Selling books is hard. But assuming that your book is an excellent one, it’s free of grammatical and artistic errors, it has a nice, professional cover and you’ve done all you can do to make it a great book then you can sell it.
But first, you may need to start small and have low expectations.
Starting small may mean starting locally.
Your connections in your hometown might be a great place to begin your sales.
Local resources can help sell your books.
1. Your local library.
What to do: Go in person to your local library with copies of your book. Be gracious and humble and introduce yourself as a local author. Ask if they would like to have a copy. If they do, sign it. Then ask them if they do anything to feature local authors, like a presentation or a lecture or a writing course. Be patient and courteous. You never know what will happen as a result of your visit.
2. Other local libraries.
What to do: After you leave your local branch, research how many more libraries are in a 10-20 mile radius. Do the exact same thing with them as you did with your closest branch. Ask questions. Smile. And whatever you do, stay humble! You want them to like you, not think you’re a pompous jerk just because your name is on a book.
3. Local hospitals.
What to do: Bring several copies of your book to the front desk and say this: “I’d like to donate some reading material to the waiting rooms. Is there someone I need to talk to about this?” This may not be the place to toot your own horn, perhaps, you should just downplay that your the author. Every hospital will handle this differently. Some may allow you to go to only certain areas. Follow their instructions. Leave one book per waiting area, maybe even stick a bookmark in it. And then be on your way.
4. Local independent bookstores
What to do: If you haven’t patronized your local independent bookstore, you should start. They are fighting a difficult battle and any support you show them will certainly be reciprocated. Find out first if they would even carry your book. You don’t want to approach a New Age book store with your Amish romance. Next? Introduce yourself as a local author who is trying to get to know people in the community. See what the manager says and follow whatever policies he has. Worst case scenario? They say they can’t order any specific titles and send you on your way. Best case? They get all excited about your book and give it a place of honor. You won’t know until you ask.
5. Local coffee shops.
What to do: Sometimes coffee shops feature local writers and artists either through live events, sales or or readings. Ask the managers if you can work together. Perhaps if you promised to bring a certain number of guests, they could help you organize a live reading or a release party.
6. Local newspaper
What to do: In the age of Facebook and Twitter, our local papers aren’t always remembered for their power. Yet, there are people who will only you discover you in the old school way. Contact your local paper and find out if you can send a press release about your book, or be interviewed for a feature story, or buy ad space, or even be reviewed. As with everyone else in your community, be humble and work around their needs and their objectives.
7. Senior Centers.
What to do: Much in the same way you approached a hospital, start up a conversation with the staff at a Senior Center and ask if they would like free copies of your book.
8. Local book clubs
What to do: Check out all your local announcements — either online or off — and track down any local book clubs in your community. Once you find them, expect them to have already decided what they are reading for the next few months. Instead of pushing your title on them, ask them if they would like to have a copy to give away. This may excite them enough to put your book on their schedule or have you come and read. Do this same thing with as many surrounding communities as possible.
9. Consignment Stores
What to do: Local second hand and consignment stores may be very interested in displaying books by a local author. Talk to local merchants and see if they would like to help you sell your book in their store. You won’t know what they’ll say until you ask.
10. Local events
What to do: Find out if your local community has a festival and then consider how you can participate. There may be booths to set up or ad space to buy. Then, check out neighboring communities too and join in their fun. With your books, bookmarks and you business cards, you never know who you might meet.
Many of the suggestions in this list require giving away copies of your book in the beginning. Don’t freak out over that.
Ideally, someone will read your book for free and then either buy it for themselves or recommend it to a friend. Some of these suggestions will show instant results but some could take months. But this is worth doing. You’ll meet readers, impact your community and become the better marketer for it.
Got any more ideas? Let’s hear ’em!