Top ten ways to sell more books

I thought I would share with you the summary of my presentation regarding selling more books. I’ll spare you all of the introductory material and get right to the point! Of course, we are already doing most if not all of these things for you — or have done them for you in the past.
  1. Reviews, reviews, reviews
  2. Distribution that allows returns and is discounted as expected
  3. Metadata / product information
  4. Direct email appeal to independent bookstores
  5. Publicity campaigns to major media
  6. Flash promotions aligned with non-fiction hooks, holidays, current events, etc.
  7. Write series
  8. Periodically refresh your backlist
  9. Sell in non-bookstore outlets / situations
  10. Build an email list to your readers
We are in an era which is dominated by Amazon with over half of all sales. Our mix is less reliant on Amazon, but Amazon reviews are most important. As mentioned previously, books with at least 1 review have sales 50% higher on average than books with no reviews. Also note, a 5-star average does not help! This is seen as suspect. It is actually good to have a few negative or critical reviews in the mix — as long as your average is better than 3.5 — 4+ preferred.
Distribution has the second biggest impact at Sunbury Press. This makes sense since it opens more markets. The key here is the return flag — while it might increase sales, it might also mean a portion of the sales might come back. Thus the additional sales might not be profitable.
Publicity campaigns are not #1! They are best suited for nonfiction books / authors. Fiction publicity is less effective. Note that publicity is a crap-shoot — one fantastic mention can make all the difference but is unlikely. You can spend a lot of money chasing it and receive little return.
I’ve provided a link to a number of other ideas that are less impactful (in our experience).

For Sale — the country’s largest bookstore chain

Well, it is finally happening. For several years we’ve been tracking the fate of Barnes and Noble. Long-time readers will recall the financial analysis I provided three years ago that showed B&N was in the midst of a slow death. Now it is certain — unless they can sell to an investor with deep pockets who will restructure and revitalize the chain. There is no guarantee that someone will step up. Motley Fool is skeptical (see below).
What are we to do? First, if you have a relationship with one or more stores and have events there — no problem. Just note we will not be investing any further in growing this relationship, like we tried earlier this year. We are securing ourselves from the possibility of a truck full of returns.
It is very likely the new management will close a bunch of stores and consolidate inventory to be more efficient. This will result in publishers receiving a lot of returns. If the chain is not sold and goes bankrupt, a good number of publishers will likely go out of business too.
We are positioned to weather this. We have curtailed returns for the vast majority of our books with Barnes. A few of you have recently asked if we would flip this flag so you could do signings at Barnes. We will not be flipping that flag anytime soon for anyone. It is too risky!
Joe Regenbogen’s  “The Boys of Brookdale” reigns as the Sunbury Press bestseller for September

Joe Regenbogen’s “The Boys of Brookdale” reigns as the Sunbury Press bestseller for September

SUNBURY PRESS – Bestsellers for September 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 34 The Boys of Brookdale Joe Regenbogen Biography
2 NEW Jonathan’s Rainbow E J Benner Medical Memoir
3 NEW Well-behaved Taverns Seldom Make History Diane McCormick History
4 1 Dead Center Jason Altmire Politics
5 NEW A Super Steelers Journey Merrill Shaffer Football
6 19 The Marines’ Lost Squadron: The Odyssey of VMF-422 Mark Carlson Aviation History
7 2 Gettysburg Eddie Lawrence Knorr Baseball
8 3 Call Sign Dracula Joe Fair Military Memoir
9 Embattled Freedom James Remsen History
10 5 Amelia Earhart: The Truth at Last, 2nd Ed. Mike Campbell History
11 12 Freemasons at Gettysburg Sheldon Munn History
12 7 The Most Hated Man in America: Jerry Sandusky and the Rush to Judgment Mark Pendergrast Legal History
13 16 Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam Doug Beed Military Memoir
14 4 Fifty Years in a Foxhole Charles Kniffen Military Memoir
15 Letters in a Shoebox James Dohren History
16 32 Chicken Bone Beach Cheryl Woodruff-Brooks History
17 14 The Descendants of Johann Peter Klinger and Catharina Steinbruch Max Klinger Genealogy
18 Keystone Tombstones Gettysburg Farrell, Farley, & Knorr Biography
19 Lost in the Shadow of Fame William Lemansky Biography
20 Keystone Tombstones Civil War Farrell, Farley, & Knorr Biography
21 NEW Captain Hooter’s Guide to Amsterdam Coffeeshops Captain Hooter Travel
22 31 Dreams of My Comrades: The Story of MM1C Murray Jacobs Scott Zuckerman Military Memoir
23 6 A Short Season Jake Gronsky & David Bohner Sports Memoir
24 22 Indian Villages and Place Names in Pennsylvania George Donehoo History
25 Murders, Massacres, and Mayhem in the Mid-Atlantic Farrell, Farley, & Knorr Biography
26 Dear Ma John Hoptak History
27 German Prisoners of War at Camp Cooke Jeffrey Geiger History
28 24 Prince and the Paupers Guy Graybill Biography
29 Digging Dusky Diamonds John Lindermuth History
30 Geology of the Mahanoy, Mahantongo, and Lykens Valleys Steve Troutman Natural History
31 17 Prohibition’s Prince Guy Graybill Biography
32 The Descendants of Hans Peter Knorr Lawrence Knorr Genealogy
33 Look, I Shrunk Grandma Karen Severson Psychology
34 Tulpehocken Trail Traces Steve Troutman History
35 Fireproof Moth Milo Thornberry History
36 Hairy Men in Caves Marlin Bressi History
37 Pit Bulls Anthony Julian History
38 33 Jack the Ripper Suspect Dr. Francis Tumblety Michael Hawley True Crime
39 Touring America by Automobile in the 1920s William Cook History
40 39 The Hidden Legacy of World War II Carol Vento Biography
Admiral McCauley’s international thriller “Death Knell of the Caliphate” tops Milford House Press bestsellers for September

Admiral McCauley’s international thriller “Death Knell of the Caliphate” tops Milford House Press bestsellers for September

MILFORD HOUSE PRESS – Bestsellers for September 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Death Knell of the Caliphate Scot McCauley Spy Thriller
2 NEW Moon Games Shelly Frome Detective Thriller
3 2 Going Home Sharon Marchisello Murder Mystery
4 4 A Lenape Legacy Doris Wilbur Historical
5 NEW Out of This World Joanie Findle YA Horror
6 The B Team Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
7 Of Guilt and Innocence John Scanlan Police Procedural
8 Victims of Circumstance John Scanlan Police Procedural
9 The Closer Alan Mindell Sports Fiction
10 12 Where Elephants Fought Bridget Smith Historical
11 Trolls in the Attic Joanie Findle YA Horror
12 7 The Broken Lance Jess Steven Hughes Historical
13 1 Emeralds of the Alhambra John Cressler Historical
14 11 Fortune’s Lament John Cressler Historical
15 A Brother’s Cold Case Dennis Herrick Murder Mystery
16 6 Winter of the Metal People Dennis Herrick Historical
17 The Titan Strain Virginia Soenksen Dystopian Fiction
18 3 The Peacekeeper Jess Steven Hughes Historical
19 14 The Wolf of Britannia I Jess Steven Hughes Historical
20 Three Rogues in Gettysburg J Geoffrey Barber Historical
Kachuba’s “Dark Entry” repeats at #1 for Hellbender Books for September

Kachuba’s “Dark Entry” repeats at #1 for Hellbender Books for September

HELLBENDER BOOKS – Bestsellers for September 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 1 Dark Entry John Kachuba Supernatural Thriller
2 5 The Devil Tree Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
3 The Devil Tree II Keith Rommel Supernatural Thriller
4 2 The Keeper of the Crows Kyle Alexander Romines Supernatural Thriller
5 The Bookseller’s Secret Cathering Jordan Supernatural Thriller
“Inspirational Creatures” by Michele Livingston debuts as the Ars Metaphysica bestseller for September

“Inspirational Creatures” by Michele Livingston debuts as the Ars Metaphysica bestseller for September

ARS METAPHYSICA – Bestsellers for September 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Inspirational Creatures Michele Livingston Metaphysical
2 7 Living in the Afterlife Michele Livingston Metaphysical
3 NEW Stalked by a Demon, 2 ed Tess Rutjens Paranormal
4 1 Jesus the Phoenician Karim el Koussa Religious History
5 3 The Phoenician Code Karim el Koussa Metaphysical Fiction
6 5 The Complete Story of the Worldwide Invasion of the Orange Orbs Terry Ray Paranormal/UFOs
7 8 Messages from Beyond Michele Livingston Metaphysical
8 9 Der Lange Verborgene Freund John George Hohman Folk Magic
9 4 Pythagoras the Mathemagician Karim el Koussa Historical Fiction
10 OneWay: The Message Robin McClellan Metaphysical Fiction
H A Callum’s “Whispers in the Alders” is the Brown Posey Press bestseller for September

H A Callum’s “Whispers in the Alders” is the Brown Posey Press bestseller for September

BROWN POSEY PRESS – Bestsellers for September 2018 (by Revenue)
Rank Prior Title Author Category
1 NEW Whispers in the Alders H A Callum Literary Fiction
2 3 Happiness Is in the Kitchen Giulio Alberoni Culinary History
3 The Search for Judd McCarthy Dennis Clausen Literary Fiction
4 5 Live from the Cafe Tory Gates Literary Fiction
5 The Sins of Rachel Sims Dennis Clausen Literary Fiction
6 NEW Darker Gifts Stefan May Poetry
7 Shitepoke Michael Barton Humor
8 10 Roadman Stefan May Poetry
9 Hatched Robert Barsky Literary Fiction
10 Why Aren’t You Sweet Like Me? Carrie Nyman Literary Fiction