A drive through the bright winter morning to sell my books at a book fair in the lovely Cotswold town of Evesham. Unfortunately when I got there I found no punters – plenty of other authors but nobody actually wanting to buy books.
This isn’t unusual for small press authors, events like this are often hit and miss. It’s in no way the organisers’ fault – they had made sure there was plenty of publicity both in the local media and by word of mouth, but sometimes, people just don’t come. Perhaps because of the location or the timing or whatever. So instead of talking to readers the authors talk to each other.
One thing I am noticing more and more at these events is that the trend towards self-publishing really has taken hold. I think I was one of just a handful of the 20 or so writers in the room who actually has small press publishers for their books. Everybody else had decided to go D.I.Y. Either literally doing it themselves or often paying a publishing service for the work which would previously have been supplied by a traditional publisher.
They end up with a bill up front by doing it this way but they get to decide exactly when books come out, how they look and so on. And so long as they can pay off the costs of publication through sales and break into profit it works for them financially too.
Personally I still prefer to have a publisher as a partner, they do their bit, I do mine, they take on the initial costs and we share what profits there are. I don’t want to be a publisher, I want to be a writer, so I’m quite happy with the division of labour, even though finding a suitable and willing publisher to take your work can be a chore.
There’s no right and wrong way of publishing I don’t think – you find the best way of doing it for you.
It was also interesting to hear a novel sales technique one writer has found for his novels. He takes a stall in the local market and sells signed copies to the passing shoppers that way. This sounded quite fun, and entrepreneurial. Did it work for him financially? Not really it transpired, he didn’t lose money but didn’t make much either. He pretty much broke even, despite all the hard work. But he was putting his books out there into the hands of readers, painstakingly making a reputation for himself one book at a time. Isn’t that the story for all of us small authors?
So we all chatted, ate cake, drank tea. It’s nice to have a gathering of authors now and again given that writing is a solitary business.
Some authors spend lots of time doing events like this – they dress their stalls up nicely and have quite elaborate stuff to give away – info cards, little gifts etc – what the Americans call ‘swag’.
I don’t have any of that except some bookmarks the publisher gave me to promote The Pick-Up Artist. I don’t make it along to to many of these events either. You find that often it’s the older authors who are more active with this kind of thing – those who have retired and have the time and head space to do it.
For me there’s still the full-time day job, the teenagers and of course writing in the queue before attending events.
Still I enjoyed this one, even though I didn’t sell any books.
My latest book The Pick-Up Artist is out on Kindle and paperback. If you have enjoyed this post please take a look, try a free sample, and see what you think! To take a look click here
‘Loved this book, a bloke’s view of the dating game, made me laugh out loud.’