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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

Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book

jhorsley3's picture

I agree, I am at the end of betting my first book published and the next step is selling it and I am racking my BRAIN on how the hell to do this. I have some ideas, and I hope they work.

~ jhorsley3

Web-Comic -

Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book


You've spelt 'travelled' wrongly!


Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Perhaps you're not aware of one of American English's spelling differences with the UK?

Cheerios to you sir! :)

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book

I looked at WOWIO a bit, but I haven't had a chance to in depth.
Tom Spurgeon brings up a good point over at the Comics Reporter:
"the notion floated that only giant authors receive publicity support. There are a lot of fine, hard-working PR people that work at smaller and boutique publishers. For that matter, there are a lot of ineffective douchebags that work at big publishers, too."
That's a valid point, and it's probably worth noting that I glossed over that issue in order to address what the individual author needs to do.
There are things that my publisher does regarding publicity, and if I was at a larger publishing house I would have access to a marketing department. But, from what I've learned from authors who have been in this position, you can't just rely on the PR department. For one thing, there's just not enough of them for all the authors a pub house might have.
Now, there is a third way: You could personally hire a PR person. There are people who do that. But you should seriously vet the person you're looking at - get references and ask to see results of their work (newspaper clippings, radio interviews, etc.)
But even if you hire someone, it does not replace the kind of things you personally need to do. And those are the kind of things that I've addressed in the article.

Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book

WOWIO has made some changes lately that have reduced the amount of cash coming in, but they never asked for my CCard.  The closest comparison I can think of is my request to Drive Thru Comics to get paid monthly via PayPal.  The digital comics are bringing in enough cash to cover expenses and chip away at those huge printing bills.

Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book

 All good advice. I had much better luck getting people to read my webcomic online than selling books to fans online or at conventions. Project Wonderful is very good for that.


I'm one of those people who bolted from WOWIO. They wouldn't accept my email address, and I wouldn't give them my credit card number.


Re: The Road Less Traveled: Selling the Book


I've had a load of luck with Project Wonderful ads.  I sell them on the SideChicks page at Graphic Smash for a coin here and there.  I buy skyscraper ads on other sites to send people here and there.   At best, I managed a 2%- 3% click rate on like-minded pages like the Wayfarer's Moon strip.  And I almost never spend more than a buck or two per ad buy.

As far as making a buck here and there, WOWIO is a pretty good earner for giving away product.  Unfortunately, the click to download rate at WOWIO is another 2%- 3%, so when people get there, most of them bolt.