How to Sell Books in Malaysia: Eveything I Did to Increase Sales

In 2019, I launched my first ever book, Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1. That did well (so much that I wrote a case study on selling online), so I worked on (1) a sequel and (2) the Malay translation.

After over a year of planning – including organising a writing competition to source for the short stories, hiring a Malay translator, getting the book designed and printed etc –  On 26 April 2020 finally I launched 2 new additions to the #MyMoneyStories book series:

  • Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 2. The sequel of the Money Stories series. It contains 11 personal finance-themed short stories
  • Cerita Duit Orang Malaysia: Jilid 1. The Malay translation of  Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1, with two additional stories (total 13 stories).

>>Click here to purchase all #MyMoneyStories books<<

Launching the books means *selling* the books. Because this is my second time doing it, and by now I have a bit of experience, I decided to make a how to sell books in Malaysia guide. I figured this guide would be useful for not just current and future book sellers, but also any online seller.

Before we start, a confession: SELF-PROMOTION IS STILL HELLA HARD FOR ME. I have a lot of mental block when it comes to promoting my own work (ESPECIALLY my own work). And that is NOT the trait of a good salesperson.

But… one does not grow in the comfort zone. So what if it’s hard, I get to challenge myself. And as one of my fav personalities, Marie Forleo said, “Do hard things” and “Everything is Figureoutable”.

How to Sell Books in Malaysia: What I Did to Increase Sales

#1 – Collaborating with writer-KOLs

In total, 12 new authors contributed short stories in both books, in addition to the initial 10 authors. Some of those writers are also KOLs (key opinion leaders) in their own right.

Here I have to say that their short stories were selected for #MyMoneyStories on their own merit – the stories were good. It’s just, their added reputation is definitely an added bonus.

In the new #MyMoneyStories, you can find stories from:

#2 – Doing a pre-order sale

As some of you may be aware, I held a special launch slash pre-order sales from dates 26 April – 8 May 2020, where the books cost a little bit cheaper than RRP (the sales ended already, just in case that wasn’t clear).

It should come to anyone’s surprise that doing sales tend to boost, well, sales.

#3 – Doing a combo deal

I also decided to do a 2-in-1 book deal, which helped to push two books at once instead of 1.

Note: Some of you asked why I didn’t bundle up Money Stories from Malaysians: Volume 1 and Volume 2 together. The reason is simple: to make the book sales’ calculations really clear. Many of my co-writers opted for profit-sharing option, or getting paid 1 year’s worth of profits from book sales. You can read more about this here.

#4 – Promoting via my social media

Finally, we get into the marketing side of it. Of course, in addition to posting about the book launch in ringgitohringgit.com, I also promoted the books in the Ringgit Oh Ringgit social media channels, which at the time of writing has around 29 thousand or so combined followers across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I also managed to plug the books in my new venture, the newly-launched Ringgit Oh Ringgit YouTube channel!

Side note about the channel. I’m so happy I finally got the guts to do it, after at least 2 years of *thinking* of doing it. I’m so glad I took the step!

#5 – Sharing testimonials to social media

I love this method the most, because it’s so genuine. Just me and a happy customer. For example, this interaction still makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside 🙂

 

#6 – Launching an affiliate system

Launching an affiliates system is hands-down one of my better ideas. I get to (1) encourage #MyMoneyStories book reviews and (2) let the RoR audience earn money from referrals at the same time??! What a perfect win-win situation!

And it’s working! I saw that a bunch of people successfully earned affiliate income already 🙂

For more information about the affiliate system, please read this article: [INCOME OPPORTUNITY] Sell Money Stories Book Series and Earn RM1.78-RM17 per order

Here are some reviews and mentions I’ve gotten!

From Cindy, who reviewed on GoodReads!:

From Bujang & Broke:

#7 – Started on an email funnel

Email marketing is something that’s fairly new for me. Now that I’m paying for MailChimp’s monthly subscription plan ($30 per month okay, it’s not a small amount!), I plan to make full use of it.

How the email funnel works is:

A) I offer you a freebie, in exchange for joining my email subscriber list

B) Every email subscriber will now get updates upon every new article released on Ringgitohringgit.com… plus a reminder to get the books if they haven’t.

It’s a very crude system. I don’t know if it’ll work, but a girl’s gotta try. By telling you this, sure I’m telling you my sales and funnel strategy, but I also feel at ease about it. Email marketing can be a bit manipulative sometimes and I don’t want to be manipulative.

How to Sell Books in Malaysia: What I Did NOT Do to Increase Sales

So I’ve shared how to sell books in Malaysia via methods #1-#7 listed above. Equally important, I feel, is sharing with you what strategies I decided NOT to do.

I’ve contemplated, and rejected these methods:

  • Telling you a portion of the sales will go to charity. I’m still donating, but that’s from my own pocket. I’m not going to capitalise on charity. I’m not going to use it as a marketing angle.
  • Working with influencers aka blogger outreach. Mostly because I thought corresponding with lots of them wasn’t an effective use of my time/effort. Rather than contacting and convincing them, I’d rather do the affiliate system method
  • Spend on Facebook Ads. I’ve decided on no ads, at least not yet
  • Hire a PR firm. Out of my budget. I could DIY it and write a press release and spam every reporter I know, hmm….
  • Organise live events. Honestly speaking, my mental health is at its limit and I just can’t bear the thought of doing these. My anxiety levels are already crazy as it is

Outcome of book sales (so far)

However, even with all those effort, I have to admit that unfortunately, I didn’t manage to hit my (ambitious) sales target. I wanted to hit RM15k during the 2 weeks of pre-order sales. But I only managed to hit RM5k.

Obviously, I wasn’t happy about failing this personal goal. In my money journal, I listed out the possible reasons why:

  • People have less money. It’s the freaking recession
  • People have other things to worry about, rather than get excited about my books. Like their health and livelihood
  • People just weren’t in the mood to read. Heck, *I* had trouble focusing. I usually read 2 books an average per month but in April, I couldn’t even finish one.

Those should be the reasons. Although, at the back of my head, there is this monster that keeps going ‘maybe its because people don’t like you anymore, Suraya, that’s why they didn’t buy’.

I pushed that voice away. That is the toxic part of my psyche talking, the one that keeps telling me to give up. I *know* I have support, and amazing audience. The lack of sales is due to timing. Just pure timing.

If you’ve read this far and, Idk, felt sorry for me or something, I want to say: don’t. I’m happy I gave it my all. I did what I could. It wasn’t enough, but I did my freaking best, given the situation, my capabilities and mental health.

And that’s enough, I am satisfied. Onwards and upwards. This is just the start anyway. I still have ~11 months to go to hit – and break – my sales target. Bring it on.

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