Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hand Selling your Book - or Friends & Relatives

I give a lecture entitled "Adventures in e-Publishing" where I quote a statistic that says most e-published books will sell only 150 copies. After giving my speech to a literary group, a self-published author stayed behind to say he easily had 150 friends and relatives to buy his books. I said, "Exactly". Selling beyond your friends and relatives is the problem.

As it turns out, the most obvious places to sell your book, libraries and bookstores, are the worst, except for those in your own home town where again, you will attract friends and relatives. A recent foray to an out-of-town library where I gave my speech to a tiny audience resulted in no sales at all. I learned I had done well to sell five copies at a Barnes & Noble event - but those who bought were friends.

So what else can an author do? Yeah, yeah, blog tours and blogging though you never know if that has done any good at all. My editor suggested Arts & Crafts fairs. Fortunately, I also paint and had a sidewalk sale coming up. I put my book and myself out there with my works of art and sold seven copies. Granted most sales were again to folks I knew, but a few were not. And a curious things happened. Those who were put off my super hot cover of the half-naked guy bought a little piece of art instead as a sort of compensation sale meaning "I wouldn't be caught dead holding your book, but I will take this charming sketch of a cat". I am not too proud to say it works for me. I came home with $152 in cash having sold an equal number of books and small pieces of art. Best I've ever done at a sidewalk sale.

Can't draw or paint? A newly self-pubbed author had a place two down from mine. He joined the Art Guild to get the free apace and sat there with nothing but a box of books on his card table. He sold them all - probably to friends and relatives, but I have no way of knowing. Caveat: If you have to pay $50 for a booth, probably not worth it unless several authors chip in for the cost.

As for the two gay guys who picked up my free postcards of the half-naked guy on my cover - enjoy.

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