So now the hard part begins, I have to actually sell the thing.
I got a delivery of one hundred books last week. They came in two boxes, were all wrapped up like little valuable objects, like eggs in a nest. It was exciting and daunting at once to receive them, it seemed like so many all at once. My first thought was, what the f**k am I going to do with these things?
The big drawback about self-publishing, as I see it, is that you have to do all of the publicity and marketing yourself. It is a lot of work. At the weekend I am going to drive to various small towns in Connacht to try and get my book into a few bookshops. I have spoken to a number of owners of shops already by phone, and so most will take five copies or so to begin with. And today I dropped my consignment of five to Liber bookshop here in Sligo, who kindly accepted them without too much fuss.
The situation with bookshops is this. You give them a certain number of your books, five seems to be a typical number, and they put them on their shelves. If they sell you get 66% of the cover price, the shop keeps 33%. So that means I get €8.58 for every copy that sells, from a retail price of €13. The books are there on a sale or return basis, the shops don’t buy them from you, you only get paid if they sell some. Eason offers a 60/40 split, though I am not sure if things will work out with them yet.
I have in fact sold ten copies already, to various people I know, friends, family, to some members of a book group I went to talk to about the book. I even went to a Farmers’ Market in Sligo IT last Saturday, where the man who runs the market let me set up on the edge of his stall. I put up a sign and a pile of books on the table, talked to a few people about the book and even sold two copies. It is a matter of pushing the boat out and trying to find some innovative ways to market the thing.
The next stage is the launch, planned for Thursday the 21st of July. I have already spoken to the local papers, and hope to get some pub on the local radio station. And there is a literary event on tomorrow in Sligo I am going to go to, where people gather and read some things they have written. The idea is to get out there and make a few waves, though this is way outside my comfort zone, I am really not that comfortable asking people to take notice of me in this way, to pay attention to something so personal, something I have put so much work into.
It is also important to strike the balance. It is necessary to publicize the book, and to let people know about it, and let them know how to buy it if they want to. But it is also important not to be a pain, and to avoid the hard sell, to not turn into a marketing machine whose only goal is to move some merchandise. I have had a pretty good start, but there is a long way to go.