Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tools That Have Helped Me Sell Books

Following up on last week’s blog about becoming a writing entrepreneur, I want to focus on something I started doing in earnest about five years ago, which is to sell my six titles at farmer’s markets and craft fairs.

It didn’t take much research to learn that there are many opportunities to sell books beyond the traditional stores. A couple of crafting friends encouraged me to try at my local Curves’ Christmas fair back then. I enjoyed it so much that they gave me the names of other fairs.

Handselling at these types of events has been much more fun than standing behind a table in a bookstore trying to draw people in. Craft fair customers are never in rush and take the time to chat, to ask about my books. Some of my customers include teachers who buy copies for their school library, others belong to book clubs. I’ve landed a few great speaking engagements from customers who’ve invited me to speak at their organizations.

In addition to an attractive table covering and book display, I’ve found other useful tools along the way. First, professional business cards and bookmarks are a must. Growing numbers of customers want to know if my books are available on Kindle or Kobo. Taking away a reminder could definitely result in future sales.

Second, have an eye-catching banner made. Many of the fairs and trade shows provide curtains to attach banners to, and I constantly see customers looking at those signs before approaching a table. Third—and this one has really improved sales—use Square or something similar to conduct credit card transactions.

Square was recommended to me a couple of years ago and is easy to use on an ipad or my iphone. The first winter I used it was at a huge Christmas craft fair. One woman bought $75.00 worth of books on her card. Without Square that sale would have been lost.

Today, I was at a smaller, four-hour event. Over 50% of my sales were made through Square. I hate to think where I’d be without it. They’re inexpensive to buy (in fact, your $10 investment is refunded by Square) and easy to set up even for luddites like me. Square takes a tiny percentage of each sale, but money from those transactions (for which Square takes a tiny percentage) is always in my account by Monday morning.

If you want to sell print copies of your books, don’t rely just on the traditional means. There are plenty of other ways that can be fun and profitable.

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