Thursday, October 25, 2007

Borders and book shelves

For the past day or so I have been in the process of trying to sort out my tax. This entails going through records of all the calls I have made in the last few months. These have all been recorded on the database I set up of book stores, and backed up by notes made on Works Calendar. In July just 3 percent of calls that I made were business related - mostly to Paul and Gaynor, but in August this figure shot up to 50 percent. In September it went as high as 70 percent, before settling back down to 50 percent for October. November may be slightly less again, with the run up to Christmas, since a lot of stores are now advising me to call them back in the New Year (already). Still, this is an indicator of just how hard I have been working to get this book off the ground and beginning to walk, and then run, as opposed to just dawdling, or hanging around on street corners ....

I do hope then that it starts to pay off. The signs are encouraging. Mind you, last time I checked Gardners website, they still had 36 copies in stock, despite the fact that 3 branches of Borders assured me 2 days ago that they would be ordering copies. Will they be ordering later in the week I wonder, is there a set day of the week when they order stock, so that it is done in bulk and all arrives at the same time I wonder? The trouble with Borders is that the emails (when addresses are given - none are listed on their website) inevitably end up bouncing back, so you cannot send friendly thank you emails out to the Managers, reminding them to order, as I have been doing with Waterstones. I can see that getting any sort of mass coverage in Borders then is going to be very, very hard work, necessitating constant follow ups in the form of phone calls - I will have to make sure then I am doubly well organised.

I also need to recontact Claire at the New Press Dept to see if the ordering system works in the same way as Waterstones - i.e. that when copies of a book sell, an order is automatically triggered for replacement copies. This is very handy, as it saves me the hard work of constantly ringing the store to check on stock levels. This is where it would be very handy to be able to log into Gardners or Bookdata to check which stores have stock and which need replenishing. The only way I could get this though is by registering the ISBN in my name, so that I am the publisher rather than Richard, Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

One thing that Borders have got right though is the launch, last week of their new Local Borders website, where store managers can actually post pictures and introductions about their staff, as well as listing events and recommended titles themselves. This could turn out to be quite handy, as I would know by looking at this site who does what in each store, and therefore know who to ask for and who I am speaking to when I do call. The site though is in its infancy, so many stores have yet added their details.

My book is due to be reviewed on Shelfari any day now as well though, which may bring in some more US sales. I am aware of at least 2 that I have had for this month through that site because of this initiative. Shelfari is one of those sites (like Library Thing) where you list all the books that you have and make comments on them, so that others can get recommendations from those that have read these things and know whether or not the books are for them. They also have a variety of different groups that you can join, one of which, Author Review, is aimed to helping to promote the work of members who are also authors.

The idea is that you send them a copy of the book, which is then read and reviewed on the site, and a series of questions asked of the author who then posts the answers on the site. Members are then invited to ask the author questions and make comments, which can result in substantial sales. My US sales are firm sale as well, which means I earn slightly more, which has to be a good thing. My book then is scheduled to be reviewed any day now. I have answered the questions, and am just waiting for it to go online.

No comments: