In my previous post, I had mentioned that my booklets had been accepted by Gardners, and were available to purchase as a Special Order Line. I had previously been told that after an invoice had been processed, a discount would show on the potential purchaser’s system, but it would appear that would not be the case.

I had a lengthy and fruitless email exchange with Gardners following some curious responses from bookshops asking about the discount and availability of my logbooks, so after speaking to the Buying Manager, I discussed what I should be doing or saying in order to communicate the details and hopefully encourage sales. I have also submitted my books to Bookspeed, an Edinburgh-based distributor which supplies a number of outdoor and nature venues, such as the Highland Wildlife Park and the Scottish National Trust.

I also bought the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2022 – again, doing this all the wrong way round – and had a read through the articles, and gleaned some valuable insights in to the industry as a whole. I am still feeling like a very little fish in a very big pond, and I realising the volume of not just work/effort in getting a book to be successfully stocked, but also the need for contacts and professional help, or, much more exposure.

The situation currently stands that although bookshops seem willing to try my book, they are not yet ‘known’ enough to be selling well. Everyone who sees them likes them, but there is a massive difference between someone liking them and someone buying them!

The responses I have had from shops range from not wanting booklets; not big enough; not bright enough; no room; no table display; insufficient discount; not really their sort of book for the customers they get. I am listing these not as criticisms but more to show that it is a difficult process and bookshops, like any business, need and want to be careful about the precious space they allocate for new publications, especially ones like mine where they are a bit nuanced or the shop just does “books”.

They seem to do well at outlets where it is either bird-oriented (Rye Harbour Discovery Centre) or there are a larger variety of gifts, particularly those with an environment/bird/nature theme. They do very well at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight, and I am hoping that as Covid restrictions lift (!) folk will be more inclined to browse.

One difficulty is that I quite understand that they look a bit lost on their own in among lots of other bright or bold books, as the jacket is such an important selling point. They do look better in a group so I am considering how to market them in a way to get a couple or three stocked together to increase impact.

I am still learning how much to rely on the shop to sell the book, and how much input they will need or want from me. It is lovely when a shop says “They look great, please send us X number to try” but of course the books then need to sell once they are in the shop. Having looked in the W&AYB I’ve been investigating how to increase both my and the books’ reach with blogposts, social media and other engagement. I am debating on whether to remove the booklets from Etsy to push more traffic to bookshops, or whether to accept that they are not particularly bookshop material and stick with the smaller, more direct marketing.

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