The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book

Most people, like me, are not very good at selling things.

But according to what I’ve learned, there’s really only one true thing about selling your book: You have to do it –  one on one, one at a time.

Unless you’re John Grisham, you’re not going to get a marketing budget, a promotional manager or personal assistant. You’ll have to do it all on your own.

First things first – you’ve got to track your money. Only you know how much it makes sense to spend on things like conventions or advertisements, but to know that you have to have hard data. That means get in the habit of saving your receipts and maybe even setting a budget. Purchase a financial program. But know how much you’re spending – you can use that knowledge to test what works and what doesn’t.

Here’s where you’ll spend that money:


They’re a lot of fun, but can be very pricey. If you travel to one, you need to make not only the price of a table but the cost of your hotel and gas. And consider this: you may also need to make back the time you put into the convention, time that you might otherwise have spent making money in your day job. That’s a tall order, so choose where and how you go wisely. Share costs when possible and if it’s just too much, don’t go. There’s plenty of cons around – you don’t have to fly halfway around the country to sell your book.


For me, the jury is still out on this. When’s the last time you clicked on an Internet ad in order to purchase something? I think I get more traffic from Internet ads directing people to my website where there’s lots of free content that could persuade people to purchase my book, rather than simply a direct link to the page for the book. But I wouldn’t blow my whole budget on an ad – I would spend it on materials first.


Things like postcards, bookmarks or even sample minis – anything you can hand out for free – are an excellent thing to have. Make sure you have contact information on them – at least your website address. These are useful because the number one thing you need to sell your book is …

Person to Person Contact

You can’t avoid it, you have to talk to people in order to sell your book. I’m emailing libraries, I’m calling bookstores and whenever I can I show up in person and just talk to people about my book. Be polite, friendly, clean and respectful. Understand they’re giving you time and be grateful. Know what you want to say before you say it, and be flexible. Come back another time if they’re too busy.
Develop a talk, some kind of simple presentation about a subject you can speak knowledgeably about, and offer your services to libraries. It’s a great way to get your name out there, and you may even earn a bit of money. Have materials ready to hand out, but don’t hand them out blindly – it’ll just end up in the trash.

Getting the book published is only step one – selling it is step two. And if you don’t sell this book, you might not get another deal


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