SFFMP 160: Making a Living Selling Physical Books at Conventions with Russell Nohelty

On this week’s show, we chatted with Russell Nohelty, who wrote for film, TV, animation, and comic books, before getting into novels a few years ago. He’s different from many of our guests in that he’s not doing much of his selling online. He makes a good living by traveling and selling his novels at conventions, thirty to forty cons a year.

We asked him all about which cons are worth going to, getting started as a newer author, getting onto panels, the costs of tables, and how to actually sell books while you’re there.

Here are some of the specifics covered in the interview:

  • Some of the reasons Russell likes selling at conventions, such as fewer authors that you’re competing with for attention (hundreds vs. the millions at Amazon), an opportunity to establish authority, and a chance to meet your target audience and also network with other authors.
  • How much you can expect to pay for a table and whether it’s better to be in Artists’ Alley or get a more expensive vendor booth in the Exhibition Hall.
  • When it’s okay to split the cost of a table with other authors.
  • Creating exclusive versions of your books for conventions (Russell uses the option at Ingram Spark to have books with different covers) and being able to charge more for them than at the bookstores.
  • Whether you need to be traditionally published or if anyone can buy a table.
  • Whether larger venues are likely to be more profitable or if it’s easier to be noticed and sell books at a smaller convention.
  • Collecting email addresses digitally at your table by using a tablet that signs visitors up to a list immediately.
  • Using giveaways of some of the popular products at the convention in order to get more list signups.
  • If there’s any chance at selling books if you’re introverted and not a natural salesman or saleswoman.
  • How many print copies of your books you should bring at a convention.
  • How Russell has occasionally found bookstores near the convention that will let him do signings and ship and store the books he’ll sell at the convention to them (as opposed to paying the high storage fees for the hotel or convention).
  • Selling USB drives with your whole library of ebooks on it for a great price to the reader that is still profitable to you.
  • Resources Russell mentioned for finding conventions: Convention Scene, ConCon, and Conosaurus.

Find out more about Russell and sign up to get a number of his books for free on his website.

If you’re interested in getting better at selling your work, you may want to check out Russell’s 20 minute video at Sell More Cool Things.

He’s also written the book Sell Your Soul: How to Build Your Creative Career.



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