Thursday, September 24, 2009

Selling Author Copies – A How-To

It is very important to us that our authors sell copies of their book at service club events, library talks, and conventions. It’s a great way for the author to get exposure and earn some extra money. We have authors who go through hundreds of copies of their books this way each year. Also, each copy they sell themselves will lead to a sale through another source down the road, so it’s beneficial all the way around.

I’ve received a lot of questions from authors lately about the process so I made a Tip Sheet that we will be giving to each new author. I’ve included the contents of it below for anyone who may find it useful.

  • Always bring a cash box with you to an event. Keep this close to you on the table, away from customers and people browsing or, ideally, under the table.

  • Have change (lots of $1s and $5s and some $10s) in your cash box before the event so you can easily make change in the correct denominations for customers. Write down this starting amount beforehand so when you count your money at the end of the event, you can verify you aren’t short.

  • Print out a small sign that says “Make Checks Payable To __________” and prop it up on the table for people who are writing checks. This will save most people from asking you who they should make a check out to, or at least give them something to refer to as they write your name or company name on the check.

  • Count the number of books you have before the event starts. Bring a receipt book or tally sheet so you can track how many copies you sell. After the event, count the number of books you have left and your earnings and refer to your receipt book/tally sheet to make sure that everything reconciles.

  • Only keep a few copies or a small stack of books nicely displayed on the selling table. These are copies that people can pick up and flip through. Keep the rest of the books that you are selling under or behind the table. Hand these to customers after they make their purchase so that their copy is brand new, and people aren’t walking off with unaccounted for copies.

  • If you have a long line of customers, it helps to have two lines: one where customers purchase the book from someone who is helping you collect money and a second line the customer gets in after making their purchase to get the book signed by you. This keeps everything moving smoothly and avoids a jam at the table when people want to chat as you personalize their copy.

  • If you are selling books in the state where you live and that state has sales tax, you need to charge state sales tax. Find out that amount. The easiest way to collect sales tax is to add tax into the price you are selling the book for. For example, if you live in California with 8.25% sales tax, sell a $32.95 book for $35.67 in California.

  • If you can, always bring an extra person or two along with you to help manage the table (collect money, answer questions, take photos, etc.) so that you can spend the most time possible with customers signing their books.


J David Petruzzi said...

Sarah, fantastic tips! I would also recommend another thing:

Set up a PayPal account. Bring your laptop with wireless internet connection (I have a Verizon aircard so I have a connection no matter where I am). This way you can accept credit cards, debit cards, and EFT's. Ideally, someone else would run the computer for you. At the CWPT convention that Steve Stanley and I attended in June in Gettysburg, the vast majority of our sales were credit cards. People just don't travel with a lot of cash. Of the sales of nearly 100 books in two days, probably 70 of them were with credit cards. Imagine how many sales we would have missed without the laptop and PayPal.

Whenever possible and feasible, I bring it with me to events. Steve and I have used it at 4 events this year, and we have processed the sale of well over 100 books using PayPal.

Definitely worth considering.


Sarah Keeney said...

Thanks, J.D. That's a great idea, and definately something every author should do if at all possible.