Lessons Learned: Selling Your Book at a Conference

One of our authors was recently asked to give a seminar at a national conference. It was the first time she had spoken at this type of event since publishing her book, and she was quite excited. Here


 are some of the lessons she learned.

  1. As soon as you are booked as a speaker find out what the procedure is for selling your book at the conference. The
  2. process varies with
    every organization. Some may require you to purchase a table or booth and only sell your book there. Others might allow you to sell at the back of the room after your talk. At larger conferences, a local bookstore may set up a booth where all books are sold.
  3. If a bookstore is involved, contact them as early as possible to find out how the procedure.  They may take your book on consignment basis, or they may purchase your book in advance through your publisher. If you are your own publisher, be prepared for them to ask for a discount (usually 40 percent) and to be able to return any unsold books to you for a refund at the end of the conference. Yes, maybe you could make more money per book if you sold it yourself, but don’t forget that the store is handling all of the sales logistics for you, including sales tax and staffing a booth for more hours than you could personally staff it yourself.
  4. If you don’t plan to attend the entire conference, another advantage to a bookstore booth is that your book can arrive even before your do—and still be available for sale when you are gone. Again, check with the host bookstore several weeks before the event to arrange to have your books shipped ahead of time.
  5. As soon as you arrive at the conference, check in with the bookstore. Tell them when you are speaking and ask if they plan to have a book signing for you. What was our author’s big mistake at her conference? She only found that she was scheduled for a 1 p.m. book signing event when she checked her Twitter feed at 4 p.m. Oops. Yes, sales were lost.
  6. Bring marketing materials such as flyers, postcards or bookmarks with all of your contact information and information on your book, including the price and the ISBN. Hand these out at your workshop and keep a few with you to give out as your network throughout the event. Direct people to where the book is being sold.
  7. At the end of the event, check in with the bookstore to see how your book did. You may or may not be able to “settle up” at this time. The bookstore will often keep one or two copies of books from the conference to sell at their store. Get their website information and post a link to it prominently on your own site. It looks great to say “my book is available at XYZ Bookstore in Phoenix.”
  8. Once you are back home, send thank you notes. Very few people remember this little touch these days. Get out your pen and note cards and send thank you notes to the conference organizers, the bookstore, and anyone else who gave you extra help or service.

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