Last time I wrote a blog, I asked if getting a literary agent was the holy-grail to getting books published. I concluded that the answer to this question was both a yes and no. While ultimately to get my book into main stream book shops, a literary agent would hold the key to contacts in the publishing and marketing industry. That said, as I discovered from my chats with another local author, Darren Young, this wasn’t the only way of getting my book out there.
To get my book into print has taken well over a year to get to the stage where I felt happy with the end product. It is therefore something I fully believe in. I am lucky to have been able to work with a talented illustrator (Ben Blacknall) who also believed in my story. Together we were able to put a quality story together.
So my next aim was to get my book out into the public domain. Of course, the first way was to get it up and online on Amazon. I was also lucky enough to have a number of friends and family who were equally as impressed by the tale and have also found that several schools have wanted me to go in to share the story as part of an assembly celebrating diversity.
What I really wanted though was for the book to be physically stocked in a book shop. This was the challenging bit! I have already discussed how the distribution of books to shops works in an earlier Blog so I won’t go over this again, however needless to say, I still wanted to get it on the shelves of a “proper book-shop.”
In previous blogs I have referred to how both Ross at the Award Winning Five Leaves Bookshop (Nottingham) and Jim from Gay’s The Word (London) have been incredibly helpful in my journey. They also helpfully agreed to stock copies of my book too. Since getting the books into Five Leaves and Gay’s The Word, I have taken a steady approach to contacting other independent book shops.
I am pleased to say that prior to going on a short break to The Lake District, I did a little research and found a number of independent book shops near to where I was going to be staying. One of them was Fred’s Ambleside Bookshop, managed by the delightful Steve. We had a long discussion about the changing manner of book sales including how years ago the government’s method of raising taxes on books changed which allowed many supermarkets and discount book shops to appear. The impact of this however has significantly squeezed the independent bookshops. Steve happily agreed to stock my book, prominently displaying it in the front window. He was also realistic in saying he may not sell many copies as many of his clientele specifically go into his shop to pick up books linked to The Lake District.
Around the same time, I also visited another independent bookshop; The Bookcase in Lowdham. The proprietor, Jane invited me down to share a copy of the book with her following an email that I sent earlier in the year. I didn’t meet Jane during my first visit to Bookcase but I left a copy for her (and her colleagues) to look at. Little did I know Jane’s best friend is called Felicity. The two of them giggled their way through my book and loved it. So the next time I contacted Bookcase, I arranged to meet Jane in person. We hit it off straight away and Jane also helped me make contacts with potential suppliers of merchandise linked with my story.
In each of the cases, I have contacted individuals linked to the independent bookshops and they have been extremely helpful in offering advice and making suggestions for improvements or ways I can further promote the books.
So how else have I got my book out there? I have already briefly mentioned conducting book signings and school visits, though I am limited in when I can do these (around my current school holiday patterns). I have also signed up to do a number of Reading/Book Festivals as well as using a variety of media to get my stories talked about.
In my next blog, I will go into further details about how I have prepared for these visits and festivals…