Recently, someone asked me if it isn’t expensive to stock copies of your book. Don’t most people just sell books online?
Yes, it’s expensive if you buy them and never sell them. They sit around collecting dust in the garage. You have to hand-sell them, which means finding new people.
Fortunately, I have a sales job which requires cold calling. The other day I dropped in at a small bookstore in Niles, MI. I told the lady behind the counter I loved bookstores because I’m a writer. I handed her my card, which has my cover image on it. She asked what it was about, and I told her briefly. “I’d like to read it,” she said. “I have some in the trunk,” I said. “How much are they? I don’t have cash.”
“Not a problem… I can take credit cards.”
I sold the book.
I started with an order for 200 copies. It takes a LONG time to hand-sell 200 copies, but the return on investing roughly $1000 in 200 copies is pretty good, even compared to the stock market, even if it takes 5 years. So last September I fulfilled my Kickstarter orders, and began the arduous process of hand-selling the rest. I’ve sold two to four copies a month. Recently I completed a sale (of my day-job product) to a therapist. His office was decked out in all things pertaining to American bison. Pictures, little sculptures, even coasters. White Buffalo Gold was an easy sell. “I have some in my trunk, I’ll show you.” I read on another author’s blog that when hand-selling you should literally put the book in someone’s hands. It’s hard to give it back or say no. Also, have a method of payment for credit and debit cards with you at all times. Square is a decent option if your volume is under $1500/ mo. If you’re over that, you should contact me (I sell credit card payment systems, that’s my day job.)
I think it’s important to have your books with you. I figure if people like me and like fiction, they will like my fiction.
If I told the bookstore lady or the therapist to buy it online and walk out the door, my odds of completing a sale go down drastically. Yes, you want to sell books online. The more you sell online, the more online traffic you drive. But hand-selling is fun, the margin is better, and you get to sign the book and make a new friend.