I am still new to the fiction writing market. Although I’ve been writing my whole life through my journalism career and media business, I am a debutante self-published author. Since launching my debut novel Write About Me last year, I have stumbled and raced at rapid speed around the steep learning curve of selling books.
Today I had an enlightening conversation with my most favourite stockists of Write About Me as I hand-delivered their 8th order of books in 6 months. This has prompted me to share with other bookstores and stockists of books the art of selling paperbacks for new authors.
Selling books is not rocket science, but the reality is that books don’t sell themselves unless of course you are Jodi Picoult, J.K. Rowling or Hannah Kent. But until an author reaches global domination, they need to be continually working with their stockists at how to best reach their target market – readers.
Hint 1. Just because you are stocking a fantastic book which is a #1 bestseller, has been seen on television, in newspapers, magazines and every social media platform known to man (as is the case with Write About Me) – doesn’t mean your customers will have heard of it. Talk to your customers about the book, let them know you have a #1 bestseller in your store. This will immediately get their attention.
Hint 2. Ask the author for signed copies. If a customer knows it is personally signed they will be more inclined to purchase.
Hint 3. Keep in touch with your authors. Know what they’re up to. Follow them on Facebook, twitter, Instagram or whatever social media platform is your favourite. That way you can share with your customers all the excitement that’s happening around that book and any future books they’re working on.
Hint 4. Read the book. Know what it’s about so you can tell your customers a little bit more about it. Share some of the highlights and pass on what others are saying about it. Write a review and stick it to the shelf in front of the books. Invite your customers to submit reviews and stick them to the shelf.
Hint 5. Be realistic about how many you can sell. If you’ve genuinely made the decision to stock the book, it is in your best interest to sell as many as you can so you can collect your commission. But don’t expect every book to sell out on the first day. Just because your author is not Bryce Courtenay or Stephen King, doesn’t mean their book is not a great read. It just takes a little more effort to spread the word.
It makes sense for stockists and authors to work together to sell books – it’s a win win for both. You never know, your debut author might be the next big thing to hit the book scene. And you can be rest assured, it will be the stockists who went the extra mile to sell 50 books that your author will remember when she’s selling 50,000.