Selling Your Published Book - Writing is the Easy Part

By: Michael Mould

Beyond writing your book, you want it to be successful. Success is measured many ways and perhaps the most widely accepted measure is that of sales. While most writers do want to make some income from their hard work, most find the greatest satisfaction from positive customer feedback, but you cannot even get this if you do not have customers, so you need to get out there and promote your book to get sales, customers, and feedback.

There are a number of ways you can promote and sell your book, but reliance on your publisher to market or sell it is usually a sure fire way to failure. Most publishers do not take any active role in either promoting or selling books, they are for the most part only interested in collecting revenues when a book sells and promoting their publishing services so more authors will sign up with them.

Personally, I have found that promoting and marketing through my own website as well as Amazon.com, Alibris.com, Abebooks.com, and other online marketplaces to be quite effective while simultaneously securing a majority of the profits for myself rather than paying someone else with a canned marketing program and no investment in terms of either money or time. Many authors choose to participate in the Amazon.com Advantage Program and pay Amazon over half of the selling price for the privilege of selling on Amazon. To participate, they also have to pay an annual subscription fee which is not very much, but to me it seems absurd. Why should you or I put all our time and effort into writing a book, having it printed at our own expense, pay to have the books shipped to us, and then pay again to ship them to Amazon.com (when they choose to order them), pay Amazon.com to sell them, give them over half of the sales proceeds, and end up with only 10% of the sales proceeds for all our work and risk? The printer is guaranteed a profit when you order copies, Amazon is guaranteed a profit from your subscription fees and over half of the sales proceeds, they also require that you buy back any copies that do not sell. The only person at financial risk in this whole scenario is the author, i.e., you or I. It seems to me that when a financial risk is taken, the person taking the risk should be the one with the greatest potential for gain, but this is not how the publishers or marketplaces have set up the game. You do have alternatives.

Open your own bookstore on Amazon.com and sell your book through it. Amazon.com will still charge you a monthly merchant fee and 15% of the sales proceeds, but that is a whole lot better than giving up over half the proceeds. They will even add to your sales proceeds a shipping reimbursement to cover the cost of packaging and postage for most books. If you have to buy your books yourself anyway, why not sell and ship them to your customers yourself too?

Having been an online bookseller for several years before writing a book, I learned the ins and outs of online bookselling and was able to make use of this knowledge to market my own book. It is not hard to learn, heck, there are thousands of people doing it, I just hate to see the authors taken advantage of by a system they could easily master themselves.

Setting up your own bookstore on Amazon only takes a few minutes, and listing you book only takes a few more. You can also join the Amazon Connect program which allows you as the author to write relevant articles that appear when a customer is browsing the product detail pages of your book, and joining the Connect program is free.

If you are already a bestselling author and you are selling 100,000+ copies of your books already, this option is probably not of much interest to you, but if you are an independent author using a print on demand, POD, printer to make your books for you, this is a viable option for getting your work promoted. Not all books sold by third-party sellers are used books, some of us sell our own books too.

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