How to Sell your First Hardback Novel
As a first time novelist I thought of a method to sell my hardback books before they arrived from the printer. It’s a good thing because it’s pretty hard to get them sold in a bookstore especially if you’re a self-published author. A news item once cited that the average mid-list author from a publishing house only sells about five books in a book store during his signing day. Unless, of course, he has a superstar name. Under my system, I sold between 15 to 27 books at $25 each during each seven-hour sale day. And the income, minus vendor lease space costs and year-end taxes, was all mine.
Where? How? Simple. I got a vendor stand and state license, tent and sold them on weekends at festivals, fairs, and community market days in the central Texas area. And I had never sold anything before. I had neat, inexpensive posters that listed what the novel was about and placed photos and reviews all over my vendor stand to attract attention. These fairs are usually held on Saturdays once a month. During a time period of about three years, I sold approximately 2,000 books in two hardback editions during this part-time sales effort.
The best part of this was that I got to interact with my buyers, before and after the sale, when nearly a quarter of them would see my booth at future fairs and come over to personally tell me about how much they enjoyed the book, some saying they stayed up reading till 5 a.m. the next morning to finish It. I knew then I had a winner.
And this is important. When a person comes over to your booth to look it over, get up and talk to them, offering to tell them what the book is about. Don’t be silent, thinking the buyer will talk first. He’ll probably look and leave.
But don’t order too many books at the start until you see how they sell. Maybe even try Print on Demand. I took a big chance by ordering 1,000 books at the start. But I’ve been a professional writer for decades and I felt my debut book was good.
Guest post by A.F. Ebbers, a journalism graduate of Ohio University was a reporter/writer for major newspapers, ad agencies, and in public relations for Cessna Aircraft Company. He also graduated from Army Flight School and flew for the Ohio and Kansas Army National Guards. Later he was called to active duty and served two flying tours in Vietnam. After retirement from the military, he flew for corporations and for regional airlines. A dual rated ATP pilot, he has written for numerous national magazines, Sunday supplements and trade and travel magazines and has written screenplays and short stories. Today he lives with his wife in the Austin, Texas area and, when not writing, enjoys tennis, flying and piano. Dangerous Past is his debut novel.