Jennifer Miller's 'novelade' stand

If it works for lemonade … Heights author sets up sidewalk stand to sell book

The Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Big-name authors have tried dozens of fancy gimmicks to sell books as the publishing industry shrinks, from virtual tours and eReaders to online book trailers and social media campaigns. But one Brooklyn Heights writer has a refreshingly old-fashioned approach: a table, a sign, and some sweets.

Jennifer Miller has the backing of a major publishing house and praise from Oprah Winfrey, but in hopes of drumming up interest in her book “The Year of the Gadfly,” the debut novelist hit the street last weekend with a lemonade stand-style sidewalk table, dubbed the “novelade stand.”

The back-to-basics approach to bookselling featured hand-written signs and a bowl of candy on Montague Street near the corner of Henry Street, where Miller managed to sell 22 copies of the $20 hardcover in a three-hour period — yielding more sales than many of the stops on her multi-state book tour.

It’s no wonder she moved so many units — she handed out free cookies with each copy sold.

“There’s something refreshing about marketing face to face,” Miller said. “I really believe in this book — and I think that comes across in person.”

Her book — a page-turning mystery about a young reporter who discovers a small-town secret — was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and hit the stands in May.

Oprah’s magazine called it “engrossing” and the Washington Post raved that the story was “darkly comic,” but after snagging media attention and a brief surge in sales, Miller felt she need to do something more to promote her text.

“You have a small window to make a splash,” she said. “I spent seven years writing this book, so I’ll be damned if I’m just going to let this moment slip away.”

So Miller pulled out some art supplies and started making signs.

She said dozens of Brooklyn Heights residents stopped to ask questions about the book after she put up a sign reading “Why you’ll love my novel…” — with several stopping to ask if it was self-published.

Miller said she also got some less-than enthusiastic visitors, including some freeloading candy-snatchers and a tenacious homeless man who was more interested in her lunch than her prose.

But it’s ultimately worth putting yourself out there, she said.

“I’m throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks,” said Miller, who plans to keep operating her sidewalk shop on weekends.

Reach reporter Natalie O'Neill at or by calling her at (718) 260-4505.

Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like The Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reader Feedback

benti from BH says:
did she have all the proper permits to set up shop on the street and have to abide by all the City Regs & Codes for her little endever??? I doubt it, they are so convoluted that the cost of compliance would defeat both the purpose & pocket book...HOWEVER, I do admire her for going for it with or without all the BS that is now required to set up a stand to sell anything including Lemonade on a City street in 2012.

July 9, 2012, 5 pm
John T. from Michigan says:
Pssssss . . . you wanna buy a hot book? Covers on and all . . .
Nov. 24, 2012, 3:24 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!