7 Ways to Sell Your Book in the Real World

While all writers live in a world of make-believe, a warm safe place where we go to plot our stories, there comes a time when all writers need to step out of world we’ve created and become a part of the real world of actually selling that book you put your blood, sweat and tears into.

Once that book is published a writer needs to get down to the business of promoting that same book that kept them hidden away in their fantasy world all those months. The truth is, many writers would like nothing better than to leave the promotion of their books to someone else. I mean, wouldn’t that be wonderful if we only had to spend our time writing and not have to bother our heads about book sales at all? Wouldn’t that be a writer’s dream? Realistically speaking, that’s not very realistic. Not in the real world. Whether you’re a self- published or traditionally published author you need to pitch in and do your share.

As a published author, you need to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to sell your books. You might not be able, or willing, to do everything I’m about to suggest, but don’t you owe it to yourself to give it a shot? As one author put it, “I’ll do anything for my book.” If we’re going to go though all the work to have our book published shouldn’t we do just that?

Here are a few ideas for opportunities to watch out for right in your own “real world” community.

  1. Craft Fairs: This year I made a commitment to take part in some craft fairs in the area where I live. It all started in May Fall 2014 117when I saw a billboard by a  local legion selling tables for their upcoming craft fair and it got me thinking. Books are crafts, right? And a little something different than what you’re likely to see at most craft fairs. Tables ranged from $10 -$ 20 depending upon the venue. Some can be even pricier depending upon how popular the event is so check before hand. Books don’t take up a lot of space and set-up time doesn’t take long. A few times an author friend of mine, Jan Coates, came along and we shared a table.  Not only did we get to chit-chat to the people who stopped by our table but we kept each other company during the slow times. The day flew by!
  2. Festivals: Keep your eyes open for any festivals that are planned for your area. Some of these festivals are very well attended. For instance, the local museum puts on a  Heritage Blueberry Festival every year. As part of the festival they have an area  designated for vendors to set up. That particular event attracts over 500 people. I  had a wonderful time at this festival. A friend of mine came to keep me company that day and was absolutely astounding when it came to “talking up my book.”
  3.  Farmers Markets: I know a few authors who regularly take their books to the local farmers market. While I’ve never personally         gone to a farmers market I’ve  heard some wonderful stories from other authors who have. Some of them go every week.
  4. Ask small business owners in the area to carry your books. If you’re lucky they’ll  say yes, and accept them on consignment for an agreed upon percentage. Chances are yours will be the only book they carry, so you’ll be unique. And sometimes unique is also eye-catching. My books are  available at the convenience store right in the community where I live, (how cool is that?) as well as the local museum in a nearby community, and several craft shops. You’d be surprised how many copies they’ve sold.
  5. Readings: What better way to interest people in your book than taking part in a public reading? Some of these events will also have copies of your book on hand. I  know, reading in public can be a scary thing. I can remember a time when the thought of reading my work in public was terrifying. But with lots of practise I no longer feel my knees go weak or my heart hammering out a strange tune.      I’ve now read at Word on the Street several times, as well as several library readings and a literary night held in a neighbouring community where I was also invited to sell copies of my book.
  6. Carry copies of your book with you wherever you go. I’ve been doing this since I  met a gentleman who told me his wife had sold 800 copies of his book from her purse. Wherever they went his wife took along three copies. I can’t begin to tell you how many people, once they find out you’re an author, will ask  you right on the spot if you have any copies on you. So be prepared!
  7. Fight the fear and be ready to say yes.  While saying yes can sometimes be a scary thing it’s always important to be willing to take part in as many opportunities as we can, when and if they arise. Reading in public, being interviewed by the local paper, radio, or TV station can be as scary as it gets. My advice is to say yes when opportunities arise unless you have valid reasons for declining. And no,“I’m too scared” is not a valid reason. My experience has been that the thought of things are always more frightening than actually doing it. Many of us are self-conscious and don’t really like being in the limelight. We’re writers and many of us are introverts. But sometimes even introverts need to come out of their shells and make themselves visible.

So I’ll leave you with seven opportunities to watch out for selling books in the “real world.” I’m sure if you keep looking you can come up with plenty of other opportunities for selling your book in the real world. You’re welcome to share any of your ideas in the comment section.

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19 Comments

  1. Great ideas Laura. I have done many of these and it sure paid off. Always carry a book or two with you is such a great idea.

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  2. Great suggestions, Laura! There really are many opportunities out there. You just have to think outside the box and consider all possibilities.

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    • Thanks, Susan, and thank you for sharing my post on Facebook and Twitter! There are opportunities out there it just takes a little ingenuity to figure it out.

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  3. Wonderful ideas, Laura. I’ve seen books at craft fairs but all the other opportunities you mention are wonderful as well. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Bless you, Laura. What great ideas! My traditional publisher does not participate in sales. I’ve been discouraged with that. Your suggestions are very helpful. Thank you for sharing your ideas.

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    • I really hope these are helpful to you. And best of luck with the marketing of your book. It’s too bad that your publisher does not participate in sales. I guess it’s all up to you.

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  5. Great ideas, Laura. Perhaps yard sales may be a good way to sell a few copies, and maybe Kijiji and eBay? Worth a try.

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  6. Seven opportunities that are brilliant and sure to help me sell some books. Thank you, Laura! I brought 4 books with us to Bucerias and I have 2 left. I would have brought more if they weren’t so darn heavy in my suitcase.

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  7. Laura, I would so love to follow you on these great treks … especially craft fairs … I could sell my book and my crafts at the same time. What a hoot !! One of these days I’ll face the real world of being in print. Until then, I’ll gather all the wonderful ideas my published writer-friends have to share 🙂

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    • Oh, it would be fun! Oh, and having both crafts and books sounds like a great idea! I look forward to the day when you’re ready to face the real world with your words!

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  8. These are all great places to sell books (and buy books!) and meet new people! I’ll be reading at the 2015 Elizabeth Bishop festival in Great Village this summer. This is an awesome and super helpful post, thanks! 🙂

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    • Glad it was helpful, Libby. And congrats to you. Is this your first public reading? Hopefully, one day I’ll have the opportunity to hear you. 🙂

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      • I’ve been doing public speaking for nine years, and have been doing poetry/short fiction readings at church, art galleries, and art festivals for about five years. I’ve been blessed with so many opportunities! Maybe I’ll blog about them sometime. 🙂

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        • Oh Libby, how fortunate you are to have had all these experiences that are paving the way for you to shine in even greater ways. Way to go!!

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