Publishing a Book – Part Five

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016

So, rather momentous – my book arrived (cue small fanfare of trumpets…) Now,  I needed to find some more places to sell it. I drove to Bluewater.

Bluewater is not my favourite place. It has way too many shops. I took son for moral support. He was keen to come due to the possibility of Pokemon being more available than in our country lane (hard not to be proud of them sometimes, isn’t it…) Anyway, there we were, standing outside WH Smiths, me wondering if it would be better to just have a coffee and go home, him concentrating on a Pikachu (no idea how you spell these things.)

I went into WH Smith first. I was told the person I needed to speak to was on holiday. But they were nice, no one shouted at me or told me I was an idiot. Feeling slightly braver, I went into Waterstones. I learned lots of information, the most important being that selling through big shops takes time and is expensive. I will cover what I discovered in future blogs.

I decided that I would first launch my book locally and online. The bookshop in the next town was happy to sell it. I would try to find another couple of small shops who would be willing to stock it, and also sell it on Amazon. This was not as easy as it sounds…

First, the maze that is Amazon. My overall feeling about Amazon is that the process is slow and confusing, like trying to join a secret society. It is also expensive – you pay for everything. We first (note the ‘we’, I decided fairly early that this was beyond me, so Husband rescued me. But I will pretend that I helped) explored the ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ option. This would mean our customers would pay less in postage, and I could go on holiday or be ill without worrying about posting book orders. However, it was far from easy. You could email and ask for help, and they would phone back and advise you. But each advisor only dealt with one area, so they could only answer specific questions.

We wanted to know where exactly we had to deliver the books – if it was Scotland, we might find a different option. This information is a secret. If I ever discover it, I will tell you. I even accosted a poor Amazon delivery man and asked him where the depot was that stored the goods. He told me, “Oh, we’re not allowed to give information like that, I would get into trouble.” The plot thickens.

It was taking ages, plus would only cover five countries in Europe, so we decided in the meantime we would become Amazon sellers and post the books ourselves. We then went online to add the book – only to discover it was already listed! There it was, Hidden Faces by Anne E. Thompson, published by The Cobweb Press, with the ISBN number and a price. It was also, strangely, listed as a ‘mystery/thriller’ (which it isn’t, it is contemporary fiction.) We had more phone calls, but no one at Amazon could explain who had listed my book. Eventually we learned that when you buy an ISBN number, it is automatically listed on certain websites. Some shops also list it (though they won’t sell it, because I do not yet have a trading agreement with a wholesaler.You can ‘buy’ it, and checkout, they will then check their suppliers and notify you that it’s unavailable. They will not deal directly with either authors or publishers. I know, I tried.)

We eventually managed to add a photo, price, and the correct description. Then, when it appeared on the Amazon website (after about an hour) it had deleted all the paragraph breaks. No idea why. Not easy to rectify this (you might notice other book descriptions with no paragraph breaks – there are many – do not blame the author.) I am trying to remedy this but not sure if it is possible. Please be understanding if you look at my book on Amazon….

Approaching local shops was also not without problems. I drove to East Grinstead, which is slightly beyond my comfort zone. The town was having some sort of fair, half the roads were shut and people were everywhere. I parked in a side road and walked to the bookshop. The owner was on holiday. I took his contact details and walked back through the fair – only to find my car was not in the side road I thought it was. It was hot, I was tired, coming had achieved nothing, and now I had lost the car. I thought about phoning home, but they tend to be unsympathetic when I lose the car. Bought an ice cream. Wandered around and eventually found car. Drove home, having not sold a single book.

My own town was also difficult. There is no bookshop – my town has mainly charity shops, supermarkets and hairdressers (everyone has nice hair in my town. And secondhand clothes.) I tried a few ‘gift’ type shops and some stationers. No luck. One stationers even told me that he wouldn’t take a couple of books on ‘sale or return’ because “it would just be another thing to think about”! Honestly! Here I was, a local author, with advertising in place, asking if they could take a couple of books. They would earn a few pounds on every book sold, and I would collect any unsold books. No wonder small businesses are failing. I felt rather cross with my town. Until I found a very nice man in the newsagents at the top of the High Street. The shop is one of those open all hours, family owned, tiny shops, selling mainly newspapers and alcohol. He was willing to help and said he would display five books and a poster. Nice man. I hope it brings him some extra business.

I also popped into my local Shell garage and the Waitrose in my town (you can’t say I wasn’t trying.) Both were surprisingly helpful, but said it needed to go through head office. This seems to be the story with all chains of shops – however willing the manager is, the final decision is with head office. I took contact details and will let you know what happens.

Book selling is dominating at the moment (my family are coping.) I am also managing to stop the big fox that prowls at night from eating anything, I am trying to teach two of the stupidest chickens in the world that they are NOT ducks, and I am remembering to feed and clean out all the animals (I probably include my sons in this description.)

The book saga will continue…

Thanks for reading. Take care.



Hidden faces by Anne E. Thompson.

Available locally (!) and from Amazon:

Hidden Faces final cover 6 July 2016


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