Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Using Groupon for Book Sales

Happy Wednesday, good people of the blogosphere! Wow, do I have an awesome idea for you all today. Strap yourselves in and grab a cup of coffee, because this is gonna be one wild ride!

As I often do, I was thinking of new and innovative ways to sell/market books. I have a friend named Eva Pohler (find her on Facebook here), and this idea comes from a little snafu she hit a little while back with Barnes & Noble booksellers. No, this doesn't trash B&N (I love that store!); it's just information about what happened with her books. Plus, if you've encountered this particular problem, it might be information about how to unload books.

I'm gonna start with Eva's story, and work my way up from there. Stay with me, folks!

So, Eva wanted to have her book in a brick and mortar store (don't we all?), and she decided that was her goal for 2015. Please understand, when Eva goes after something, she goes after it; nothing gets in her way. Gosh, I admire that. Anywhoooo... So, she speaks with someone from B&N and they tell her, in order to stock her books, those titles need to be returnable.

Quick aside: Books are the only (yes, only) retail merchandise that's returnable for a 100% refund. How crazy is that? Okay, back to the story!

In order to make a self-published book returnable, you must go through a company like Lightning Source. Eva did that, made the book returnable, and B&N ordered a great number of copies of her titles.

Needless to say, she came home one day to find boxes and boxes of her books sitting on her doorstep. This is where my idea begins. I only told you enough about Eva's tale to give you an idea of what we're dealing with: tons of books sitting in your living room that you have no way to sell.

For the rest of Eva's story, check out the interview she did with S. M. Boyce here. It's a long video, but it might save you some money someday, I suggest you check it out.

Moving on!

I started thinking: How the heck is she gonna sell all those books? Marketing is difficult enough without a crapload of inventory sitting in your house. If Amazon can't sell them, how can you?

Enter Groupon. Why this never occurred to me before, I have no idea. But it's been a growing platform for sales for years. If you find yourself in a position like Eva did, why not create a Groupon to help move that stock?

I did a little digging before I started this post, and creating a Groupon is free.

But how the hell does Groupon make money, Jo? I know they charge you something! And how can I guarantee they won't oversell my stuff and me end up scrabbling to get more?

Great questions! I asked them, too. From their site: Groupon charges a marketing fee that's a percentage of the revenue from sales. You can set the number of items available, and they'll only sell that many Groupons. For answers to other questions, check out the FAQ here.

Now, the big question here is (you totally knew I'd look this up, right?): How many people actually buy Groupons? Here's an article from 2011 that gives a pretty good rundown of the numbers then. The projected growth is off the charts (no pun intended). Yes, that's billions with a B.

Can you imagine your book in front of that many people?

It's a huge marketing opportunity, and we Indies have to always be looking for the new idea in marketing. I love my iPhone, and I have Groupon. My husband and I use it often (browsing there created this idea). But I never looked at it as a market for books until now.


Has my head been up my arse all this time? Or have I just never thought of it because it hasn't been done by anyone else? Either way, it's time to try something new, don't you think?

You may start here. Good luck!

What do you think? Will you try it?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. Interesting. Perhaps in a few months you can do a follow-up post about how this worked.

    1. I hope so! There are a couple of folks who intend to try it :) Fingers crossed!

  2. Interesting idea! I'd love to hear how it goes for people who try it!

    1. I'm planning to run a questionnaire for the people who did. I'll surely let you know :) Thanks for the comment, Tamar! :)


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