Susan Grossey

In the slough of despond

I usually try to keep this blog fairly optimistic, and indeed I generally find writing the Plank books and marketing them to be a great and enjoyable adventure.  But I did promise to be honest about the ups and downs of self-publishing, and today we’re down.

For over a year now I have been wooing a potential new high street outlet for paperback Sam, here in Cambridge.  I have been in to see the manager on at least half a dozen occasions, I’ve given him copies of “Fatal Forgery”, “The Man in the Canary Waistcoat” and (on the day it was published) “Worm in the Blossom”.  He was very encouraging, but said that he would have to get permission from head office as his branch is part of a (very large, countrywide) chain.  In December 2015 he said that he had that permission, and I should come in this week – after the festive chaos and once things were back to normal – to arrange the taking into stock of quite a lot of copies.  He talked of a whole shelf dedicated to Sam, with the “local author” slant heavily promoted, and copies even showing face out (a big deal in the bookshop world, as you can imagine).  I was quietly jubilant, but did not tell anyone, being a bit superstitious like that.  The manager and I arranged a meeting for this morning.  I pedalled off – in the sleet, I might add – and when I arrived, he was not there.  Not only not there, but no longer employed by the business.  As of yesterday.  I was literally speechless.

So what to do next?  Start again with his replacement and hope that they are of the same mind?  Or give it up as a bad job and try somewhere else?  Just right now, I have treated myself to a jam doughnut and this confessional blog post.  I’ll probably be a bit grumpy for the rest of the day, and then get over it.  Ho hum.  I bet this never happens to JK Rowling.


  1. designnadine Avatar

    So sorry to read this Susan. But you definitely should approach the new manager. Probably not reminding you had a deal with the old manager (who knows why he is gone). For being self-published, I think you are doing great!I hope to see your books at Brussels Waterstones’ shop in the near future 😀 (go knock on Waterstones’ doors!)

  2. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

    You’re right, of course, Nadine – never give up! I’ll give it a few days and then go and see the new manager. As for Waterstones, I did try with the first book at our branch in Cambridge and was told that everything has to be approved centrally, which is a nightmare. And once I had the books in Heffers, our university bookshop, I no longer wanted Waterstones in Cambridge as I thought that would be unfair on Heffers who had had faith in me. But perhaps I should gird my loins and try for Waterstones again, except in Cambridge!
    Thanks for the encouragement – I’ll try to keep my chin up (and the doughnut helped).
    Best wishes from Susan

  3. njaustin1958 Avatar

    Keep on keeping on, young ‘un. Slough of Despond? It could be so, SO much worse: Slough.

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      I often wonder which came first… And of course I will keep on – just having a low moment, and they come to us all.
      Best wishes from Sue

  4. Debbie Young Avatar
    Debbie Young

    It may not happen to J K Rowling now, Susan, but she had a huge number of rejections and rebuffs before she hit the big time. As the previous commenter said, keep trying with the new manager – the previous one obviously thought the book was a good match for the shop’s clientele, and I’m sure that won’t have changed just because he’s gone. Good luck and keep going! I’m sure that’s what Mrs Plank would tell you to do! 😉

    Best wishes, Debbie

    1. ihatemoneylaundering Avatar

      Indeed, Debbie – I think that I am in good company when it comes to rejections! And you’re right: if one manager thought it would work, the next one might well too – after all, the clientele has not changed along with the manager. You are obviously channelling Martha, who would have little truck with self-pity – thanks for the encouragement.
      Best wishes from Susan

  5. Sam shows me the way | Susan Grossey

    […] of all, thanks to everyone who took pity on me after my disappointment last week, and wrote to encourage me to take it on the chin.  Excellent advice, and next week I will be […]

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