ARE BOOKS FREE?

7/18/2022 3 min read

This is for both writers and those that are friends of writers

WE DON’T GET BOOKS FREE

One misconception about writers is they have a stock of books for giveaway. We wish that were true because the fact is, writers don't make the money fans think we do. There are exceptions, but most of us happily share our stories for nickels and dimes. We have to order our books from the publisher, though sometimes we can buy wholesale. Those books we sell when we speak or teach a workshop. From that margin, the author must pay state sales taxes and file those reports once a month or once a year, depending on your status. The author has to pay their own travel to and from a signing event, and provide table covers and free handouts at craft shows.So what do you do as a writer?

BUILD A MAILING LIST

Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub and others have author pages. Get one. On your “About the Author” page, encourage readers to sign up for your mailing list. If they sign up, you’ll be able to contact them to promote your backlist titles, new releases, giveaways, price promotions, etc.

TARGET YOUR AUDIENCE

It does you nothing to send your announcement to cat lovers if you write a book about dogs. Write down what you know about the core group of readers you’re targeting, fiction, romance, mystery, fantasy, etc., and think about them when you’re creating an ad, designing a cover, writing a tweet. It is critical to narrow any blurb, tweet, post to five to seven keywords your target audience would typically search. Include these words into the description headline, description copy, and keyword details in your author website and every time you talk about your book.

FREE SAMPLE CHAPTERS CAN HELP

I did this for my first novel and will for the second one. I created a flip page document through the internet (free) and provided a link on my website. Don’t be afraid of giving away something for free! On Amazon, users can download the first ten percent of a book for free or read it on-site via the “Look Inside” feature. You might score a sale if the reader wants to continue so be sure every sample ends with a line or paragraph that invites the reader to continue.

DO THE MATH

Cost? It will kill you. My novel sells for $17.99 paperback at book stores. The book store buys my book at about 45% of that price ($8) so that leave $9. Of that $9 dollars, $5 is printing cost and there is the publishers cut. In the end, my income is about 20 cents a book if I am lucky, so for 1,000 books sold I make $200 and then I pay taxes and such. Another sad note are the returns. If your book doesn't sell out, the store can return them and get their money back—I pay for shipping and the cost of the book.I can also sell my books on consignment, but it is best to only place them in stores where I live and shop or in towns nearby. If I have to spend a full day or more driving to different stores to check inventory and sales I lose money – not just for gas – but also the time that would be better spent writing my next book.When setting the price for your book you need to be competitive. You can't list your book for $25 if every other book in your genre is selling for $15. Printing is about 25% the distributors get 20% and the bookstore commission 45%. That leaves the smallest cut for author royalty. An author won't see a royalty check for a couple months, or maybe the royalty has to reach a certain amount before they send it out. As writers, we publish our books because it is our dream. We all have our reasons and our writing has to be a labor of love. Choose the marketing that can be the most effective at the lowest cost. Overall my advice is go electronic. Print books for the little guy is a killer.