You’ve Published a Book, Now What?
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A lot of people don’t make it as far as finishing a book, let alone having it edited and published, so give yourself a pat on the back before I burst your bubble, because your work has only just begun.
So easy, anyone can do it?
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about being a self-published author. A lot of people think it is very difficult to do, but as many of us self-published authors can tell you, it really isn’t. Lots of people who are bad writers—or good writers with bad ideas—can write and publish whatever books they want and sell them for money, and this makes people unsure about buying books that are self-published.
Not only are people hesitant to buy self-published books, but it’s extremely difficult to get your name out there, period. First, you have to hope you’ve written a genre your friends want to read. Then you have to hope they like it enough to leave you a good review or tell their friends. And these are variables you can’t control.
Marketing 101: Don’t be afraid to sell yourself
There are so many directions you can go from this point, and I can’t tell you which direction is right for you, but I strongly recommend no matter what you choose, the minute you have a book published, start some sort of marketing campaign. This can be something as simple as a Facebook post for family and friends. And they might be your biggest (hopefully not only!) fans. If you can’t even advertise your book to family and friends, you have no chance at making it as an author. This is also probably the only free form of advertising out there, so cherish it while you can.
Besides just Facebook, this is the point where you want to make sure you have an Instagram and Twitter (and any other popular social media!) set up. Even if you don’t use them, you want to have them in place just so someone else can’t make a fake profile with your name. While unlikely, it’s better to prepare for the worst. After you’ve done that, I also recommend purchasing the domain name of your name.com. For example, I am the owner of HopeEDavis.com. Even though I didn’t develop it right away, I bought it as soon as I published my book so that I could prevent someone else from owning it and make sure that when I was ready to develop it, that I could have the exact name I wanted. This could save you money later—as someone could purchase your domain name then try to sell it to you for a high price.
So now you should have at least a few sales, even if they’re just from your family and friends via Facebook, as well as social media presence, and a website name. Now you’ll also want to make some promotional materials. Most authors make bookmarks, which is a great idea. Put a picture of your book on there, as well as information on where to buy it. This is also a great place to put your social media and contact information. Personally, I am on a very restricted budget, and can’t afford to make 500 bookmarks. I have found that business cards, printed with my book picture and information, work just as well and save me money! I can’t tell you the number of times my book comes up in conversation and people want to know where and how they can buy it. Best case scenario, I have a copy on me and can make a sale right then and there. If I don’t have a copy on me though, having something physical to hand someone with my information is the next best thing. I highly recommend using vistaprint.com as they have many options and price points for marketing materials. They also offer a lot of deals and coupon codes on a regular basis. The picture on this article is my business card I made for my book if you want a reference point or some ideas. Either way, whatever you decide on, make sure it’s portable and something physical to hand people that contains all your information.
Navigating in-person sales
This brings us to the next order of business; you need to order a square card reader for your phone. It is unavoidable. People don’t carry cash like they used to. If I didn’t have my square reader, I would have lost over a third of my in person book sales. It’s going to cost $5-$10, but it will help you scale your business to new heights. Keep in mind each transaction on the square device does cost you a fee, so offering additional payment options through an app like venmo will give you even more diversity and help keep fees down. Either way a square is a must because some people don’t have venmo or cash. But regardless, this is a good time to download CashApp, Venmo, and Zelle, all of which I have used to sell books to people in person.
You also need to decide on an in person price for your book. When you publish on a website like Amazon or Barnes and Noble, they will help you decide a price for your book on their website, as they will be taking a (large)cut. But for in person sales, it is okay to set your own price. Personally, I like to go on the cheaper end (it helps people respect me a bit more and encourages them to buy direct) while also keeping it simple. I charge $10 for my books bought from me in person. Having a round number makes giving change easy, as well as keeps people happy. Now, depending on your printing costs, you may not be able to keep your price as easy as mine. My book, with amazon printing, costs about $5 per printed copy. So when I sell a book in person (minus square fees if they pay with card) I make $4.50(card), or $5 if they pay cash. Now if your book costs $7 to print, you’ll probably want to look more at the $12-$15 range. But ultimately, it is up to you. Remember, people are not likely to take a risk to buy a $20 self-published novel, so while upping the price may seem like an easy way to make more—it may do more harm than good in the end.
Once you start selling your books in person, you’ll need to keep track of every sale for tax purposes. I find the easiest way to do this, is an excel spreadsheet. I type in all my expenses associated with a book, and then add my sales as they come. I’m not going to lie, I’m operating at a loss right now. But someday (soon!) I will finally make a profit. But either way, I have the information available for the IRS as needed. Now that you have this all set up, it’s time to start selling! Look out for my next blog, which will cover navigating the world of internet book marketing!
If you have any questions about this article, use my website hopeEdavis.com to contact me for more information. I love hearing from my readers!