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, in the eighties, was a lot of physical effort.
He didn’t have a big publisher behind him. But he made book sales.
Interestingly, the term self-publishing is prominent in this article, 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.
Writing a book and old fashioned self-publishing can still work.
Well, except perhaps, for your marketing ideas and motivation.
Selling your books
Here are a few ideas that might get you thinking about selling your paperbacks and hardcovers.
1. Contact your local newspaper and ask if it 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.
Self-publishing is not new at all
The list of famous self-published authors is a long one.
You might not have thought, but Thomas Hardy, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Rudyard Kipling, Tom Peters, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Margaret Atwood, and James Joyce all self-published titles.
When you read these names, you can understand that old fashioned self-publishing has been alive and well for a very long time.
Many of the names went on to find literary agents and were later traditionally published.
But in their early years, publishing houses had little interest.
Not much has changed today.
If you are a new author, publishing companies are not going to pay you much attention. That is unless you start selling thousands of copies as happened with E L James.
The best advice for new authors today is to write a fantastic book, have a great book cover design, and then try your luck.
If you have self-published a book, you stand as good a chance as all other publishers and self-publishers.
All you need to do is use your creative control and marketing ideas to get your book in front of potential readers.
But never forget that while ebooks might seem easier to sell, print books can bring you more success.
Get out there and meet people and tell them face-to-face why your book is worth reading.
Further reading: How You Can Leave More Than Footprints In The Sand