The Primary Way a Fan Can Help

Hi, […] I can’t tell you the wonder that your book brought to me.  Thank you, thank you.  I would like to buy several copies.  How do I go about doing that so that you would benefit the most?  Thank you again for the sunshine you brought to us. – Love, Nettie

One of our popular authors at Capture Books received this message and then quickly sent a note to the agent, “When I answer her, I should say I’ll benefit the most from selling the books to her – outright — is that correct?”

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This is a common question and dilemma for young authors. On one hand, you make more money off of the books you have in stock because you have removed the middle-man by selling them yourself. So, what would you do?

Well, let’s look at it another way.

If she buys directly from you, the author, you will have to

  • purchase a mailer for the book ($4-7) then
  • mail the book to them ($4-13)
  • make it look professional with a nice label, packing and tape. ($2-4)

How much will all of this cost you?

You incur double the shipping expenses if you mail books out again from your local post office because you’ve already purchased and shipped these books to yourself once.

Also, shipping them out again will cause you to have to replenish your personal stock sooner.

Not only that, but if you pay handling fees, you are wasting money by misusing the books you’ve sent to yourself.

Unless you are visiting someone in person, and you hand over several books in the process of a visit, shipping from your own home stock of books is not your best value. It is almost always best to use the books received at your home base for author appearances at events, stores, retreats, and occasional visits with people who ask for your book over lunch. Autograph parties and targeted promotional events or handouts for targeted charity events or clubs will diminish your personal stock of books quickly enough if you are doing your own publicity.  This is what you should be doing with your personal stock of books, author friend.

So, to answer the question posed by the eager fan to our author, the best way to benefit your grassroots reputation and movement of books in the wider market is to ask the fan to order from Barnes & Noble or from her own favorite independent bookshop.  Why?

It makes the store manager aware of your book. It has to pass through several hands before the bookstore clerk hands it over to our new fan, who ordered it.  See how many people have been introduced to it then? 

  1. the manager, (even if it is just listed as a book that was ordered on a sales sheet)
  2. the intake clerk who places the order, and
  3. the box clerk in the back who receives the order.

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And, you will influence a whole new store to consider shelving/stocking your book!  (Free publicity). Wait. Do I need to shout that out again? FREE PUBLICITY. Any business owner gets it.


If your new fan calls a bookstore, neither of you nor your fan have to pay shipping (Let her know this). Costs of shipping typically falls on a bookstore as their expense. You will still make your regular brick ‘n mortar bookstore money $1-3 per book, but you won’t have to do the work, or buy a shipping box and label, spend gas to mail it, and valuable time.

Primarily, it is the free publicity that you are after here. When someone wants to help you out, either ask them to ask for your book at their local library, or ask them to order the book from a store or both.

Ordering from an online source, such as Christianbooks.com is another way to establish a grass roots interest, however, these secondary online sites do not stock your book, and so they simply place an order with the supplier for the purchaser, and do not see the book itself since it is not handled by them.

It is the grassroots call for your book that makes thoseteam-motivation-teamwork-together-53958 controlling your book’s future, sit up and take notice.

Once you begin to experience the high costs of regular advertising, you will see the wisdom in this advice.

 

Be sure to thank you new fan honestly and from the heart. Her eagerness to help you succeed is a personal display of willingness to help you in the future.

  1. Perhaps, in your return communication you can ask them to give you the name of an event planner or retreat co-ordinator for a speaking referral.
  2. Perhaps, after you have established a happy customer, you can follow up and ask for a book review on Amazon or Goodreads or the Nook or ChristianBooks.com.

ALWAYS appeal to your widest market opportunity.