Dissecting the Book Sales Process

Dissection-you probably did that sometime in high school to some critter or another. My time at the lab table involved poking and prodding everything from starfish and worms to a mink. As a quick aside, for those of you who don't know, biology was my minor in college and my high school bio teacher was an incredible mentor to me.

Okay, back to books. Dissection is a cold, clinical process for the most part. Certainly, many students have to steel themselves (and their stomachs) in order to be able to do it at all. So what does such a term have to do with the beautifully creative world of writing? If you want to sell books, a lot.

Even though many authors love the magical, muse-inspired part of writing, the book selling part is pretty much at the opposite end of the spectrum of what writers do. Though promotion does involve creativity in planning events etc. (thankfully) the biggest part is number crunching. Sales reps, stores, and the publisher all have numbers they want to see from a book. Bottom line, as cold and clinical as it sounds, the biggest thing they want to see is a profit. It's great if people are happy because of the books they buy, but that's secondary. Of course thinking about it logically, if they didn't look at the numbers the point of being in business would be...?

Besides the cold and scientific aspects, another thing to note about the book selling process is that it is complicated, especially if we're talking about bookstore sales. Sales kits, co-op marketing, and a little bit luck and educated guessing are all part of the equation.

There's a lot to know, and even though I don't expect you to be an expert at selling (if you are great!), I absolutely believe everyone needs to be familiar with the process so that you aren't following blindly.

To help with that, here is the post that inspired me today courtesy of Nathan Bransford and his associate Eric a sales assistant in the book industry. I'll give you fair warning it's a long one, but it's also very eye-opening. I'd also strongly encourage you to read the comments as Eric answers a handful of questions there as well.

Good Writing & God Bless,
Cheryl Pickett

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