Friday, 30 January 2009

Pitfalls and Plaudits

Who'd publish a novel eh? I went to a great seminar at the Society for Storytelling conference last Spring, and a terrifying and admirable storyteller told us that she had suffered learning the hard way how to promote your work by working as a direct door-to-door seller. Her line was that she 'had suffered so we didn't have to!' In this spirit, is this post.
  Shops have been saying yes, and stocking the book. It's so nice, when as an administrator and artist, you have to spam so many places, whether it's a magazine, festival, other promoter or even a school or playranger. A yes amongst all the ones that don't get back to you, say they'll keep your details on file, or that they have enough 'storytellers/poets/surreal fiction/willow workshops/insert own item!' or even the 'no' - is irresistible. So you pack them off in little boxes of six to allsorts of places, and then of course, after all this work (and it feels like hard work - stamping the books, putting together a sheet of terms, printing out posters or flyers, whichever has been asked for, and then delivering or posting them), you have no guarantee that the said shop will a) sell any b) let you how its going c) put them on display without being chased up... Meanwhile you've got workshops and performances coming up, with barely any books left! Doh. Not something I was giving any thought to, seduced by the heady 'that sounds interesting - yes, we'll take half a dozen'. 
    Golden rule; remember that the most profit is made the lower the overheads. That means you're much better off selling books at events and workshops, NOT (despite it looking cool) bookshops or any type of shops. A friend of mine who has loads of books out, always curses bookshops - he says they never shift books unless you're there arranging a signing or other event and breathing down their necks. Something I evidently should have borne in mind before running out of stock! 
   If you think it was really obvious and I've been dumb, I can only say that having three jobs with a dozen different tasks at any one time limits how much prediction power I can give to any one thing. I know, because I listed the roles (more like 4), and after I'd listed all the tasks that went with them, I needed a lie down....

Friday, 23 January 2009

The New Season

Well this blog is (as stated on the intro blog on the Collective site), going to be more of a Collective blog than a strictly editor's blog, which is inevitable given that the Editor of Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W. is also a performance poet, writer, one half of storytelling company Widsith & Deor, and administrator and co-webmaster for the Cartwheels Collective group of artists. 
   Things are in preparation for the new season, the Diary pages for Widsith and Deor and Whistling Willow have been changed and new stuff listed. A big shout must go out to the Centre for Contemporary Art in the Natural World and Exeter's Quay House Visitor Centre for stocking Porlock the Warlock! the first novel issued by Cartwheels Collective Publishing, the press arm of the Collective. (Written by yours truly.) They join Exeter Cathedral Shop as stockists of Porlock - quality shops and attractions all. But it can of course, still be ordered from the Collective Web Shop. 
    More thanks must go to the Northcott Theatre, for donating their used theatre gels for our forthcoming workshops on the Wonderful World of Colour mixing words and recycled gels - a fantastic venue with a great season coming! 
   Spoken/Written is currently trying to gain further funding for its continuance, and welcomes all offers of sponsorship and words of support. There is also a Donate button on the front page of its microsite now, too.
   With my writer's hat on, work has begun on Porlock and the Monad Machine, the sequel to Porlock the Warlock. We're stepping back into the seventeenth century for the next one, and I have been doing some historical research for it - including some eye-popping stuff about obscure branches of garden history. I love it, but it is hard making time between the hundred and one things there always are to do. As usual with historical research, all the best and latest books on the subjects are wildly expensive and only available on inter-library loan from university libraries to which I no longer have access... but I have some hopes of an academic friend. But it feels good to have started, and to begin to build on having gone to visit a 1659 first edition in Exeter Cathedral Library a while back. Not least to see if I can solve the mystery of the missing page...! I'm saying no more at this stage. 
   In other news, the Collective now has a comprehensive Workshops section and index, so that it's easier to find the many workshops which we all - and our associate artists - offer. And we have at last published some guideline priced packages to further user-friendliness. Actually I'm shattered after spending this week getting details from our visual artists about what they want to offer to various festivals and/or schools, delivering books to shops, getting the next edition together, etc., etc., so will sign off there. Here's to the 44th President of the United States,

& a Happy New Year to all subscribers, readers, interested parties and fellow arts workers! 



Editor - Spoken/Written Bulletin S.W.

Poet/Writer/Storyteller/Performance Poet

Administrator for the Cartwheels Collective