By David Hahn, Managing Director
I’ve often been asked over my career, “What is the best way to sell books?” And the “Chauncey Gardiner” in me loves to respond by saying, “The best way to sell books is to sell books.”
By that I mean yes, of course, having a rave review run in the New York Times is naturally the best way to sell a lot of books. But when you consider reality as an author and what you have control over, the best way to sell books is to get out and “handsell” through speaking engagements.
Here are the benefits and some tactics:
1. Book Sales. It’s always best if you can arrange for a “guaranteed” buy. In other words, the host buys a book for everyone attending. The second best scenario is to have the price of the book built into the ticket price of a breakfast, lunch or dinner event. The third scenario is the traditional “back of the room” sale where a bookseller comes in and sells books. Typically, authors sell to about 25% to 40% of the audience attending, so you will see a drop off in sales compared to the first two scenarios. And if you are a business author, we highly recommend working with CEO READ to handle your book order. Their sales are reported to the bestseller lists; their services are extremely professional and their discounts are comparable to Amazon.
2.Media Coverage. There is a side benefit to any speaking engagement in terms of the extra publicity you receive simply by doing a speaking engagement. First, the speaking event is usually advertised in some sort of professional or organizational emailing or on a website so many people will hear about your book, even if they don’t attend the actual event. Secondly, local media is more likely to cover you as an author if you are doing an event in a city. We recently garnered a Charlotte Observer feature in the Business section of the paper due to the author speaking to the local Charlotte chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators. Morning TV shows are also a good outlet for touring authors if your subject matter fits a lifestyle interview.
3. Speaking Creates Devoted Fans. If you are especially good at speaking, then you are likely to create a stronger emotional bond with the audience. You may convert people new to your book into dedicated fans, and also help you solidify your relationship with pre-existing fans. It takes work to give a good presentation, so get some speech coaching and really hone your material so that it’s informative, entertaining and memorable. That will pay huge dividends for you in the long run.
4. Speaking begets Speaking. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an author tell me how great a speaking engagement was, and then tell me that as a result they are now booked for an additional speaking engagement. If you’re good, you’re good. It’s very natural for someone hearing a good speaker to want them to appear in front of some other group because they are “battle tested.” Yes, people can always check you out on your website or You Tube video, but seeing you perform live is always the most compelling. And always make sure you get a testimonial from the host of an event where you did especially well. In most cases the host will be more than happy to oblige. That testimonial will help you a lot in future marketing efforts.