The Book Sales Process: An overlooked and important consideration for your book

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?

Comments 35

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  • Thanks so much for the great post, Lynne. The sales process is a bit overwhelming, but it is a very important part of a successful book experience. What I wrestle with most is which marketing activities will produce the highest return on investment.

    Keep up the great work!

    Brian Bartes

  • Hi Lynne,
    Great article and advice – your final paragraph was especially helpful. Regarding the sales process, what advice or tips do you have to sustain sales after the book has launched? Thanks!

    Tor Constantino

  • How do you protect an ebook from being copied?

    • Hi Bob-

      There is some software you can purchase to protect ebooks from copying but people are sometimes sneaky and may still copy your information. Knowing that, you may want to ensure that your ebook has plenty of invitations back to your website to opt in to your list. In that way, it can become a lead generator even if it is illegally passed around. Then, save your most important information for print books or courses that you teach personally, ensuring your content is protected in that way.
      Good question!

  • Your emails always encourage me, inform me and point me in a positive direction. Thank you and keep them coming!

  • Hi Lynn,
    I think this is great advice. As you say, whether using a traditional publisher or self-publishing you need to take sales and marketing into account and participate 100%. I’m working on a plan now for my first book and always voraciously devour your advice!
    Thanks!
    Anne

    • Thanks Ann!

      You are so wise to be working on your marketing plans now. That bodes well for the success of your book.

  • I enjoyed this article on the different ways to see our book. Thank you very much. The information that you share is super.
    I also wanted to tell you that I have really enjoyed seeing the new photos of you. They are excellent and the one that is on this page is totally outstanding. It’s a great look for you with super color cordination between accessories and your top. Way to go.
    Lee

  • Lynne,

    You did fantastic on the Liftime interview. Nice hair style too. Congradulations!

    Frank Lane

  • Thanks Lynne. I will be a first-time published author in May and it’s very exciting! Your article gave me some great ideas as to how to market and sell this book. You’re right, it’s one thing to actually have the book in your hand. It’s a completely different thought process as far as getting it into others’ hands.

  • Hi Lyn
    My website is still being rehashed. Lyn, how do I format my book for Kiddle, iPod and ereader format? I’d like to put my book on Amazon and Fishpond (Aust) but don’t know how.

  • Hi,

    I’m writing a book “Invisible Forces” about Quantum Physics and Energy Healing,Manifesting and creating our reality. (that is rough and short) I was thinking of young people, especially high school kids would be my main readers, but that seems maybe just a dream as these people neither read a lot nor buy books. But my real question is: can I just write my book and then find the reader, or is it wise to write with the targeted reader in mind. The latter is probably better. What are the rules, how to do that? Where can I find a qualified “helper” and what costs I’m I looking at for that. I’m a foreigner, so I need also a good editor, who should be familiar with the topics.

    Thank you!
    Ellen

    • Ellen- You are right, it is best to write your book with a specific reader in mind first. If you are interested in sharing spiritual information with teens, my suggestion would be to first try teaching a group of teens some of the information and see how they respond. Their questions and ideas will help you see if you enjoy working with that age group.

      Regarding an editor, it is wise to write your rough draft first and then secure an editor. Most will give you bid before they start the work so you know about costs. I have some very good editors and will be glad to make a referral when you are ready.

  • Great tips for every author to consider. There is so much more to writing a book and selling it than just getting the words right on the page.

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