Traditional book selling is giving
way to online book selling

Traditional book selling is more expensive and less effective than online marketing. I am not in favor of any of the traditional book marketing packages offered by self-publishing service companies. However, there are some things that are free or inexpensive, and worth doing.

Business Cards

Business cards are always a good idea. Put the cover of your book on one side and your new “signature” on the other side. Give them to everyone you know and everyone you meet, tack them on bulletin boards, and leave them anywhere and everywhere.

Traditional book selling packages usually include business cards and flyers, but I don’t believe they are worth purchasing. You can usally buy these items direct from online printers for less. However, if you have a color printer, you might consider making a few yourself. Post them on bulletin boards and stick them in letters.

Press Releases

A press release is a contrived news story that is written like a news story in that it needs a headline, can use a subhead, and the lead paragraph must answer the basic reporting questions: who, what, why, where, and when.

Avoid any hint of a sales pitch. Try to tie your story to a current event, such as: Local author, David Griffiths, joins the publishing revolution . . . .

Begin by identifying your company, then state the contact information. The statement, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE needs to be near the top of the page.

Center a title or headline. Center a subhead below the title. Skip a line and begin the lead paragraph, followed by the main body paragraphs. Center three pound signs (###) to indicate the end of your press release.

The press release is a standard tool in the traditional book selling tool kit, but it is also an effective online technique.

Book Signings

Book signings are probably the most well known traditional book selling technique. When I published The Misadventures of Russell Quigley (2000) Barnes and Noble would not host a book signing; however, Books-A-Million was happy to. I sent a press release to the local news paper, TV station, and magazines. I told all my friends, and my wife told all of her friends.

I sold 29 books and made $29.00. I was there for about two hours. That wasn’t too bad for a part time effort in the year 2000. Today, with the CreateSpace Pro Plan, I would have made $122.00. That’s good money for mastering the tasks of self-publishing.

The math is easy. Subtract 40% from the retail price of your book for the bookstore. Subtract your cost for the book. The rest is yours. You can see that what your publisher charges you per book is critical.

Book signings are definitely worth while if you publish with CreateSpace and use their Pro Plan ($39.00). It is even worth while to travel to nearby towns.


Traditional book selling experts recommend radio and television interviews. They can be effective if you are well prepared and are at ease speaking before a public audience. Not everyone will be interested in providing interviews, but the price is right and they are effective.

Book Reviews

Since I was writing a book about sailors, while I was working with sailors, I had an ample supply of book reviews by the time I finished my book. I had great testimonials for my back cover, my website, and my homemade flyers.

I never got a book review from anyone I sent a free review copy to. I would save my money unless you know someone who will respond favorably. One of the values of social networks is that you can actually connect with subject matter experts in your field, or authors that write in your category. You may want to take advantage of these connections to get your book reviewed.

You should begin soliciting reviews as soon as the body text is complete. You need as much feedback as you can get as soon as you can get it. This is especially true if you are writing a technical book. Ask reviewers for their thoughts and ideas as well as their opinion of your book.

Ask your friends to post reviews on I tell them point blank: five star reviews sell books, four star reviews don’t do anything, three star reviews kill books. Well meaning friends will give you a four star review if they think your book is less than perfect, and still believe they did you a favor.

Organizations and conventions

Are there any organizations that your target audience might belong to? I was a Navy photographer for 32 years. We have our own organization with hundreds of members. All of them are interested in The Misadventures of Russell Quigley because they know they will recognize many of the characters. This organization has been a gold mine.

There are other organizations and web sites associated with Navy photography. All of them need to be investigated. Are there any organizations or web sites associated with your target audience?

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