Tips for Hand Selling Books

The benefit of making a book available in paperback (instead of e-book only) is the ability to ‘hand sell’ copies i.e. sell direct to the reader.  Since the publication of Bedsit Three I’ve been taking my first steps in this direction. As well as selling to friends, family and acquaintances, I’ve done two small-scale book-signings linked with local charity events and last week I practised my ‘author speech’ for an audience of 6 writers (who all bought a book).

It’s hardly the big time but I can now celebrate emptying my first box of 50 paperbacks and starting on the second. Empty Createspace boxThere are a couple of events lined up for March – and it feels good not to depend on Amazon for all my sales!

I’ve learned a few things along the way too:

  • Get a foot in the door at charity events by offering to make a donation for each sale
  • Don’t be surprised if people proudly proclaim, “I never read books”
  • People will buy books for odd reasons – I made one sale to a lady who wanted it because we share a surname and another to a lady whose daughter’s married name is Sally Jenkins
  • Decide beforehand what dedication you will write in the books – will it just be ‘Best wishes’ or something else?
  • Take a pen that writes smoothly
  • Take a float of change
  • Don’t be disheartened if you only sell a few books. Keep that smile on your face and be pleasant – every event is a networking activity too and you never know where it might lead.

It’s important to make the most of all sales channels but in my opinion selling by hand is far more pleasant than dreaming up clever things to put on social media.

What does anyone else think?

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  1. #1 by Frances on February 8, 2016 - 9:38 am

    I was in the audience for Sally’s first author talk and we all enjoyed her presentation,much better than many similar events I have attended ( or even endured!)
    Haven’t started the book yet but am looking forward to reading it.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on February 8, 2016 - 7:56 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Frances. Much appreciated.

  2. #3 by Wanda Pierpoint-Jones on February 8, 2016 - 10:54 am

    Thanks for your useful advice.

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on February 8, 2016 - 7:57 pm

      Thanks for dropping by, Wanda. Hope everything’s going well.

  3. #5 by Anne Harvey on February 8, 2016 - 2:34 pm

    Excellent advice, Sally. Personally, I over-estimated the amount of books I would sell and have been left with more than I thought. The most I’ve sold in one session is 11 and that was exceptional. Hopefully, I’ll sell a few more when my new book ‘Bittersweet Flight’ comes out – soon!

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on February 8, 2016 - 7:59 pm

      I think you have to be in it for the long haul, Anne. I now have a second box of 50 to go at – but it doesn’t matter whether it take 6 weeks or 1 year to sell them in. And, as you say, a second novel gives you another bite at the cherry.

  4. #7 by colettecoen on February 8, 2016 - 3:02 pm

    I’ve sold All the Places I’ve Ever Been mainly to friends and acquaintances in person, but one of the nicest things I’ve found about hand-selling is the feedback you get when you bump into your buyers again. I’ve also got a couple of readings set up with groups I’m involved with, so it will be interesting to see how many I can sell there.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on February 8, 2016 - 8:00 pm

      I agree about the feedback thing, Collette. And it’s lovely to know that people have taken the time to read the book. Good luck with the readings!

  5. #9 by Bobby Fairfield on February 8, 2016 - 4:53 pm

    Reblogged this on Recommended book and blog reviews, poetry and tarot inspiration and commented:
    Common sense really but a couple of points you may not have considered.

  6. #10 by hilarycustancegreen on February 8, 2016 - 10:13 pm

    Good advice. I only really got into hand-selling with my last book and it has been a revelation, people are very nice and even if they only chat and never read… whatever it is they think you write, it feels good to communicate. I certainly sold many books that way and had to order more of my previous novel too.

    • #11 by Sally Jenkins on February 9, 2016 - 10:21 am

      Glad that hand-selling is successful for you, Hilary. And yes, that feeling of communicating is good!

  7. #12 by P. Douglas Hammond on February 9, 2016 - 10:29 am

    Our daughter had some of her Manga books printed a few years back (cost us a small fortune) and she sold them at a convention in the Excel Centre in Docklands. I printed a few copies of my collection of soppily romantic fairy tales – The Monsters that Hide Behind Every Heart. I sold four; my record so far.
    I still don’t have the nerve to properly publish my writing, but I am interested in Zeens – have you come across these? Apparently they are fairs where self publishing writers (and even self-printers) sell their work to each other and the general public. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find much information about them.


    • #13 by Sally Jenkins on February 9, 2016 - 10:32 am

      I’ve never heard of ‘Zeens’, Peter. They sound an interesting concept and worth looking into. Let us know if you find out any more!

  8. #14 by Maria Smith (@mariaAsmith) on February 10, 2016 - 12:15 am

    Lots of good advice here – Thank you for sharing Sally.

  9. #16 by susanjanejones on February 10, 2016 - 10:02 pm

    Good advice, Sally and well done on selling that many so quickly. I’ve just had a box of 50 arrive. I didn’t dare order too many the first time. I’ve got an author talk lined up soon in our local library. It’s lovely to see people’s eyes light up when they see the book. They flick through as if to check there’s actually words on the page and go, ‘Oh, you wrote this?’ It is a nice feeling to get the actual feedback from people. But saying that I have sold books in Australia and Japan because of kindle and the internet, so I think we need both.

    • #17 by Sally Jenkins on February 11, 2016 - 1:35 pm

      The library talk sounds good, Susan. How long do you have to speak for? And yes, I agree it’s good to get a Kindle sale abroad & feel that someone on the other side of the world is reading your book!

      • #18 by susanjanejones on February 11, 2016 - 1:53 pm

        Hi, Sally. I told them that half an hour would be plenty, and then maybe answer any questions people might have. I’m going to talk about my writing from scratch. From having a collection of stories published in an Annual, years ago, up until now. And I will take a mini portfolio of articles I’ve had published. (Anything to take up time) I’m not nervous at the moment, as I’m so passionate about my subject. Also our library isn’t that big, and I’m bound to know anyone who turns up. Also I haven’t a date yet as we agreed that when the weather is a bit better would be more suitable. In a week or so I’ll pop in and remind them if I haven’t heard. They have to okay it with Warwick library or head office for some reason. Also they have a copy of my book that they have to send there as well.

      • #19 by Sally Jenkins on February 11, 2016 - 2:18 pm

        Let us know how it goes, Susan! (I’m sure you’ll do that anyway on your own blog).

      • #20 by susanjanejones on February 11, 2016 - 2:19 pm

        Of course:))

  10. #21 by Linda Daunter on February 12, 2016 - 5:31 pm

    I think you’re very brave. I’ve had a variety of sales jobs and no qualms about promoting other people’s goods and services, but I’d be very nervous about trying to sell my own book face-to-face.

    • #22 by Sally Jenkins on February 12, 2016 - 6:36 pm

      Linda, I take the view that nobody else is going to ‘talk me up’ so I have to do it. It helps that I have some good Amazon reviews to backup what I’m saying but always like most writers, deep inside, is the worry that people will think the book is rubbish.

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