Writing by Candlelight

Dorothy's Blog

Marketing my Books

Erie Canal - New York

Erie Canal sign

As many of you know, I opened my own publishing company to get my books, Erie Canal Cousins Series, out to the public…but that is a story for another blog.

My book display

So, when the first book was in my hands, I had to figure out how I was going to get them to the public. First of all, I sold them to all my family and friends. I was so excited I kept a record of every book I sold. My husband was a natural born seller so he always kept a bunch of books in his truck and sold them to all his friends and even mere acquaintances.

Then I tackled my extensive e-mail list. I e-mailed all my friends and family out of town, with a clever announcement of the new venture and several of them bought a book.

I typed up a press release and sent it to local newspapers with a picture of the book. I got lucky with my second book and the reporter came to my house, interviewed me, took my picture, and I was on the front page of several local Pennysavers! WOW! That was so exciting! With my fourth book, I again had about a quarter page write up with pictures. Never in a million years did I think I would be able to get so much publicity.

Then it was on to the big guns! I wanted to get my book into Barnes and Noble and dreamed of having a book signing there. My husband took one of my books down there and spoke to the Community Representative. She looked it over and said she liked it and would love to carry it in the store if I had a distributor. We had a local distributor that they bought from and she suggested I go with them. I didn’t want to at first because they book 40% of the sale price of the books. My husband and son convinced me to do it because they, the distributor, could get my books into places that I might not be able to do myself. So I reluctantly gave in and signed on with them. I have never been sorry. It was getting my book out there that was most important, especially when I was an unknown.

By the way, I have my books in Barnes and Noble,  have had a book signing for every book I wrote, selling an average of 35 books every time and the Community Representative and I have become good friends. They keep a good supply on hand at all times. My husband used to go there at least once or twice a week to count the books to see how many I sold. I also sell several books through barnes&noble.com I don’t even remember how my books got on there.

Next, I mentioned my books to the members of the clubs and on-line groups I belong to and sold many that way.

I realized it was time to start a website for my books. So I found a place that would host it for free for small businesses and built one. Then I proceeded to get it onto the Google search engine. I was so excited, I kept looking up my name on Google every day!!!

Then I started a Facebook page, but didn’t really use it for six months. Now I use it every day and I even started another one for my books.

I also ordered promotional pens with my books name, my name, and my website’s address on them that I intended to give out with any book bought. (great advertisement), I made tons of business cards and some brochures. I made some PowerPoint presentations to go with each book, and others for adult presentations.

Since I had been a teacher in my previous life, now retired, I knew a lot of teachers and was able to get into schools with my presentations and sold a lot of books there. At first I had to call to get these presentations set up but now most of these requests come to me via e-mail from people that have heard about my books.  That’s what makes it so exciting and fulfilling to have them come to me.

Another thing I do is to call my local TV station and set up an on the air interview on the evening news show. They have a 5 minute segment each night where a local person can come on and be interviewed. I have been on for each one of my books. It was real scary the first and even the second time I did it, but I am becoming an old pro at it now.

I participate in Author Days and that sort of events in the area, and once I do it, I always get a re-call for the following year if it is an annual event.

     Skype can also be a useful tool, if you want to do interviews in places you can’t get to. I have been thinking of trying some of these with schools that have Skype but have not done any yet.

Since my books are historical fiction, I’ve even had some schools buy sets to be used in the classroom when they study the Erie Canal (part of the curriculum in NY).

That is about all I can think of right now…..but if I think of any more I will write a part 2 to this blog.



  1. sjbraun

    Wow – you are an inspiration! Thank you for such great ideas. I’m impressed with the energy (and ingenuity) and took to do all of that.

  2. Thank you, I work hard at it and it pays off. Besides it is something I love doing.

  3. Administrator

    Dorothy, I see you figured out your WordPress blog and it’s turned out great. Thank you for sharing this valuable information for other independent authors. So many times the leg work you describe in your post is something they think is done by magic, but, alas, it’s not! As someone who works with authors, and other personalities, it’s good to see validation that it takes a collaborative effort between a client and a publicist to guarantee success. Looking forward to part 2 and many more posts!

    • Yes, in order to make your book successful, you have to put in the work, especially for the first book. It gets easier as people get to know you and your writing and want to come back for seconds and thirds.

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