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....

1 comment:

  1. Yes, you've got to pursue every angle. My experience is that when I get my books into shops they sell. It's a matter of getting them in there! And keeping a reasonable stock. It's obvious but a single book on a shelf will sit there for ages. A pile of them on a table will be snaffled up in no time. You've just got to keep at it! Mike Manson