Convention Distribution: A Cooperative Concept

Books for sale!

Every now and then (well actually a lot more than that) I occupy my mind with thoughts on how to sell my books. Over the years I’ve seen a steady growth in sales, but anyone in business will tell you that a business must grow or die, and growth has to be planned. Recently after a very successful convention I began thinking about how to duplicate my success. I always do well at conventions, never selling less than 20 books. I often think about attending conventions in other cities, but the cost of travel, hotels and other costs would quickly take any profit I would realize.  Conventions also provide another opportunity. They put you right in the middle of your target audience, in some cases thousands of people looking for exactly what you’re selling.  If that doesn’t increase your chances to make money nothing will.

And that’s how I came up with the convention distribution concept. What if I offered my books to other writers to sell from their tables in other cities? My personal experience tells me my books would sell well. If I could offer the books at a low enough price, the writer could purchase the books from me then sell them at a profit. For the writer its an opportunity to benefit from the popularity of another author’s books and increase his/her revenue stream. For me its an opportunity to sell my books in a market where travelling  personally would be profit prohibitive. If done correctly, I could develop a national distribution network targeted specifically at my desired market. Eureka!

So the next step was to flesh out the details of this concept. The process would have to be straightforward and simple. It would have to be such that both parties would share minimal risk. Most of all it would have to be profitable. So this is what I came up with:

1). Offer the books at a low mark up, a certain percentage off list price similar to a brick and mortar bookstore deal.

2). Offer low minimums, made possible through print on demand (POD).

3). Books would be purchased upfront, no returns. This would be favorable to the buyer because of low minimums and favorable to the seller who wouldn’t have to be concerned about returns.

4). The seller could also provide promotional material to help promote books, lessening the effect of the writer not being present to hawk his/her books.

When I first developed this concept I was mainly concerned about selling my books to others. Then I realized that this was a deal I would be interested in, especially if it gave me the opportunity to sell books by writers I admired. I could supplement my novel sales with comic books related to Sword and Soul and Steamfunk. This would draw more attention to my table and increase my opportunity to make a sale.

Now I’m sure that at this point I don’t have all the kinks worked out. For this to be worthwhile you have to be a person that is a confident salesperson and a person that does a number of cons a year. You also have to have the money to invest in buying books, but another alternative would be to make a swap with another writer.  But all in all I think this would be a great way to expand exposure of a writer’s books and answer the distribution issue we independent writers struggle with. But what makes this program golden is that your books are being sold directly to your target audience.  That in itself makes it worth a shot.

So I’m putting my money where my mouth is. Don’t be surprised if you receive an e-mail from me asking to purchase a few copies of your novel or comic books. Over the next year I plan on proving to myself if Convention distribution is a sound concept. I hope I prove it worthwhile to you as well.