Once Published, Books Don’t Sell Themselves

I wish I had a dollar for every author who thought that once his/her book was published, Oprah would be sending the limo immediately. The truth is, that’s not going to happen. Nor are a lot of other expectations authors have for selling their books–unless the author creates a buzz about his/her book.

Last week I had the honor of speaking to the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association. I was one of three presenters. One spoke on products, one spoke on Internet sales, and I spoke on book writing/book publishing/book marketing. The audience ended up being 50 percent more than had signed up. It was an energizing day.

There were many questions, but the recurring question was about marketing.

I told the audience the worst place to sell a book is the bookstore. Not only do bookstores take 55 percent of the cover price, but they return (no matter what the book’s condition) unsold books to you for FULL credit. That means you end up with books that are basically unsaleable and you lost money because you paid shipping to boot!

Not only do you pay a hefty premium to be in bookstores, but your book competes with all the other books in the store for the consumer’s dollar. Why would someone find your book and buy it when they can find so many books they’ve already heard about elsewhere?

So, what can you do to sell your book? Place them in other types of stores where they stand out. For example, if you have a gift book,  place it in a gift store. Fishing book? Sporting goods store. Parenting book? Children’s clothing or toy store. Well, you get the idea. Even better, try to hold an event/book signing in that store.

What else can you do? Write articles based on your book and make sure you get a tag line that mentions your book. You can submit your articles to any number of places on the Internet. Create a video (called a book trailer) about your book and put it on the Internet. Create a website for your book and offer ideas/guides for book groups to use your book. Entire books are written on book marketing, but I’ve given you a jumpstart on thinking about ways to market.

With technology today, you have more opportunities than ever to get the word out about your book.  People buy authors, but they won’t buy you if they don’t know about you.

Happy writing!

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4 Responses to “Once Published, Books Don’t Sell Themselves”


  1. 1 Carol Ann Hoel February 15, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    When does a writer begin buzzing about the book? Mine has at least another round of revision before I query. Blessings…

    • 2 expertbookpublishing February 17, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      You can formulate a marketing plan anytime. But until you have a publisher, don’t begin marketing your book. Royalty publishers can take 12 to 18 months to get a book into the marketplace and if you start marketing your book to the general public too soon, you risk it not being available when people are ready to purchase it.

      It’s difficult to find a royalty publisher in today’s environment, which is just one reason authors are finding alternative publishing a good option. The time is shortened, the author has more control, and the author gets a bigger reward (remember, royalties pay the author 5 to 10 percent of the net, or about 30 cents per book SOLD on a $10.00 book, after the literary agent gets his/her commission).

      You’ll want to market your first book with gusto so your royalty publisher is interested in publishing subsequent books, but you’ll want to look to your literary agent to negotiate a good contract for you. Having a good book marketing plan will definite help that negotiation.

  2. 4 Geoffrey May 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm

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