Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Art of Bookselling

   What aspect to concentrate on? In a journal or diary everything goes in pell mell...but in a blog - just to take the Tapeley Park weekend that featured in the last entry for an example - which aspect to highlight? The Collective and interplay of artists and works? The event itself and all that was going on? The party in the evening at that notorious venue the permaculture garden...?! Or the writing side - the book stall and writer-visiting-site-featured-in-book? Well the first would be a Collective blog, the second was the last blog entry, the third - and again - who wants suing? So this entry will concern the fourth. 
   The book stall was all a matter of attitude - I turned up and till lunchtime had stomachache (can't remember what I'd eaten, but that's unimportant) - and surprise surprise, despite the many people, no one came... What's up? I wondered. 'It's your attitude! Obviously stressed, fed up or weary and that's not approachable!' was muttered to me. Now in a way this was news to me - I've been to festivals where there have been stallholders that spat venom, but what they were selling - whether really cheap old books to army surplus necessities, still drew in customers...but - new books without the backing of a huge publisher? In another way, it wasn't news at all... After lunch I felt better, and launched into the selling persona that we all have - yes, I mean it! however shy or reserved or downright anti-social you are, it's in there! trust me. And that's when the sales began. I told people what it was, called out to them to draw their attention, smiled, and was ready with information and offers of cards, flyers, and the offer of a free gift with each book bought. It worked. The world's lousiest direct sales bod had sold all but one copy by the end of the day. It's true what they say - it's all in the attitude - YOUR attitude. The trick is to remember the hard-won, difficult-to-learn skills that you gain in such an environment and integrate them into what you do and how you operate. Tough? yes. Worth it? Undoubtedly. It could make the difference between success and failure.

    The next day was kind of special too - having said goodbye to Wayne, Ben, Len, Andi, Mandy and co., (two of whom had passed out on the lawn after the night's partying), we went off to Exmoor to visit the Beacon - for the first time since having finished the 'Porlock the Warlock' book (it being Porlock's residence), and (for various reasons) my first time at the very top. It was strangely moving. Everything was just where I'd expected to find it - the chimneys for his bedroom, Vag and Rag's bedroom...the top of the kitchen and the library, his view of the Sea was just how I'd imagined...it was very odd and I even found the 'front door'...it was, well...one of those inexpressible times when you have a gut feeling that it was the right thing to have written, and the place you're in somehow makes it feel more 'meant', - if that makes sense? And all the recent worries about Spoken/Written receded for a time, and I felt my belief in 'Porlock' become stronger...
   And one thing you need is to have a strong faith in the books you write. But there is - as the stall experiences confirm - a difference in a private faith, however complete, in the work and a faith which you can usefully communicate to others about the 'product'. Thanks lastly then to Dunkery Beacon, home of Porlock, and all the lovely people who bought books, I hope they're enjoyed.

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