I thought I’d update you on the getting books into bookshops and libraries blog that I wrote last week.

Unfortunately our local bookshop at Diss, Norfolk, said no to displaying my fiction books on their shelves.  The manager told me that it wasn’t anything to do with the content or the fact that they weren’t traditionally published, it was to do with how well known the books are by the public.  She tried to be helpful and advised me that the Internet has changed book selling beyond all recognition.  Twenty years ago she would have taken my books, but now because my books hadn’t been featured in any local newspapers or had any larger newspaper press coverage, then she could guarantee that they would not sell.  She told me with great emphasis that readers need to ‘know’ an author before they will buy their books.

I fell short of asking her how she would know they wouldn’t sell if she hadn’t put even one on the shelf, but apparently authors have to build up a fan base before approaching any bookstore.  It’s like a Catch-22 situation, isn’t it?  If the public cannot see my books on bookstore shelves, then how will they get to learn about them?  Well, dear readers, the manager told me it’s through the media…

We have to go and pester newspaper editors to publish details of our books.  Then we have to pester them again with details of book signings we are going to do.  Then when queues of readers are beating a path to buy our books, only then will bookstores be interested in featuring them.  However, if anybody has written books on local history or the local area, then these books apparently sell like hot cakes.

I took my books away from the book shop and went straight to Diss Library around the corner.  It wasn’t a do-it-yourself day today, and the library assistant welcomed me and took my books and my contact details without a quibble.  A small victory for the self-published author!

I also took some books to WH Smith in Diss to see if they would be interested, but the manager informed me I would have to write to Head Office as they did not as a rule take self-published books.   She gave me a piece of headed notepaper with the address of Head Office on, and that was that.  I don’t hold out much hope, but will write to them anyway.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.