When authors call me to inquire about publishing or marketing services for their books, they are often stumped by one of my questions. When I ask about the sales process for the book, the phone line goes silent.
It is understandable. Most authors are so thrilled to have their manuscripts completed that they have not been able to look past getting that final page written. Many are not familiar with the term sales process, especially when it pertains to books. Thinking about the sales process may not be as thrilling as dreaming about appearing on the cover of a magazine or interviewing on the Today Show.
Yet, the sales process is a crucial ingredient to your book’s success.
Simply put, the sales process is the path that your book buyers will take to get your book into their hands.
There are several different options available. You may:
- Sell your book on your website and personally mail it to buyers
- Sell your book on your website and pay someone to ship it to buyers
- Sell your book on your website and hire a distribution company to ship it
- Sell your book on Amazon.com and other online book sellers who will mail your book directly to buyers
- Hire a book distributor to market your book to bookstores and other wholesale outlets as well as ship books to both individual buyers and stores
- Seek a traditional publisher who will handle all the sales and distribution in exchange for the lion’s share of the profits
- Sell your book electronically for reading on Kindle, Nook, iPad, and other electronic readers
There are a few very basic things to consider as you contemplate these options:
- How much time do you have? If you are very busy, you may not want to do your own shipping. However, this can be a good job for a responsible teen or college student.
- Where do your ideal readers shop? If the majority of your target readers buy books in a bookstore, then it is important for you to seek bookstore distribution. If they buy online, you can go directly to Amazon.com and other online booksellers and by-pass the challenges of securing a distributor for your book.
All these options may feel overwhelming. Just breathe and know that if you work with a publisher or book coach, she will help you explore all these options and decide which ones are best for you and for your ideal readers. If you haven’t considered your sales process yet, know that you can select the options that meet your needs as well as the needs of your readers.
Study your own preferences. Do you buy books online or in stores? Or, do you just buy books to read electronically? Most of us write for a reader very similar to ourselves, so start your research into the book buying habits of your ideal readers by examining your own likes and dislikes, and then do additional research on your target market.
I recommend that you use a combination of approaches including sales on your own website and at personal appearances, Amazon.com and other electronic book sellers, plus offering your book in Kindle and eReader formats. When you create a combination, you can reach the majority of book buyers.
What’s your biggest question about your book’s sales process?