Successful Book Marketing Requires “Off the Bookshelf” Thinking

Oct 1, 2014

Guest Blog By: Rick Lauber – Author, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians

How does an author sell his/her work? Through bookstores, of course; however, the most successful authors also use other creative avenues to market themselves. Following my own book’s publication, I quickly learned that I could not rely on bookstores alone to generate sales. Authors must become their book’s primary promoters and can pursue various opportunities as a means to introduce and showcase their book(s) to readers. Among the many effective methods to boost book sales are bookstore signings.

Bookstores are prime spots for author appearances and bookstore management has never turned me away. Visiting authors can generate some “buzz”. Call the bookstore well in advance, politely introduce yourself as an author and ask about upcoming signing dates. If the bookstore carries your book, allow them time to order sufficient stock. Self-published authors will need to supply their own books (or “car stock”) to sell on consignment (where the bookstore will take a percentage of sales).

A table and chair will be provided, but authors can’t just show up empty-handed for a signing! Pack along a tablecloth, business cards, sharpies (excellent for signing …), bookmarks, and a “table-topper” of some kind to attract attention and serve as a conversation starter. My “table-topper” is a stand-up banner, which rolls out and hangs from its own stand. I’ve also photocopied numerous newspaper/magazine articles either written by me or about me to offer as hand-outs.

When doing bookstore signings, smile, be enthusiastic and focus on your job (turn off your cell phone). Also, be prepared for anything. Yes, I hear many of the same questions from customers, but I have found that other doors can open. During one outing, I met the Home Care Manager for a chain of local drugstores. Following some conversation, she accepted a number of my books to sell on consignment through each of her store locations – an unexpected but pleasant surprise!

Rick Lauber is the Edmonton-based author of Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians (Self-Counsel Press). Please visit



Header photograph by Kaylee Bee.