As an author, you may have many opportunities to speak to groups, present at conferences and instruct classes. Making your book available for purchase at these events can build your fan base and put cash in your pocket. Even giving a free talk to a small group can be profitable. I have given many talks at morning meetings where I walked out the door with hundreds of dollars more than I came in with. And they fed me a delicious breakfast, too!
When people have enjoyed hearing you speak, they want to “take you home with them,” figuratively speaking. Your book provides a way for them to do that. However, some speakers sell a lot more books than others. What can you learn from those successful sellers? Here are some tips for making more sales:
Mention your book in your speech. Make reference to information in the book, or things that happened as you were researching and writing the book. Don’t do a hard sell, but weave references into your talk.
People love owning books signed by the author. Offer to sign any books purchased at the event.
If someone else introduces you, have them mention in the introduction and after you speak that you will be signing books at the sales table. It plants the idea in the minds of audience members that your books are for sale.
Donate a portion of sales to the sponsoring organization or a charity they support. When the group that invited you to speak also does fundraisers for their scholarship fund to to make donations to a charity, knowing that some of the money they spend on your books will go to support their cause can make them feel even better about buying your book.
After finishing your talk, immediately head to your sales table. There will be audience members who want to talk with you, so get them to walk while they talk.
Accept as many forms of payment as you can: cash, checks and credit cards. If you have a smart phone, you can use one of the card readers offered by Square, PayPal, Amazon and others to accept credit card payments. Have someone at the table to help you with sales if the group is large. You want to be able to mingle with your fans.
Offer a special. Do you have more than one book? Put together a package of books at a discounted price. To get a premium price, consider adding a service (e.g., a telephone consultation) to the package.
If you speak often, record your talks and sell a recording of your signature talk. Bundle it with your book to increase the amount of your average sale.
Dan Poynter suggests putting a book on each chair. When people have actually held the book, it is more likely that they will buy it. Are you worried about people walking away with the books without paying? It is not likely that will happen, but make sure it is clear that the books are for sale. Put an order form with the book, and mention the forms of payment you accept.
An alternative is to put only a few books out at the sales table. The scarcity (“Oh, there are only five copies. I’d better get one now.”) can drive sales. Of course, you should have a supply of more books kept out of sight.
You will not get everyone to buy, but you may sell to 75% of the audience or more. You can stay in touch with audience members to inform them about future events and book releases by getting their contact information and permission to add them to your mailing list. One way to do this is to ask them to provide a business card or fill out a card to be added to your list. Another is to hold a drawing for a free book and include a place for them to indicate that they would like to be added to your mailing list. Never add someone to your list without permission.
Selling books at the back of the room can be a major source of revenue as well as a way for new fans to discover you. If you do talks or classes, but do not offer your book for sale, you are leaving money on the table. If you are selling, use these tips to increase the number of books you sell at your next event.