Selling Digital Only

Back in 2005, I had the opportunity to have two of my favorite authors’ sign the books I’d purchased. To be able to stand close to Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Nora Roberts was a dream come true for me. I can picture the scene in my mind’s eye to this day.

Since then, I’ve watched writer friends get “The Call” and then I joined the ranks of the published, too. Being able to hold a book in your hand and actually sign it for a reader is something a writer hopes for, even if my reader isn’t as smitten as I was when I approached Phillips and Roberts.

To be able to hold a hand is not as easy as it once was. The midlist is vanishing and it is harder to sell the manuscript you’d worked so hard to produce.  I have been able to have both print and e-book publications with a small press. In this economy, mixed with the demand for e-books, a smaller publishing house may only produce e-books. Further, a larger house may want to turn your manuscript into an e-book only format as well.

Yes, e-books are convenient and the future of publishing, but technology has a hard time satisfying the public’s desire to personally connect with the author. So, the question is: Can a digital only author participate at a book signing and/or connect with their readers?

First of all, there are a few ways to get yourself noticed. For example, sign bookmarks, or rack cards, and leave them at the book store to pass out (you’ll need to check with the book store’s policy). Or, pass them out anywhere you can.

Authors can do readings and Q&A sessions, which can be even more valuable than a book signing. Here you can meet the author, state your appreciation for their book, shake their hand, and take their picture.

When there is a group book signing, think about printing, then displaying, a booklet with a chapter included, or with photos and an interview with the author about how he/she wrote the book, etc. When shoppers pass by your display, you will have something to give them.

I have heard of people getting the back of their e-readers, or iPads signed by an author with Sharpies, and some say this will become more popular. How about signing associated merchandise? See what Vista Print, or your printing house, has to offer.

We should never underestimate technology. I imagine with it will come more and more marketing ideas and a way to connect. Perhaps you’ve heard of companies such as Autography and Kindlegraph that have come up with ways for authors to digitally sign electronic books. In the case of Autography, they’ve actually come up with a way to add a page to your digital book that contains the author’s inscription.

The creator of Kindlegraph, Evan Jacobs, says, “…the connection between authors and readers is the important thing and the signed book is simply a memento of that connection. The move toward digital books doesn’t mean that these connections will no longer exist or no longer be important. On the contrary, I created Kindlegraph as an acknowledgment of the power of personal connections even while people become more anonymous because of technology.”

Here are a few thoughts about selling e-books at a book signing:

If you don’t already know, check to see if your publisher has an author discount, and download them into a CD to sell.

If there’s an internet connection, bring your laptop and sell to those through your Amazon (Smashwords, B&N, etc.) account. Remember, you would have to have an account at each site.
Follow the author’s link to the book then gift the book to the buyer’s email address. You’d receive a royalty for the sale. This idea is from author, Delle Jacobs.

I’ve heard of a credit card scanner that attaches to your phone. I’m not techno savvy with phones these days, so you’ll need to research to see if you can use PayPal with a phone.