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One of the most frequent complaints I get from authors is “I did a booksigning at a bookstore and it was a total waste of time. I can’t sell books that way.”


Unless you are Barbara Walters, John Grisham, Nora Roberts or a few other big names in the country, your visions of people lined up around the block should probably come under the category of “fantasy.” So what do you do? Look for alternative outlets to sell books.


I am constantly amazed that people who have really creative minds in what they write have no clue on how to “think outside the box” when it comes to marketing.


Many years ago I sold Tupperware. I gave it up, not because I wasn’t successful at it, but because a squirrel got into the house and chewed up all of my samples. Yes, they were empty, but the little critters loved the taste of the plastic. I thoroughly enjoyed the party concept the company used, but I couldn’t afford another new kit of their products, which would just get chewed up again. (It’s not as easy to get rid of a squirrel in the house as you might think.)


Recently, the idea hit me that it could be just as much fun to host parties like that for our books. I live right next door to a fellow author/friend extraordinaire, Billie Williams. I discussed the concept with her, and she was agreeable to give it a try.

The first step was to go to our friendly VistaPrint and make up some brochures, telling a bit about ourselves and our books, then to issue an invitation to people to schedule a “Book-Aware Party.” Our names were prominently listed as “Your Author-ized Book-Aware Dealers.”


In planning the parties, you can either have the books you want to sell on hand, or you can do it like a true Tupperware party and have samples of the books for the guests to view and then order the books for delivery at a later date. Good common sense practice also comes into play in the financial end of it, as you can collect the money when they order it, so it costs you no out-of-pocket money. You can send the price you have to pay your publisher to buy the books, and you have the profits in your hand immediately.


Read a very enticing excerpt or two from your book/s at the party. Plan a few games that relate to the book. You might even go dressed as a character from your book. Give a door prize that relates to your book. I usually recommend that you never give a book away as a prize, but it might be a good idea to give the host a copy of the book ahead of time so they can read it and share in the enthusiasm of the book itself during the party. Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising in the world.

As per Tupperware parties, at the end of the party you book future Book-Aware parties from the guests. Everybody knows different people who aren’t at each party.


One other bonus you can promote is that when the guests finish reading the book, if they don’t want to keep it (just in case squirrels develop a taste for paper as well as plastic), they can donate it to local hospitals, senior citizen centers, homeless shelters, etc. That way they will get a tax-deductible receipt for the donation, so it really won’t cost them that much to buy the book in the long run.

Until next time, happy sales to you,

Janet Elaine Smith

Your Author-ized Book-Aware Dealer

It's still the best way to get the word out
How do you find out about the best restaurant in town? You ask your friends. What about the best movie? You read the reviews from the critics.
The same thing is true with books. One way to find out is to ask the clerks at your local bookstore. Or you can go to online bookstores. But there is another way to find reviews. In this day and age of online everything, there are lots of websites that are devoted strictly to reviewing books. They can give you what you are looking for, whether you are a reader who is simply looking for a good read and you don't want the same top 10 from the New York Times every week or if you are an author and you want to get your book noticed by the largest number of people, here are three of my favorite places for reviews.

SOS! for Authors--7th place
Click to learn more

                  HELP IS ON THE WAY!
Described as the "author's one-stop shopping mall," SOS! for Authors is here to help you with your marketing needs.

5 Ways to market your business with postcards:

1. Provide customers with promotional postcards they
can hand out to friends. 
2. Put your best offer on a postcard and send it out
to customers and prospects. 
3. Mail postcards out on a frequent basis to your
target audience. 
4. Make sure you convey your brand identity
5. Keep your messages clear and simple to understand. 

Once you have digested this information, go to and order yourself some really great postcards. Once you place that original order, you'll get a lot of free offers, including 100 free postcards quite often.


I'd like to break into the magazine market, but how do I know which magazines "fit" my writing?
The best way to scope out which magazines work for you is to go to your local magazine outlet and pick out the ones that appeal to you as a reader. Study it carefully. Then figure out what angle you can offer them that is a bit different, but still fits with their format and area of interest. Don't ever suggest an article that is almost identical to one you read in the latest issue.
Then write your pitch to the editor. Make sure you check the spelling of the editor and to see which one handles the type of article you are proposing.
The best tip I can offer: be sure to refer to one specific article in the issue that you really liked. Editors are people, too. Flatter will get you--well, maybe a foot in the door!

AUTUMN by K.Joel Smith/(c)2002

Whether your needs are for a children's book, technical drawings or a just-plain fun cartoon, this talented young illustrator is available for all authors. Why should you give him a try? Well, first of all, because he is very good. Second, his rates are very affordable. Third, he just happens to be my son, so of course he's great! Or, if you are looking for a new original painting for your home or for a gift, the above is just a sample. For more of his paintings, click on the picture above. For more information contact him at


A great book is like a great mind; it keeps on giving
over and over and over again!
Check Janet's books out here.