According to PubTrack Digital, traditional publishers saw a decline in eBook sales last year compared to the year prior (2018/2017 – 180 million down to 162 million). Part of the reason for that is likely the higher price of the big publishers’ eBooks (mostly at a minimum of $9.99) compared to Independent Authors that are willing to sell at what appears a discount, often $4.95 to $6.95 for excellent books.
Another part of a reduction in volume for the TD’s is Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, which allows readers to pay a monthly fee of $9.99 to read all the books they can stomach each month. The selection is huge but dominated by Independent Authors. You won’t find Stephen King’s or Lee Child’s latest, but the Best Selling Lists are showing more and more KU choices. And, there are millions of eBooks available now.
So, why would anyone buck the trend and try to sell paperbacks? Because there’s good money in them if you have a sound plan for distribution. There are many paperback printers, but you might be encouraged to learn that using Kindle Create is a simplified way of making quality paperbacks. And, you’ll also be happy to hear that the price, delivered to your home or office, is under $5 for most books.
Color – pictures – odd sizes – can impact your price. However, people don’t mind paying $14.95 to even $19.99 for high-quality paperbacks. If you sell them on Amazon, you’ll probably make about $5 each from regular sales and half that from extended distribution (when bookstores order your books). But if you sell them locally, and do some creative marketing, you can get the best of both worlds: local sales, and sales at Amazon of your book in paperback and eBook!
Your Investment in Paperback Copies
Yes, you’ll have to invest in actual copies of your paperback, but marketing is more important than anything these days. Once you’ve written a wonderful story, had it professionally edited, and paid for a stunning cover, you’ll be ready. When you are, keep in mind there are three things important here.
You have to balance your marketing between different media to get good coverage and attract readers from a wide spectrum of the population.
You have to spend cautiously so you can bank some money from the sales you get after your initial push to tell the world about your latest work.
No amount of marketing will sell a bad book.
Your Local Book Marketing Program
Unless you have a huge budget for marketing your latest book, consider starting with a local campaign. This involves more of your time than your money, but the results can be quite extraordinary. And, books (and movies) sell because of word-of-mouth. If nobody knows about your book, how is anybody going to find it and buy it?
The plan is to be on the phone and in your car every day for the next month. Can’t commit? Don’t expect to sell many copies. Follow this list and you’ll get a great start on selling your book.
Call every radio station in town and tell them you are a local author with a new book, and you want to bring in some copies for the DJ’s and as giveaways for the station’s listeners. The promotions department or a sales associate may arrange for you to do an interview, probably over the phone, and you are on your way!
Keep in mind that they may want you to do some advertising. It’s up to you. Locally produced, small-market stations may charge as little as $5 for a 30-second advertisement.
Call every newspaper or print media outlet in town and tell them you just finished your book, you are a local author, and you’d like to bring a copy to the entertainment or book reviewer. You might do this in person, but it’s tough to catch these people actually at their desk! Some of them may be just as happy with an eBook. That’s alright. It’s cheaper for you, but signing a copy to a columnist seems to work better with paperbacks!
Go to every bookstore in a 100-mile radius and introduce yourself, maybe even buy a book, and bring a copy of your new book for the store owner or manager. And, ask about doing a book signing. The store may be willing to accommodate you, and it might even pitch-in to pay for part of a snappy ad in print that you use to announce your book signing.
Nice posters that can go in the store’s windows will help. When you do the signing, bring a friend who will stand by the table and talk with you, holding a copy of your book as though they just had it autographed – this greatly increases the chances that other people will stop by. People are a bit intimidated by meeting an author and don’t want to be the center of attention when they stop to look.
Talk with everyone you know at work or in your social circle. These people are your first link to book sales in other areas and different groups. You may want to give away a dozen or more copies of your book to these people, and if you are lucky, you may be able to set-up a short talk about your book with a church group, gardening club, women’s club – whomever you can connect with through your first circle of friends. It’s a great chance to sell lots of books directly to buyers.
I’ve sold thousands of books first-hand. Readers enjoy meeting authors, and you’ll be able to autograph the copies and get full-price for the books. I’ve offered a kick-back (I mean fee) to the organizers.
If you have gotten some mentions on radio stations, in local print media (oh, maybe even TV news shows), you’ve gotten a great start on marketing your book locally. And, while you may have spent the bulk of your marketing dollars, you hit a wide spectrum of the population. Now, your book has to go to the next step on its own merits. If it is a good read, your friends, neighbors, and buyers from local book stores will spread the news about your book, and new sales will come from outside your local area. Good for you!
You can accomplish all of these steps in just a month, and you can sell a good number of books, many at a full retail price directly to buyers. That makes a big difference. I remember selling two cases (96 books) to a plumbing supply company because the owner’s wife liked the story and she wanted to give the books away to their best customers. And, she insisted on paying full retail. Selling $1500 worth of books to a single buyer is a nice rush! You can have similar success.