Welcome to the Coach’s Corner! Here at www.selfpublishing.com, we receive lots of questions about almost every stage of the publishing process. Thankfully, one of the questions we hear less often is, “How do I get my books into the bookstore?” Many of you have read Publishing Basics or talked to one of us, and you have realized that as soon as you get your book alongside thousands of others in a bookstore, the question the occasional customer asks is, “This or that?” “Do I want this book or that one?”
Let’s start back at the bookstore. Let’s say that you’ve managed to get your book about real estate investing onto bookstore shelves, alongside the champions of the genre. You’ll probably lose that battle of, “This or that?” because of name recognition or title recognition, or the presence of some glowing endorsements from other names the customer recognizes. You’ve paid a distributor to put your book alongside the best in the business in hopes that someone might passively walk in and choose your book over the bestsellers. You’ll likely be paying shipping costs to get the books sent back to the distributor, too, followed by storage fees. You’re not a big-time traditional publisher, so please don’t try to distribute like them.
You might think the most important question for the customer to answer at your Web site (or book signing, or keynote, or conference meet-and-greet) would be, “Yes or no?” Not so, grasshopper. Why “leave money on the table,” as they say?
The question that can immediately elevate your success is simply, “How many?” “How many copies would you like?” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? It is easier than you might imagine.
Let’s use a children’s book as the first example; a delightful story about Corgi dogs.
When someone comes to your Web site, it’s obviously because the customer has either heard about the book because of some smart marketing or they’ve done a search for a children’s book and “Corgis.” They’re dog folks and Corgi lovers. They are already predisposed to like your book. If the cover is cute and the title strikes a chord with the customer, they’ll likely buy a copy.
If there’s a note about how a portion of proceeds will benefit a dog-lover’s ideal nonprofit, there’s another incentive to buy. What about special gift pricing? Consider mentioning these sales-prompting options:
- Buy two books at regular price and we’ll triple our donation to the benefiting nonprofit organization.
- Purchase three books at regular price and we’ll send you a fourth copy to donate to your local library with our compliments.
- BEST DEAL! Buy four copies at regular price and we’ll send you two additional copies to donate a copy to your local library and to the local elementary school with our compliments.
The best part of the deal is that you’re getting more copies of your book out there into the marketplace. The more books “out there” the more positive word of mouth can be generated, leading to more and more sales.
Remember, too, that creating special editions such as “heirloom” books or offering other special premiums can help you change that question from, “Yes or no?” to “How many?” And that’s where the success can really blossom for you and for your books.
Besides, providing books earmarked for donation to libraries is just another way that you can help your customers pay it forward, with a nice inscription hand-written by you:
This book has been generously provided to this library by Joe & Jane Customer.
The same model can easily be applied to your nonfiction book or novel, poetry, or reference book. Coax the customer to give copies to friends or co-workers, and you can as easily increase your direct sales.