Book Contest!

August 3rd

Front cover of my book

The tricky thing about self-publishing a novel is you don’t have a giant marketing team promoting your work. There are no ads in The New York Times or pop ups when you visit blogs. I don’t have an agent or even a specific website. What I do have, however, is a mighty little blog and a handful of people I consider great friends who live far and wide.

That’s you.

To get my book onto as many shelves and hands as I can, I want to reach out to small bookstores and libraries nationwide. I’m not sure the best way of doing this — my instinct is to send beautifully handwritten cards — but I do know that finding the right people and the right contact information is crucial.

So, dear friends, this is where you come into play. Do you have a great bookstore you frequent? Are you a librarian? Do you know any great ways to market a book? How would you go about spreading the word?Β  You would be doing me a sincere favor by letting me know what you think.Β  Leave a comment with the details, including addresses and contact information for those bookstores. I’ll leave the contest open through the weekend and randomly select 5 winners for signed copies.

{Never left a comment? Leave a comment every day? Delurk, please.}

And thank you. For stopping here, for reading, for being such amazing cheerleaders. I don’t need no stinking fancy New York publishing house! I’ve got YOU!


Posted in
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61 Responses

  1. I love your Little Engine That Could attitude. πŸ˜€

  2. Even though I no longer live in ABQ, Bookworks ( is my all time favorite bookstore. They are so good to writers!

    I will send a link to this post to some librarian friends, too!

    Can’t wait to read your book!!

  3. Hi Kelli,

    I’m one of Beverly’s librarian friends. πŸ™‚

    I have a couple of ideas: there are some very librarian-heavy sites that you can add your book to and network from: and Librarians troll these sites all the time and use it to spot books that they can add to their library’s collection.

    Another good idea would be to approach some of your local public libraries and offer to donate a signed copy of your book and maybe do a reading some evening. Public libraries tend to like to showcase local authors and sometimes even B&N will have local authors do something similar.

    Also, as a librarian, I often get cards or emails (cards are better) from authors asking me to purchase their book for my library. The most important key to this is to make sure you send the cards to librarians who purchase fiction for the library – usually the subject librarians for the English &/or Comp. Lit. departments. If I receive a card from an author who has written a book in my collection development area, I pay more attention to it. If it falls outside my area, I tend to ignore it.

    I hope this helps!

  4. Oh, and one more idea: Library Journal has librarians review books for them, which is excellent because not only are librarians reviewing the books, they also read LJ to find books for their collections.

    I’ve been reviewing books for LJ for five years and have a really good relationship with my editor, who is also the managing editor for the book review section of LJ. I’m not sure if LJ accepts self-published books to review, but it’s worth a shot. You can contact my editor here (her name is Anna Katterjohn):

    Good luck!

  5. Hi Kelli, We have a local bookstore that might carry your book. As their blog says “Gulf of Maine Books is an independent alternative bookstore in Brunswick, Maine, founded in 1979 “. If you want their address let me know,
    Good Luck!!

  6. When I search for a book after logging into my profile on my local library’s website, there is a link that says, “Didn’t find what you were looking for? Ask us to buy it!”

    I will be doing that, and suggest others try it too. If the online form that you complete requires details on the book:

    Publisher: Donley books (May 5, 2010)
    ISBN-10: 061532469X
    ISBN-13: 978-0615324692

    (I got that off the Amazon listing πŸ™‚

    I’ll be buying copies as gifts too! Squee!

  7. There are no bookstores in my town and the local library is deep in debt, however, we have a university here where my sister is a professor. I wonder about contacting someone at the univ. library?

  8. What a great idea!

    I’ve never been here, but from the website, I think you are just what they are looking for: A Cappella Books, 484-C Moreland Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307. This one is both new and used, I had to leave with $80 worth of credit! Ugh! Read it Again, 3630 Peachtree Parkway, Suwanee, GA 30024.

  9. Sadly I know nothing about marketing a book. And as for bookstores, we only have big box stores around. My best guess is to get your book into the hands of as many bloggers as possible and do a “book tour”. Also Twitter, and maybe OpenSky would be a good fit? Book bloggers could add your book to their shop (I would totally add it to mine too).

    I have a feeling with so many pulling for your success, you will have a bunch of “minions” out pimping your book too. πŸ™‚

  10. Kelli: I can’t wait to get my copy from Amazon. From my own experience, it is not easy marketing your own book. Mine was published by ET Nedder here in Tucson who then sold his business to Paulist Press (the oldest Catholic publishing company). However, it is still pretty much a “self-published book”. So, the marketing has been on me and I have to say, I am probably not great at it. I would make a lousy sales gal. Since mine is a book of prayers, I hit every religous store out there. A few turned me down, but most have a few on consignment. Changing Hands took it for a while and I sold one (even with being on there featured shelf for a month)…then they sent them back to me. Antigione Book Store on 4th Ave would be a great place for you to go. I can see your book being a hit there. They do readings there often. I read one of my essays there once. Another thing would be the UA’s Festival of Books in March. Go to their website and see if you can get featured. Worst case scenerio would be that they would give you an hour or two at an “author’s table”. But, I am sure you could get a booth for the entire weekend. Lots and lots and lots of people attend this from all over. Does ASU have something similar?

    I do have a website, but don’t think that has helped me. Sales were great the first year through my church, but have slacked off a lot. I need some new ideas myself.

    You have that super super great personality that will sell the book…the cover is so inviting and the subject is perfect. You go girl. Good Luck.

  11. Juliann August 3, 2010

    If you want to get your book into colleges/universities your best bet will be to locate the person in charge of purchasing books for the English department. In your case you might also look at someone involved with Global Studies, Anthropology or Political Science. Send a personal but professional email or card. Include details on how the person can order your book & how it might relate to different programs. Universities & Colleges purchase materials to support the research & teaching that happens on their campus.

    As for public libraries…many of the larger ones use approval plans to automatically purchase materials. If you know a specific librarian in any of the systems, ask him or her who is responsible for collection development and send that person an email. Public libraries are also interested in having authors speak about their books. You might be able to convince some of them to let you do a program similar to what you will do at Changing Hands. Usually they will let you sell your books there but you would have to handle all the money yourself.

    I hope this helps – I probably have some specific contacts that I can send you.

    And – I’m so excited for you! I love that you’re out there marketing yourself!

  12. I just went to Google and searched keyword bookstore, over 11 million results. πŸ™‚ Great information on your blog to support you. Have you created a facebook fan page about your book yet? Perhaps start bloggin short clips about the book so people can retweet it. I like Animoto their free and you can make a short video about your book and put it on youtube. Good Luck!

  13. If you have a small budget (a couple hundred) you can utilize the ad feature within Facebook to target those who listed (certain) books in their Likes and Interests section. You can segment down as narrowly as you like. Link back you your blog/book site. You may want to create it’s own tab on your blog if you don’t want to create a separate site.

    Or set up a Twitter account (if you don’t have one), start following any libraries/publishers/book critics/reviewers/book magazines/book websites/key industry people/websites aligned with you book’s subject or story/etc., then start tweeting about your book – a couple of tidbits each day (author info, storyline, related facts/fun info, etc.). Many of your followers will then retweet. Be sure to include links to your blog/book info. You can also identify some hashtags to further your reach.

    Or, grab a video camera and create a few videos to share about your book and post to youtube or other video sites. Create your own commercial, do a behind the scenes interview with the author, record an author reading of the first chapter, etc. Shoot the link out to everyone you know.

  14. Kelli,
    Congrats. The cover looks awesome too. Love it!
    Here are two local bookstores in New Orleans that might be interested in your book:

    Maple Street Bookshop
    504.866.4916 or 404.861.2105

    Octavia Books

    All the best!

  15. Kelli, congrats! Do you have a goodreads account? There are loads of authors on goodreads, and lots of great networking opportunities among librarians, avid readers, and other authors.

    As far as I can tell, no one has put your book into the goodreads system yet, so that would be a great place to start! There are lots of people who facilitate online book clubs or reading groups that way. Maybe some of your blog friends would be interested in starting one?


    I also echo the comments about trying to see if you can arrange for a reading or a signing at your local library. Our library does citywide book clubs each year, and they try to find local and regional authors whenever they can. Even if it feels sketchy to self-promote, it’s important! Maybe there would be someone at a local newspaper who would be interested to know that there’s another local author in the mix!

    best of luck!

  16. De-lurking Liz August 3, 2010

    Most big box stores have budget set aside to purchase local writer’s work. Bring a few copies in to show them your work and ask for the Community Relations Coordinator (CRC)who might be able to schedule a book reading.

    Love your blog. Thank you for sharing.

  17. I think a blog tour would be great (interviews at each of the blogs about your book.) Also, do you follow Gretchen Rubin or the Happiness Project blog? She has done an AMAZING job of promoting her book through her blog, twitter and other social media (You Tube, etc.) Given, it’s a non-fiction book so your approach would be a little different, but it might be a good example to follow.

    I will look into how to go about donating a copy to my local library.

  18. Powell’s Bookstore! The largest independent around!
    Unfortunately I don’t have a contact there, but if you’d like I’d be happy to request that they carry your book!

  19. TraciFree August 3, 2010

    Sadly, there aren’t many small bookstores left. However, this is our local fave.
    Central Book Exchange
    2017 S. 1100 E.
    SLC, UT 84106
    (801) 485-3913
    Good luck Kel! Your blog has been an inspiration

  20. Hi Kelli! Congrats on publishing your book! I cant wait until I publish something someday, other then my blog πŸ™‚

    My husband published a couple of his fathers fiction novels a few years ago and I asked him to give me a few ideas for you. Here is what he told me.

    -He said you should look into getting a national distributor. Their job is to notify all the major bookstores about your book. Then you go onto a list that they can order from. The more your book sells, the higher on the list you go.

    -He also says to market your book in the venue it will sell in. Think of who would read it and market to that audience.

    – Send copies of your book to newspapers (whoever does the book reviews) asking for a review. Local and national. Same for magazines and blogs that have similar content.

    – Talk to you local booksellers about book signings. Do a mini book tour around your county.

    -As for indie booksellers. There is a great independent bookstore called Logos Books in Santa Cruz, Ca that you might want to try. There is also Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz. These are great places to try because that city is all about helping the small artist/writer/business.

    I hope you find some good ideas in all these comments!

  21. After my first comment, I remembered GoodReads. I think that GoodReads would be a great place to introduce your book.

  22. This is one of my favorite bookstores!
    Book Woman
    5501 North Lamar #A-105
    Austin TX

    Also, next time you are here in Texas, let me know. I can get you in contact with the guy I work with that handles the book sigings at the Barnes 7 Noble I work at.

  23. Kelli,
    Beverly already mentioned Bookworks in Albuquerque, but I’ll second it. It’s a great independent bookstore that I would much rather buy your book from than Amazon or the big box. If you’d like I can request them directly to stock your book for me to purchase, to get the ball rolling.
    I think the blog tour is a good idea, and/or donate a signed copy to bloggers who have high readership for them to read, review, or just give away.

  24. I have no idea about the marketing aspect of this…but I did want to comment and wish you good luck! I’m looking forward to ordering my copy πŸ™‚

  25. You’ve gotten a lot of good advice. I’m sure you’ll look into it all.
    We have a great independent bookstore here in Bakersfield. Russo’s Books has 3 locations and they do offer a lot of self published books from what I’ve seen. Here’s their website:
    Good luck!

  26. I love the independent bookstore in my city, but I have no idea how they purchase books or find new books. I’m usually there on Saturday, so I’ll try to remember and ask about. (Sometimes it’s hard to remember to do anything while chasing around my 2-year old!)

    Here’s their website:

  27. I really, really wish I could give some advice, but I just have no idea! I will spread the word and tell everyone I know about your book. I’ll even facebook it to make it official! ha

  28. I worked at a museum for 10 years and we held several book events (book launches, author talks, book signings, receptions, etc.). The books usually related to our collection, but not always. We were always looking for events and activities to offer to our members and visitors. We marketed these events on-site, on our website, and in our membership magazine. We also sold the books in our gift shop. If there are museums or galleries that relate to your novel, try contacting them. Their visitors are already interested in the themes in your book.

  29. A great locally owned book store in West Virginia is called Taylor Books. They also have a cafe and sell art. The web site is: I would definitely give them a call or send a note.

  30. Hi Kelli! I don’t know anything about marketing a book but I wanted to give you the website to a really cool independent book store here in STL. It’s called Left Bank Books

    I’m not sure where they get their books from but you might want to check them out and give them a call.

    I’m so excited for you!!

  31. And why not try to sell it abroad too? Feltrinelli is maybe the biggest bookstore chain in Italy and they have an international branch. Here’s the link to the biggest one:
    My cousin living in Nj published a book some years ago see it here maybe his publishing home can help you too!

  32. (Delurking) No idea how to publish, but a great place for your book is Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. You featured a book by my great-uncle a few years back, thank you for that πŸ™‚

  33. Kelli,

    I just submitted a request for the Naperville Library to purchase the book. I’ll let you know when I get the notice they have it ready to be checked out.

    We have one local bookstore in our town, give it a whirl:

    Anderson’s Bookshop
    123 West Jefferson Avenue
    Naperville, IL 60540-5310
    (630) 355-2665

    I received my amazon notice today that your book is shipping to me soon! I can’t wait to read it and share it with others. Congratulations! I am thrilled for you you!!

  34. I can’t wait to read it!

  35. You go, girl. This is so exciting for you! Definitely look into Longfellow Books in Portland, ME. They have a website. They do readings frequently. Seems like the more readings you can do & the more web scuttlebutt you can get, the better!! Maybe specific angles of interest, like travel?

    Best of luck, & let me know if there’s anything else I can do!

  36. Dare I suggest publishing on the ipad? It lacks the romance of a hardcover, but i imagine the up front costs would be much lower, and it’s an easy way for us travelers to carry several novels at a time!

  37. Kells,
    I will put your book in our magazine, we have profile your blog before. I am an avid follower and excited about reading this book. Send a description of the book, Name, purchasing info to
    website :

    I think you are post it note to me…you remind me to go out there and conqurer. You rock!

  38. Melissa August 4, 2010

    Hey Kelly! Here’s some Houston places where you can market your book. I think you could even get a book signing here. I would be willing to be a liason and go talk to them after you make contact, help set things up or whatever happens with these things. I am in sales so Im not shy.

    Blue Willow is an ecclectic cute bookshop on Memorial dr. THey often have book signings, etc ( this is where Pioneerwoman was supposed to do hers, but outgrew it and had to go to Georgias Farm Market

    Also the “Katy Budget Books” in the suburbs of Houston is ALWAYS busy. And they like to have authors come.

    I am taking up too much space but Ill email you other thoughts. There are so many places in Houston where you could market your books.

  39. There’s a cute little bookstore in San Diego near the beach called Earth Song

    Earth Song Bookstore

    1440 Camino Del Mar

    Del Mar, CA 92014


    Best of luck!

  40. I don’t really have bookstore suggestions. My favorite in this town is bookman’s. Sadness. Waiting for them to rebuild. I know several of the people who are involved in organizing the book festival in town though.

    Also, a head’s up. There is no review of the book on Amazon. Even if that is not where people are buying it. You want reviews on Amazon. Maybe send a few copies to people who you know will rock a review just to get a few reviews out there or ask people you know who have it to review it.

  41. I usually make most of my book purchases through, so I don’t know of a local bookstore, but if I were you I would post on Facebook, try, and Why not ask your adoring blog followers to each post a little advertising on their pages. I’m speaking for me of course but I’m sure they would be happy to spread the word for you!
    Good Luck and if I find a good bookstore I’ll let ya know

    This is an independent bookstore in OKC. I think it would be perfect for your book. I don’t have any other info on it other then the name. I just use to frequent quite often when I lived there. I have another source, but I need to contact them first. I will let you know! Good luck my friend.

  43. Delurking here…I catch up on your blogs at least once a week while eating lunch at work as a bit of escape!
    I found you about six months ago (?) through one of my phoenix gardening blog searches – forward link – forward link. Gotta love the internet!
    Below is a nice local independent book store: Dog Eared Books
    If you can spare some copies it might be nice to donate them to their books for soldiers program or another donation-type program – it would help get your book name out there. The owner is Melanie Tighe and she does have local author nights.
    Oh! And you could leave a copy somewhere and register it with – that might be neat to watch your book wander.
    Good luck!

  44. Hey Honey. Sorry sorry sorry I’ve been MIA lately, but please just know…I’m SO proud of you AmazinGirl! I’m sure being an avid NPR listener, you’ve heard this one…but thought I’d share the link anyhoo…

    Also, I have a friend who’s mother works for the library in Palm Springs; I will definitely introduce you guys at the wedding if you are still able to make it (Eeek! littlehappydancelovetoseeyoucan’twait)–invites going out this weekend, by the way, my dear–10/2). AAaannnnd…even if you can’t, will be ecstatic to tell both my friend’s mom and anyone else who will listen about your book….sign me up Sister! I’LL SHOUT IT FROM ROOFTOPS! Big Hugs…Your friend/colossal fan, Kat πŸ˜‰

  45. Lisa AC August 5, 2010

    My friend Marcia used to publish her book online. She wrote a novel
    of Sherlock Holmes as seen through the eyes of Scotland Yard. “You Buy Bones”

    It’s totally free to do so, but there are a few extras offered that can be purchased. How it works is once you’ve uploaded it to their site, people can purchase it offline. Also, you can get an ISBN code so it’s people can order it in stores or off of Amazon.

    Hope this helps.

  46. Lisa AC August 5, 2010

    My friend Marcia used to publish her book online. She wrote a novel
    of Sherlock Holmes as seen through the eyes of Scotland Yard. “You Buy Bones”

    It’s totally free to do so, but there are a few extras offered that can be purchased. How it works is once you’ve uploaded it to their site, people can purchase it online. Also, you can get an ISBN code so it’s people can order it in stores or off of Amazon.

    Hope this helps.

    • Lisa AC August 5, 2010

      Sorry about the double post, my computer was acting up. It was supposed to say that once everything is uploaded books can be purchased online (not offline) lol, but yes..they can be ordered through stores as well with an ISBN number.

  47. I’ll forward this link to a friend who is a librarian in the Seattle Public Library.
    Also, I’ve noticed that an ad in Poets & Writers magazine is fairly inexpensive, and would be seen by a bevy of serious writers/readers/etc. I’m looking forward to reading your book–I’ll see if I can talk my bookgroup into adding it to our reading list!

  48. I don’t know how to market a book but have a friend who just published one – not sure how she did it. Here is the link to her blog

    Good luck – would love to read your book

  49. I was going to suggest the book tour/blogger idea, but someone mentioned that. Another idea would be a contest of some sort with book clubs … maybe contact some online book clubs and offer a free book … or post/publish some guide questions aimed at book clubs. I have a small book club, and I like when authors have information for book clubs on their website. I’ll keep thinking πŸ™‚

  50. Left Bank Books in St. Louis would be a great place to try, here’s a link to their page with information for authors:

    Good luck, I am going to order a copy today!

  51. Tatnuck Booksellers in Westborough, MA
    is my favorite bookstore. Its one of the last remaining smaller non-chain bookstores. They actually had a little cafe in their store before the larger bookstores realized that was a cool idea.

    I would love to see your book on our area schools summer reading lists next summer.


  52. Julie ONeal August 7, 2010

    Hey Kelli!

    Can I send you a detailed email with this info?? I’ll send it via FB.

  53. Hi!
    I am so impressed with you writing your book and putting it out there.

    A great independent bookstore in the Twin Cities (Garrison Keillor’s place):
    165 Western Ave. N.
    St. Paul, MN 55102

    ( you may also be interested in the resources on this: )

    And yes, I think we all need to ask our libraries for a copy!
    Good luck.

  54. Here are my fave indie bookstores:
    1. Four-eyed Frog Books in Gualala, CA.
    2. Beers Books in Sacramento, CA.
    3. Tattered Cover in Denver, CO.
    4. Avid Reader in Sacramento, CA.

    I would be happy to plug your book on my blog, but my readership is about 5. πŸ™‚

    Good luck!

  55. I don’t know any librarians, and I am sure you know all the cool book stores in Arizona, but I have been telling everyone I know who has a book club about your book. I thought it might be a good way to spread the word if people choose your book as a selection.

  56. Kelli, in Denver Tattered Cover is the independent book store.

  57. sharon grosman August 10, 2010

    Send a copy to Oprah!

  58. Hi Kelli! This is so exciting!

    I would recommend contacting The Boulder Bookstore, which is located on Pearl St. in Boulder. Here’s their website:

    And here’s their webpage about getting your book in the store:

    They have a “Local Authors Corner”. Which won’t help you now, but when you move to Colorado, you can use it for your next book. πŸ™‚

    I also second the reccomendation to check out the Tattered Cover.


  59. sharon grosman August 11, 2010

    Ok, i have another idea. I’m sure most of your “fans” are in bookclubs. If each of us select your book to read in our book clubs, that will be a huge amount of books sold on amazon. I’m putting my order in Aug. 30, and will choose it for my selection for my two bookclub readers here in houston and sugar land.

    Each of us can also call all of our local libraries and request it!

    The power of each of us can add up!