The Definitive Guide to Selling Books sans InterWebs

The Definitive Guide to Selling Books sans InterWebs

Hear ye! Hear ye! This week, the InterWebs exploded with posts on bookselling and all their various don’ts and dos. They may speak of their crazed magical ways of InterWebs, but it is we of Black Gate who will provide you with the DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO SELLING MORE BOOKS!

"Razzle Dazzle, InterWeb razzle..."
“Razzle Dazzle, InterWeb razzle…”

Gather round, Authors of Yore, Authors of Now and Authors of Soon, and learn the true ways of book selling success.


Like any good conquest, the personal touch makes the difference. Let them see the blood lust in your eyes first-hand. Remember, the closer you are to them, the more blood lust they’ll see, the more books you’ll sell.


That’s their fear. Not yours. Make them fear that not purchasing your book will lead their villages to be burned and their crops to be destroyed! Speak fondly of past blood baths! Showcase them in a spiffy pop-up banner behind your sales table and REMEMBER TO FOLLOW THROUGH! If you don’t want to waste too much writing time destroying your non-purchasing enemies, at least steal their goat.

This goat smiles at your eventual victory (it maybe be unclear on your plans).


Because you are a writer, you don’t have the time to take care of your enemy’s goat. FEAR NOT! Your efforts at pillaging were not wasted. Next time you do a signing in a bookstore, sacrifice the goat right in the middle of the aisle. The bleating will attract the curious. The gore will disorient them. Your crazed eyes will make them buy.


Some authors may find bookstores less than receptive to their series on Loin Girdling or their books on Goat Neck Recipes. Don’t let that stop that. LET NOTHING STOP YOU! Many bookstores have cut their costs down due to the InterWebs and their Magic of Online Shopping. This means their resources are weakened and their staff less loyal. They are kingdoms waiting to be invaded. MAKE THEM REGRET THEIR LACK OF MOATS!


Gain allies easily by offering them home baked goods stolen from your non-purchasing enemies! Share bits of raw goat flesh with friends! Promise them riches when you yourself become the bestselling author you were meant to be. There is power in allies. There are riches in armies.

Add a bloodied knife, a ritual sacrifice and a crazed seller, and you've got yourself a guaranteed sale!
Add a bloodied knife, a ritual sacrifice and a crazed seller, and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed sale!


Take the first few points and duplicate them once. Then twice. Then tenfold. Imagine how you can reap your rewards and gain an even bigger following. DO NOT STOP HERE! Conquer other lands! INVADE EVERY BOOKSTORES IN THE LAND AT ONCE! FORGE THE RIGHT ARMY AND YOU CAN BE A NUMBER 1 BESTSELLING AUTHOR IN A SINGLE DAY! (Remember to budget for extra goats in case your army comes sans goat.)

And remember, above all other things, NEVER TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER! Bribe, argue, fight, plead, shout, destroy and sacrifice goats as necessary. The main final point is that YOU MUST SELL THE BOOK.

It’s pretty straightforward. It’s pretty simple. Now go forth and be the bestseller the Stars predicted you would one day be, InterWebs be damned.

Marie Bilodeau is an award-winning science-fiction and fantasy author, as well as a professional performing storyteller. Check out her writings and find out what the heck a storyteller is at

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Ken Lizzi

Marie, thank you for such informative, not to mention practical, pointers. My question is this: I have a Barnes & Noble signing coming up in May. Should I sacrifice the goat before the signing or after? Or perhaps during? Thank you in advance for your answer.

Sarah Avery

@Ken, if you have professional anthropologists in your social circle, I advise inviting them. It’s a longstanding tradition in many anthropology graduate programs to hold a back-to-school picnic at which the grad students are given a freshly killed goat and a heap of stone tools with which to prepare for the barbecue. Then they get to examine the stone tool marks on the bones. So your anthro buddy will have experience.

@Marie, once when I was personing the Broad Universe table in the dealers’ room at Philcon, my then-one-year-old kicked a book off the table at a passer-by. The passer-by picked the book up up off the floor, read the blurb, and bought it on the spot. In my experience (consisting of one incident), cute babies with kicky legs have a 100% success rate at book sales.

Sarah Avery

Ask the shieldmothers in your warband to observe bring-your-daughter-to-work day. (Your shieldmaidens, of course, probably won’t have babies ready to hand.) Then you can focus your pillaging on loot, livestock, and real estate.

Wild Ape

Marie–I’ve seen some videos of you on YouTube and they are a laugh riot. Can I bring my boss who is an old goat to the sacrifice? It would prove career enhancing for me I’m sure.

Joe H.

Has there been any kind of study on the role of the trebuchet in bookselling?

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