The only way I have been able to sell my books is in person, directly to a potential reader.
When I did the math, I realized that I could order my books, mark them up and sell them cheaper than someone could buy them from Amazon, when you factored in the cost of shipping.
Here’s an example: For me to order a copy of Local Rag costs $4.40 CA, plus $2.43 shipping = $6.83 For anyone else to buy a copy of Local Rag from Amazon Canada costs $13.29, plus $4.98 shipping, plus GST 91¢ = $18.95 The difference is $12.12 (I don’t have to collect the GST because my sales are under $30,000 annually).
If I deduct the $2.86 royalty from my Amazon sale, I'm still ahead $9.26. I can offer a $2.00 discount to the purchaser and make more than $4.00 more than I get from a sale on Amazon.
About a year ago, I started researching venues where I could sell my books in person. I rejected flea markets and other events unrelated to literature and soon found opportunities to participate in public readings and talks. You speak briefly about your book or a related topic and sell your work after the event while mingling with the audience.
I took it a step further and developed mini-seminars in self-publishing and memoir writing which I conducted free. The audience was very sales friendly. This system worked at book fairs as well, but since the table rental had to be taken into consideration, I had to be a little more aggressive.
In sales, it’s essential to engage the customer, so you have to get out from behind the table and chat up the passers-by. I printed up cheap bookmarks to give away, had them fill out an entry form (don’t forget their email address) for a free draw of some of my books, and talked about the event, even the other authors.
I’ve made a living at direct sales so this is second nature to me, but even so it was exhausting and not a lot of fun.
After six months I had a decision to make. I now had lots of opportunities to speak, teach and sell my books, but I needed to invest in more stock. If I ordered more books, I’d have to get out there and flog them.
I decided I’d had enough.
So what have I learned?
Selling a book is a lot like writing one. There’s no easy way,
and nobody can do it for you.
Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.
Amazon Author Page (still the easiest way to sell books)