I never asked why Pamela’s factory published books as well as made obscure plastic material on the giant factory floor. All I needed to get my novels as cheap as possible. The cheaper they were, the more I could order and the more people I could sell too – thus spreading my work further.
The next problem was, when I wasn’t doing Plays – how do I sell the leftover copies? I often had a 100 or so lying around in boxes which I could be turning into money. So I looked into approaching bookshops directly. No more getting gimps in publishing houses to make phone calls for me and charge a 40% cut.
I found secondhand bookshops to be the best. They were very supportive of Indie Authors and generally the deal was a 70/30 split in favour of the author. This meant that I could bring the books in – have them displayed on a popular bookshop’s shelf at €10 per copy and, when they sold, received €7 return. (Minus the €2.50 for printing this left a profit of €4.50.) I’d hand in 10 books at a time. Leave it a month and come back and see what was sold. When the 10 were gone, it was time to settle up. If they sold fast, maybe the shop would ask for another 10. If they’d been there six months or so, they might politely ask for 5 this time to “…see how they go….’ Space is premium in bookshops and it’s important for their margins to have the most popular, best selling titles displayed. If the new Dan Brown book is just out and you walk in looking to stock another 10 of yours then the manager has to ask himself the difficult question – which is likely to sell more and keep the lights on?
To combat this I decided to try ordinary businesses such as petrol stations and regular newsagents. It was a case of loading all the books in the boot and calling around to shops on the road. I started with everywhere from Cloonboo in Galway to Castlebar in Mayo. They were often more than happy to to support local talent and have the books left on the counter for people to see when they paid for their stuff. The odd thing I learned about this is that people that like to read don’t often go to bookshops. They don’t have the time. And when they do, they’re overwhelmed with choice. But if they see one book that they might like in a shop while they pay for breakfast or petrol or a sandwich then they’re more likely to take a punt and buy it. Especially if it’s signed and the author is local.
The other odd thing I noticed is people that work in the Arts are less likely to buy your books. There’s a strange envy when it comes to other writers. A writer can often think – “I know at least a 100 other writers, that’s a 100 copies sold right away.” But when it comes to it, they don’t bite. I don’t know why this is but I’ve sold more books to obscure farmers, housewives, teenagers, people from other countries and random strangers than I ever have to other writers. On countless occasions I have met other artists who have said: ‘I saw your book in the bookshop, I was going to buy it but…..’ And then the next day I meet someone that remembers me from 6th class in school and I haven’t talked to him in years and he says: ‘I saw your book in the petrol station the other day and I bought three. One for me, one for my girlfriend and then my mother asked me to run and get her one too….signed and all…. delighted we are!’
Anyway, my next post will be about moving from this way of selling to Amazon Kindle.
If you’re interested in reading more about the books themselves you can click on the link below.
Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).
El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.