Of the many hats that self-published authors wear, salesperson can sometimes be the most intimidating. Obviously, we try to craft titles and blurbs that pique a reader’s interest as well as pay for professional-looking covers that grab potential readers’ attention. We’d like to think that just having a great cover and story idea will automatically generate sales for us, but selling books is more complicated than that. There’s a psychology that goes into selling books, especially in person.

What is your writing worth?

As a self-published author, what do you think your writing is worth? In the noise of an over-saturated literary market, sometimes the price of a book can swing a potential buyer from hesitant to willing. If it’s priced too cheap, then the customer will think the quality is lacking and isn’t worth their time. If it’s too expensive, a customer will think it’s not worth their money. A lot of readers won’t give unknown authors a chance unless the price is right. This might sound like a suggestion to give away your book for free (which can sometimes work to gain reviews), but it’s more about offering multiple formats of your book. After all, in the print-on-demand space, it can be just as easy to publish a hardcover book as a paperback. Even an eBook can be a straightforward process of converting the original text into an eBook format.

Each of your book’s formats comes with a cost to produce which will likely dictate the price at which you can sell it. Similarly, if you use services like ACX to distribute the audiobook version, it’s likely that you won’t be able to set that price. However, if someone comes across your book and sees that they can buy it at different price points, maybe one of those prices is the amount they’re willing to spend on it. From my experience, this isn’t necessarily the reader who can’t afford a $10 paperback but would buy a $0.99 eBook of the same story. Instead, it’s someone who sees that the hardcover version is $30—which is too much for them—but who ends up buying the “more affordable” paperback version for $20. Sometimes, they’ll even pay a little more for a special edition (if you have it) since it would provide more value to them for only a few dollars more.

Invested readers

The common saying for authors who don’t sell a lot of books is to keep writing the next one. Readers are always looking for the next series they can sink their teeth into. While having only one book to sell might be easier because either a customer wants that book or doesn’t, showing that a book is part of a series—bonus points for a completed series—can lead to someone buying the first book in that series just to give it a chance. They might not want to drop the money to get the whole series, but if they like the first book, they’ll probably come back for the rest later. Be sure to have these subsequent books easily available to buy online for these readers! They want to invest in your world, so give them a reason to keep investing.

Additionally, many people like to get the best deal available. If you have a series, providing a bundle discount can help push people into getting the whole thing at once. This might be a buy-one-get-one-free promo or a sliding cost scale for the more books they pick up. Alternatively, if the books in your series are short enough, you can print them in a single volume. I’ve found with my Fluxion Trilogy that people will give the first book a try, but the pricing of the book that contains the whole trilogy is enticing enough for them to pay the extra money. After all, each individual book is $15, but the collection (with a handy appendix) is priced at $45—which is $10 cheaper than the hardcover. The appendix is the added value that they’re getting for “free” by purchasing the collection even if it’s the same price as buying all three books separately.

Make it “real”

One reason I enjoy selling books in person is how I can make a book “real” to a customer. Online, books are limited to a small thumbnail in a long list of other potential purchases. And while having a table at a convention is a great way to display books in a way to attract customers, sometimes the endless booths of books can create the same effect as browsing online. Oddly enough, if I can get a potential customer to pick up a book (usually via its eye-catching cover), they’re more likely to buy it than if they were just walking past. Sure, even if handing a random book from my table to a passerby goes against every introvert bone in my body, I have seen evidence that holding a book and being able to flip through it transitions it from just something someone sees into it being a real object they can interact with. From there, it’s a short gap to jump to get them to purchase the book.

This is my booth setup for most conventions.

Ultimately, self-published authors have a lot of tricks at their disposal to get into a customer’s psyche. We control a lot of the facets of our books—including prices—that you can tweak as needed to increase sales. The key is knowing your customer well enough to get it into their head that they need to purchase your book.


What’s the ideal price you’d pay for a book?
How much would you pay for a book from an author you didn’t know?
Have you ever justified buying a cheaper version of a book?

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