Friday 22 February 2013

Coming Out as a Writer ...

As those of you who read my blogs (and facebook posts) know, I've always been a little reluctant to "come out" as a writer, particularly locally, where I suppose I'm something of an active member of the community - school governor, member of various village committees etc. And then my wonderful new neighbours/friends started gently pushing me - and making me drink far too much wine. So I did a paperback as well as an ebook. And then a jewellery party turned into a book-signing...

The trouble with print-on-demand (POD) publishing, is that you don't have stock. Books are printed as and when you need them, or a customer orders them. Which is good as you don't have a huge outlay for books which - let's face it - may never sell. CreateSpace is a US company and while a customer can order a book in the UK from Amazon and have it printed and shipped in the UK, to order stock at "cost", I can only order from the US. And unless I want to wait 6-8 weeks, the postage rates are so high that it becomes almost impractical to do it at all.

A book signing is scary. I reckoned that people would have a look out of curiosity and maybe think about reading a sample on Amazon later on, so I had a load of postcards printed up (aren't QR codes amazing things?) for them to take away. And I ordered 6 books which was about all I could afford, given that they might be sitting around in my study for quite some time.

The week before, I happened to glance at my invoice and realised that the date I'd paid for delivery by was not the date they were actually delivering. Note to self: screen shot any other orders I make and always check every detail. So - book signing and no books? Help! Back to Amazon and with no time to order from the US, I had to order 6 books from Amazon UK as a customer and pay for priority delivery. Of course, these books cost me more, but I will get a royalty for each sale as if they'd been bought by any other customer.

The books arrived. And I complained. My US proof copy had been awesome, but these just looked - cheaper, somehow. The cover wasn't printed perfectly on the spine and the overall quality was inferior. To be fair to Amazon, they offered me a credit discount which I accepted. Note to self: quality control is everything! If I hadn't needed them urgently, I'd have returned them - but then if I hadn't needed them urgently, I wouldn't have bought them in the first place, would I? As it was, my profit margin dropped sharply as I ended up selling at a lower cost - but I wasn't doing it for profit.

I realised several things at the book signing:
  1. Very few people knew I was a writer - and they were impressed. I mix socially with a lot of writers so had forgotten that most people aren't.
  2. People read all sorts of things - and not necessarily what you'd expect. They weren't totally put off either my books or me when I tried to tell them I write dark and nasty stuff and not chick lit...
  3. Not everyone has an ereader. And they don't know or care about Amazon samples and "look insides" and other things. They are not even that bothered about quality - of the physical book, I mean, not the content. They just want to read a good book. I hope those who took a postcard away will still look me up online and find out more.
  4. My friends who have read my stuff really do like it and aren't just saying so to soothe my fragile ego! I'm getting pestered for the next book to be out in paperback - which will happen as soon as I get some more reviews for the ebook (so I can grab another pull-quote for the cover of the paperback)
I sold all 6 of my books. When my CreateSpace stock order finally turns up, two books are already spoken for. I've "come out" as a writer in my little Cheshire village. All in all - a success, I think!


Anonymous said...

Congrats - Shay

Debbie Bennett said...

Thank you! :-)