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Sell Your Book Without Bookstores

“Fern’s workshop and consulting helped me develop my ideas to sell books to non-book stores.  With nearly 10,000 copies pre-sold in Israel even before the book was printed, the numbers speak for themselves!”

— Stuart Ballan, author of the Magic Pen and Paper series of children’s books

Sell Your Book Without Bookstores
by Fern Reiss, CEO,

In the last four weeks, one of my clients sold over 10,000 books, without ever hassling with bookstores.  Here’s how your book can generate this kind of quantity sales this quickly:

It all started when Stuart Ballan attended my Publishing Game Workshop.  According to a Harvard Business School report, 84% of books in large US bookstores sell 2 copies or fewer each year; only 2% sell 10 or more copies in a year.  In addition to these dismal statistics, Stuart was stymied by another complication: He lives in Israel, rather than the US, so marketing books in the US was sure to be more complicated for him. So Stuart decided, with my encouragement, to temporarily ignore US bookstores for his children’s book, “Who Invented Vegetables?”

Put the books into a non-bookstore venue
Stuart was intrigued by my anecdotes of selling my Publishing Game books into Boston-area coffeeshops and movie theatres.  Non-bookstore venues have several key advantages:  They pay better (60% and up, instead of 45%), they pay upon receipt (rather than 60-90 days later), and they don’t return books.  Most importantly, however, there is no competition—because unlike a bookstore with hundreds of thousands of titles, coffeeshops, movie theatres, and other non-traditional venues generally don’t sell books.  Once the decision was made to ignore bookstores, the question became, where would Stuart’s vegetable book sell in quantity?  

Focus on the meta-customer
Rather than trying to sell to millions of end-customers, Stuart decided to focus on those who had the most to gain by selling the subject of his book: Vegetable exporters and retailers.  The largest retailers of vegetables, he realized, are the major supermarket chains.  And the chains are much easier to focus on than the thousands of individual vegetable stands.

Give them a reason to buy now
Not only did Stuart want the chains to consider stocking the book in their grocery stores, he wanted to give the chains an impetus to buy the book immediately.  Since the Jewish holiday of Shavuot is associated with vegetables, he presented it to the chains as a timely item, that would sell best if in the stores in the last few weeks of May, just before the holiday.

The results
Stuart approached the largest supermarket chain in Israel.  Within a week, his book was available in over 150 supermarkets across the country.  Not content to rest on his laurels, Stuart then approached the major vegetable growers and exporters, and offered the books as a holiday gift item for children of employees and clients.  For orders over a certain quantity, he would even put logos and personalized messages on the inside cover.

Results?  Over 10,000 copies sold in a matter of weeks.  Proportional to population size, that would be the equivalent of over 500,000 book sales in the US.

And because of the tremendous sales records, Stuart was then able to approach a US supermarket chain with his idea—so in a few months, you’re likely to see Stuart’s vegetable book in your local grocery store.

So think quantity sales, think outside the box venues, and think creative.

If you’d like to explore how your book could generate quantity sales outside of bookstores, contact Fern for a one-on-one consultation:



Fern Reiss is CEO of ( and ( and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books.  She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers ( providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at  Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at

Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss


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