some of my friends who were there were shocked by what the other author was selling.

So, you can set up book signing events at book stores and personal appearances. Usually, at the personal appearance, you will be expected to give a talk first. Many want to know how to write a book and get it published. At my last two talks, I told how to convert personal experiences into novels.

Another venue for book signings is any retail business. I've been using a local market that is connected to a restaurant. I've also done book signings at pharmacies. These places usually charge a fee. The market, for example, charges $30 for a three-hour slot. They provide a table and that’s about all. What I've done is work with two friends and we each pay $10. This makes it easier to make a profit.

Sid Frost and D.A. Featherling
Choose people to share the table with you who have similar target readers. In my case, I team up with my two critique partners. I know their books because I've read them. If one person wants to take a break, the other two can sell the person's books.

We all help promote the event by inviting our friends on. I have put an ad in the local paper for some of these shared events, but not all.

The market is good because people come and go all the time we are there. It is located near the center of the town and we pick the one Saturday of the month when there are activities going on that will draw a larger audience. We alternate times, 10 to 1 or 12 to 3. The market closes at 3.

Selling in this way allows us to adjust the price of the books. My books sell for $12.95. For these events, I changed the price to $9.24. That may seem odd. However, I must collect sales tax which is 8.25 percent. In this case, the tax is 76 cents which makes the total exactly $10.00. This makes it easier to make change.

We use a common bank and accept cash, credit cards, and checks. Customers can select books from more than one of us and pay for all purchases together. They seem to enjoy that.

I have recently started selling Kindle edition claim codes. I must buy them first from Amazon, then prepare a printed claim certificate to sell. I have sold five, four at one event and one at another, so it is too early to see how well this will work. Watch for more about this approach to selling.

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