Phew – so here I am after a burst of Plank marketing activity! On Friday evening I gave a talk at my local library about self-publishing, and it was even better than the organiser and I had hoped. We asked people to book in advance, to get an idea of numbers, and we had eleven sign up. As it was a sunny Friday evening, we anticipated drop-outs, but we had seventeen in the end! And what fun it was to talk about Sam and self-publishing. The audience asked dozens – literally dozens – of questions, and I was totally honest about everything. One person asked what is the best thing about self-publishing and what is the worst… The best is having total control and knowing, when you hold a book in your hand, that you did it all. And the worst is not having someone professional – a real agent or a real publisher – saying that your book is good enough to publish. I sold seven books: five “Fatal Forgery” and two “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat”. One woman said she wouldn’t buy one from me but instead would go to Heffers (our local bookshop) “to create demand”!
And yesterday I took a stall at the Swaffham Bulbeck Village Market, about ten miles outside Cambridge:
It was real “Midsomer Murders” territory: stalls in the churchyard, people having tea and cakes on the lawn, dogs lying under trees, brass band playing – we were all waiting for the blood-curdling scream from the vestry… Another local author and I shared the stand, and our “local-ness” was something of a draw. Lots of people stopped to talk, and I became quite shameless about beckoning them in. But one woman, when I asked if she was a reader, wrinkled her nose in disgust and said, “Oh NO!” before hurrying off. I wonder what she thought I had asked… As for sales, eight “Fatal Forgery” and three “Canary”. As I had bought the books to sell, and I was doing a special price of £7 each or £13 for the pair, I made a profit of £22 on book sales. But the stall cost me £15, a lunchtime burger was £3, and I used a bit of petrol – and six hours of my time. It’s a hard way to sell books (and make a final profit of about £2!) – but I’m always hopeful that publicity spreads and pays dividends in the future.
As for today, I’m trying to sit down as much as possible – standing for all those hours has taken its toll!