Home in my studio again. This week has been one of sending off artwork, walking with dogs, raising money for charity, stirring a big pot of trouble, reading, reviews, thinking, and signing books in Llandeilo.
In Eve’s Toyshop the window was bedecked in animals from the pages of my books, including a beautiful snow leopard.
Inside the shop there were so many books to sign, and between talking to people and signing stock for Jayne four hours passed fast and swift. She sold the huge leopard within two days of her being in the window, but can get more. But it takes time, so if you are thinking of Christmas, you would need to move swift.
So, the big pot of trouble comes in the shape of a blog post from friend, author and illustrator James Mayhew. We often talk on the phone, and both had bemoaned the discounting of books. Independent bookshops work hard to help build the profiles of authors they love. Publishers then undermine this relationship by selling our books to high discount sellers. Although publishers can strike deals where hundreds of thousands of copies of books are sold, bringing down the unit cost of books being printed, the value of this to the author is questionable at best as the royalties received run into pennies per book, and very damaging to indie bookshops. For example, the stock in the photo above was bought and paid for by Jayne at Eve’s Toyshop. She knows that I give up my time to her freely, to support her business, and in return she buys a serious quantity of my books from my various publishers, not at a high discount, but at a fair price. My books bring people in to her shop, and with a window dressed like that we make a wonderful partnership as her shop draws a new audience to my books.
However, the high discount sellers wait for a book to be successful and then buy up and sell huge stock. People then go into bookshops asking for discounts, or using bookshops as a window to browse and then purchase online. This is not sustainable and only happens because publishers can sometimes choose to sell our work off cheap. However, these days most of us have clauses in our contract that require us to be consulted when deals like this are proposed. New authors need to be made aware of this. Because publishers sure as hell won’t play fair.
Anyway, James wrote a brilliant blog post for the Society of Authors, and there is now an on going conversation about this subject. If you are a bookseller, or an author, please go and take a look and add your thoughts. I have been told that publishing has changed a great deal in the 20 years that I have been working in it. Well, yes, it has, and not always for the better. And we, together, can bring about new changes, champion the high street bookshops by demanding an end to having our work sold off cheap. The ONLY company I will sell to is Bookstart. I consider it a badge of honour to have a book chosen for inclusion in the Bookstart scheme. They really do get books into the hands of people who might not be able to afford the luxury of owning books.
As for The Society of Authors, they helped me out when I was in dispute with my publisher over merchandising rights and this has made a significant difference to my yearly income and allowed me to produce jigsaws with Wentworths and cards and other things with Graffeg.
We need to support each other. I’m lucky enough to have built some good relationships with some wonderful indies, and on 30th Nov will be signing books in The Yellow Lighted Bookshop in Tetbury, 1st Dec in Kenilworth Books and then 2nd in Rossiters in Monmouth and Book-ish in Crichowell.
Home. This week, Celestine and the Hare, with the help of many people, raised over £1000for The Flying Seagull project. Amazing. Because we both hit a busy weekend we are waiting until tomorrow to draw the winner for the artwork that goes along with this fund raising. And by coincidence we were both reviewed in the same article in The Observer, which is wonderful too.
And finally, in the spaces in between the doing and the walking and the selling and the painting, and the posting, I have been reading The Chimes. If you love books, music, ravens, writing, get this book. I picked it up through a tweet that said it had won the world fantasy Award. It’s glorious different, beautiful, dark.
Now, I’m going to go and paint.