How are You Planning to Sell Books? by Jaimie Engle of The Write Engle

Creating a Marketing Plan for 2018

By now you realize that authors are responsible to be proactive in book sales, regardless of their publishing status as a self-pub, indie, or Big 5 publishing choice. How can you accomplish this? How do you sell books? How do you track sales?

How much do you want to sell?

I know it seems like a silly question, but how many books do you want to sell? Have you set a sales goal? And how can you realistically accomplish that goal? There are several things to consider in answering this question:

  1. Deciding the numbers—How many books would you like to sell? One a day? Five a day? 100 a day? That’s 365, 1,825, and 36,500, respectively. Do those numbers seem attainable?
  2. Equating the work—How many books are you currently selling? You should have clear sales records to know that answer. Where are you selling those books? Face to face? Online? Through the publisher? Are you happy with this? Do you wish you were selling more online than face to face or vice versa? Knowing the number of books you want to sell and how many you are currently selling will give you insight into where you need to focus your work efforts.
  3. Tracking the sales—For me, face to face provides the best sales results. So I know that a single school visit will provide at least 25 sales. If I want to sell 1 book a day, that’s 14.6 school visits. School is in session for 40 weeks, so that’s an achievable goal. If I wanted to sell 5 books a day that would mean 73 school visits. Still achievable, but much more difficult at nearly 2 visits a week for the whole year. The other option is to increase sales per visit. If I double sales, then this number drops from 73 visits to 36.5. That’s much easier.
  4. Re-evaluation—Say I track my sales and learn that I am happy with my face-to-face sales of 25 per visit. I’m comfortable with 14 school visits a year. But I still want to sell 5 books a day. Can I reform my business plan to either boost my face-to-face sales or find ways to successfully sell online. What has worked in the past? Do you see a spike in sales after you win contests? Post short stories on your blog? Receive a review? Guest blog or join a blog tour? What about awards? Finding which of your efforts produces results is the best way to sell more books.
  5. Starting over—Back to square one, you can now focus your attempts on other marketing attempts. Maybe you will want to try paid advertising on Facebook. Perhaps you would like to offer your book for a contest or giveaway or reduced rate through the publisher. The key is to try it once and stay in the game long enough to track your results. Figure out the best way to sell books.

When you keep detailed records of your sales and when you know which of your efforts brings in the best results, then, you can fine tune what works and find ways to boost sales or see what’s been a waste of time and find other avenues. Just because other authors find success on Facebook or guest blogging, doesn’t mean you will. Your audience may not buy online, or may be reading educational sites that you haven’t reached out to yet.

Having a map

You can’t expect to sell books if you just want to sell books. And you will be disappointed in your sales if you don’t even know how many books you want to sell. 10,000 sales sounds wonderful, but what does that mean in terms of marketing and promotions? How many hours do you need to put into your business researching, blogging, speaking, and selling to reach that number? Those are questions you need to ask and answer before you decide that you aren’t selling enough copies.


I recommend creating an excel spreadsheet to track your sales and results of your marketing efforts. Begin by deciding how many books you’d like to sell this year or per month or per day. Then, categorize every avenue you’ve tried or plan to try (especially if your book hasn’t released yet) and keep track of your sales on a monthly or quarterly basis in each category. See where your efforts are producing the most return. You may be busy traveling to libraries and book signings, but if you aren’t selling any books, this may not be the best way to spend your time. Once you can see on paper where your books are selling and how many, then you will be able to adjust your marketing strategies to provide the most sales in the most time effective manner. For me, I’m dumping my MailChimp newsletter and only focusing my social media efforts on Instagram (no more Facebook or Twitter for this girl!). Why? They aren’t producing. Why keep paying with time and money if it’s not working.

What are your goals for 2018? What changes will you make from last year and what worked well that you plan to continue? I’d love to know! Feel free to comment below.

Jaimie Engle writes dark thrillers for teens where magic turns ordinary into extraordinary. She loves weaving lore into her stories and taking her readers on wondrous adventures. Engle is a cosplayer, podcaster, entrepreneur, and speaker at schools, conferences, and colleges. She has indie published several award-winning books and created WickBooks™ story-scented candles to enhance the readers experience. Support her at and follow at


  1. Great ideas! I'll definitely come back to this post.

  2. It's those things we don't WANT to think about but definitely HAVE to figure out. I'm glad it was helpful!

  3. Definitely better than the "fling it out there and see if it sticks method", of which I may or may not be guilty...thanks, Jaimie! :) xoxo

    1. My pleasure, Jodi! Running a business is definitely NOT the first thought when you think of life as an author, but it's the truth. XOXO

  4. You HAVE to look at the numbers. So true.

    1. Yes, otherwise you will never know... Thanks for commenting, Holly!


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