As regular readers will know, the Sam Plank books appear in the flesh – well, the paper, ink and glue – in three physical bookshops: Heffers and G David in Cambridge, and Toppings in Ely. (Who knows whether they will appear in the new Amazon store in Seattle!) They were also stocked in Hammicks Legal Bookshop in Fleet Street until that closed down a few months ago – the closure was nothing to do with Sam, I am assured. And astonishing though the reach of Amazon is, there is nothing to compare – for authorly satisfaction and browsing availability – to having physical books on a shelf in a bookshop.
I have not forgotten that some months ago I hinted that I was pursuing a third stockist here in Cambridge – negotiations are still ongoing, as is my fear that naming them might jinx it, but if it happens you will not go untold, I promise you.
And now I am thinking about new representation in London. The problem is (and not just with London) that the big chains are not interested in self-published authors. Their concern is two-fold: self-published stuff might be rubbish, and self-published stuff is not supplied via the usual book distribution services. Both fair points, and too tricky for me to overcome alone, so I don’t worry about the big chains. But finding places that are not unexpectedly connected with the big chains is tricky – I once approached Hatchards and had a lovely long (and I thought promising) chat with a manager, only to be told at the end that they’re part of Waterstones and do not have much ordering independence.
Several people have suggested Daunt Books, and so this is my latest venture. I have sent a hello email to their Marylebone shop, with lovely (and I hope tempting) pictures of the book covers, and asking whether I could call in with samples when I am in London the week after next. If I haven’t heard from them by next week, I’ll try the dreaded telephone call, when you have to fight your way through successive layers of staff to get to the crime buyer, without uttering the call-ending words “my self-published book”…