6 Tips for Authors on How To Sell Books at Events


Speaking engagements are a great way to earn money and get your message out to a larger group of people. But, you want to do more than that right? You want them to actually buy your book so that they can get, and use, all of your expert knowledge. But how do you do that? After all you don't want to look like you only showed up at the speaking engagement to sell books. Should you sell your books at full retail? And how do you collect money for the books that you sell if people don't have cash? Do you need to include sales tax? Don't panic. Below are the six most important things you need to know about selling your books at speaking engagements.

  1. Have the ability to accept credit cards. Most people will not have cash or checks. Most people use their debit and credit cards to buy everything. So, if you want to sell a lot of books at a speaking engagement, you will want to have a card reader. A great one to use is Square. You must have a smart phone or tablet in order to use it. Just go to their website and sign up. You will get a free square in the mail. Download the app and plug in your square. Follow the directions and then test it out with your own card. The processing fee is 2.75% for swiped transactions and 3.5% + 15 cents for manually entered transactions. You will want to set up different prices for different books, discounts, and bundles. This way you won't have to remember all of that information, and the transaction will be as simple as the push of a button. Customers will have to sign and provide their email if they want a receipt.
  2. Charge full retail. When people come to hear you speak they are looking for a solution to a problem that they have. They believe you can help them solve this problem. If your presentation captivated them and showed them that your expert knowledge can help them they will be willing to buy your book. When people have an emotional experience they aren’t thinking about getting a deal. They want to be able to remember the experience, and in your case, they want to get more information. Your book has value, remember that, especially if you sign it in person for the purchaser. You will not only give them a valuable resource, but an experience to remember.
  3. Offer bundles. This isn’t to lower the value of your merchandise, but rather to sell a lot of it. If you have several different items that you are selling, such as CD’s, DVD’s, workbooks, several different books, then bundles can offer a way to sell this merchandise quickly. Just make sure that the bundle price is less than the combined retail price. Let’s say for instance that your book is $25 and your workbook is $15. The combined retail price of those two is $40. So make your bundle price $30. That is a 25% discount. This allows customers to get more of your expert knowledge and it helps you to move product.
  4. Include sales tax. Each state is different, so you need to check the state and local laws for collecting sales tax wherever you are speaking. You may even have to register paperwork. It is important that you follow the law when it comes to taxes. About.com has a guideline for authors and collecting sales tax. Seeking the advice of legal council is always advised in matters of tax law.
  5. Incorporate your book into your speech. You don't want to sound like all you came to do was to sell books, but people won't know that there is a book to buy if you don't tell them. You want to communicate the value of your book. You will only be speaking on one main point to your audience as we discussed last week, so you want to let your audience know that they can find that information and more in your book. And be sure to show the cover. Words are more difficult to remember than pictures, so just telling your audience the title of your book won't ensure that they remember it.
  6. Mention the merchandise table. Make sure that your audience knows that you have a merchandise table. It may seem obvious to you, but they won't think about it. There are a lot of things going through their minds and they may not be aware that they can stop by your table and purchase your book right then and there. Having a free resource to give away is always a good way to draw people in as well. They will want to stop by your table to get their freebie and they might just stick around to shop.

Selling your books at speaking engagements doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Just keep in mind the value you are bringing to people’s lives. They want to get expert knowledge in order to enact change, and they can't do it alone. Your book and other resources offer that help to individuals. That is all you are doing. You aren’t trying to “sell” them anything; you are trying to help them. And remember seeking expert help in matters of tax law and licensing is always a good idea. You have to pay for it, but it is well worth the investment in the end.

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