This is my second in a 4-video series on how authors can sell their books directly to customers through different platforms. I’m going to cover 4 different methods, there are dozens and dozens out there, but I am going to only focus on those that I have actually tried so I can share first hand knowledge of set up, pros, and cons.
So this week I’m starting with the one that is the most direct method to sell to customers and that is in person at book signings, conferences, and other events.
How to set it up
First, research book events in your immediate area and also in your genre. There may be a great local book fair that you could apply to or there may be a large conference for books in your genre that you can attend. If you write non-fiction then any industry conferences can also be great. This could be as big as a large scale conference where you would have a booth, to a single table at a local bookstore.
With this, you have to do your research on when these events are happening, their application deadlines, and keep track of local bookstores that you have sent inquires to.
For point of sale you’ll usually need a way to take payment, I use square. But that also means you need WiFi, some events will charge you extra for this. Have cash on hand though too, enough small bills to make change.
You’ll want to bring enough pens for signing and also some candy or snacks. People like food. It will draw them in.
You have a captive audience who likes books or at least has an interest in your topic. It can take a lot of effort and money to target this audience with ads online. But they are right here, in front of you.
You can make a personal connection with the reader. If a reader picks a random book off the shelf at the library, reads it, and likes it. They may give it a good review or just a positive rating and move on. But if they met the author, have a signed copy of the book, and maybe even a photo with the author, well that adds something to the experience. They want to give you that rating and review now because they met you and liked you as a person. They want their friends to know they met and have an autographed copy from a great author. You can connect with your audience on a whole new level which deepens their relationship with you and your work.
We’re living in a COVID world so chances are these kinds of events won’t happen again for a while and when they do they will certainly be different. So TBD on those changes.
Usually, the large conferences require you to apply and pay a fee for the table you will use. On top of that, you usually need to provide a covering for the table (or you have to rent one for a crazy high price). You’ll need to bring way more books with you than you would even expect to sell (selling out is good, but you want to show you have inventory too!) and usually, you want some kind of extra signage to bring people in. So the costs add up pretty quickly. If you only make a few dollars per paperback copy, this could be an endeavor that you lose money on, even if you gain more dedicated and loyal fans.
Taxes on your transactions. So let’s say you sell books at a conference in a major city. You may need to report and remit sales tax to the city AND state where you sold the books in. It’s another hoop to jump through and a reason why online retailers are so nice, they handle all that for you.
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Now you can get back to writing your book!
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