Who Says?

Susan MarmoGuest Post
by Susan Marmo

It’s “them” again. You know “them” – “they” say you shouldn’t do this. “They” say you shouldn’t do that. Yeah that “them”.

Here’s what I say….

You have a manuscript and obviously you like it. You would read it, right? And you are the perfect target audience. So others would like it too. That’s what I told myself. I hadn’t planned on writing a book. I did it to occupy myself during sleepless nights and VOILA! Look what happened. I wrote a whole book. And I had not one clue what to do with it.

I researched some and bought The Writer’s Market. I found out I can’t write a synopsis to save my life and I’m a little bit lazy. Ok a lot bit lazy. Self-Publishing was on the rise. It caught my interest because – did I mention I’m lazy? And I’m also impatient. Never before had those two qualities ever worked in my favor. But this time they did.

I found a publisher or I bought one – you choose how that sentence should read. I paid them to edit, do a cover, and print 1000 books. That’s not a lot is it? 40 boxes were delivered to my door. I was excited holding MY book – oh boy – MY BOOK, when my husband said, “How the hell are you going to pimp all these? We don’t have room to store 40 boxes!” There went my adrenaline rush. Thanks Babe for allowing me those 30 seconds of bliss.

But what he said had hit home. How was I going to pimp out 1000 books and recoup the couple grand I had invested?

I was really ignorant of the book world. I don’t even know if Kindle existed then. Needless to say, my book wasn’t available on it. My publisher was a little old school and I didn’t know the difference. I didn’t even know about selling paperbacks on Amazon. Selling these books was all on me.

Now here is where the story gets good. Because I had no prior book world knowledge, I didn’t know about “them”. Which meant, I had no rules to go by. Everything was fair game. My only mission was to sell at least 500 books to break even. So I set out on my journey.

My game plan held four bullet points.

  1. Romance = women readers – find the women
  2. Find groups who read
  3. Keep books in the car. You never know when you can sell one
  4. Don’t be shy

#4 was the only easy one.

My first book signing was actually my mother’s idea. She had weaved her way into the abundant art community that was around us. She was instrumental in a brand new gallery opening and asked if I could piggyback their event. I had two days to prepare. I had no idea what I needed but I went to Staples and had a poster made. I was so proud of myself. I had a poster! I was feeling really big time.

So, my mother and I, along with my husband for moral support, went to a gallery opening where I sat with my table, my books spread out, an easel with my color poster, and that fab Monte Blanc pen I was gifted for graduating college. Hey, nothing says you have arrived more than signing your own book with a kick-butt pen. And nothing says ‘you have no idea what you are doing’ more than when the first $20 bill comes your way and you realize you didn’t bring money for change. I survived obviously thanks to my husband’s wallet. 42 book sales later, I went home with my color poster thinking it was the best $20 I ever spent.

What I learned was any place is a good place to sell books as long as it has lots of people. Men buy books for the women in their lives. I had not thought about men. But they know women readers (my target audience). So I had to tweak #1 on my game plan. I tweaked #2 to say find groups of people, any people. This led me to bowling alleys. Generally I asked for the women’s league but as long as they didn’t care how long I stayed – I stayed. Liquor stores during holidays are awesome. I went to retirement communities and spoke to book clubs. I called the local libraries who are always willing to hold a book talk. Every opportunity I could think of, I called and asked. #4 on my game plan was the winning bullet point. DON’T BE SHY.

They say ignorance is bliss and in my case it was. I didn’t know I was supposed to be caught up in a bunch of protocol. I was focused on making my money back so I could fund my next book. Which I did and had money left over. I think that’s called profit. Who would have thought? Certainly not “them”.


Susan Marmo is the author of For the Rest of My Life and Just Sophie, an Amazon.com #1 bestselling book. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and when she’s not enjoying scented candles, making ice cream, thwarting international incidents, or causing international incidents, she’s writing romance. You can learn more about Susan on her website and her Amazon Author Central page.

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30 thoughts on “Who Says?”

  1. At the start of your story, Susan, I thought your quality of being impatient was going to work for you, but lazy was going to be a problem. (If there is one thing I’ve figured out from observing indie authors it is lazy is the surest way to fail.) However, it looks like you overcame that one. Good job and good post.

  2. Great post. Yes, I was a victim of vanity publishing too, although my outlay was only for 50 books. And 4 years later, I still have a few of them! Most I donated to libraries because when I got my rights back, I had the book fully edited and self-published as a second edition.

    My absolute FAVORITE place to sell books was our local winery. They would hold Wine Trail weekends and I could come out, set up a table, and sell books. The best benefit: all the free wine I could drink! However, that did make for some messy autographs by the end of the day, but early on, it did help take the edge off my shyness. Too bad we moved out of state and to the middle of nowhere and there are no wineries close to us. Although your liquor store idea is worth a try.

    Good luck and keep writing!

  3. I love this story because I can identify with the feeling of looking at boxes of books with a moment or two of panic. But we did what you did (any place is a good place to sell a book and always keep them in the car with you!) and discovered that our small local community was more than open to helping. My book is now in grocery stores, a drug store, a tourist place and it continually sells out and they ask for more. We go to local events (music festivals, fall fairs, Christmas craft things) and sell – having large numbers of books you need to sell to recoup money is a great motivator. Anyway – wonderful post.

    1. Local fairs, etc rock! Especially if they don’t charge you to be there. Some of the ones I attended charged a fee but I called folks who already had a booth and asked if I could share their space and help with the cost. They liked the idea too because there were now 2 reasons someone might come over and visit their booth. Well done on the Grocery stores and drug stores. I haven’t approached mine thinking they were too “big” for little ol’ me but hey what the heck. I’m going to call them now. Thanks for kicking me up my backside to not think so small.

  4. Awesome post. I’ve keep telling myself to do these things, but I too, am basically lazy. That’s going to change.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt.

  5. You all have some great unconventional marketing ideas as well. I am at a trade show and my unsmart, old phone won’t let me comment on each comment. So I promise to get involved in the discussion once I get to a computer

  6. Forty-two books at your first event is amazing. You must have had the ‘don’t be shy’ bit down pat. My journey has been similar to yours – except I’m still shy. 🙂 But I am hosting a launch for my third book Saturday so I’ll try to keep your advice in mind.

    And if that’s the definition of lazy then I want to be lazy, too. lol

    1. Good luck on Saturday! 42 books was a personal record – never to be achieved again but I am glad the bar was set high so it motivates me. My lazy days are in the past when it comes to marketing because I found I really like the comfort of knowing there is cash in the bank to go onto the next project. I hope you sell 50 on Saturday. Let me know so I have a new goal. ( Some healthy competition between friends never hurt anyone.)

  7. Great post! I kind of got into self-publishing without a clue about what I was doing as well. It’s been a fun road learning some of the ins and outs of the industry. It’s been nearly 2 years since I released my first book and I’m just now setting up my first book signing ever at a local independent bookstore.

    1. Good luck with your book signing. I love them. They are so fun. There are many ways to market the date and location for free. Check your local publications – sometimes they have a calendar of community events that a listing is free.

  8. I’m a bit late to comment as I didn’t read your post until now but wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Some great ideas – I’m not too lazy but the shyness is a bit of a drag. Must try better and stop listenign to ‘them’.

    1. I truly believe there is no right or wrong way. So “they” don’t count. Doing something is better than doing nothing. So try your hardest and you’ll find your groove. Good luck. Remember if someone asks you a question – they want to hear the answer so don’t be shy!

  9. Thank you to everyone who joined in the discussion. Thanks to Indies Unlimited for hosting my guest post. I have learned a lot from everyone’s ideas and can’t wait to get started on a few of them right now. This is such a wonderful community to be involved with. Sorry again for my untimely responses. But, I do have to keep the day job until the New York Times Best Sellers List finds me.

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