Friday, August 17, 2007

Book Signings and Book Musings

Had a fairly quiet, but nevertheless eventful day. Did some more ringing round this morning and secured an order from Brentwood in Essex - just 2 copies, but it is a start and better than nothing. Six more Waterstones though sound interested - Aylesbury, Boston (Lincolnshire), Bishops Stortford (near Stansted in Essex), Belfast, Bournemouth and Brighton. There are actually two shops in Bournemouth, and I spoke to both of them. The smaller was happy to talk to me on the phone, but the larger requested that I post them information, which I have done today. The manager I spoke to at Belfast sounded particularly interested, and I would be very surprised indeed if he does not end up ordering some. I also caught up with the some of the other stores that asked me to send them information last week. Borders in Brighton received the information and will be in touch, Newbury are having a meeting on 23rd re the theology group and will get in touch to confirm dates, Beckton (East London) I could not get hold of, and I have not so far been able to get hold of Adam at Oxford Street either. He is on late night today though (working until 11pm poor thing), so I will try again later on. I also heard from back Grumpy Old Bookman to say that he will give me a mention at some point next week - will keep on eye on site then and post the link on here as soon as it goes up. This morning I also had an email from my friend Michele Doucet in Canada. I occasionally write for her ezine, Gateway to the Soul. She is putting a new book section though on her site and wants to feature mine. She sent me a load of questions then to answer, which I replied to and sent back. Will also post the link here as soon as it goes live. She notified me in fact of a problem with the paypay link on my ordering page, which did not for some reason seem to work. I have now rectified it though, and it must be working since I received an order from one of the members of My Writers Circle, which I posted half an hour ago. Tracy, whom I got to know via Books and Tales, a POD comparison forum has also apparently tried to order one. I am not sure how though, since her email was a little garbled and dificult to understand ! I am sure though that all will be revealed. I almost forgot in fact to mention the most important thing of all - I am doing a book signing at Waterstones in Staines ! It has all been confirmed for October 20th from 11am to 12 noon. Only for an hour, but I am sure all will go very well. My friend Jillyanne runs a dancing school in Staines as it happens, and has promised to bring along a lot of her pupils, so I straight away emailed her. She is away on holiday at the moment, but will see it when she gets back. I hope she doesn't have classes at this time !

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Time for a Firm Commitment

This morning I spoke to a very strange woman in Borders, Birmingham who even though you can now get my book on sale or return, still demanded a 60 percent discount. 60 percent to them equals 75 percent to the publisher, since the distributor will also want their cut ! So I told her I could not do business on those terms, since it would leave me with nothing. She then got very upset with me (obviously not used to having authors tell her what terms they are prepared to sell on and not the other way around) and told me that the book was listed on their database as local interest anyway, and they would therefore have to put it in that section, where it would not sell ! What a load of rubbish - other stores have been perfectly happy to buy copies and put them in the MBS section.

Got straight on to Paul anyway, who is speaking to their head office to try and get the book sent out to all their stores anyway, and he got them to change it to MBS. He also gave me the number for Waterstones Buying Department, where I spoke to a very nice man called Justin Hutchinson, who is apparently the small publisher coodinator. After checking that my book was in fact available for sale through them, he asked me to email him asking for a list of all their stores, which I did, and back it came within 5 minutes. What wonderful service !

Have done some more ringing round then today and managed to secure some more orders. So far then six Waterstones have definately placed orders - Godalming, Epsom, Redhill, Aviemore, Barnstaple and Kingston. I also have possible book signings at Guildford and Staines. Several Borders have also ordered copies -Whiteleys in London, Fleet Street in London, Wimbledon, Kingston and Lakeside. Newbury have put me on the list to do a talk at their theology group, and Brighton and Oxford Street are also considering the book. All in all then a very good days work.

On another note, Neil Denny, editor in chief of the Bookseller has an interesting piece on this blog today, discussing the pros and cons of firm sale versus sale or return. I posted my own somewhat watered down take on it, at the time riding high on my successes of the past week. Then I rang that strange woman in Birmingham though and changed my mind.

It seems to me that the publishing industry is all topsy turvy, it is to the best of my knowledge, the only industry where the buyer rather than the seller dictates terms. It is a non win situation for all round - especially for us self published authors who already face huge prejudice in some circles from those who resolutely refuse to label us as anything other than vanity press. If this were not bad enough, we then find that because our books are, for the most part not available on sale or return, we cannot eveb get through the door. Because only sales through tills count towards totting up the sales of each book, no matter how enterprising you are then in selling through other outlets your book will never get noticed, and never get the publicity that it deserves. All because of this 'closed shop attitude'.

I for one do not think that it is right or ethical than stores such as the aforementioned Borders demand they we supply to them on those terms, as what it basically then means is that they get all the money. They in fact end of making in some cases, twice as much profit as the author and publisher put together - an absurd situation, which by any stretch of the imagination cannot be right. This is why then I would applaud the end of this practise, since it would mean that slowly, but surely, the playing field would be levelled, leaving us to compete on much more equal terms. It seems to me that the real problem with the publishing industry is nothing to do with too many books, or even a lack of marketing expertise on behalf of the sellers - although these are issues that need to be addressed - no the real problem is too many middle men wanting their cut, and thus undermining the writers right to earn a proper living from doing what they love !

Don't get me wrong, I realise how fortunate I am to be able to offer my books on these terms, and it has opened many doors - but I should not have been forced to take this step in the first place, and neither should Richard. I look forward to the day then when this practise stops for good.

How green does your garden grow ?

I didn't get around to writing this yesterday, not because the day was particularly busy, in fact, far from it. It was pouring with rain and miserable for most of, and I hardly really did a thing, well, book wise anyway. Well, actually, when I stop about this that isn't really true. First thing in the morning I sent that same press release that I posted on here the other day to all those branches of Watertones, I also an email from the Twickenham branch to say they would be ordering copies, since they are not a large store. You win some, you lose some.

After that then I had a dental appointment and since the surgery is next to my gym, I killed two birds with one stone (do you ever wonder about the origin of such phrases?) and went to the gym afterwards. I did not really have the energy to do too much though, so pottered home after less than an hour to prepare a nice big salad.

Coran was expecting a telephone call from one of his clients in Switzerland, whose website he is designing, and he was also waiting for a new desk to be delivered, so that meant that I had to stay in and wait for the door bell to ring, since with him being on the phone, he was unable to answer it ! I took advantage of my enforced captivity to explore some of the free press release sites, and posted the one I wrote the other day. I chose two sites to begin with, one UK based and one US and I will see if it has any effect. If nothing else then it will push me further up google. As I was working, an email came through from Richard, enclosing a copy of his correspondence with Robin at Gardners - it is all now set up, and Robin has ordered an initial 30 books to keep as stock. This is quite a reasonable number I feel considering - I must in fact have already gathered orders at least equal to this, although some of these may be from libraries, who will of course order through Bertrams instead. Talking of libaries, I need to go through that list and resend to those who have not yet responded. I also need to take a free copy of those first editions that I still have to Epsom library as well.

I was looking at the Gardners website yesterday as a matter of fact, just surfing like you do, and discovered just how unusual it is for them to take print on demand books on this basis. I really am extremely lucky then and also extremely grateful. Basically though, the guidelines on their website are as follows:

All publishers must be registered with Nielsen Bookdata, have a valid ISBN and visible barcode. For stock titles, the publisher must have UK Representation and the stock must be available from a UK location. In addition to this, to qualify as a stock line, books must be available as printed, rather than on Print on Demand. If your title/s meet all of the above criteria then you are asked to send a sample copy to their address in Eastbourne, clearly leblling it as such. The publisher will then be contacted to confirm whether or not they will list their titles (and this decision can be reviewed on performance), or whether they will stock them. Where it is agreed to stock books, Gardners will then discuss commercial terms with the publisher. Almost without exception, books from new publisher relationships will be taken into stock on a consignment basis (i.e. we hold stock and pay monthly on sales achieved). Other commercial terms (e.g. discount levels) will also be agreed.

As a general rule of thumb: all books that are held as stock lines are sold to the retail customer on a sale or return basis, whereas listed/non-stock lines (what they call special orders) and books provided as Print on Demand are sold on a firm sale basis.

So, there you have it. Hopefully the above information may help a few other brave print on demand souls who may read this blog and be inspired to enquire about getting their own on those terms.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Book that boldly goes where no other book has gone before

The deed has now been done - Richard has contacted Gardners and got the ball rolling. I did some more ringing around today, to various Borders and Waterstones and also tried a few independents as well. So far, if anything, Waterstones do seem to be more approachable than Waterstones - this could be because decisions are made much more on a branch by branch basis, and the the managers therefore have more automony when it comes to stocking works by local authors. I have not as as yet tried many further afield, so it will be interesting to see what happens when I do.

I think on speaking to Richard first thing this morning that Paul got a bit carried away with the idea of press releases though going up on Richards site, since if he did this then all his authors would expect the same .... I will still then have to do most of the work myself, but that is fine, since I have both the time and the inclination. Will make a list then of more magazines that I can send review copies too, and also have another crack at Cygnus who may now be interested ... I will also contact some writers blog sites tomorrow, and then start on the local and national press.

So far then I have definate orders from Borders in Whiteleys, London, Fleet Street, London, Uxbridge, Lakeside and Wimbledon, with interest from Brighton, Newbury, Staines and Oxford Street (London). The Kingston branch of course has copies already. I also have orders from Waterstones in Godalming, Horsham and Redhill, as well as Epsom, which has stocked them for some time. Guildford and Staines are also talking about book signings and talks.

After that I spent the rest of the afternoon putting together a press release. It is difficult to think up a strapline that grabs the attention, but I think the one that I have chosen does the job. I paste it below:

The book that boldly goes where no other book has gone before

Genesis of Man by June Austin
the answer to life, the universe and everything in between …

The low discounts offered on print on demand titles, combined with an inability to accept returns are the single biggest obstacles that authors of these titles have to face. Author June Austin is therefore delighted to announce that her book, Genesis of Man has broken the mould, in more ways than one. This groundbreaking work, published by Authors OnLine Ltd, is now available direct from Gardners with a whopping discount of 40 percent on sale or return.

June said “I am delighted with this move, which will help bring my book to a much wider audience. Book stores have now nothing to lose by ordering copies. I will continue to do everything in my power to publicise this important work”.

This is a very informative and well researched book. It is laden with scientific, Biblical and historical evidence to support its arguments. It would be ideal as a companion to academic studies in subjects such as theology, philosophy and the social sciences. If you have read and liked The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, then you will love this book because it serves the opposite viewpoint.The Self Publishing Magazine



Copies are also available direct from the publisher.Email or telephone 01633 676629.

Further details including sample chapteravailable from the author’s website at