Saturday, January 12, 2008

When the going gets tough the tough get going

Having thought about the Gardners debacle overnight, I am determined to see this not as a problem, but rather, as a challenge to be overcome. They say that when the going gets tough the tough get going, and I have always been tougher than most, so I plan to get going as of today and turn this thing around to my advantage, so that I triumph over this stupid and biased system that puts both authors and publishers firmly at the bottom of the pecking order.

Normally I have to buy my own books at print cost plus 25 percent, meaning that there is no scope for offering much discount at all to independents. I have not then bothered to contact many of them, since they are not likely to buy from me on such terms. Perhaps now though they will. It will also make the cost of sending review copies a lot lighter. I may also be able to cut the cost that I sell them at from my own website and even undercut Amazon's price.

The timing is not brilliant (is it ever), and it will mean an awful lot of hard work (since when has that changed) over the next few months to pull this off, but i am confident that if anyone can do it then I can. There are ways and means and if I have to I will ring shops in my lunch hour and during late night trading and at weekends. I spent an hour ringing round this morning in fact and managed to get orders from another three Waterstones in Yeovil, Worthing and Worcester Shambles.

I also spoke to Waterstones in Staines, where I did a book signing in October. I was hoping their Manager may be able to give me some information on how well the book is doing, and I was delighted to told that they have sold 5 copies there, and 66 company wide. Last time I asked at the end of November, the figure was 36, so this means that I have sold 30 books through their shops in December alone - one for every day of that month.

I remembered Simon Key's (Big Green Bookshop) comments regarding core stock that he left on this blog site some time ago and this got me to thinking. So I emailed Staines back after I had finished ringing round and have asked her if she would be prepared to recommend the book to the core stock team at Waterstones Head Office. It will then be stocked by default in a certain proportion of all their stores (i.e it will be automatically replenished).

I know I will not change Gardners mind, and I am in no position to negotiate anyway, since the account is held in Richard's name and not mine, but this may help to reduce the number of copies I have to take back and is certain to make them think at the very least. The most annoying thing is though that once the orders do start to come back in, Gardners will pretty quickly once again go out of stock, and I will then have to send the same books back to them - at my expense! This is the thing that stings most of all - mind you, I do take some small satisfaction is knowing that they will also lose the £2.64 per copy that they would have got had they decided to keep my books.

Having now spoken to Richard, he has said that when Gardners do re-order, which they will do much sooner than later, rather than getting more stock from Lightning Source, he will simply copy the order over to me. Richard is going to get back to me on Monday then with some idea as to cost of shipping the books back to me. I will then be in a better position to decide whether to drive down to Eastbourne myself and pick them up or just get Gardners to ship them back. I suspect it may be cheaper to go to Eastbourne myself, and it may also be quite interesting, as I will have the opportunity to have a look around their warehouse and sign the remaining copies that they will keep as stock.

I have no idea though why this has happened - and Richard is as perplexed as I am. He has been dealing with Gardners for over 10 years and assures me that this is the first time that they have done anything like this. I can only surmise that like everyone else too, they have their own problems are are just cutting back on what they believe to be dead stock. This time though they have made the wrong decision, as my books are not dead, but only just beginning.

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