Creating Your Inventory of Books

You’ve published your book: yay! And somewhere in the afterglow, you’re thinking about how you’re going to market your books. One of those ways is through book signings, readings, and in-person events.

120115-BookInventoryThis means you need to keep an inventory of books so you’re ready for these events.

BTW: as an independently published author, MOST of your book sales will come from the mega-online retailer of Amazon. Let’s face it, nobody can compete with Amazon’s sheer VOLUME of users!

And that’s a good thing! It’s fantastic to sell where the eyeballs are!

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a number of your books on hand at all times. The question is:

How many?

How many copies of your #book should you have on hand? Click To Tweet

This is going to depend largely on your overall marketing plan for your book. I know an author who keeps hundreds of books on hand at all times. And she liberally signs and gives them away to just about everybody she meets!

The book is serving as her business card so it makes sense to have an inventory of hundreds of books on hand at all times.

A couple of years ago, I got invited to present at an Outdoors Expo – fitting because that’s what most of my books are written about, outdoor recreation. They were expecting 2,000 people a day for a two-day event.

I figured I’d be safe with 25 copies of each of my books…

(And I’ll bet you’re thinking I’m going to say, “I was sold out within the first three hours! I wish I’d ordered more!”)

Um… yeah… not so much. Unfortunately the event only had about eight hundred people walk through the gates during the two days. And with a $10 per PERSON gate fee… Not a lot of folks were interested in buying anything! None of the vendors did very well.

Fast forward to a big event I attended in May 2015. At this event there were about 2,000 people in attendance and at least half visited the vendor space. (This is where I launched Geocaching GPS.)

At this event, I was THERE to launch a book. So I wanted to have 100 on hand; plus I took the rest of my on-hand inventory of the other books I’ve written. It was an event for a specific activity (geocaching) but I knew that a lot of geocachers are also interested in outdoor recreation.

At this event, people were visiting the vendor area with the intention of spending money so I sold out of my smaller inventory (about 10-15 copies of the other titles) and through more than half of the 100 copies of Geocaching GPS I’d brought along.

Now here’s the thing BOTH events had in common…

I wasn’t READY!

120115-ExpoFor the Outdoors Expo, I didn’t have ANY books on hand which meant not only did I have to order them but I had to have them rushed shipped! I paid nearly as much in shipping as I did for the books!

And for the launch of Geocaching GPS I’d been rushing to get it finished in time (organizing 44 authors is no mean feat!) so I knew all along I’d have to pay for the expedited shipping.

But paying nearly as much in shipping as for the books isn’t anybody’s idea of fun!

So circling back to how many books you need to keep on hand…

1. Decide on your marketing strategy
If you’re going to be passing them out like a business card, you’ll need at least 50 on hand at all times

2. Get events like book signings and expos on your calendar
These events typically aren’t last-minute so with pre-planning you should have time to order in books and not need rush shipping. A good rule of thumb is to order books about 2.5 weeks before the event.

Put book signing events on your calendar so you can be sure to have enough books on hand! Click To Tweet

3. Always keep a few on hand for unexpected opportunities
You never know when you might get invited to fill in for a vendor who cancelled, invited to an interview or book signing, etc.

Now, after I publish a title, I promptly order 5 copies:

  • 1 for my permanent collection
  • 3 for gifts to anybody who helped me
  • 1 as a “sample” of the book that I can take to meet with clients

After that, I make sure to keep 10-15 copies of each title on hand at all times. This number covers me if a friend wants to buy a copy from me, last-minute book signings, if a local bookstore wants to carry a few titles, to give as a last-minute gift…

It also means that when I need to re-charge my inventory, I’m only ever ordering about 5 at a time. As a business owner it’s not that I have a challenge paying to get the books, but it’s that I don’t want to have them tied up as inventory in my garage!

(Don’t forget that you need to store your books! They can get big and heavy quickly and you’ll need to store them in a place that keeps them pristine; away from heat, cold, critters, damp, etc. Flat is better than standing up on a bookshelf since you’re less likely to damage a spine or bend a cover!)

There’s a line between buying a ton of books to FORCE yourself to get out there and promote them and buying a ton of books that keep you in the book promotion world (can’t have your money sitting on a shelf as inventory!) instead of doing whatever the MAIN business activity is. Only you can know for certain what is the best course of action for your business.

But the moral of the story:

Keep books on hand!

Kim Galloway
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