How To Market Your Book Sale Fundraiser On The Cheap

Book Sales 101

Used book sales are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways for nonprofits to raise money for their organization. Friends of the Library groups have been doing this for some time, but now groups such as Planned Parenthood and the American Association of University Women hold regular, successful book sales. Of course, behind every successful book sale is a solid marketing campaign.

Keys to planning the marketing strategy for your book sale:

o Create a webpage specifically for your own sale, preferably host it on your organization’s website.

o Market not just the sale, but also for donations.

o In this case, an inch deep and a mile wide is the best strategy – cover all possible markets, do not rely on one place to market your sale.

o Have a cause! If you a part of the Friends of the Library group, add what the funds will go toward (or have went toward in the past). If you are another nonprofit, what program will these funds help?

Places to market your book sale:
Book Sale Scout ( – Book Sale Scout is the net’s only searchable book sale directory. It’s professional service and appearance matches your professional needs perfectly. Basic sale listings are free and, for bigger sales, our paid advertisement options are the cheapest out there.

Craigslist ( – Don’t deny the power of Craigslist to promote ANYTHING.

Freecycle ( – Freecycle is a great program that is run in a ton of local areas through an email mailing list. Basically you can post things to give away or request free things. The moderation is pretty heavy on these lists, for good reason, but I talked with a few moderators who said a WANTED ad for used books would be permitted. This is a good way to drum up some more books for your book sale. I think book sales underutilize this tool.

Submit a press release ( – PRWeb offers free press releases, which would be perfect for book sales. You’re probably not going to drum up any news stories from their free press releases, but it does help get notification of your sale out on the web.

AdWords ( – Promoting a book sale on Google, using their Cost-per-click system, may not be for every sale, but it definitely would be worthwhile for events with gross sales of $10,000 or more. There are only a few book sales currently promoting on AdWords and they are very large. For most sales, including the large ones, it is most wise to limit your campaign to a local area. Also, you’ll want only to run your campaign on keywords that wouldn’t already bring up your sale webpage or notification.

Post at Upcoming ( Another free resource for posting and finding events (works best in urban centers).

- Post on the Amazon or other bookseller discussion boards – Booksellers love a good book sale and they are going to be the ones who really drop the money at your sale and, perhaps more importantly, clear out much of your stock.

- Free classifieds – There are a variety of local newspapers who offer free classifieds, if space permits. In Washington, DC, the City Paper does so. A great way to promote book sales in print (off the internet)

- Use organization newsletters and boards – This may be a no-brainer, but I definitely remember stumbling upon a book sale at my own public library, without even knowing it. Don’t forget to get the word out their in your organization’s newsletter, bulletin board, website, wherever!

- Hold your sale during a larger event – This way is the best, because you do not need to do anything extra. If you plan your book sale during a town’s garage sale days or community fair, you automatically get indirect advertising for your sale from this event.

- Get creative! Now, the return on time invested begins to dwindle here, but start Googling things like “post an event” and your city. Or “community calendar” and your city.