Selling Books – Letter to a Sister

Hi, how was your week?

I am feeling like bit of a plonka. Someone – a complete stranger, never met them before – asked me to sign their book, which I was very excited to do. So, they told me their name, I wrote a little message, then signed it “Love, Anne”. As you do. Except, when you are an author, signing a book, I imagine that you don’t write “Love, X” I bet JK Rowling doesn’t sign books for strangers “Love, Joanna”. Realised immediately it was an amateur mistake, but what could I do? I could hardly snatch it back and put a line through it.

Most authors have a ‘book launch’. I am not brave enough to do this. This was bit of a mistake. I hadn’t realised that local shops (possibly bigger ones too) are quite slow when restocking. They have lots of suppliers, there is no sense of urgency. So friends were going in to buy my book and being told it had sold out. I took a fresh supply, but was told by the shop that they couldn’t take them until they had done the paperwork and paid me for the books sold. There was no way round this system (I did try). The process took three days. I have no idea how many sales I lost in those few days – some people will go back, but not everyone will bother twice. Very frustrating. If I had organised a ‘book launch’, all my friends could have come in one go, seen the book, and if they liked it, they could have bought it then. This would leave the shops for the slower, less definite customers. Next time…

I also realise now how important it is to make sure my supply chain is working properly before I start advertising. (Hope you are noticing all the clever marketing phrases I have been learning.) I have now put it into more than one shop in each town, so if one sells out, the other will hopefully still have some.

A few things went badly this week actually. I also lost the chicken who thought he was a duck. (I am pretty sure he was a ‘he’ as his tail feathers were getting worryingly long.) Every day when I let him out the chicken cage he would run to the pond and peck all the ducks so they went back into the water (nasty bird.) In the evening, when the chickens all went to roost, he would try to stay by the pond, but if I chased him (dog helped) then he would follow his sister (who might be a brother, not sure yet) into the chicken cage, where he would safely roost all night. This went badly wrong on Saturday, when we met friends for dinner in London and arrived home later than expected. All the chickens were roosting, so I could just shut their door – all the chickens except for that one. He was asleep at the top of the ramp into the pond, which is as near the actual water as he ever goes. When I woke him up to move him to the cage, he charged off. Not sure if you have ever chased a chicken around a pond on a dark night with only a torch with weak batteries and an overly excited dog to help, but it’s not great. Eventually he darted into the middle of a prickly bush and refused to budge. We couldn’t reach him and he wouldn’t come out. I left him and hoped if he stayed there he might be safe. He wasn’t. Found a heap of feathers the following morning. Feeling slightly guilty (though not sure what I could’ve done differently.)

Also this week I was interviewed by the local paper. This is so not me – I’m quite a private person really. Son came for support. The reporter was very nice, but he did tend to chat about me, and I just wanted to talk about the book. You can’t “not answer” when someone asks why you stopped teaching or where you lived and when. Of course, when the article appeared, it was more about me than the book. But it was nice of him to include something. He even took a photo (which is awful, I am wearing my “I feel really silly” face.) I hope it’s a good way to let people know about my book. I loved writing it, now I would like to hide under the bed and let people buy it and recommend it to others. But no one will buy it unless I advertise it a little, so I’m forcing myself to publicise it. I have to keep reminding myself, it’s not about me, it’s about the book. And it IS a good book. It has strong, realistic characters, so by the end you feel they are real people, and you might have met them, and you want to give them some advice about the terrible decisions they are making…

Have you bought a copy yet?

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

Thank you for reading.