5 Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Books: Tip #5

5 Tips to help you sell your books at a market. Tip #5: Displays

I would like to start off by thanking all of you who have read my posts in this series. I know you have valuable things to do and you did not have to read it, so again, thank you.

Without further preamble or whatnot:

TIP #5: Displays

While the following is intended for markets and book fairs, it can also be useful at book signings. Think about when you walk into a book store what they do. They have far more books than you, but they try to display as many as possible in such a way that you see them, even if you don’t look at them.

So here are four things that I learned:

  • Flat books mean flat sales. If people can’t see the books, then they are not drawn to them. Buy book stands or small shelves. Get your books up and facing people. I recently went to a yard sale and bought a small wire book display rack. Now the books were standing, people were more willing to pick them up and look at them. I put the same book on the rack and flat on the table; we sold the books on the rack, and none on the table!
  • Put down cloth to brighten up often beat up and dirty tables. Bring objects that will attract people to look at them. One member brings stuffed animals (not for sale) that go with the animals in her books.
  • Volume sells. If there is only one book left, for some reason, people will rarely look at it, especially if they are laying flat. No joke! Put 3 books in a pile and you can sell 2. Put 13 in a pile and you can sell 12. Book racks are the anomaly. For some reason, people will buy books on a rack, even singles.
  • Keep them above the knees. People don’t like to bend down to look at things. Keep them up at least above the knees, but waist height is better. Racks and shelves on tables bring books up to adult eye height, but away from kids. Understand who is buying and looking at your books.


A good display helps draw people in, it lets them see the merchandise, handle the merchandise and make it more likely that they will buy something.

Again, don’t be afraid to change things up. Sometimes the lighting changes and moving stuff helps. A book that sold last time up front does better in the back. A book that drew people in at the last event doesn’t do the same thing at your current one. Make small changes by what you see people looking at and what they aren’t. Moving that book that no one is looking at up front might be the book that ends up drawing people in.

So, the next time (or the first time) that you are off to sell your books, I hope that you can use some of these Tips and Tricks to help you be successful.

I would like to think all my PALS friends at SCBWI for giving me the time to learn how to sell my future book(s…hopefully). Your advice, expertise and friendship is greatly appreciated.

5 Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Books: Tip #4

5 Tips to sell your book at a market. Tip #4: Be Busy

Man! You are on fire! You are in the perfect spot and you have been flying through sales of your book!


You immediately wonder if you are done. Did you hit your mojo max? Will anyone return? Is the market over?

Then you check your watch and realize you still have 4 hours to go! But where did everyone go?

You have hit the dreaded slow time of the day. Foot traffic slows. Sales stop. Time oozes along like your favorite uncle at Thanksgiving dinner after finishing off half the turkey by himself.

TIP #4: Be Busy!

Okay, I can hear you already. How can I be busy if no one is there?

If you look bored or tired, people don’t want to talk to you. I also see people making the mistake of making themselves busy by reading a book or wandering away to see other vendors. If you do not make yourself available, those few people milling about will walk on by.

Use this time to make yourself busy. Find things to do that get you up and help your sales.

  • During slow times, tidy up your space. Restock books. Organize books. Rearrange books and displays.
  • When you are up out of your seat, you seem less bored and pay more attention. You can potentially make eye contact with someone walking up and make them curious as to what you are doing or what have you been selling that you need to rearrange.
  • This also helps pass the time. Things will pick up again.

Use these down times to your advantage and get up and stretch. Look at your books and decide what has been working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to rearrange. Put a different book in your highlighted space, especially if the one that is there isn’t selling. Display is a huge part of sales.

Come back next week for my final installment, Tip #5: Displaying your books.

Again, I can hear some of you asking why I waited for the last tip to be on displays. Shouldn’t that have been earlier? Well, it is my blog, so my rules.

5 Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Books: Tip #3

5 Tips to sell your books at your local market. Tip #4: Be Busy

You are at the market. You have the perfect space. Great signage. People are stopping and looking.

Now what?

Now it is time to sell. And you freeze. Or you oversell!

Tip #3: The Sell

Some people are born salesmen; I am not. So what do you do?

Let’s start with what you do not do:

  • Do not just sit there. You are a person, not a statue!
  • Do not barrage them with information. If you talk fast and are too helpful, it drives people away. (Yes, you can be too helpful)


Now, what should you do:

  • Take a breath. Calm yourself and smile. This is important to do as well between pitching book sales to give the potential buyer a moment to peruse.
  • Pitch one book at a time. You might ask questions to help narrow down what the potential buyer might be looking for, but never take away the chance for the person to discover that “treasure.”
  • Know your material. If you are selling books by other authors, make sure you know a bit about them and their books.
  • Watch what the people do. If they pick up a book, be sure to give them a moment and then tell them what makes that book unique. One PALS member is an expert in that. When someone touches one of her books, she instantly tells the potential buyer the cute little story behind the story and then ends with “…I would be happy to autograph that for you!” (Note: do not overdo it. Don’t repeat that with every book the same potential customer picks up)
  • Sell yourself. Make a connection to the buyer or their kids. One member will show the kids pages from her book and ask them questions. It is not about the sale, it is about you and the book. But amazingly, it can turn into a sale because people like to see their kids happy.


Selling is an art form. Some people are naturally better than others. Find someone who is good at it and watch them. Listen to not only what they say, but how they say it. Practice your pitch. Remember to take a breath and be genuine. If you got someone to stop, they are interested.

And if you have ever worked a market or a fair, you know there is down or slow times. This may be traffic or just your booth.

Next week I will present Tip #4: Be Busy

5 Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Books: Tip #2

5 Tips to selling your book at a local market or fair. Tip #2: How to get people to stop

So you have a book to sell. You have picked out a market or a book fair to sell your books. There are thousands of people milling around and passing you by. You are getting discouraged and wondering why no one will stop and look at your book!



How To Get People To Stop

There are many ways to get people to stop and there are many more ways to drive people away.

Here is a tip don’t: Don’t stand outside of your booth and peddle your wears. That just annoys people and they walk faster. Their first thought is that you are another snake oil salesman and they tune you out.

So what should you do?

Greet people and look busy (later tip). People want someone who is genuinely happy to see them and be there.  If you look bored or tired, people will move on. Greeting them as they come up or pass by will cause people to make eye contact and take notice of their (and your) surroundings.

Signage is good. Put up banners telling why you are there, what you are selling, and what they can get. Some authors put up their banners touting their name and books. We have a banner that says Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Both of those are good, but they are not going to get most people to stop.

Here are two things that will help you draw people in:

#1 Put up a sign that reveals an author is signing books. People want a chance to brush with fame. You may not be “famous” but if you published a book, that is noteworthy. People can buy books anywhere, but how often can you get a book signed and personalized. People will stop and buy just for that.

I have seen people put down books when they found out that they were not signed and the author wasn’t there. I have also seen people come in just to buy that book without ever opening it or having ever seen it before simply because the author was there.

When an author is there, their sales are significantly higher. One PALS member come one day last summer and sold more books on that day than the that entire summer or this one!

#2 Eye Candy. No, not a model or cute little animals, though the animals thing does work, but something that catches people’s eye and makes them come closer to look. One of our PALS is a quilter and made a small quilt with moose on it. We hung it on one side of the pop up tent and people would walk up just to admire it (and often try to buy it). Find something like that to attract people, to cause them to slow down, peak their curiosity, or to admire.

Sometimes that eye candy (or supporting candy) are the books themselves. If you have multiple books and one has a cute or intriguing title or might be geared towards the marketgoers, putting them up front and on display will help draw people in.

You need people willing to stop or slow down, even for a moment. Once you have them there, make sure you are genuine and polite. Say hi to them. Compliment them on something they are wearing (keep it general and not creepy please!). Ask them a question. (try to stay away from philosophy, politics and religion; stick with “How are you doing today?” or “Welcome! Where are you from?”)

Interacting with people could be a tip all in itself, but it varies depending on your comfort level, the venue and who you are trying to sell to.

So now you have them in your booth, what do you do?

Next week I will share my Tip #3: The Sell.

5 Tips and Tricks to Sell Your Books

5 Tips to help you sell your book at local markets and book fairs. Tip #1

I am a newly published author with a book release date for April of 2019. This is very exciting and I am trying to make sure I have everything ready so I do not look like a total newbie. And there is so much to learn, but unfortunately, they don’t really have books that really tell you what the experience is going to be like. This is probably due to the fact that each experience, like each story, is unique.

So, before you go on, I want you to understand that what I am putting together for you today is not how to sell your book to an agent or editor. I am not going to tell you how to market your book. This article is about how do YOU sell YOUR published book in markets and book fairs.

Nothing teaches you better than experience. Of course, I have none since my book isn’t even out yet! So I turned to my regional chapter of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators) who helps support regional traditionally published authors (PALS) at a local weekend market in downtown Anchorage, Alaska. The PALS (many of which have years of experience) get together six times over the summer to help support one another as they sell their books to the abundant tourists who pass through our state.

In our state, we have many books published to catch the tourist’s eye, but sadly, many of them are not written by local authors nor are they carried in many of our local gift shops. Our booth helps give exposure to our well written books while providing the visiting public with the opportunity to get a book signed and personalized from the author.

I decided that if I wanted to learn about selling my own book, I needed to learn from those who already had experience. Over the next few weeks, I will post 5 Tips that I have learned while helping sell books.

TIP #1: Location, Location, LocationIMG_0800

This seems pretty straight forward, right? But there are a lot of factors to think about. It is not just about where you go, but when and what your goal is.

Think about what kind of market you are going into. Will it be a place to sell books? What kind of people will be there and what are they doing? Understand not only your marketplace, but your market.

Learn the flow of your market. You want to be where people want to be, where people can stop and linger. At our market, there is a stage. This can be a blessing and a scourge. While it is nice to have music playing and making people happy, you can’t control it. If it gets loud or a poor performer, people will move away.

There are so many things to watch for: bathrooms stink, food vendors smell good, but you wind up with people carrying food into your booth and accidents happen. Just be aware of your surroundings and try to get someplace with good visibility and traffic.

Also, especially if you are at an outdoor market, rain and wind do not play well with books. Choose your day well. Poor weather will also drive away crowds or cause them to rush. We set up 6 times over the summer and always wait until close to the day to determine the weather.

Even if you choose the best market on a perfect day, that alone won’t sell your books. You can have thousands of people walk by and they won’t stop. If they don’t stop, then you won’t sell any books.

Next week, TIP #2: How to get people to stop.


Puppy Love

“He’s coming! He’s coming!”

Jed runs to the door. “Come quick before he leaves!”

Jed runs to the window. “I see him! I see his hat!”

“Wait. Where is he going? Oh, that is not him.”


“Wait! There he is! He’s coming!”

Jed runs to the door. “Come quick before he leaves!”

Jed runs to the window. “There he is! I see him! Hurry!”

Jed jumps. “Hurry!”

Marie comes from the kitchen and pats Jed’s head. “It’s okay. Here you go.”

Jed bolts out the door and down the walk.

“Where is he? Where did he go?”

Jed jumps as Marie opens the shiny box. She pulls out a red wrapped box and undoes the bow.

“It looks like it is for you.”

Jed sniffs the box, then paws at the box.

“What is it? What is in the box?”

He claws at the box and rips open the wrapping.

“A bone! But from who?”

Marie laughs. “You got a Valentine bone from the cute collie you met in the park.”

Jed pauses his chewing on the bone. From a girl?

Oh well. A bone is a bone.

First Valentine’s Day

Each day I check my mailbox shortly after nine

Hoping that in my mailbox will be a valentine.

I do not want anything fancy, just a card or two,

Nothing too mushy, just an “I’m thinking of you.”

I amble up to my mailbox then I count to ten.

I wonder if my mailbox Is empty once again?

I slip it slowly open and I peek inside

But only dust and darkness in my box reside.

I slowly shamble up the walk pushing tears away

Another lonely and empty Valentine’s today.

I sniffle and I snuffle opening my door

Suddenly I stop and I stare at something on my floor.

There lies a simple envelope decorated red

And inside a card for me and this is what it said,

“I know it is Valentine’s Day, here’s a card for you

To let you know I like you, I hope you like me too.”

Who could this Valentine’s come from, it wasn’t here before?

I step out onto the porch and spy the boy next door

Peeking over the bushes before he runs away

I close my eyes and smile for My First Valentine’s Day.