Lesson from a Garage Sale

Over the past decade, I have held a handful of garage sales. A couple years ago, while doing a garage sale, my children baked and sold cookies to shoppers. The cookies were a hit. We ended up selling more cookies than garage sale items.


Remembering the success they had a few years ago, my children decided to sell cookies at our recent garage sale. This year, they did not sell a single cookie, but we sold over half of our garage sale items.

I believe our garage sale experience (although limited) suggests a principle that can be used when promoting and selling books. It is simply this: Lack of success at one venue does not mean lack of success at all similar venues.

In other words, if you take your books to a local book fair one year and you don’t generate much interest, don’t become too discouraged. Interest really depends on a number of factors—just like my garage sales. One year everyone wanted cookies, another year no one wanted them. Why? I don’t have an answer for that except to suggest that maybe the clientele was different, maybe the weather affected the people’s mood, or maybe cookies have gone out of fashion.

At any rate, just because your book does not do well at one venue, don’t write off all similar events. The next one you attend may have a different climate, different people, and different interests.

One of the biggest mistakes I see new authors and publishers do is to give up too soon. Take encouragement from my little experience with cookies at garage sales, and don’t get discouraged. Try again; you might have a different result.

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3 thoughts on “Lesson from a Garage Sale

  1. Your comments really reasonate with me because I was at a large book fair yesterday for the first time to promote my poetry book. The person next to me was luring folks to the table with his homemade cookies and a small gift before giving his sales pitch for his book! All I had to offer was a smile, a business card, and a copy of my schedule with my credits, accomplishments, outline of the book, and contact information, along with a business card or a copy of one of my poems! It was an interesting day with a reporter taking notes from some of us for the newspaper, and folks wanting me to join their writing club. It seems like the “cookie man” did well yesterday but he did have a preliminary review in the newspaper about his work, was a local, and seemed comfortable about sharing his book. Not sure if I’ll change my strategy next year but may try another table with a creative twist on my presentation! I need to remember that “little is much when God is in it” and Phil. 1:6 assures me “He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it in you.” I have future events planned and will not be discouraged….God knows exactly the people who need to read my book! Praise the Lord!


  2. Thanks for sharing your experience Norma! I agree that having something to draw people’s attention at a show is important. It does not need to be food, but can be a unique thing. I have seen people dress up in costume, bring dogs or other animals, or even use a large prop like a jeep to grab people’s attention.


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