Let me clarify something. Most of a self-published author’s books will NOT be sold by an organizational book-seller. The exception will be those authors who are published by a publishing house linked to the book-seller. Don’t misunderstand. Any book-seller wants to sell your book and is willing to do so if it fits their strategy. It is helpful to both you and the book-seller if 50,000 books sell through their efforts. But, the odds are against this happening.
Think – If It’s to Be, It’s Up to Me!
Consider the books sold to an organizational bookseller as icing on your cake. Self-published authors should see themselves as a book- marketer, book-seller, and author. Little marketing will come from elsewhere. The process of actually selling your book will rest on you.Marketing and sales are things I do not enjoy but these are a necessary part of getting people to read my books. In time, there are people who can help with some of this. I’ll talk more about such options in a later post.
Preparing for 21st Century Financial Transactions
Few people carry cash. For 11 years, I led North American Missions for the United Pentecostal Church, International (UPCI). Often, I’d fly out of St. Louis on a missions trip with $5 in my pocket. Welcome to the new norm. Few people have any cash!
If you want to sell books, be ready for non-cash transactions. If the only way to do business with you is cash, you won’t do much business!
Also, few people carry or use checks. In our own personal life, there are months when Norma and
I write no more than three checks. Fifteen years ago my checkbook was always with me, today I’m not sure where the checkbook is. If your hope is for people to write a check, few are prepared to do so.Get your book-selling effort ready to take debit and credit cards when you are selling at an event. Square, Apple-Pay, and other such options are now available. Square is my preference. It is what I started out using. With any such tool:
- There is setup time to get your bank information connected with the credit card company.
- It involves a small learning curve.
Square has been good for me because it is easy to use and there is a low transaction cost. Some acquaintances are negative toward Square due to the length of time to resolve a dispute. It can also be hard to actually talk to a real live person at many such companies.Square uses a smartphone or tablet. with a data connection. The data connection can be the internet or via the data plan on your phone or tablet. Here is what the process will look like when you make a sale on Square:
- A customer selects items to buy and brings them to check-out.
- Square permits you to load your inventory into the application. So you touch the items this person has bought. An alternate course, that I follow is to add up the items that have been purchased. I do it this way because at times I’ll offer single day discounts. It is easier to not always be updating prices in the inventory.
- The sale is totaled.
- You inform the customer what the charge it. A few pay with cash or check, most hand you a credit or debit card.
- You will have attached a dongle device (like what is pictured) to your phone or tablet. The dongle plugs in where headphones would go.
- You slide the debit or credit card through the slot on the device. It immediately lets you know if the card was read,
- If it did not read, the card is “swiped” through the slot again. On occasion, you will have to key in the numbers on the card.
- The Square app will ask for the customer’s zip code and the security numbers on the card.
- You input the requested numbers. Upon verification of these numbers, the transaction completes.
- The customer signs on the screen of the phone or tablet and an emailed receipt goes to the customer.
- Normally, within two days the funds for that transaction minus the fees will be in your account.
Some of you are doing more of this sort of selling than I am these days. If you have updated suggestions for other ways to do this, please provide them in the comments.I’d like to know what is working best for you. I’ve several upcoming conferences and events and would like to adjust my approach if there is something more convenient.
Now we move into what has become my “bread and butter.” Because I don’t travel as much these days, my market comes to me through on-line sales. I’ve two advantages over some authors:
- A tiny bit of name recognition. This exists in a relatively tiny slice of the North American population. But name recognition of this particular sort shrinks as quickly as last week’s birthday balloon.
- More important is my having written 22 books. It is worthwhile for me to have a website, use direct mail and consistently market. I’ve got more than one product to sell. This is important. I encourage those of you with a book or two out there: keep writing!
To sell from your website, or through Facebook you must be able to accept digital payment. I’m sure there are ways to setup to accept credit cards at your site. I’ve opted to use Paypal. Paypal is simple. It allows people who don’t have a Paypal account to pay using their debit or credit card. Also, the transaction is instantaneous. You have your funds in hand, before the books ship. So far, Paypal has worked well for me.
If you sell online and have experience using other approaches please share what you know. What we are dealing with is the nuts and bolts of being able to sell books. The majority of the future market will be online.
Phone orders and pre-paid mail orders are rare. I receive two mail orders per year.
Websites and “apps” are regularly being updated. The technology changes. Such changes are frustrating, but your site has to stay current. If you don’t stay current, you may lose the ability to sell anything for several days. Going forward, there will likely need to be options besides Paypal for online sales.
Books sold on consignment
There are a few opportunities to sell books on consignment. Consignment sales need for you to trust those you are consigning your books to. An example of a consignment sale is working with a sister organization. A friend who leads a missions effort has taken my books to promote at their national and regional events. It was his idea as a way to help fund the organization’s missions vision. It has gone well and 40% of the sales price stays with him. Such a consignment tapped a market I did not have access to. I’d like to have more partnerships. Anyone interested in such a partnership should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few church bookstores stock books on a consignment basis. In one instance, I keep their inventory at a consistent level. Each quarter, they inventory the remaining books and send me 60 percent of the retail price. This has been mutually beneficial.
Books sold to larger organizational publishers and booksellers
There was a time when organizational booksellers were the primary opportunity for selling books. This is no longer the case. The changing world of print on demand will likely bring into existence a new marketing paradigm. Even now, many self-published authors do not sell through an organizational book-seller. Since addressing the call to write several authors who had been unknown to me have made contact. Few of these authors sell ANY books through an organizational publisher.
When selling to such a book-seller, an average writer can expect to sell 50 or 100 copies of a new book. My disciple-making tools, Take Root or Bear Fruit are different. They generate repeat sales. Such books will be the exception to the numbers I’ve mentioned.
Such booksellers pay an author 55% of the retail price of the book. These are not consignment sales. Upon delivery and invoicing, a check is sent.
2017 is here. Sunday I preached to CalvarySpringfield.church on closing accounts and budgeting forward. Where are we in the account of self, the account with other people and finally in our account with God? What do we want to reallocate as we go forward?
As you lead a church, it is also time to think and to apply. How many of last year’s converts are no longer present? We can do better. Take a look at my “Not an Ostrich Packet.” I guarantee the resource’s benefit or your money back. You will get to keep the resources!
But here is the thing – if you don’t follow my plan to make disciples find some system and use it. Create your own . . . but don’t let Jesus spiritual babies die.You can provide care for the newcomers to the church!