Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Book Sales On Ebay

About a year an a half ago after I self published, I decided to try selling my book, Christmas Traditions - An Amish Love Story, on Ebay Fixed Price at an affordable price and see what would happen. Buyers pay the postage. I pay 15 cents to list for a week and $1.50 more when the book sold. At first, sales were slow. I'm an unknown author. Buyers weren't sure they should take a chance on me. What helped my sales was the fact I had written an Amish story. That's why out of fifteen books, I picked the Amish story to sell on ebay. My reasoning was 15 cents a week to advertise my book wasn't too much to pay in a market that has as many viewers as Ebay does. Even if the book didn't sell, I was getting noticed as an author.

There are a lot of Amish book consumers around the world. I've hit on a market with fewer authors to buy from. I hear quite often from readers that they have read all the Amish books in the stores. They don't buy anything but Amish stories and eagerly await the latest book from any of the Amish authors, including mine now.
I had a few customers that have continued to email me just to visit. At least one recommended my book to someone else so I'm sure there are others talking about my books now. By the time my next Amish book, A Promise Is A Promise - Nurse Hal Among The Amish, was for sale, I'd saved a long list of emails from my ebay customers that bought Christmas Traditions. I sent a notice to each of them before I put the book up for sale on ebay. The customers that choose to buy from me directly saved me Ebay's selling fee. After I put the book on ebay, sales continued to grow. By the time my next Amish book, The Rainbow's End - Nurse Hal Among The Amish, was ready to go, I had an even longer customer list. As a way to increase sales, I asked each buyer to send me a review of the book if they had time. The reviews I immediately put on Ebay in my book descriptions so other buyers could see them.

My customer service approach has been each time I sold a book to a new customer I put a list of all 17 of my books with a synopsis of each in with the book. Each book is signed. Extra postage is refunded. After the first book when the customer buys another book, I slip one of my business cards in the book as a reminder. I wrap each book to protect it from getting scuffed in the mail before I package it and stick on a colorful sticker that matches the holiday or season. For a follow up, I email the buyer to announce the book is on the way so watch for it. If the book gets lost in the mail, I will send another book to replace it. Last year, I found out paying for insurance to the postal service doesn't do me any good. I lost $250 worth of books between two shipments. The last one of those shipments was insured.
I filed a claim, and I've never been reimbursed.

Ebay asks for feedback about the service between seller and buyers. My reviews from buyers have all been good. The sales are handled through Paypal and happened fast most of the time. So I started using my feedback review to advertise. After saying this was a speedy transaction, I write Thanks for buying my Amish book Enjoy Author Fay Risner. This review got me in google search at least once that I know about. I hadn't expected that but I knew that first time buyers would be checking out my sales reputation. The reviews from buyers does help with sales when they leave remarks like they liked the book, and I do a good job of packaging.

A few months back, I decided to try my mystery series, Amazing Gracie Mysteries - five books, on ebay now that I am better known. These books are cozy mysteries about a Miss Marple character in Iowa. As I've been told, the story line is now known as Geezer books. At first, sales weren't going so hot. I had to do something to get some interest for the books. I had three of my proof books in the series I hadn't given away to relatives. I put them in the ebay auction for 99 cents. Starting at 99 cents meant that I didn't have to pay an insertion fee, but ebay doesn't mention they expect to have the seller fill in the buy it now fee box. For that the charge is 5 cents. Then if the books sold the charge is 9 percent. No one bid on the books the first week so this last week I listed in Fixed Price for $4.00. All three books sold to the same person. I sent a reminder email that I still have two more in the series priced at $10.00 if that person wants to continue reading those books. The proof books were ones that I would never have sold otherwise so I think I put them to good use.

The buyer of the mysteries had bought one of my Amish books the week before at the Fixed Price, a proof for $4.00. The Rainbow's End-Nurse Hal Among The Amish. I wondered why she let such a bargain on the four mystery books go from 99 cents to $4.00. When I found the notes on the ebay invoices I knew why. One of the notes was a practical reason. The buyer wrote, "I am ordering several of your books, hopefully to save on postage. I love your books." (The more books in the package the cheaper the postage is so I do refund any postage I don't use. Out of almost $10.00 ebay took for postage on all four books, I used $3.16.) After that the buyer's notes were, "I am so excited to find another author that I know I am going to love all your books." "Can't wait to get this one too. Thanks so much."

What happened to spark the added sales to this buyer. The buyer waited until she read the Amish book. When she found out she liked that book, she was positive she was going to like the mystery books, because she likes the way I write.
This last week I added a couple more of my books to ebay. Both books are in genres that are popular for sales - a children's book - My Children Are More Precious Than Gold and a Civil War story based on true facts - Ella Mayfield's Pawpaw Militia- A Civil War Saga In Vernon County, Mo. Besides the proof books, I had a box of books I'd read over the winter laying around. I put those used books on Ebay a few at a time for 99 cents in the auction. Am I making money at this? No not a cent by the time I deliver the used book to the post office, but in each sale is a list of my books and how to buy them. Selling the books I no longer have a use for is just another way to promote my own books.
Reenlisting the books at the end of seven days took time when I had 8 books, and now I'm adding two more. So I listed the books until I decide to cancel them, and that is for a month at a time at 50 cents. I save 10 cents in that four weeks each time, and the time it took to list the books is cut down.
If you take the time to go to my online bookstore, http://www.booksbyfaybookstore.weebly.com, and look at my customer site map, you'll see I've sold to customers all over the United States and three International in this last sixteen months. I haven't had one bad review yet from buyers and plenty of return emails that want me to hurry up and get the next book done. I'm happy with the way my book sales have progressed. I'm getting somewhere with my books. After waiting years to get discovered by a publisher or agent, I'd say this is an improvement that can only get better.

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