(First of all let me say, that title is going to attract some interesting terms in the seach engines – stay tuned!)
Writing is great if you love it, which I do. Writing a book and seeing it published is brilliant and ego-lifting and fun and a dream come true. Marketing it, selling it, promoting it – sucks, quite frankly, if you are not that kind of person. I am not that kind of person. I don’t do self promotion, which unfortunately is vital for book selling. I could sell your book, don’t get me wrong – I could sell fleas to dogs with my gift of the gab. It’s my book that I struggle with.
Once you have published a book, it is a shock to realise that bookshops don’t actually call you and say: ‘We just sold out of your book, could we have another 50?’ Instead, you have to check that they have enough of your books in the hopeful case they may have sold out of them. Booksellers tend to make contact only if a customer has made a request. Of course, otherwise the stores would be on the phone all day for the thousands of titles they contain on their shelves. Sorry to burst your bubble.
Unfortunately I have a little phone phobia: cold calling makes me sweat and feel nauseous. I take notes before I call most people I don’t know and even a few I do. Stop laughing. It is a little weird, I’ll grant you that, and I can’t explain it but it’s true. I would rather pop into a shop and casually ask face to face if more books are needed, than call on the phone and wait to be put through to blahblah, who in turn will check with her manager ‘Smithy’ who is confused and could she call me back? This alone is enough to have me rocking in a quiet, dark corner.
When the wonderful Murrumbateman Field Days were on over the weekend, Stepford Husband and I took the opportunity to go without kids (we can clean out our own wallets at the Field Days thankyou very much!), and we walked up and down the rows slowly because my back still hurts, and quietly because we had no kids. We even held hands. Once. And we came across a bookstall that has been well loved by the people of Canberra for decades, and there was my book. ‘Chooks in the City’ sat next to another poultry book in a display that was designed to offset the rural attractions that the Field Days represent. An older man was browsing the books in that section, and I watched. He picked up the other poultry book and had a flick through. He put it down and picked up my book. My heart leapt and before I knew what I was doing, I snuck up behind him and whispered in his ear “That’s a great book,” !! I don’t know what came over me. He didn’t even look at me. He flicked through it, and paused; flicked through it, and paused. And then he bought it.
Stepford Husband witnessed the whole thing and sidled over to me. “What did you say to that man?” he asked.
“I told him it was a great book,” I said, red faced.
“Well done,” he said.
I am a bad, naughty writer. Kind of fits really, doesn’t it?