Public Book Selling Events


Try as we might, we can’t ever seem to take pictures at these events where we are actually engaged with anyone. We manage a quick shot setting up and then that’s that.

Yesterday, I did a book selling and signing event at a local grocery store that has agreed to carry my book. (Cue up the band to play some sort of celebratory music, because getting a store to carry a self-published book is not easy. In this case, I have local going for me and that counts for quite a bit more than people realize. Kudos to MarketPlace IGA in Port McNeill, BC)

Here is my analysis of the event.

Pluses of sitting out in a public space selling a copy of your own book:

  • Selling copies of a book you have written. (dah!) (10)
  • Seeing people you haven’t seen in years. (10)
  • Meeting new people. (10)
  • Talking about your book. (10)
  • Talking about the process of writing a book. (10)
  • Creating a buzz about yourself as an author. (10)
  • Putting your public presence right up there with your book and showing people that you are proud enough about having written a book to sit in a public space and suggest people buy it. (10)

Minuses of sitting out in a public space selling a copy of your own book:

  • People show up in bunches, and you don’t get to give each person the attention you would like to (8)
  • There are times when no one talks to you at all (this is exceptionally difficult – if you ever see anyone sitting out selling anything, go and talk to them. You don’t have to buy what they’re selling. They will be grateful if you engage them. Most artists love to talk about their work.) (10)
  • Seeing people you haven’t seen in years (because you specifically chose not to see them – oh well, being in public is being in public.) (5)
  • Wondering if everyone feels sorry for you for sitting out in a public space selling a copy of your own book. (5)
  • Sometimes going unnoticed by people you thought would take notice and make a big deal. (or even talk to you) (7)

Lest you get discouraged because there is a minus list, look back to the numbers after each point. These refer, on a scale from one to ten, to the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction related to each point. (ten being the most satisfied or dissatisfied and one the least)

Satisfaction points – 70

Dissatisfaction points – 35

Being satisfied with the process doubles any dissatisfaction.

This is a valuable way to view any situation in life. Go beyond simply listing pros and cons to applying a weight to each point. It gives a more realistic picture.

So, there you have it folks. Go public – it’s worth it.


(I would love to sell my book on this busy street in Quebec City.)

12 comments on “Public Book Selling Events

  1. amberskyef says:

    I’m hoping my local bookstore would like to carry my book, even though I have a small press publishing mine. Being able to hold a book signing event is exciting regardless. I can’t wait to have a few of my own. Congrats!

  2. Gaile says:

    Nice post Francis and very useful feedback for authors who want to get involved in selling their own books 🙂

  3. Louise Butcher says:

    I wish I could have been there to have a friendly conversation with you. Your display board is eye-catching, with lots of information for passers-by. I like your detailed plus and minus lists and I’m glad the experience was a relatively satisfying one for you. Congratulations!

  4. Gwen says:

    Congratulations on successfully getting your book into a store! I browse books in my local supermarket all the time, so what a great place to have it on the shelves. Another really informative post, Fran.

  5. I hope your event went well and you were able to sell some as well as find local fans. I’m glad its going well for you in all respects.

  6. Thank you Francis! This post has been very helpful. My first book, The Basement releases August 20th, and I know I’ll have to do public selling events, like book signings and readings. I’m absolutely terrified! I’ve never done anything like that before. I love the picture of Quebec City. Good luck and happy writing! 😀

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I know what you mean about being scared. I have a reading to do tonight at a local library and I feel nervous as all get out. But this too shall pass. Would’t you love to sell your book on that busy Quebec street?

  7. Good, informative post, Fran. Thanks. So far we’ve done most of Ian’s book signings and readings in private homes, ours included. The one book signing in a bookstore in a nearby town engendered sales only from those friends who would have come to a private home launch anyway. We’ve found that it doesn’t pay at all to have a book sale where we have to buy the books first and then the store takes a percentage (usually 40%) of the take. In fact, we would have been paying people to buy our book! We have found one place so far, The Highland Scottish Gift Shoppe in Calgary took a number of books we supplied, sold them over time and gave us all the income – wonderful! (Of course, it helped that Ian’s books fit into a Scottish theme.) If you have access to a Book or Author’s Festival or Workshop where authors may sell their own books, that has also been a great way to get known and to sell some books. Mind you, sometimes it means trading books with other authors rather than selling many outright. But that is also good – it’s a great way to support other authors without having to put out more cash – and usually gives one a lot of good reading material. Your display board looks quite informative. Did you supply your own board or did you have use of one from the store? If it is your own, we’d be interested in learning the cost and supplier. How expensive is it and how easy to order and then to transport? I’ve still not found the time to get my review of your book anyplace but on LinkedIn, but will hope to get to it soon. Best wishes.

    • Hi Ian and Gayle – I hear you on the whole consignment – 60/40 split. I have been fortunate in that both stores I now have my book selling in, agreed to buy the books outright, for a price that still allows me to do better than I would from selling through Amazon. The visibility seems as important as any actual sales. The store supplied the board and my husband Bruce put it together right there on the spot. It turned out pretty good! I’m thinking that a folding easel might be a good thing to have.

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