Self-Publishing The Old Fashioned Way Still Works

self publishing the old fashioned way still works

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that self-publishing is only about Amazon, Apple, B&N, ebooks, and social media. It’s also easy to believe that the only way to succeed is to buy Facebook Ads or Bookbub slots.

It’s easy to forget, though, that many authors succeeded at self-publishing well before the advent of Amazon, ebooks and online bookselling.

Before today’s electronic self-publishing, authors used either vanity press, or more often, engaged the services of a printer to produce their books. It was then up to the author to find ways to sell all the copies they had paid for to be printed.



Taking books on the road

What reminded me of this was reading about the recent passing of a well-known Australian sportsman, Max Walker.

He was known by the nickname, Tangles to many Australians.

In an article by one of his teammates of the seventies and eighties, Ashley Mallett, there is this small quote referring to Walker’s use of self-publishing.

He wrote over a dozen books, including How to Hypnotise Chooks, The Wit of Walker and How to Puzzle a Python. Collectively they sold in excess of a million copies.

Tangles self-published and promoted them personally, loading up his car with copies of his latest title and taking off to all parts of Australia, including little country towns, selling his books in the wake of brilliant after-dinner talks.

You may not be totally enamored by the titles. But you can understand that selling books at that time was a lot of physical effort.

Interestingly, the term self-publishing is prominent in this quote, from days long past.

Fast forward to today, and you can order paperbacks using print on demand with Blurb or Amazon KDP.

There is no need for you to make an enormous cash outlay to stock up with enough copies to sell. All you need to do is order your copies on demand.

For today’s self-published author, who wants to get out there and sell real books, there is no impediment. Well, except perhaps, for ideas and motivation.


Here are a few ideas that might get you thinking about selling your paperbacks and hardcovers.

1. Contact your local newspaper and ask if they would like to do a story about you and your book.

2. Visit every bookstore in your area and ask if they would stock your book, and if so, ask for a book signing event.

3. Ask local shopkeepers such as hair salons, gift stores or coffee shops/tea rooms if they would agree to display and sell a few copies of your book.

4. Ask your local library if they would like to add your book.


5. Are there any book fairs in your area? If so, find out how you can participate.

6. If you work in a large office, ask your boss if you can display your book at reception.

7. Contact local book clubs or writer’s groups and offer to give a talk about writing, and of course, about your book.

8. Can you have a small stall at a local market?

9. Always have a few copies of your book with you at all times. You never know what will happen!

Depending on where you live, you might have a lot more opportunities. So get your thinking cap on and make a list of the potential you have in your town or city.

Certainly, don’t forget to promote your online ebooks and books. But if you are not selling your books locally, maybe you are missing out on a lot of sales.


Further reading: How You Can Leave More Than Footprints In The Sand


Derek Haines

A Cambridge qualified CELTA English teacher and author of 18 books with a life long passion for publishing in all forms. I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business. Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.

One thought on “Self-Publishing The Old Fashioned Way Still Works

  • August 18, 2018 at 3:13 pm

    1. Local paper has done an article on me but not for every book.
    2. Bookstores say they get their books from wholesalers but will accept non fiction titles.
    3.Local gift shops do take copies for sale.
    4.Local library happy to accept donated copies.
    5.Local book fair UK Southern Book Fair October 28th 2018. Enjoyed the last one but didn’t sell much.
    6. Retired – so relying on social activities for contacts.
    7.Book clubs want ten copies ( can’t afford to supply that many) but WI groups purchase at talks.
    8. Sold four copies at the last market stall.
    9 Always have copies with me.
    10 Not all my books are also e books so I have to use old fashioned methods!


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