Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Why not have fun selling your books ~

by Ginger Nielson

Wow! Your book has just been published.  The journey you took to get from blank page to that precious book you hold in your hand was well worth the struggle, the set backs, the interruptions, and the critiques along the way.  Now you have copies to sell.  You also have to sell yourself to the public.

It is time to get your book and your vision out there.  Some bookstores will be happy to oblige you. After all they will make money if you sell your books through them.  But some bookstores are either not so willing or unable to host newcomers to the marketplace.

That leaves another solution. Selling your books elsewhere.  Some venues may be well suited to a book sale with the proper amount of publicity.  Libraries may have book signing events for local authors.  If you are in the children's book market you might be able to convince the Children's librarian to allow you an event with some games, crafts, or giveaways for the children.

A bit of planning ahead is needed. You have to let people know you are going to be out there.

Before you commit to an alternative venue for selling and signing your books, consider sending out an email to all your contacts letting them know where and when you will be presenting your work.
This is a great time for you. It is something to shout about and let your friends know the good news.
Publish the news on your blog, on any social media connection you have, and ask friends to do the same.

Many schools have book nights where more than one author will be present signing copies of their books.

Some farmer's markets and Sunday afternoon antique and flea markets will also rent a table to anyone willing to pay the price, sit in the sun or rain for about 4 hours, and take their chances with the rest of the crowd.

Some retail stores with particular lines of clothing or toys might also welcome a book signing if you have what they think might appeal to their customers. Your presence may also be giving the retailer a boost.

The alternative venues are often a great source of public exposure and sales can result in some of the most unexpected ways.  But, there is work to be done if you want to succeed in an unusual venue.

The plus side here is that you putting your name and face out there for the public.
You want them to remember you, your book, and your vision. You need to make sure that is the end result even if you don't sell many books. It is wise to take advantage of any reasonalble offer if you are seeking exposure.

Be sure to have a poster, or announcement in plain site well before the event. Even the local newspaper may be willing to give you a bit of press space.

Make sure any display of you and your books and any art associated with it looks great!

People walk through many venues quickly and you want to stand out. If you are limited to a small table bring an inexpensive carpet to lay down in front of your space. The more colorful the better.  You can find such things at outlets, dollar stores, or Job Lot stores.  How about decorating your space with a plant or two?

Maybe your book is a period piece. Why not wear a costume.

Maybe your book is a brightly colored children's picture book. Why not have some illustrations on display.

Are there bookmarks, sell sheets, take home flyers available? Why not make some of have some made.

Are you selling prints of any of the illustrations or posters suitable for framing? Or, do you have some already framed prints ready to sell?

Are there small take away items that children might love to have that are associated with your book?

Consider a guest book or sign up sheet that will allow customers to leave a name or email, or home address for info about your upcoming work, and appearances.

Have some of your best reviews on display either in the sell sheet, or as larger printed pieces accompanied by a cover shot or an illustration from inside your book.

Here is one more little item that may have escaped some in the past.... Sign your work so that people can actually read your name.  A squiggle is fine, but people who want a signed copy of a book want to show of your name as well. Yes, your name is on the cover, but that signature inside the book is precious to the new owner.

Consider the forms of payment for your work.
Try to take as many forms of payment as possible.  You can certainly take cash, but consider check and also credit card. You can get a device called a "SQUARE" that attaches to your iPad or cell phone and becomes a card swiper. The details on using one can be found at: The Square Card Reader

All good wishes to you for your first, and for all those book signings to follow.


  1. I overlooked this article. It hadn't posted when I scheduled my post for Wednesday, and yesterday was so frantic ...

    Anyway, thank you for another article to help us promote ourselves and our books.


  2. Oh, considering payment options: Remember if you take credit cards to allow for the 4% or more the credit card company will take for its services.

  3. Ginger, great book marketing tips. I hadn't thought about accepting credit cards. How cool.

    I'll be linking to this.

    Karen Cioffi Writing and Marketing

  4. Great ideas, Ginger! I've got some of my own percolating now for when my book comes out next summer but dressing in period costume wasn't one of them. Will have to remember that one. There were some gorgeous Victorian era gowns!

    Excellent point Vivian reminding us of the percentage the credit card companies charge.

    If I'm not mistaken, if you're set up to sell on your website via PayPal, they also charge a fee.

  5. If a purchaser uses a credit card to pay through PayPal or your website is set up as a business account on PayPal, they charge a fee.

  6. Find out how 1,000's of people like YOU are earning their LIVING online and are living their dreams right NOW.