Self-publishing skills: Selling your books

Welcome back to another look into the skills you’ll need as a self-publishing author. Last time we looked at publicity, now let’s look at selling your newly made book. Remember you can subscribe to get the latest blog posts direct to your inbox!

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We spoke last time about publicity. Let’s talk now about, what you do when people start wanting to buy your book. How do you sell books and how do you get them out there?

Selling e-books is relatively simple, especially if you are using Amazon’s own processes. There are, of course, other e-book selling platforms. Again, these are all relatively straightforward processes, uploading your typeset manuscript and cover designs to be automatically created into an e-book to be sold.

Once you have all the appropriate files uploaded, your payment details set up, it’s easy for readers to buy your book. There are no physical books to move around from printers, to warehouses, to readers.

But not everyone wants an e-book. Some people, and I count myself amongst them, love the feel of a real book, the space on the bookshelf for that one book.

Physical book sales need to be managed carefully, otherwise you’ll end up with a shed full of books you cannot sell. (Trust me – I have a draw full of my first attempt!)

Gone are the days of self-publishing authors being forced to order thousands of copies only to gather dust at the bottom of the garden shed. Now, print on demand (POD) services are available and are far more cost effective, as well as being far more environmentally friendly. These services hold a copy of your book and only print a copy when a reader requests it. No waste, no held stock, no unwanted printing costs.

Print on demand is great for online platforms but if you want to get your books into bricks and mortar shops, you’re going to have to do somethings differently.

Don’t expect to get your book into the big chains. It’s tough; nearly impossible. Start small. Local, independent bookshops are likely to buy your book, if you offer them big discounts, or offer to take your book on a sale or return basis. But before you can do this, you’ll need some physical books.

Most POD services will allow the writer to buy copies of their book at a discounted rate. You’ll want some books in hand before you begin approaching bookshops and other retailers, in case they say yes there and then! But, again, start small.

If you have worked in sales, or a similar industry, you are going to be used to the next step. Approaching a bookshop asking them to stock your book can be incredibly scary! Be brave!

But that’s not the only way you can sell your books.

Friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, the regulars down the Nag’s Head, whoever you meet might be a customer. Make sure you tap every possible contact when trying to sell your book. And here, it’s important you have physical copies of your book. Not only does it mean you’ll actually make a sale (you have to rely on someone going to Amazon, finding your book and then buying it) it also means you get to keep far more of the profit!

Generating sales, whether of e-book or physical books, is hard. Without the weight of a publisher behind you, you’ll be doing a lot of the legwork. You cannot sit back and expect sales to come to you, you have to get out there, get meeting people and start selling.

It’s tough, you’ll meet a lot of rejections, but don’t worry – you’re an author! You’re selling books! Well done you.

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Published by Nick Taylor | Editor & Proofreader

Editor, proofreader and writer. Available for hire!

5 thoughts on “Self-publishing skills: Selling your books

  1. Nick! Let me say that even with a publisher, most of the leg work is done by the author. Few publishers will actively “spruik” your paperback unless you are making a lot of sales. They have to justify the hours spent with the profit from your works. These days, with POD (print on demand) there’s little profit in paperbacks if one wants to stay competitive in the market. Big publishers, with a guaranteed market, might print 10,000 copies ready to distribute. The cost is very low. However, with print on demand, each copy is expensive to print, especially if it’s a one-off for a single customer.

    Make contacts in local bookstores. If you write for a niche market, like the, search out gay bookstores (many still exists around the world). Also, think of other publishing avenues other than Amazon, who will do little to push your book unless you get lots of reviews, no matter the quality of your writing. They don’t even promote you in the “Customers who bought this item also bought” at the bottom of the page when you’re looking at a specific book based on the number of sales.

    Think more broadly. Smashwords and Ingram Spark (it’s expensive to publish through them as you have to buy an ISBN, and they don’t sell them cheaply). The beauty of Ingram Spark is that any bookshop in the world can order in paperbacks at trade prices and put them on the shelf. That doesn’t happen via Amazon. The bonus is that your books can be distributed both by Smashword and Ingram Spark to major book retailers, like Barnes and Noble, and believe it or not, Target.

    Think outside the Amazon box for paperbacks.

    Liked by 1 person

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