Posted by: francesthomas | November 25, 2010

Self-publishing part two

Self-publishing part two…

Jenny Sullivan’s blog, posted for her by Frances Thomas

So there I was, with a pile of copies of “Silver Fox”. It looks fabulous; the paper is good quality, the cover is vivid and eye-catching, the print is easy to read. So. What next?

What next is that I spent a week sending out copies to organisations who needed to have them for legal reasons: the copyright libraries (6 free copies plus more than 40 euros postage from France) and half a dozen to various people I thought might possibly review it (kindly). And, of course, copies to family.*

I’ve had one five star review, which is posted on the WBC website. On which subject…

Did you know that the Welsh Books Council wants 55% discount on the cover price to sell our books? No? Neither did I. And Gardner’s, who service Waterstone’s and Amazon, want 40% off. And then there’s the postage from France, of course. If the WBC aren’t selling your book, they will still advertise it on their website ~ but you REALLY have to search to find it. Type in “Jenny Sullivan” and you get all my Pont books. Type in Silver Fox”and what comes up is “nothing to match your search” or somesuch. So then you have to repeat the search. Only then does the book appear on screen.

And ~ nothing daunted, reasoning that a wee man “on the ground” with copies of my book in his briefcase is likely to sell more copies than I can, I thought I’d bear the 55% discount. However, I’ve just had an email from WBC as follows:

“I can give you no guarantees as to how many I could sell and all the books that go out of here are on sale or return, in theory we could get the lot back. I have to make this clear to you as I do not want you to commit resources to buying print which you might be saddled with. We might start off by asking for say, 100 copies, so that we could put the book out to those customers who have standing orders for new books. This is quite a large financial commitment for you to take on with no certainty that it will be a wise investment.

How well the book sells will depends on how well it is marketed. We are pretty good at getting books out to the trade but we do not have the resources to market books for individual publishers, that is your responsibility and it would be difficult to discharge from France.

If we were to go down the road of stockholding, we would ask you to sign a contract in the form of a Letter of Agreement to put this arrangement on a proper footing. One downside of this is that you would not get paid for a long time. We have had problems with self published authors in the past and our Head of Finance has decided that no payments can be made until we can be sure the book has sold through at point of sale and that we will not get a lot of returns after we have paid the publisher for the books.

I am not being negative about your proposal but it is only fair that you have full knowledge of all that it involves so that you can at least make an informed decision.”

…which more or less speaks for itself. Over to me, then!

Remember I mentioned in my last blog that Waterstone’s in Abergavenny were going to arrange a launch? Just in case the books weren’t ready in time I’d hedged my bets and arranged to talk to a school in the shop, as I’ve done many times before. So I pitched up 9.15am and presented myself at the counter. “Hello!” said the smiley, polite young man. ‘Hello back at you,” I said, all smiley too. I introduced myself. Blank face. “Are you here to do a book signing or something?” You get the picture, I’m sure. Manager and Under-Manager both away. Under-Under-Manager now totally terrified and completely unaware of any plans whatsoever. Oh, and nobody had invited the school, either. Fortunately I had lots of shopping to do in Abergavenny… Now, I’m not complaining (yes, I am, really!) but can you see that happening to (spit, spit, spit) J K Rowling? The store manager has promised me a proper launch next time I’m home, and is going to feature the book on a front-of-shop table with a glowing review in the meantime ~ because she had a free copy too ~ just as soon as she can work out how to get copies to sell, because Waterstone’s don’t order from publishers, they order from their “hub” which is apparently Gardners ~ who have so far had five books (at 40% discount) and I haven’t been paid yet for those.

I’ve had a couple of orders for books from various individuals, and Amazon sold a couple, and I’ve sold some out here to friends, and the copies I have aren’t going to go past a sell-by date or anything ~ so if anyone out there would like a really great Christmas present, please ~ just ask!

However, back to self-publishing. Am I sorry I did it? No, I’m not, and I’m going to go ahead and publish part two, also too as well, so there. I can’t see myself making any money on it, but then I’ll be satisfied if I break even. Which I probably won’t.

And then there are my main critics. Himself and Them, my three daughters. Himself loved the book and is looking forward to part two. Eldest daughter is heavily pregnant and can’t concentrate on anything that doesn’t have vampires in it (!). Youngest hasn’t had time to read it yet because she’s in the throes of setting up her own Living History business while coping with an active 2-year old, and Middle Daughter (already, according to her, traumatised by her position in the family peckin order) commented, “Mum, it’s an adult book. There’ll be sex and stuff in it and if we read it we’ll know it’s you who wrote it and ~ well, you know! I mean, like, sex ~ and you? Eeeeuw! We all know you and Dad did It three times, but…”

I’ve a good mind to write a really sexy one… if only I can stop laughing!

Jenny Sullivan



  1. …apologies for the typing errors that crept into that blog ~ I’m mental busy with all sorts of stuff, but that’s no excuse.

    And thanks Frances for posting it for me again. The blogsite just won’t let me in nohow!

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