How to Sell a Book

iUniverse published Beyond Beowulf. They do a good job of editing and publishing your book but they don’t put a lot of effort into getting your book sold. They provide some initial guidelines about promoting your book with press releases and so on but mostly it’s up to you.

They do, however, keep coming at me with suggestions for better use of the internet. They offer telephone seminars and newsletters and all kinds of links to people who will be glad to help you sell your book – for a price. Some of it seems useful and some of it is even free: they know ways to get more attention for yourself on the Amazon site, for example. I’ve even managed to do some of it myself.

But a lot of it makes me feel as if they think my book is a used car. One recent telephone seminar, for example, offered tips on avoiding spam filters and suggested adding a freebie to your book with a deadline for people to get it.

Some of the authors who give this advice have written books that the News York Times Book Review lists in a third category: not fiction or non-fiction but “advice, how to, and miscellaneous.” Maybe it’s the difference between a book and a manual. And, sure, if you are selling a manual on how to get rich quick, you may need a come-on to help folks believe they are getting something more than the opportunity to enrich someone else.

I don’t remember being asked why I wrote Beyond Beowulf; if I were asked, I’m not sure what the right answer is, but I know it wasn’t with the thought that it would make me richer than Bill Gates.

I’m happy to do what I can to make people aware of my book’s existence, but if I have to bribe people or trick people to read it, I’m in the wrong business and would be better off selling hair oil or Fuller brushes.

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