Last Sunday I spoke twice at a small-town church with a congregation of about 150 people. I sold 60 books—an average of one book for every 2.5 people. The net income from the book sales was double what I received as a speaker’s honorarium.
Having kept track of book sales for tax purposes I know that this book to attendees ratio is slightly better than the average of 1 to 3.5. In 12 speaking engagements this spring the worst ratio was 1 to 5.7 people, and the best was 1 to 1.2.
What’s my secret, you may ask? Here are 10 actions I have found helpful to increase book sales at speaking engagements:
1. Arrange for a book sales table to be placed right near the exit door, not near the front, but where people have to walk past it to leave. (I often have my table in the hall right outside the meeting room exit door so people see my table as they leave and have to walk past it on the way out.)
2. Make some laminated 12”x18” enlargements of the book covers to stand up on your book table. Use memo clips or fold out cardboard at the back to stand them securely.
3. Lay out a specific number of books in some pattern so they don’t look messy, but still cover the table. (I arrange 10 copies of each of my three books in front of the three posters.)
4. Store extra books under the table where you can grab more books instantly, not out in your car!
5. Put a bookmark or a book info sheet with every type of your contact information inside each book. (I often put these info sheets on the chairs or ask the ushers to hand them out with the bulletin.)
6. Put a clearly printed price sign in the middle of the table. (Mine says, Any 1 book $15, Any 2 books $25, Any 3 books $35. People love to get a bargain and often buy sets of three.)
7. Place a basket with change for people to drop their cheques or cash into and to make change from. (I usually start with five or ten $5 bills.)
8. Make it drop-dead-easy for attendees to buy your books, use round figure prices, have change in the basket, accept cheques, have pens ready to use. (I plan to get the app that lets me take Visa on my cell phone. In a church setting I often let people take books when they promise they will send me a cheque by mail.)
9. Pre-sign your books with a short prayer or blessing, your autograph and a Scripture reference. Unless there is a rush of buyers, offer to write the name of the buyer in just above the autograph. Always ask people to spell their name. (I usually just use first names.)
10. Have someone wave your books and read the titles when they introduce you, or even better, when they come up to thank you after your speech. (I ask them to say, “If you enjoyed Jack’s stories, you are going to love his books.”)