I have travelled to many bookshops this year. Some have been great, really supported me, had books in the shops before I came, promoted the events. Others haven’t. Some have ordered 2 copies of each book then been disappointed when they have sold straight away and they are left with an author who has travelled hundreds of miles and they have no signed stock. Some I arrive at to sign stock and no one even mentions a cup of tea.
Worst was when I arrived at shop and they were just putting out the books. No promo but the odd tweet, no one came. There was an ‘atmosphere’ in the shop of discontent and an icy welcome.Signed books, sold one to a mother whose child stopped crying when I stated drawing. Can I explain what this kind of event feels like after 20 years of working in children’s books? I think I can leave it to the imagination of anyone reading this post.
At some events a few people have come and I have read and talked about books, painted, the bookshops have kept my books in and sold well. Some of the best have been Rossiters in Monmouth and Ross, Number Seven in Dulverton, Cover to Cover in the Mumbles, Swansea, Seaways in Fishguard who order more books than Waterstones! and sell them, Hunting Raven in Frome. Hunting raven were one of the first bookshops to get in touch when I talked of having a ‘year off’ to promote books. Hmmm…. whatever happened to that year off? And then there is Solva Woollen Mill, or as I now think of them, the accidental bookseller. Solva Mill stock all my books in sufficient quantities that sometimes they sell 5, 6 or even 7 of a title a day! I sign books. They have a set up that allows people to add dedications, and they lure me down with cake, coffee and cats to sign and post world wide.
So, what makes all the travel worthwhile?
Something like this from Tabitha, who I met in Fishguard with her family. By coincidence they also have a silver Bengal cat. By even more coincidence he is Spittifer’s Great Uncle Milo. She sent me this picture and these words.
“I loved your book. My friend and I read it for hours and cried. It is beautiful.”
I guess that is why I do it.
Over the next few months I will be in Dorset at Serendip and Winstones, at The Blue Ginger Gallery near Malvern. I will sign books at Hunting Raven and fit in an event if I possibly can and with be in Much Wenlock at Wenlock Books. Then I will be at Madelaine Lindley’s in Oldham and The Hedgehog Bookshop in Penrith. Later I will be in Dulverton again on Exmoor and then heading to Cornwall to play. Not sure where yet, but probably the Falmouth Bookseller and Fannie and the Fox. I will also be painting in Solva Woollen Mill on 31st August, pm and having a book launch with them on Friday 13th 6-8pm. So, contact the bookshops to find out when and where and keep an eye on twitter.
And Tabitha, thanks. People like you keep me writing and painting. Give Milo a hug from me.