Saturday, February 23, 2008

The mystery deepens

The mystery deepens regarding where these 'missing' 70 books have gone to - the figure is actually 69 rather than 70. Coran and I went into town for some shopping today, and as we were passing I went into their High Street branch to offer to sign the copies they had in stock. I asked the book seller that I spoke to if there was any way of checking the system to see if the books in question had gone to Waterstones, and he said there was no indication of an order that size, so the plot thickens.

Coran thinks I should just be happy that this has happened and not worry about where they have gone, but I am curious and can't help but be dying to know! I think most people in my position would feel the same, especially after the emotional roller coaster of the last few weeks. If it has indeed become core stock then apart from anything else, I want to write some press releases and announce this, not just on my own website and preferably Richard's, but on every writing and PR website and magazine that is willing to write about me - and I suspect there would be a few of them. After all, it is not every day that a print on demand book is taken on those terms.

With steady sales now beginning to mount up over the last few months (not sure about January, but 3o in December and 23 in the last 30 days), it is getting to the point where the book will be beginning to be noticed by the buying team at Waterstones anyway, and if I can keep this up (and I see no reason why I shouldn't), then it is really only a matter of time before it does make one of the lower tiers of core stock anyway.

I have just spoken though to Paul Rix, who does publicity on behalf of some of Richard's authors, and he seems to think that they may in fact have gone to Borders, since it seems that he spoke to them again about my book just recently. Looking at those figures again and bearing in mind the number of stores that they have, it may be feasible that a couple have been sent out to each of them as core stock I suppose. Paul has promised to do some digging around on Monday anyway, and said he will give me a call on Monday after I am home from work. I await the results with baited breath and fingers crossed.

In the meantime, a report on The Bookseller website states that there are record numbers of independent book sellers and small publishers starting up in business - up 6 percent in the last three years. Membership of the Independent Publishers Guild is at an all time high, with 515 members up from 400 three years ago.

The number of small publishers registering with Nielsen, who allocate ISBN's has also gone up considerably on 2006. 2900 members applied for publisher ISBN prefixes in 2007, compared to 2800 in 2006 and 2740 in 2005. The majority of these the article states are one man bands, purchasing the minimum batch of 10 ISBN's but registering just one book - this leads me to conclude that the majority of these are in fact self publishers.

Simon Petherick, publisher at Beautiful Books, said he had seen a levelling of the playing field since he started his company in 2006. "The most difficult thing for independents is to get your books front-of-store along with the bigger players. But if you have a marketing plan, make an effort and are prepared to play by [retailers'] rules, they are receptive to you. It's a good time to be an independent." I think I would concur with that.

Tom Chalmers, m.d. at Legend Press also makes the point that customers are increasingly looking to the independents for something different, and that because of their smaller size, they can work that much more quickly thereby responding to trends, and taking chances that the larger conglomerates just cannot do. There has never then been a better time to become an independent publisher or book seller.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Now it seems the books have been sold ...

With all sorts of scenarios running through my head, and yet more tears, after I had calmed down I checked my emails and found a reply from Richard which reads as follows, together with my original message to him that I sent last night:

"If they have I will be just a tad annoyed - I have never signed their release form, they never phoned me back and as far as remember they don't have your address! And we have not had any notification of such, or any discussion on what the reduced return might be! So officially they have sold them as far as I'm concerned! Hopefully...??


----- Original Message -----
To: Richard Fitt
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:29 PM
Subject: re Gardners returning books
Have not been able to do much ringing these past few weeks as I had a weeks holiday earlier this month, but the numbers in stock seem to continue dropping anyway. It was 112 when I got back last weekend, but I noticed tonight that it has dropped somewhat worryingly to 41. I doubt whether book stores have ordered that many in the last week, so have Gardners finally sent some back to me I wonder? Have they been in touch at all to confirm this with you and can I expect a parcel in the next day or so? I sincerely hope not, as I have enough to worry about at the moment without this - you and me both I expect though!

I have tomorrow off so will try and give you a call.


Having spoken to him has though put my mind at rest, as it seems highly likely that the books have actually been sold. Richard explained to me that Gardners have certain policies that they have to adhere to when sending books back - first they need to obtain authorisation from the publisher in question. A request is usually sent by email, and followed up by a form that is sent in the post for the publisher to sign. Richard though never signed this form and sent it back, and so officially the return has not been authorised - only 'in principal' which is of course not the same thing.

He did offer to ring his contact at Gardners, to find out what has happened, but thinks in the circumstances that it is best to let sleeping dogs lie, and although a part of me would very much like to know what has happened to these 70 odd books, I think he is right, that getting in touch might be tempting fate and cause ripples that would be ill advised.

There are several things that may have happened here - Waterstones may have finally decided to take the book as core stock and have sent it out so various stores, none of which are yet showing on their website. Borders may have done the same, or maybe I just got very lucky. Whatever it is though it seems more likely than not that these books have been sold, and until I hear otherwise I can only assume that this is the case.

It may be worth be getting in touch with Justin Hutchinson I suppose, the Waterstones independent author advisor to see if he knows anything, but in a way it is quite exciting not to know - it would be nice though to write some grand press releases detailing the exciting news!

I am not then about to give up quite yet, but have somehow or other managed to find some more fight. For the moment though I have the village newsletter to complete, an exercise bike to go and take things out on, and then this afternoon, some book shops to ring. I wish I knew what to make of all of this, and could understand more about the dynamics at play here, but I guess if I knew how the universe worked, I would be ascended, and I am a long way from achieving that, so I can but hope and pray for the best.

I have nothing left to give and am on the brink of giving up

Having got back from a week on beautiful Lundy almost a week ago (one week today in fact), it seems that all hell has broken loose since. If there really is no rest for wicked, then goodness knows what I have done. Coran and I often joke that we deserve each other, but I really do not think that anyone deserves the things that seem to be happening to me right now.

When I got back home last weekend, there was an energy alert from Karen Bishop waiting for me which explained a few things. Karen runs an excellent website called What's up on Planet Earth, which you can subscribe to, and which gives channelled messages about the energy changes that are taking place within mankind and the planet as we move towards 2012.

I had to laugh when I read the first two paragraphs which read:

"Where in the heck is all that abundance, those big waves of light, joy, peace, and everything else that is supposed to have arrived in 2008, the year of New Beginnings? Are you perhaps wondering… “New beginnings…hah! What has happened now? Are things ever going to change? When is my ship going to come in? I’m sorry I ever dared to hope that the tide would ever turn! Every time I get my hopes up, they seem to get dashed by yet more unpleasantness and disappointments!”

“I absolutely have no more left to give. My gas tank is empty, my battery is dead, and I am overdone waiting to receive. I can no longer serve, care, or even wade through masses of red tape, processes, or hoops to jump through in order to get anywhere! I need help! I can’t do this on my own anymore! I am wiped out, burnt out and exhausted, and now I am even getting cynical, angry, frustrated, impatient, edgy, grumpy, and even a bit depressed…even to the point where I have become darn right apathetic. I cannot go on like this for one more day! I have been stretched to the limit, and there is nothing more left that can stretch…this is just too much, especially after all I endured in 2007. I want to go home now…”

Boy do I know how this feels! It describes the year I have had (and the depressing bit is that we are only two months in) to a tee. Karen goes on to say that thankfully I am not alone, and loads of other light workers feel exactly the same. The energies keep building up and building up, like a pressure cooker, which results in lots of anger and frustration that things are not going the way that we feel they should be - life just seems too much of a struggle all the time. This is because the clearing that is needed is not yet complete (how much more can there be!), BUT the good news is that it will not be long, and our time will most definitely come by the end of the year!

For this to happen, we need to absolutely crystal clear about what it is we really and truly want - from the deepest parts of our souls and from our heart of hearts, because we will most assuredly receive it! This is not necessarily though what we “think” is possible, but what it is that we really and truly want… or to use new age jargon perhaps, what is most in alignment with our true and authentic selves. Well it doesn't take a genius for me to know what I truly and deeply want from my life - to make a full time living as a writer and be financially independent enough not to have to work for others for the rest of my life. Also though to have the means to continue going to Lundy two to three times a year, to be healthy and strong, debt free, to have Coran by my side, and to have enough to live on when I finally am old enough to retire - not a lot to ask for then!

Until then though I can wait and hope, and try and have positive thoughts.

It is though incredible difficult when I find myself in the situation that I am in. I very much enjoy my work, but there is still this continual conflict and worry at the back of my mind that I need to be out there selling books and spending time investing in my writing business and future. It is just not humanly possible to do this when the odds are stacked so heavily against you, and I am heartily fed up of continually pumping time and money into this project, when all that seems to happen is that I end up making yet more money for other people. I still do not think that it is right or ethical that the wholesaler who stocks my books and sends them out to book stores etc when they order them, makes almost twice per copy than what I do. It breaks my heart to think of this, and after what I discovered last night I really am at the very brink of giving up this whole thing.

When I got back from Lundy on Saturday, Gardners had 112 books in stock. I have not had the time to look all week as I have busy putting together the March edition of village newsletter, but when I went to their site last night, and typed in my ISBN, the figure had gone down from 112 to 41. As far as I am aware, no one has ordered in bulk during the past few days (I am sure that I would know about it were this the case), so it seems that the worst has finally happened, and they have sent some back.

I am absolutely fuming and destroyed by this decision, as I had been led to believe that I had won a reprieve and the books (not to mention my credit card) had been saved, quite apart from the fact that they were supposed to notify Richard if and when they did this, so that we could make sure that someone was in to receive these books. Well I am damned if I am going to take a day off work in order to wait in to pay for their mistake. It just makes me so angry to feel effectively used in this way, in the most horrible way I can imagine right now. Last night I felt like I had sunk into the deepest pit of despair. When the implications of this hit, I think I fell asleep crying and have been tossing and turning all night trying to figure a way out of this mess. This time though there isn't one - all the phone calls to book shops in the world will not save me, for it has already happened and I just have to accept the situation and deal with this.

Right now though I feel as if I can fight no more - as I simply have nothing left to give. I suppose I will give Richard a call after 9am though to see what he can find out.