Selling My Books: Francis Guenette’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

Every Writers’ Wednesday, a successful self-published author shares a favourite book promotion tip here

Francis Guenette

Meet Canadian author Francis Guenette

I’m delighted to welcome Canadian author Francis Guenette for the first in a series of conversations with self-published authors talking about the best way to sell more books.  Fran is the author of two excellent novels (read my reviews on my author blog here). Living and writing in the vast, sparsely populated countryside of British Columbia brings its own marketing challenges, and I really admire how Fran has capitalised on local opportunities to get books into bricks-and-mortar stores. 

Debbie Young: What is your all-time favourite top tip for book promotion? This needn’t be the one that has sold the most books – it might equally be one that you enjoy doing so much that it keeps you motivated for the rest of the book marketing grind!

Francis Guenette: Developing contacts in the local marketplace that have resulted in venues where I can sell ‘real’ books.

In-store display of her books

Francis Guenette’s books in store

Debbie Young: How did you do it?

Francis Guenette: It was easier than I thought it would be. When I considered self-publishing, I read a lot about how difficult it would be to get my books into bricks-and-mortar bookstores. I would say that is true. But on the local scene, there are so many other non-traditional places to sell books. My best results have come from grocery stores and even more specifically, grocery stores in tourist locations like campsites, fishing camps, and lodges. Between these two types of stores, I have managed to tap into both the local and the tourist market.

Satisfied customer in store

Getting the books into readers’ hands…

How have I done this? I am indebted to my husband who is the type of guy who has no problem walking into a store with the books in hand, asking to speak to the manager and coming out the door with a sales agreement. We are also at an advantage in having lived in this area for over thirty years – the people who aren’t familiar with my name certainly know my husband. I suppose, to one degree or another, I have the curiosity factor going – people want to know what the heck I might write about.

The local newspaper has also been instrumental in promoting me. Again, this involved a personal appearance at the office with review copies of my books in hand and a quick chat with the editor. Emails and phone calls don’t seem to garner the right tone in the local marketplace.

Debbie Young: Why do you particularly enjoy this activity?

Another in-store display with customer

… and off the shelf!

Francis Guenette: While I go about the slow uphill slog of establishing a presence on various social media platforms, to increase visibility for e-sales, local sales are helping me get out of the red. But it’s more than that. When local people tell me how much they love my books, it’s a vote of confidence in the authenticity of my writing voice. These people live in the communities I draw on for fictional inspiration and they can sniff out an overly sentimental or phony depiction of their own backyard.

Debbie Young: Which book(s) have you used it for and when/how often?

Francis Guenette: Trade paperback copies of both Disappearing in Plain Sight and The Light Never Lies are available for sale on the racks of a number of local stores.

Debbie Young: If you were doing the same again for another book tomorrow, is there anything you’d do differently?

Francis Guenette: I don’t think I’d do anything differently, but I certainly plan to expand what we have already done over a larger geographical area. A three hour drive down the road would take my books into a much bigger marketplace with a host of non-traditional book selling venues to choose from. My name wouldn’t be as easily recognized but the rural setting of my books would still resonate and the whole of Vancouver Island is pretty good about standing behind local talent.

Cover of Disappearing in Plain Sight

Francis Guenette’s debut novel

Debbie Young: Which part of the book promotion process do you least like?

Francis Guenette: The grind of social media is a most time-consuming process. It is also an area where it is very difficult to relate time spent on specific activities to books sold. An author has to go on faith most of the time and that is not so enjoyable.

Debbie Young: Can you name one promotional activity that you’ve not yet tried (or tried but not perfected) that you plan to try in future?

Francis Guenette: I’m thinking about an interview on the local radio station. They’re pretty low-key and I imagine they might be open to squeezing me in-between The Birthday Book and the tide table information.

Debbie Young: Anything else you’d like to share with Off The Shelf readers just now?

Francis Guenette: I live in a rural area and lest readers imagine that local markets are not possible in larger centres, I would argue that even within a city, there are always smaller neighbourhoods and non-traditional venues for selling books. Don’t brush off the idea of acting as your own vendor to sell ‘real’ books.

My appearance on Off the Shelf is part of a blog tour to promote the release of my second novel, The Light Never Lies. There are prizes attached to this tour – two softcover copies of The Light Never Lies mailed to the lucky winners. One copy is for the blog host who garners the most engagement on their post featuring yours truly, and one for a commenter – name to be randomly drawn from all commenters across the tour. I hope readers will like and comment on this post (scroll down to the foot of the page for the comment box) and give Deb a chance for a win as well as following along with the tour and commenting often for multiple chances to win. The entire blog tour schedule is available on my blog here: The Light Never Lies blog tour 

Cover of The Light Never Lies by Francis Guenette

The sequel

Francis Guenette’s Author Bio
Francis Guenette has spent most of her life on the west coast of British Columbia. She lives with her husband and finds inspiration for writing in the beauty and drama of their lakeshore cabin and garden. She has a graduate degree in Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. She has worked as an educator, trauma counsellor and researcher. The Light Never Lies is her second novel. Francis blogs over at and maintains a Facebook author page. Please stop by and say hello to her.


  • If you’re a self-published author and would like to share YOUR top tip for book promotion in the Off The Shelf guest slot, please message me via the contact form with a summary of the tip that you’d like to write about, and we’ll take it from there.
  • And if you run a regular guest slot on YOUR blog with a specific theme, please feel free to post a link in the comments section so we can all hop over to have a look at it!

If you’re self-published author, or are thinking of self-publishing, join me at the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) – a great source of education, inspiration and networking opportunities. To find out more, click here.

12 thoughts on “Selling My Books: Francis Guenette’s Top Tip for Book Promotion

    • It’s a pleasure, Fran, and I’m sure your example will inspire lots of authors struggling to get their books into a bricks and mortar store. Have fun on the rest of your blog tour!

  1. Great post Francis. And thank you to Debbie Young for hosting it.

    My husband is personable man and very good at doing what you do to get his books into private books stores, grocery stores, travel & information centers, service stations, libraries, private restaurants and many other non-traditional places. Also, like you, the fact that we have lived in the area for over 40 years meant he is known and his books were very well recieved in the local area.

    We have traveled through many areas of B.C. and Alberta. He has done TV interviews, radio talk shows and advertisement as well and initially he felt very encouraged. Things have slowed down alot now. Getting reorders from the people he placed books with requires him consistantly contacting them and asking them to take more books. In many cases they have sold every book, but do not take the initiative to call and order more.

    We have found that the cost of shipping, travel, meals and accomadations have eaten much of the profits he’s made. We probably will travel with them again this summer and we’ll see where that takes us–possibly farther into Northern B.C. and across into Saskatchewan.

    Self marketing is hard work, but I think persistence is the answer and I believe you have that. You have a good presence on social media and have made contacts and garnered support in that way. My husband is not into social media in any way, so In the end we hired someone to do his FB and Twitter work, because I write also and it just got to be to much for me–and honestly she knows more about that than I do!

    Francis, you produce solid work and I am sure you will be come a well known author. Keep up the good work! I look forward to your next book.


    • Thank you for that long and thoughtful comment, Gloria. I agree with you, I’m sure Francis is going to become much more well known, as she deserves. If you’d like to feature in this slot to talk about your own top tip for book promotion, I’d love to have you here – just let me know!

  2. Great interview, Debbie! Francis is an amazing writer, her ability to make the setting it’s own character is impressive. I’ve read Disappearing in Plain Sight and I can’t wait to read The Light Never Lies.
    “The grind of social media is a most time-consuming process.” I can only imagine, I’m not a published author and I can barely keep up. I think Francis is a terrific example of what to do when it comes to self-publishing. In addition to letting us know what she’s done right, she’s very open about what she has done wrong. She’s a class act.

  3. Thank you for this! I’m starting to make a list of local non-traditional venues that I might approach when my book comes out this summer. I’m thinking the farmer’s market, fringe music festivals, and local museums/art’s councils might be a good place to start!

    • Excellent choices – I think we really need to think beyond book stores for a couple of reasons. Books stores have a lot of books and thus a lot of competition and it’s also difficult to be competitive on price. Non-traditional venues really make sense.

  4. Great post as always, Fran, and thanks for sharing, Debbie. My husband sounds a lot like Bruce. If I ever finish a novel and hold a copy of it in my hands, I’m going to make him my go-to guy for pounding the local pavement.

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