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How to Sell Books: My Experience And Strategies

by | Sep 14, 2023 | 0 comments

How to sell books

Selling books is a journey filled with challenges and surprises. You pour your heart into your writing and provide valuable information, and yet, people might not be rushing to grab your $20 book. It’s a mix of both “yes” and “no.” Why? Well, people have busy lives. Some folks just aren’t big fans of reading. And for others, spending $20 on a book might not be a top priority.  So, how to sell books ideally? How can you make your book shine in the constantly growing sea of new releases?

Let me tell you about my journey.

How to Sell Books: My Experience and Strategies

When I started this adventure, I felt nervous, honestly. I’m someone who likes to win, and I didn’t want to create a book that nobody cared about reading.

So, kind of like how I usually tackle things, I started to explore. I checked things out, asked questions, and gained knowledge. And, lucky for me, around that time, someone who used to be my student, Tim Ferriss, had a really popular book called “The 4-Hour Workweek.”

I thought, why not learn from Tim? I decided to use his methods in my book. Tim had a unique approach. He saw the industry through a different lens. Instead of just selling books, he leveraged his audience to attract sponsors. These sponsors showered him with cool stuff he could give away to his readers.

At that time, hardly any authors were offering promotional goodies to folks who bought their books. Maybe the occasional bookmark, at best. But Tim was handing out mind-blowing prizes like dream vacations and awesome experiences. You see, Tim had a big group of people who liked his work, and the companies who sponsored him wanted these people to know about them. So, in exchange for getting Tim’s audience to notice them, these companies gave Tim fantastic things to share with everyone. It was a win-win situation.

So, I used the ideas that Tim had, but I did things a bit differently. I asked myself, “What would my readers value alongside my book? What could I offer in return for someone buying my book? My book dives deep into the world of licensing ideas to established companies in exchange for royalties. These are companies that already have shelf space, manufacturing capabilities, distribution networks, and strong relationships with retailers. But they need fresh new ideas.

And for us inventors, safeguarding our ideas is a top priority. One of the simplest steps to protect these ideas is by filing a provisional patent application. It’s like locking in your creative genius before sharing it with the world.

Guess what I did? I offered free provisional patent software to anyone purchasing my $24 book. This software was valued at $99 – more than the cost of my book. This software helps you write down your idea in a special way to keep it safe. The person who made this software, a patent attorney, was happy to share it for free. In return, he wanted people to know about him through my book. He wanted more folks to see what he does. This was a smart way for him to show off his work to my readers.

This marketing move paid off big time. But the nerves didn’t disappear. I wanted to sell my book even before it landed on store shelves. No room for chance here.

I began to think hard about what else my readers might find valuable. Alongside my book and provisional patent software, what more could I offer? As an inventor, I understand how crucial it is to connect with companies interested in our protected ideas.

So, I created a comprehensive directory of over 1,000 companies that were actively seeking new ideas. I knew this was something I cared about, and I believed it would matter to the folks reading my book too. I started to promote my book in a way that if you bought it early and showed me the proof, you could get access to this list of companies.

And guess what? People started to pre-order my book. It was exciting. My publisher was amazed that we could sell so many books even before they arrived on the bookstore shelves. We sold so many books that they put them on a special table right as you walked into Barnes & Noble. They only do this for books by authors who are already really famous and known to sell a lot. It’s like prime real estate in the store, really valuable.

Our promotional efforts didn’t stop there. Post-launch, we added another layer. Readers who snapped a picture with the book received additional giveaways. This was a fantastic way to showcase people proudly holding my book on my website and social media.

The Simple Winning Formula

In summary, my plan was pretty straightforward. I just thought about what I could give my readers to help them succeed. It’s all about focusing on your audience. It’s vital to always think about them and what they need. Then, provide the tools for their success. It’s a simple strategy that’s highly effective.

So, that’s how to sell books effectively. Just like I did.


  • Stephen Key

    Stephen Key is an award-winning inventor, renowned intellectual property strategist, lifelong entrepreneur, author, speaker, and columnist.
    Stephen has over 20 patents in his name and the d...

    View all posts Intellectual property strategy, product licensing, and entrepreneurship.