How many books should you keep on hand?

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?

A year 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 be 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 a 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!

Here’s the moral of the story though: I wasn’t READY for this event! I didn’t have ANY books on hand which meant not only did I have to order them (outlay of cash – no problem!) but I had to have them rushed shipped! I paid nearly as much in shipping as I did for the books!


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 titles on hand at all times. Now remember, MOST of my titles are about outdoor recreation! But 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…

Keep #books on hand for last-minute book signings! Share on X

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!

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 which 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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