Give Local Book Sales a Try

We even had a table at my very first Comic Con!

By Linda Wilson   @LinWilsonauthor

A group of fellow children’s authors and I have formed a loosely-knit group of book sellers extraordinaire in our hometown, Albuquerque, New Mexico. We keep each other informed of upcoming sales and fairs by having our names on the lists of local events. One person fills out the application, and if accepted, those who want to participate share the cost of the booth or table(s). When possible, we carpool to the events.

The events include retirement communities’ arts & crafts fairs, church fairs, and high school and college fairs. Other participants at these events are vendors selling their hand-crafted wares, such as jewelry, hand-sewn and crocheted items, canned goods, and about any other hand-crafted item you can think of. Aside from being fun, especially around the holidays when sales are at their peak, a lot of effort goes into participating. Ideas gathered from my own background as an elementary teacher and grade school volunteer, and the many clever displays by vendors I’ve observed, I’ve come up with “The List” of items I need to make sales. I hope these ideas will help you avoid some of the pitfalls I first fell into before I became an experienced book seller entrepreneur. 

The List 

  • After applying and being accepted to an event, check the rules to see if tables, chairs, and tablecloths are provided. Also, for outdoor sales some organizers offer canopies. There are also rules about where you can park to unload, and where to move your car when done. If you need your own tables and chairs, I recommend purchasing portable folding tables with handles. I own two 8’ tables which turn out to be necessary for most sales, and a folding chair. We usually are able to rent a 10 x 10’ space. 
  • A collapsible folding utility wagon cart can help cut down on the number of trips you need to make for setting up your supplies. 
  • Rectangular black tablecloths show off your wares in style. A spiffy table scarf shows off the theme of your books and/or the season. Since we live in New Mexico, we use Southwest scarves, or scarves for the season. 
  • Often, depending on the number of authors sharing the space, room on and around the tables is limited. So, any seasonal decorations need to fit. Around holiday time I’ve draped a Santa hat on my book display, or have decorated with a sprig of holly, etc. Bright colors are a good idea for attracting potential customers to your table. 
  • A canopy for outdoor sales is a good idea. I purchased a blue Crown Shades 10x10 pop up canopy and have been pleased with it. US Weight Tailgater Canopy Weights helped keep our canopy from harm at one outdoor sale that was extremely windy.
  • Many different types of display stands are available on Amazon. I chose one (pictured below) that would allow customers to see the books at eye level so that they could browse more easily than if the books were simply stacked on the table.
  • Two-three 8 x 10” picture frames make a professional appearance for displaying special certificates your books may have been awarded, your price list neatly typed and easy to read, and also a photo or two of the characters in your books.
  • A banner, which can be created and purchased from local graphics shops or from a company such as VistaPrint, is a terrific way to draw people to your table.
  • Also, large posters of the front covers of your books can be made at Staples and displayed on stands near your table. Floor stand-up signs are a terrific way to advertise yourself and your books. A lack of space would be the only thing that would prohibit this type of advertising, but floor stand-ups are very effective.
Mobile Payments 
  • Be ready for sales made with good old-fashioned cash by going to the bank and having plenty of change. Square is a popular way to collect payments, or Square’s many other competitors.
  • Purchase a receipt booklet for customers who want a written receipt.
  • Purchase bags, found inexpensively on Amazon, which are appreciated by customers for your books and their other purchases.
  • Keep a supply of pens.
  • Every sale is different, and often you won’t know what to expect about what your space is like until you actually arrive. You will be glad you kept a supply of incidentals, which include:
        Hanging your banner: Often you pin your banner to the tablecloth at the front of your table.                     Sometimes you can hang it behind you if there is a wall or open space. Large safety pins for                    pinning your banner on your tablecloth through rivets on four corners of the banner
  • Scissors
  • Scotch tape and stronger tape, bungee cords and plastic ties, and a step ladder for hanging your banner behind your table
  • Various size clips
Other incidentals 
  • Sharpie markers
  • A table-size white board for various notes, and dry-erase pens
  • A phone charge
  • Don’t forget your lunch, snacks, and water!
Last but Not Least: Ideas to spruce up your sales
  • Before each sale, I go through everything and to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything, and pack it in the easiest way possible. I take plenty of books. Extras that aren’t used for display are kept underneath the table.
  • I make sure I’ve put stickers from awards my books have won on each book.
  • I have purchased bright colored fabric bags and tissue paper for people who buy my books in bundles of four or five books. This idea has worked beautifully. Customers seem happy to have the fabric bag in addition to the books. The bright color bags are attractive displayed on the table as well. Selling books by the bundle has been a terrific sales approach.
  • I have also purchased bags for people who buy one or two books.
  • I have purchased, and in one case created, small swag gifts to go with each of my books. Here’s the breakdown: 
A Packrat’s Holiday: Thistletoe’s Gift: A small owl, which is a character in the book.
Cradle in the Wild: I found a craft idea for making a bird’s nest online, which is the subject of this book purchased the materials, which include Spanish moss for the nest, small pom pom balls and wiggle eyes to look like birds, and packed the materials in zip-lock bags to hand out to customers who buy this book.
Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery: A pen with a fluffy, fuzzy top, to encourage writing in a diary.
Tall Boots: a four-leaf clover to signify 4-H. 4-H has endorsed this book. Membership in 4-H is encouraged.
Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me!: A small rubber duck.

Swag giveaways, such as bookmarks and flyers are always a good idea to keep handy for customers to take with them who aren’t ready to buy but want to stay in touch with you. Now, off you go on making local sales! What I enjoy most by making local book sales is reaching out to my local community and meeting my readers. This approach has been very rewarding for me in my quest to write articles and stories for children. I hope you will find your own reward in this approach, too.
Our book display stand
under our canopy at an
outdoor book sale

Linda Wilson is the author of the Abi Wunder Mystery series and other books for children. Her two new releases are Waddles the Duck: Hey, Wait for Me! (2022) and Cradle in the Wild: A Book for Nature Lovers Everywhere (2023). You’ll find Linda on her Amazon author page, on her website at, and on Facebook.

Click the links for free coloring pages and a puppet show starring Thistletoe Q. Packrat. While you’re there, get all the latest news by signing up for Linda’s newsletter.  Connect                                with  Linda: FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram

In the Spotlight: An Interview with Author Simon Rose

by Suzanne Lieurance

It’s always fun (and helpful) to learn how other writers work, so I like to interview a different author each month. 

This month, the spotlight is on prolific author Simon Rose. He has several other roles, too, which you'll soon find out about.

I’ve known Simon for many years, but we hadn’t stayed in touch lately, so it was nice catching up with him.  

Author Simon Rose

Suzanne Lieurance: Tell us about yourself as a writer, author, speaker, coach, and consultant. What kinds of things do you write? Who do you coach? What kind of consulting do you do? Tell us about your books.

Simon Rose: I’m originally from the UK but am now based in Calgary in Western Canada. I’m the author of science fiction and fantasy novels for children and young adults. I’m also the author of several guides for writers, including The Time Traveler’s GuideThe Children’s Writer’s GuideWhere Do Ideas Come From?, and many non-fiction books

My novels are all in the science fiction and fantasy genre. The Sorcerer’s Letterbox and The Heretic’s Tomb are historical fiction adventures set in medieval England, The Alchemist’s Portrait is a time travel story, The Emerald Curse is all about superheroes and comic books, The Doomsday Mask is all about the legend of Atlantis, and The Sphere of Septimus involves the characters traveling into another world and is in the same vein as the Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, or Lord of the RingsFuture Imperfect is a technology-driven story featuring mysterious messages from the future, and FlashbackTwisted Fate, and Parallel Destiny are in the paranormal genre. The Shadowzone series is a science fiction adventure set in a dark parallel version of Earth. The Stone of the Seerseries is a young adult historical fantasy series set during the English Civil War in the seventeenth century.

The Stone of the Seer Series

I’m an instructor of writing courses for adults with the University of Calgary and also offer a number of services for writers, including coaching, editing, consulting, and writing workshops, as well as copywriting services for the business community. I work as a coach and consultant with writers in many different genres. This has involved both substantive, developmental, and copy editing of completed novels, but I also work as a coach for writers with works in progress. You can learn more about some of the projects I’ve worked on that have subsequently been published here on my website. You can also see some of the references and recommendations from other clients that I’ve worked with. 


I've just wrapped up work on a study guide for a fellow author's historical fiction novel, set in World War I and World War II. You can learn more about my various coaching, editing, and consulting services, for all age groups and genres, on my website, as well as my services for business writing projects. 


SL: How did you get started as a writer?


SR: When my children were small, I started reading children’s books again for the first time in many years. Some of the books were wonderful and I wished that I could write something similar. However, some of the books were very poor and I was surprised that they’d ever been published. This made me wonder if I could write stories of my own. I started thinking that I should write fairy tales and picture books for younger children but after reading the first three Harry Potter novels, I realized that I wanted to write for the age group that those books are aimed at. I wasn’t interested in writing about the same things, such as magic, wizards, and imaginary creatures, and instead focused on themes that I was interested in, such as science fiction, fantasy, time travel, history, comic books, ancient mysteries and civilizations, superheroes, other dimensions, and the paranormal. I began submitting to publishers and the first novel came out in 2003, followed by another seven with the same publisher. I’ve since worked with several other publishers, both for fiction and nonfiction, and published my own books as well.


SL: Do you also offer courses (either online or in person) about writing? If so, tell us about those.


SR: I offer coaching, editing, consulting, and mentoring services for writers of novels, short stories, fiction, nonfiction, biographies, and in many other genres, plus work with writers of scripts and screenplays. 


I’m also a writing instructor and mentor at the University of Calgary and have some courses coming up in the fall, including Writing for Children and Youth. My own online courses, including Writing Historical Fiction and Writing for Children and Young Adults, are also always available. 


SL: Many children’s authors would like to offer school visits and get paid for them. Do you have any tips about this?


SR: I offer presentations, readings, author in residence programs, and conduct workshops for children at schools and libraries, including virtual author visits. An author visit can be highly inspirational, inviting children to unlock their own creative potential, and encourage them in their own writing. Younger students especially are almost always thrilled to meet a published author, particularly if they've read their books. It has been more challenging to connect with schools in recent years, so I try to offer more value with a variety of sessions that also help me to stand out from the crowd. I offer presentations covering such topics as where ideas come from, story structure, editing and revision, character development, time travel stories, history and research, plus many other aspects of writing and publishing.


SL: What do you enjoy most about being a writer, coach, etc.? 


SR: In addition to the writing and seeing my ideas come to life, I enjoy meeting my readers at schools, young writers’ conferences, or at events, and also working with other authors, no matter what the genre. I also like to meet other authors at events and conferences, exchanging ideas and experiences.


SL: What does a typical writing day look like for you? Are you working on a new book? What is your most recent book?


SR: I’m not sure if I have a typical writing day these days. At the moment, I’m working on my current projects with the novel series and the screenplay, planning marketing and promotional campaigns for the coming months, teaching online course, and working with a few other writers on their projects.


I’m working on another historical fantasy novel series, this time set in the early years of World War II, that I’m hoping to publish next year. I’ve recently completed another story that takes place in the later stages of World War II and am putting the finishing touches to that one as well, potentially for publication the following year. Yet another series is currently in development in the same paranormal genre as my previously published Flashback series, which you can learn more about on my website. 


I’ve also been working on the script for a film project and continue to work on the adaptations of my Shadow zone series into screenplays for movies and TV shows. You can learn more about my work writing screenplays for clients and creating adaptations of my own work on my website. 


My most recently published books were those in The Stone of the Seer young adult historical fantasy series, featuring The Stone of the SeerRoyal Blood, and Revenge of the Witchfinder. The exciting story is mostly set in the mid-seventeenth century during the English Civil War. In The Stone of the Seer, Lady Elizabeth Usborne, Kate, and Tom encounter a magical stone, mysterious parchments and manuscripts, and an incredible time viewing device. In Royal Blood, Lady Elizabeth, Kate, and Tom are in London, witnessing the political turmoil at the time of the Civil War, including the king’s trial and execution. Revenge of the Witchfinder takes place in multiple time periods. The story features weird dreams, disturbing visions, parallel lives, and a bewildering identity crisis, as the lead characters discover to their horror that not even the passage of centuries can prevent a bloodthirsty witchfinder from the 1640s from seeking his deadly revenge.


SL:  How much marketing for your books, writing services, coaching, etc. do you do? Do you have any tips for other writers?


SR: It’s very important not to forget about the marketing. You may produce the greatest book ever written. However, no one else is going to see it if your book doesn’t become known to potential readers. Be visible as an author. Do as many readings, signings, and personal appearances as you can. Get your name out there and hopefully the rest will follow. Especially for newly published authors, books don’t sell themselves and need a lot of help.


I do as much marketing as I can on social media on places such as Facebook, X, Instagram, LinkedIn, my blog, and elsewhere online. I also recently exchanged space on my blog with some other authors, something that I’ve done before, in which we posted interviews about each other’s books, which hopefully generated some traffic for each of us again.


SL: What is the most challenging part of the writer’s life for you?


SR: Writing is in some ways the easy part. It can be a very long process not only to write a book, but also to get it published. A book is a marathon measured in years rather than weeks or months. Don’t be afraid to revise and revise over and over again. Most authors go through many revisions before their work reaches its final format. Remember too that your book will never be to everyone’s taste, so don’t be discouraged. A firm belief in your own success is often what’s necessary. After all, if you don’t believe in your book, how can you expect other people to?


SL: What is your best tip for anyone who wants to write for children?


SR: Read as much as you can and write as often as you can. Keep an ideas file, even if it’s only a name, title, sentence, or an entire outline for a novel. You never know when you might get another piece of the puzzle, perhaps years later. 


Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere really. Books, movies, TV, online research, out walking the dog, dreams, an overheard conversation, friends and family, history, mythology, and so many other sources. I have a few ideas that may never come to anything, but I still keep them anyway. It’s always a good plan to save them because you never know if, or when, an idea might fit into a story. My first four novels were all based on very early story ideas and were the first books to be published. However, later ones such as The Sphere of Septimus, or the Shadowzone series were also very early ideas. They just took longer to develop as novels. Flashback was also one of my earliest ideas but again it took a while for me to develop the initial story, and consequently the rest of the series. Even if the ideas don’t work right away, they might in the future, and you just never know when you’ll get another piece of the puzzle.


Many new authors decide not to listen to advice regarding their story and suggestions related to how it might be improved or how to fix problems in the plot, believing that they know best. You don’t have to make those changes if you don’t agree with them, but as an author you at least need to consider them. Some new authors, especially those that self-publish their books, also often don’t do enough editing and checking of their work before they make their book available to readers and this should be one of the most important aspects of the process, no matter how a book is published.


In many ways writers need to write what they know. This might sound a little odd because no one actually knows how to travel in time, attend a wizard school, visit other dimensions, have superpowers, or go to the edge of the universe, at least as far as we know anyway. But what this term actually means is that it’s much easier to write about what you know or about what you’re interested in. You’ll have far more ideas about your own favorite topics, and you’ll also decide exactly what you want to write about and not just try to do the same as everyone else or follow a hot new trend, whether it’s teenage wizards, vampires, zombies, or something else. If you write about unfamiliar topics, you’ll have to do more research for a story or perhaps plan out the story a lot more, rather than letting the ideas from your imagination flow into the computer or onto the paper as the story keeps coming to you. Writing about things that you’re not passionate about will seem much more like work when writing is supposed to be fun. Write about what you know and love and it’s going to be a much more enjoyable experience.


SL: Where can readers learn more about you and your writing and various services?


SR: You can learn more about me, my books, and my various services for writers on my website at or elsewhere online.


·      Facebook

·      X

·      LinkedIn

·      Instagram

·      Amazon

·      Pinterest


For more author interviews and writing tips, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge.

Suzanne Lieurance is an award-winning author with over 40 published books and a writing coach at

Six Reasons to Review Books

By Terry Whalin 

For many years, several times a week, publishers and authors send new books which arrive in my mailbox. To libraries, I’ve given away so many books that a church in Kentucky was able to gain accreditation for their school and it amounted to thousands of books. The mayor of the town even declared a Terry Whalin Day (a one-day event). I receive many more new books than I could possibly read—especially since I do it in my “free” time and write book reviews. Whether you are a new writer or experienced professional, in this article, I want to give six reasons to write book reviews.

As an editor, I often ask writers what they are reading. If they write fiction, I’m expecting they will tell me about novels they are reading. Years ago, I met an older man who had written a romance novel. He confessed that he did not read romance novels but only wrote them. This answer did not give me the right impression about this author. You don’t write a novel just because it is a large genre. Writers are readers and writing reviews documents your reading habits—and my first reason for writing reviews. 

Writing reviews helps you understand your market and audience. I encourage you to read and write about other books in your area of the market. As a writer, you can either be a competitor or cooperate and support your competition. I believe you are stronger if you support your competition with reviews.

Book reviews sell books and everyday people read reviews to make buying decisions. If your book on Amazon has less than 10 reviews and has been released for a year, that gives one message where if it has over 50 reviews (mostly four and five stars) then that sends a different message to the reader. As authors, we need to continually work at getting more reviews—even if your book has been out for a while.

When you write a five-star review for an author, reach out to that author and tell them about it. Reviews are an important means for you to support other authors and build relationships.

Books change lives and this reason is my fifth one about why to write book reviews. You can influence others to buy a book and read it from your review. I know firsthand books change lives because a key part of how I came to Christ years ago involved reading a book.I read a book called Jesus the Revolutionary and you can follow this link to read the magazine article that I wrote called Two Words That Changed My Life. Books can have powerful impact on our lives.

My final reason: Writing the short form is an important skill for every writer. For example, I do not review electronic books—only print books. If I read or listen to a book, then about 99% of the time, I will write a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Create a personal standard for your book review. Mine are not a single sentence but at least 100 words and often include a quote from the book to show that I’ve read it with a unique image.

Are you reviewing books or going to start reviewing books? Let me know in the comments below.


Do you write book reviews? This prolific writer and editor gives six reasons to write reviews. Learn the details here. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin, a writer and acquisitions editor lives in California. A former magazine editor and former literary agent, Terry is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written more than 60 nonfiction books including Jumpstart Your Publishing Dreams and Billy Graham. Get Terry’s recent book, 10 Publishing Myths for only $10, free shipping and bonuses worth over $200. To help writers catch the attention of editors and agents, Terry wrote his bestselling Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success. Check out his free Ebook, Platform Building Ideas for Every Author. His website is located at: Connect with Terry on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

MAP Making for Authors

Contributed by Margot Conor

Maps are a great addition to your book and readers love them. It is a visual assist to the worldbuilding you create in your story. Especially if you’re writing a fantasy or science fiction novel.  If you just want a few maps for your books then the online programs are the way to go.

I decided to include a map in my book and so the research began. I have training as a visual artist, so I choose to do this myself. However, I don’t have time to hand draw it. If you are interested in having a map in your book, let me share with you the variety of opportunities I found to achieve this goal.

I see two basic options, doing it yourself, or hiring an outside artist to do it for you.

 If doing it yourself is something you want to try there are a host of choices. Some are browser-based options, and if you have a good Internet connection that is the way to go. But there are some software programs you can download if you want to have it on your hard drive. I also found a few artists who you can contact if that is what you prefer to do.

I have tried Inkarnate and found it to be extremely easy and quite a lot of fun. My first map was acceptable, but now that I understand how it all works, I am sure I can improve on the design. These are drawn in color, So I will most likely download my finished design and then render it into a black-and-white version in Photoshop.

But whatever you choose, there is one important thing you should know about map making for your book. Usually, a map in a book will cover a spread of two pages. Don’t put anything of importance in the center of your map where the fold will be – it would be lost in the fold of the pages.

The following programs can help you generate various kinds of maps…

Roll for Fantasy Map Creator (
This free program is very easy to use. With user-friendly tools. It would be a good starting point for anyone. I appreciate their simple instructions on the home page too. There are no Copyright restrictions.

Inkarnate (
Free for a basic set of tools. $27.53 yearly for full access.
World maps, regional Maps city and village Maps, Battle Maps Interior Maps. Intuitive Interface and high-quality art, a variety of over 18,500 maps assets, Human, elven dwarven orcish. Used by authors, boardgame designers, fantasy world builders, RPG game masters, and players. They have a wide variety of HD stamps, textures, and fonts.

Dungeon Scrawl (
Their core features are available to everyone for free. You can create unlimited maps, save and load your files, Undo/redo anything you make, export as a .png image.
They have a pro level that is $7 a month.
They offer a variety of brushes and textural layers that allow you to make unique creations. They even have Isometric Edit Mode for those who want to create in a 3-D mode.

Donjon (
This site has free Roll Playing Game tools for all different systems and settings. And it also has what they call Random Map Makers, this includes: world generator, town generator, treasure map generator, and dungeon generator. It also has Microlight, Pathfinder and other popular fantasy variations. The maps are functional but not the best art.

World Anvil Worldbuilding Tools (
This is a free program for creative types. If you have hand-drawn your basic map, World Anvil lets you upload it and add various elements. They have many customization options that are not as easy or as fast using pen and paper alone. You can also create your map in their program – it is generated by your descriptions.

DGN Fog (
You can sign up for free. For storytellers, authors, and role-playing games, they have something called Epic Locations, a guide or catalog of places with sensory descriptions, sample encounters, potential adventures, and a list of adjectives that capture the essence of the area.
You can draw maps or rooms with vector-based tools, populate your map with 3000+ different props and textures (even upload your own) or decorate rooms. Needs licensing.

Map Making Software:
It only makes sense to buy the software and install it on your computer if you are going to be making a lot of maps, or if you are creating games. Many of these were created for creators of roll-playing gamers, but they can be used by those who want to make maps for books just as well.

Below are internet-free programs.

Pro Fantasy Software (
This is a Campaign Cartographer program. Their prices are divided into bundles that range from $74 to $620. If you want everything they have to offer, it is definitely on the high end.

Nortantis (
This is a free software download. A simple fantasy map generator that creates a hand-drawn style of map. You can customize the terrain, icons, and background color.

Wonderdraft (
One-time purchase of 29.99. Their maps look a lot like what is available on Inkarnate. They don’t seem to have as many choices, but the maps are richer in tone and quite beautiful. sometimes too many choices can be overwhelming. They do have a few additional art packs available: Pirates and Fantasy.

Fractal Mapper 8.0 (
$34.99. Map-Specific software, map-related stamps, and automation which allows you to create natural-looking land masses. There is a free program added in the purchase called Fractal World Explorer. This lets you create and edit 3d relief maps.

Azgaar’s Fantasy Map Generator (
Free to install. This is the most popular site for many fantasy writers as well as Dungeon and Dragon Player. They have twelve rough templates to start your map. Then you fill in the details. They also have a tool to paint new terrain.

Watabou's Medieval Fantasy City Generator (
This app generates random medieval city layouts of a requested size. The generation method is arbitrary, but it produces nice-looking maps. This is a free program.

FlowScape (
$10 software download. This is a 3D map generator. There are twenty presets you can edit and too many elements available to list, it is quite comprehensive. This is a great way to let your readers into the worlds you create. You can even create your characters there.

Hand Drawn by an artist…
If you go this route, no matter who you hire to draw your map, you need to make clear who will own the finished product. Ideally, you want to own the rights to your map.

Angelinetrevena: Angeline Trevena
She is an author and artist who enjoys worldbuilding and making fantasy Maps. I don’t know what she charges. The advantage of having a hand-drawn map is that it is unique to your project and exactly what you want.

Stardust Book Services: Cartography (
The maps are detailed and interesting, each would be unique to your project. However, they are on the high end. Their Options: $199 to $899.

If you are set on getting an artist to draw your map, but you don’t have much of a budget you can try contacting someone on one of these sites:


Margot Conor has been writing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn't until the COVID lock-down that she had enough time to dedicate to the craft and bring something to completion. Having finished her first novel, she went through the grueling two-year process of editing. Now she has jumped into the author's world with both feet. She's preparing to debut her first novel, which means learning how to promote it. The last year has been spent attending many writing retreats, seminars, and writers' events. She also listened to presentations specifically on the topic of publishing and book marketing. She will be sharing what she learns with the reader.
 You can learn more about Margot and her writing at her Facebook page:

Authors Need to be Realistic

By Terry Whalin  @terrywhalin Over the years, I’ve met many passionate writers. One brand new writer told me, “My book is going to be a best...