Trying to figure out how to get your self published books into book stores? Don’t worry about it because you can get more book sales easier and with less effort elsewhere. Some useful tips for you and your book from Mark Victor Hansen, who has sold more than 100 million books so far.
Sure, we all want to look on the shelves at Barnes and Noble and see our books there. It’s thrilling. But it’s really not necessary. I see so many authors waste their time and money paying distributors and driving from store to store, delivering books when they should be selling directly to the public. The Internet makes it possible.
In fact, there are many good reasons NOT to be in bookstores:
- You don’t have to pay a distributor, who will take a cut of your profits.
- You don’t have to worry about shipping and returns.
- You don’t have to fight for shelf space.
In most cases, selling direct to the public, or through bulk sales to institutions, is a much better way to turn your book into a revenue stream. With the Internet, tradeshows and other events, and seminars, you have multiple ways to sell direct, pocket 100% of the profits, and save yourself the hassle of trying to get into Borders.
I also recommend selling on Amazon.com. They do take a substantial chunk of your sales price, but it’s a wonderful way to generate buzz about your book. Otherwise, unless you can truly benefit from the prestige of being on the bookshelves, leave the bookstores to John Grisham and Stephen King.
Pursue bulk sales.
Ninety percent of new authors are only focused with getting people into bookstores to buy their book. And it’s great if you can do that, but I give them all the same advice: do not overlook bulk sales. They can turn your book from a money-loser into a profit center in a few months. Bulk sales are a gold mine.
What do I mean by bulk sales? I mean selling your books in large quantities to an organization, which could mean anything from a corporation to a school district to a non-profit group to a church. You’ll have to give the organization a price break for buying in bulk, but you’ll get dozens, hundreds or even thousands of your books into people’s hands, which dramatically increases your word-of-mouth and viral marketing.
Promoting bulk sales is a pretty straightforward deal. Simply look at your book and ask yourself what companies, organizations or affinity groups would be interested in the book for their employees or members. If you’ve written a book on corporate team building, make a list of corporations where you have personal contacts. If your book is about exercise for seniors, try contacting AARP. And so on. Marketing bulk sales is usually about personal contact, either by letter or direct mail.
When you’re going after bulk sales, try to get to the “gatekeepers,” the people who can make the decisions for a large organization. It makes much more sense to talk to 20 people who have the potential between them to order 10,000 books than to sell them one at a time. Even if you only get orders from three of those gatekeepers, you’ll sell a few thousand books.
Be sure to offer a good bulk rate discount for your bulk buyers. The more books they buy, the bigger the price break. If they buy over 1,000, give them 50% off. You’ll still make money and you’ll start winning readers.
Always build your mailing and e-mail lists.
There are two kinds of lists: physical mailing address lists and e-mail lists, and you should always be building both. They are your promotional lifelines to your potential readers and customers, and everything you do to market your book should have some component that gathers contact information of prospective buyers.
The best way to build your list is quite simple: get people to come to your Website, offer them something of value, and require them to give you (at a minimum) their name and e-mail address to get it. The kinds of things you can offer:
- Downloadable excerpts from your book.
- A subscription to your e-newsletter.
- An advance discount on your book.
- An audio CD or other ancillary product.
Be creative. Is there something that pushes your target audience’s buttons? Offer it to them. This kind of “opt-in” list, where people consent to receiving future information from you, is the gold standard of marketing.
Some other reputable ways you can build your list:
- Take names or business cards at a tradeshow or conference.
- Membership lists from organizations of which you are a member
- Get respected colleagues to e-mail their lists asking their contacts to go to your site to find something of value to them.
But always, always be building your list. And make sure that your database software is solid, proven, regularly maintained, and backed up weekly.