As authors, we typically prefer the writing aspect of our job over other areas such as marketing and selling. We love the creative process but aren’t big fans of selling the results. The ins and outs of taking payment can seem particularly hard to figure out. How do you take a credit card payment? What about keeping change? What do you do about making sure you have inventory around when you need it?
I have found there are some simple things you can do in your day-to-day life to help make selling your books easier.
To start, if you have a car, find a good bag with thick sides and a stable bottom in which to store your books. I use a medical equipment bag a friend had discarded that works really well. Leave this bag in your car at all times. This way, no matter where you go, you will always have your books nearby to sell if they come up in conversation and someone wants to buy one. When you are at a conference or workshop, even if it’s not writing-related, take 2-3 books out and keep them with you in whatever bag you’re carrying for the day. People will inevitably ask what you do for a living and when you tell them about writing your books, you’ll conveniently have an example to show them. I’ve sold numerous books this way—simply by having them close by.
In the same bag that’s in your car, place a small and closeable bag with small bills and coins from your book bank account. You can use this for change when people pay you in cash. When there’s several larger bills in the bag, deposit them at the bank and replenish your change. You can keep people’s checks in it too until you deposit them. In that same bag, also place a small stack of business cards and several more in your wallet. Refill as needed.
Credit and Debit Card Payments
To be able to take credit and debit card payments, go to Squareup.com. It’s an online way to take payments at low cost, great convenience, and is easy to sign up for. (It’s the one we use at Stories To Tell.) When you create a new account, they will mail you a small card reader that plugs into your headphone jack on your smart phone. With the Square app loaded onto your phone, you’ll be able to enter in a payment amount, swipe their card, and have them sign for it all in one smooth transaction that goes directly into your banking account. You can also integrate Square into your website to manage book orders online and it keeps track of your totals so you can look them over later. It’s a fantastic deal and is great when people want to buy your books with a credit card. For a small percentage of the sale, you’ll be able to sell far more of your books than you would otherwise if you could only take cash or check.
By keeping your books and ways to accept payment conveniently close by, your sales will increase and you’ll have far more readers for the words you love to create.