Self-Published Authors, Don’t Buy More Books Than You Can Sell


Ever heard of Marie Kondo? She’s an organizing consultant who helps people declutter their homes.

I watched an episode of her Tidying Up show on Netflix recently even though I’m not really a packrat. It was more an act of pushy affection to prompt a loved one or two to watch it with me.

And in that regard, it worked.

As it turned out though, it also worked on me. Non-packrat or not, my current place is a transitional spot that’s on the small side. So everything I’ve acquired over the years that fit quite well into my various apartments just doesn’t work very well where I am right now.

My choices are then to either keep everything until I move on and move out in five to 10 months… or literally lighten my load by getting rid of stuff. Stuff like:

  • Clothes I keep around because, you never know, I could wear them someday

  • Movies or TV show collections I may eventually want to watch again

  • Books I haven’t read in forever...

No. Not the books. Never the books. I don’t care what Marie Kondo might say. The books stay.

Except, of course, for the ones in those dratted 40-pound boxes taking up closet space. Those need to be trashed.

I know it. Yet I keep holding onto them anyway for some reason I can’t quite wrap my head around. Except to say that they’re my books.

As in books I wrote. And ordered. And then never sold.

I haven’t opened those two boxes in a while. So I can’t be entirely sure which of my books are in them. However, if I had to take a guess, I’d say they’re full of Not So Human.

In that case, I would have bought them in anticipation of my authorial appearance at Faeriecon. Which turned out to be an absolute authorial bust. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, people apparently don’t go there to buy books. They go there to buy clothes and socialize.

So, lesson learned on that one.

Now, normally, in such cases, you simply go and find some other place to try selling your books. But there’s two problems with that this time around:

  1. I don’t actively promote Not So Human and its four fellow novels in person. It’s not that easy to find worthwhile, reasonably prices, fantasy-specific physical venues. So I stick to promoting it online and leave my face-to-face authorial interactions for my historical fiction books.

  2. I’ve since redesigned all my front covers, with the new Not So Human featured below.

Which means those two boxes full of old covers are going nowhere fast.

Unfortunately, my tale of woe in ordering more books than I can chew isn’t an uncommon one. That tragedy’s been written over and over again, since we authors overestimate our appeal over and over again.

This doesn’t have to be due to narcissism either. We’re excited about what we’ve produced! We want to share our enthusiasm with everyone we possibly can!

That’s a good thing. We’re supposed to be happy and proud and motivated. Please don’t think for a second I’m trying to dampen that passion.

All I mean to do is give a realistic tint to it. So when you’ve rented a booth at some venue to sell your books, don’t order 100 or more copies. Order 25. Fifty at most.

Then see how they sell.

If they sell well, reserve your spot for next year’s event, perhaps ordering more books that next time around.

If they don’t sell well, then guess what? You’ve already got your copies to bring to the next venue you go to.

When you start out small like that… fully prepared to grow from there… you’re less likely to waste your money.

And, as a bonus, you won’t find yourself saddled with two boxes of regret that do nothing but take up space in your already crowded closet. Which, for the record, is a major perk.

#selfpublishingadvice

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