Guest post: ‘How to overcome the publishing nightmare’ by T J Perkins

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing is brought to you by YA / fantasy / mystery author TJ Perkins.

How to Overcome The Publishing Nightmare

My very first book, Wound Too Tight, was accepted by a publisher in 2001, and I was so excited.  It wasn’t until the book came out and I tried to set up book signings and appearances in places like Barnes & Noble that I learned my publisher was a POD publisher.  I had no idea what that was, or why it made my book undesirable to stores.

I’m sure many of you have heard the horror stories concerning Vanity and POD publishing and I’m here to tell you how to fix the mistake:

  • POD – Print On Demand – means we only print the amount of books you want, they’re not returnable, if they don’t sell once in your store, tough, we don’t want them back.  This is why big stores like B&N or Books A Million, etc. will not buy nor carry POD books.
  • The only way around this is to contact Independent Booksellers.  These are little bookstores run by small business owners.  Try popping into the local stores, bring copies of your book, and flyers.
  • Tell the store owners about your book and see if they’ll be willing to have you in for a signing.  Mainly these stores will want you to do consignment.  This means that you’ll have to buy your own books from the POD publisher at whatever discount they offer, and then hand carry them to the store.  Depending on how many books you sell at your signings will also depend on how much of a profit you received from the bookstore.
  • It may be a good idea to ask the store owner if you could have a few copies of your book up for display, like on an end-unit, with a colored poster and / or flyer announcing your upcoming visit.  This is a good way to build excitement, interest, and sales.
  • Try doing a pre-order give-a-way.  Whomever is the 10th pre-order customer gets something really cool.
  • Getting bookmarkers made at a small local printing company is great.  They’re usually the cheapest and offer great service.
  • Find business cards that come with a template that you can upload to your computer and make your own!  You should be able to find these at any office supply store.
  • Start making phone calls or stopping in to stores, talk to the managers and set up signings months in advance.  Remember, if you have a signing at a store in the spring, go ahead and reschedule to come back in the fall.  Your biggest sales will be from the time school starts until the weekend before Christmas.  Most stores don’t do anything Jan, Feb or March.  Sales will then begin again around April.
  • During the slow months of Jan-March you could contact schools, libraries, colleges or universities and give talks.  You do get paid for these.
  • Another good attack plan is to go to as many book fairs as possible.  Once again, buying you own books and taking them with you to your table.  You will be in charge of your own sales, so make sure you start off with enough change, a calculator and a safe place to keep your proceeds.
    • Make sure you have a tablecloth that will fit your book’s theme.  A slab of material from the local fabric store works great.
    • Bring flyers with information about your book, how to order, a list of stores where it’s carried, your website information, etc.
    • Keep business cards and bookmarkers handy to give away.
    • You could also have a bowl of candy.
    • You could raffle off a book.  Get the raffle tickets from a local party store.
    • Coffee shop signings are starting to become popular.  Talk to the owner or manager and see what they will allow.  Be sure to put out stacks of announcements that are business card size.

Also keep in mind that many B&N have special local author events and Educator Appreciation Nights.  These are perfect events to get your foot in the door.

Keep in mind that these are all suggestions for authors that have gotten their book in print as a paperback or hard back – not an ebook.  Sales and drawing attention to an ebook is a whole different animal that we can discuss next time. Until then, happy writing, happy sales!

That was great, thank you so much TJ! Being a car boot sale queen, I’d add carrier bags to the list… especially if you can get cheap ones with your book on the front. As an eBook author I’m already looking forward to ‘next time’. 🙂

TJ Perkins is a gifted and well-respected author in the mystery / suspense genre.  A member of the Maryland Writer’s Association and Sisters In Crime, her short stories for young readers have appeared in the Ohio State 6th Grade Proficiency Test Preparation Book, Kid’s Highway Magazine, and Webzine ‘New Works Review,’ just to name a few. She’s placed four times in the CNW/FFWA chapter book competition.  Her short story of light horror for tweens, The Midnight Watch, was publication Oct 2007 by Demon Minds Magazine.  Her self-publishing achievements are being greatly recognized and TJ is also conducting speaking engagements at colleges and libraries, offering advice to others.  TJ is published by GumShoe Press and Silver Leaf Books.  Mystery of the Attic was made into a play by the Café Theater in NJ, Oct. 2005.

You can find out more about TJ and her writing at:,,, Shadow Legacy Art of the Ninja: Earth (fantasy for teens), and Mystery of the Attic and other books by TJ (also available through amazon UK, Germany, France, etc.). Also follow TJ on Facebook and Twitter and you can read her first guest blog and our interview.

If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please” (while quietly bouncing up and down in my seat with joy!).

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with novelist and short story author SS Michaels – the two hundred and sixty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.

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