Miko Johnston is my guest today and she has some great ideas for authors.

Two years ago, my husband fulfilled a decades long dream – we left California for his home state, Washington, and settled on Whidbey Island. Thanks to a local writers group, I found a community here and made a new circle of friends. During that time I too fulfilled a decades long dream – signing a two-book contract with a publisher. My first novel was published last year and the sequel was just released. Happily ever after? No way.

Nowadays publishers, including Amazon, expect the author to handle publicity and sales. Like many writers, I struggle with how to promote my books and find venues to sell them. If you’re with a small publisher like I am, bookstores treat your work as if it was self-published; they’ll only carry it on consignment, taking a substantial percentage for themselves, often charging an additional ‘shelving’ fee. Who can afford that?

Time to get creative. Other writers in my group had similar experiences, so we banded together and found other options, where there’d be enough potential customers, low overhead, and not too much competition. Here’s what worked for us:

FARMER’S MARKET – Our town holds a Farmer’s market Saturday mornings from late spring through early fall. We rented a space and began selling our books. Meeting with the public and being there to talk about our work generated many sales, on average ten books each week. Our success was largely due to the variety of genres we carried, from mystery to memoir to historical fiction, but tourists snapped up our short story anthologies, which focus on the island. And unlike produce, our books didn’t rot if they were left in the car.

CRAFT SHOWS – Last year we sponsored a book night at a local pub. This year we’ll participate in at least two holiday craft shows. Books make great gifts, and having them signed by the author makes them special. They’re easy to wrap and thanks to media rates, inexpensive to ship. Next year, look for our booth at the Coupeville Arts Festival in August, a two-day event that brings out thousands of shoppers looking for unique items.

“LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION” – Author Avis Rector focused her book on Whidbey Island history. Go to any local Chamber of Commerce, or stay at one of our inns, and you’ll find her novel. Her earlier children’s book about visiting a farm is still available at farm stores throughout the country. Another author, Rowena Williamson, always features a Scottish deerhound in her novels, which she promotes on deerhound websites. My own unpublished mystery takes place in a library, inspired by my experience in library administration. It would be a great addition to a library gift store when it’s published. If your book ties in to a locality, profession, or activity, see if you can connect it to a related venue.

No guarantees that any of these ideas will make you a best-selling author, but I promise they will expand your readership by introducing you to a wider audience and connecting with readers with whom you share an interest with your character’s world. Good luck.

Miko Johnston is the author of A Petal In The Wind and its first sequel, A Petal In The Wind II: Lala Hafstein. Her short stories appear in the Sisters in Crime Anthology LAst Exit To Murder and Write Around Whidbey. Her buy link on Amazon is

Miko first contemplated a writing career as a poet at age six. That notion ended four years later when she found no 'help wanted' ads for poets in the Sunday NY Times classified section, but her desire to write persisted. After graduating from NY University, she headed west to pursue a career as a journalist before switching to fiction. She is a founding member of Writers in Residence: 

Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington. Contact her at



Jacqueline Vick said…
What great ideas! Thank you, Miko. I do want to give a tip about holiday craft shows. I wanted to sell my books at a table, and they were booked up in September, so contact them early! I can't wait to read your mystery.
GBPool said…
Many authors can benefit by thinking outside the box. Your suggestion of the farmer's market is great. A locale in a book just might be a great place to sell your books. And as Jackie Vick previously said, book early. Other authors might have the same idea.
M.M. Gornell said…
Good post, with good ideas! Sounds like your writing group is coming up with some great ideas. Two items to emphasize your points, I recently was at my local Pistachio Festival and it was so much fun, and I sold more books than I ever have at book store signings. Having fun, for me nowadays, is an important aspect of the "promotions" equation. Of course, I'm still looking for the silver bullet! Ha!
BonnieS said…
What great ideas, Miko. Thanks for sharing. I never thought about a group booth at our local Farmer's Market, but maybe. . .
Jackie Houchin said…
Yes, the Farmer's Market tip is a great idea. You get a completely different crowd that at a bookstore, and most of them use cash! Thanks! Your books would look great on a table next to flower bouquets or plants!
I love book and craft fairs. Headed to one on the 5th. Great post, thanks for visiting.
Miko Johnston said…
What I enjoy most about the farmers market (besides observing all the cute kids and dogs) is interacting with the public. Granted, many will browse and leave, but some come back and enough purchase at least one book to make it worthwhile.

I would strongly suggest working the markets with other writers to provide a diverse selection of books. We always ask browsers, 'what do you like to read?' Often the answer is, 'everything'. Thanks to a group that includes writers of mystery, suspense, political thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy, romance, YA, memoirs and non-fiction, we carry 'everything'.

Popular posts from this blog

it's Not a Cozy! by Mar Preston


The Power of Identity by Donna Urbikas