Selling your paperback novel without paying a fortune for advertising.

The fees for advertising are becoming ridiculous. Gone are the days where we could put our item up on social media and have it gone out to all our family and friends. So, if you are like us and chose to give personalised service, here are some ideas to help you sell face to face, the old-fashioned way. And to let you in on a little secret, we have sold this way for years now and happy with the results. We always say, if you enjoy writing the story, why not enjoy selling it too? We relish the challenge. Especially when our stand is packed, and a previous purchaser returns the next week to say how much they enjoyed the story.

Selling from our personal stock

When asked what bookstore sells our books, unfortunately, the answer, “all online bookstores” is never what they want to hear. Only once did I find someone interested in the ebook version. Everyone else I meet is all about the paperback and they want in now.

‘Have you got a copy I can look at?’ they ask.

‘Of course.’ One of us goes and retrieves a copy of the one that interests them.

After, we leave the novel to give the purchaser time to read the blurb and flip through the first few pages. When we go back, it is always the same. ‘How much is this one?’

With the price excepted, the transaction is cash and delivery, already in their hands. No postage fee, nor do we have to split the royalties with a third-party seller… Bonus!

As you can see below, they buy and come back for more. Love it!


Selling at local markets

Market days are so much fun. We rock up an hour before opening and secure a spot for our table. If we can get it under shelter, it is better as we don’t have to set up the gazebo. Some markets held in small communities such as caravan parks are free, but it depends on what is around. Mostly, we never pay more than $10.00 or thereabouts. Easily retrieved with the first book sold. 

Festive seasons are busy, so ring or email the coordinator to make sure you secure your spot. We have fun dressing up our table with bits and pieces from home, so it is never at an expense. 

For this style of selling, get your elevator sales pitch (20 words) down pat as you only have a moment before a potential client leaves to peruse the next table.

It is said that 20 words are the most you can say in an effective elevator pitch. Some say thirty seconds, but new surveys show the average attention span has declined from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, making it a 33% fall, over the past few years. 

Even this blog is too many words for some to stay interested. So, I hope you stay. 

One of my pitches; “My research for that novel took me to the clouds, the stars, and to the mythology linked to the constellation.” (20 words with 4 key words to trigger a response.) I have better, but thought this an easy one to start with that shows how to write a pitch.

If any of those words interest the buyer, they will make a comment and if favourable, I continue. If the look is blank, I direct them to other genres they might be interested in. If mythology does not spark interest, paranormal or espionage does. If not hearing any positive acclamations from them either, I move on to the next shopper. Some who are unsure at first, may linger and listen and it’s best to leave them to do so. They are still deciding so flash them a smile or include them now and then. They are interested. You just haven’t won them over just yet. 

The trick is making every book sound too good to put down. Even if they leave don’t be disheartened. Quite often they come back and purchase later before leaving. As we know, a series can be heavy/awkward to lug around and it’s those stories they come back to purchase. 

We try to read the crowd and have learned not to oversell. Book lover of fantasy need time to read the cover and brows. Chatting in the background will have them walk away, unable to concentrate or decide. Many a customer we lost in the early days of selling, by not shutting up. <Chuckle>


We find sales in the strangest places. Like recently when we pulled into 80 Mile Beach caravan park and surprisingly, found they had a market on at 2 pm. A quick unpack and out came the camping table and a few books to join in on the fun. (no charge to join) We cleaned up and sold almost every book we had. With orders like this below, it didn’t take long to sell out. This was one of those end of the market day purchases I speak of above. Happy days!

Selling books at Supernovas

We sell our novels at Supernova events and eventually intend on setting up a stall in each state, but that is to come. Our experience is only from those in Queensland so far. These events and similar, target our genres, and we do very well. However, the cost to join in on the event is much higher and you will need to be in the zone if you wish to come out with a profit.

We once tried to split the cost and half our table with another fellow author, but we sold less. We found it much more profitable to go it alone. Will leave that up to you.

At a supernova, that elevator pitch is a massive draw and will need to be ramped up to entice these die-hard fans of fantasy. They are not looking for a new love, so get ready to entice.

A “must-have” for this event is a good advertising banner. It is amazing how it grabs the attention of like-minded, costume-wearing attendees. Dress your characters, or you up as you imagine they look. It adds to your ambience and the display. We have found this to be a big drawcard if you get it right. Nothing better than a picture, or other, showing a sexy and attractive protagonist or, antagonist to turn eyes in your direction.

GEN Y & Z and Alpha are the target market at these venues, so be trendy, fun, and let go!


Selling books to brick and mortar book shops and libraries. 

Take your book to a local bookstore and leave a copy at the local library. Most bookstores take a book from unknown authors on consignment. Others, purchase. Ask first if you are just passing through the town and need royalties upfront. If they don’t sell at the bookshop, I hear the library buy them. At least it ends up in readers’ hands, and word and mouth, can increase sales. Plus libraries do order more to keep up with demand if it is popular.


Talks to get known via the local library.

I have also been involved in “author talks” and “book launches” in the local library. Just go chat to them, they will advertise it as well. Very professional, and some libraries include tea and coffee for the guests.

Another way to improve your profile is to join a local Facebook writers’ group and become involved in events such as author talks

Only a few ideas to get you started. The key thing is to get out there, meet like-minded people, and honestly, I will not lie. The pay is not great, but rewards are huge.

Good luck, and until next time, enjoy selling your novel.

From the storytelling Cougar

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