From One Author to Another on Direct Sales

Deb Skog, the author of The Pumpkin Eating Dinosaur and A Day at the Pumpkin Farm, sold nearly 4,000 copies of both books on her own in one year. We wanted you to hear from her on how she did it and how you can be successful at direct sales too:

There is no better feeling than seeing that large freight truck pull up to your house with your new books— the butterflies you get from opening your first box and seeing your final product that you put your heart and soul into. But then, you also realize you’re staring at 2,000 copies. This marks the beginning of the journey: it’s time to sell!

Before we dive deep into direct sales (also called hand selling), let’s first go over what it is. Direct sales are an immediately personal, unique brand of selling that requires an entrepreneurial spirit and considerable initiative. The practice can be lucrative and rewarding, as you’re taking it upon yourself to gather the resources, find the motivation, and develop the skills to sell your offering on your own.

The secret to selling all your books is to SMILE.






Follow along as I go through each letter in-depth, describing my own experience and offering tips along the way.


Since both my books are niched to a specific farm, it makes it quite easy for me to sell them there during the pumpkin season. That being said, the timing is critical. The farm is only open from the end of August to Halloween and therefore most of my sales have to be done before then.

Tip #1: Always be ready to sell your books. You can allow payment of cash, check, credit card. That’s why I carry around my square reader and have Venmo too.

I have a bookbag and carry books in my car wherever I go. As I matter of fact, yesterday, I was at Trader Joe’s and had a mask that matched my book cover. The cashier inquired about it and sure enough, I sold her two books.


There are no off-hours with marketing. I am ALWAYS on the clock, marketing my books on social media and other outlets. The most successful direct sales reps continually market their products on social media, in person, or on a website.

Tip #2: Develop a website. The first step would be to purchase a domain name, which is your web address. Choose a domain name that reflects your book and focus of the business. I used GoDaddy to help me with this process.

Along with a website, I also market my books on Facebook and Instagram pages that I created. It’s easy and it’s FREE! This seems to be a popular trend nowadays to be able to market your books online as well in person. I also have promotional items like bookbags, earrings, bookmarks, and business cards with my books on them so I can always advertise when I am out and about. You need to be the face of your product when trying to sell your books.


#Tip 3: Take charge when selling your book and do it in any way possible.

Since I wrote two children’s books and am a retired school teacher, I took the initiative to spread my sales into local elementary schools. Last year, I visited many schools, did assembly-type readings, and then sent home order forms so the kids could purchase my books.

In case someone didn’t order a book, I sent home bookmarks with the cover of my book and information on the backside to order the book on the Mascot Books website.

This year, I was able to visit just a few schools in person but took advantage of classroom visits via Zoom and Google Meet. I just dropped the link to get the sales. With my books and background, it was easy to utilize schools as a sales platform because kids love books.


I have gone into Barnes & Noble personally to set up a signing. I have also done library visits and even sold books at local craft shows for the holiday. Books make great gifts.


I love what I do. Ultimately, the drive behind my direct sales is loving my books and the joy it brings to children in my small town and beyond.

Tip #5: It’s good to be able to reach for pie in the sky sales, but you can sell your books more easily by first staying within a local radius.

Teaching in my town helped me get my foot in the door of the schools. By staying local, you develop relationships with other businesses and then you are able to sell and market your book more easily.

Being involved with your local Chamber of Commerce and other organizations can allow you to make the right connections to do readings and sell your books.

I am already on the schedule for a reading next summer at our town festival. This came about by just reaching out to the local girl scout troop.

Find your connection and love what you do while searching.



Use that smile to show everyone how much you’re enjoying selling your books. I can’t tell you how much joy I get out of signing books for children and people!

One thing I have missed the most this year is being able to show people how happy I am by smiling. That’s why I made a mask with the cover of my book. That way, I am always advertising and having fun while doing it.

I love being able to pose for pictures with people when they want to take a picture with an author. I pinch myself sometimes and just smile as I now love what I do and make money in my sleep.

Being successful ties into being happy with what you are doing.

In closing, success in selling books through direct sales involves determination and a little SMILE!

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Author Ann Marie Halstead is spreading kindness to schools one Bucket Filling Fairy at a time

Based on Carol McCloud’s immensely successful children’s book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today?, and Ann Marie Halstead’s play adaptation and picture book, Bucket Filling Fairy, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? The Musical continues to spread bullying prevention messages to elementary schools. The book and play have brought bullying prevention awareness to the front of classrooms across the country, and now the golden rule of “bucket filling” is being conveyed as a musical.  Bringing the characters who grapple with “bucket-dippers” and “bucket-fillers” to the musical stage provides a new medium for kids of all ages (though ages 4 & up are recommended!) to learn the importance of spreading kindness. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? The Musical by Scott Wichmann (playwright) and Jason Marks (composer) tackles the widespread problem of bullying by providing the best forms of bullying prevention and focuses on the positive effects of kindness and friendship. Described as being “sure to become a staple of Virginia education” by one elementary school, the musical shows the value of compassion by promoting healthy friendships, self-esteem, and bullying-prevention awareness in schools.  The musical follows the lead of the work it is adapting with a positive, upbeat approach to a topic that is usually weighted down by the negative consequences of bullying.  This unique spin of positivity shines a light on the vital need for compassion, understanding, and self-esteem in young children. The sentiments and lessons from Halstead’s book and play are front and center in the musical adaptation, continuing to teach children about the cause and effect relationship they have with their peers. By encouraging kids to become “bucket-fillers” instead of “bucket- dippers”, their sense of empathy for others and own self-awareness become heightened. If your elementary school is interested in scheduling a performance of Have You Filled a Bucket Today? The Musical, please contact Eric Williams at ewilliams@virginiarep.org.

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