Our booksellers are very good at what they do, but we are not qualified as literary agents or editors. It takes an awful lot of work to choose which 0.07% of the 7 million in print books in the UK we can fit into our shop which means we have to be very selective about the books we can take on.
Every week we receive around 20 proof copies for consideration by established authors at major publishing houses. On top of this we are approached in one form or another by between 15 and 20 self-published authors each week asking us to stock their book or to arrange an event or book signing. We love the vibrancy of independent publishing but unfortunately cannot stock every book requested.
The following is to try and help self-published authors with approaching bookshops in order to maximise your chance of success and to help our booksellers go about their incredibly busy working days.
1. We understand and know that self-publishing can be hard – you have to do the job that a whole industry normally undertakes; writing, editing, typesetting, designing, marketing and publicity. For this reason we heartily recommend using the Writers and Artists Yearbook for information on acquiring a literary agent and then a publisher.
2. If you decide to go down the self-publishing route, books on our bursting shelves need to be up to a professional standard in all of these areas, and we highly recommend that books are professionally edited to help you in this regard. If at all possible try to canvass opinion on the book’s production values (printing, artwork, typeset and cover design) before committing to a print run.
3. Once the book is ready the best thing to do is to email the bookshop in the first instance (firstname.lastname@example.org) with information about the book (ideally including a photograph of the jacket and a press release). This is beneficial to everyone as we cannot have on the spot meetings about stocking books and cannot read proofs sent to us unsolicited. We will always respond to you, but due to the volume of requests we receive it can sometimes take 2-3 working weeks to meaningfully respond.
4. As with all aspects of bookselling there are no silver bullets and no hard and fast rules, but the book is more likely to be successful if the content of the book is of local interest to Chorleywood, Gerrards cross and surrounding areas. Unfortunately self-published fiction, poetry and memoir is less likely to be successful – even where the author is local – due to the sheer volume of books published in these fields and our limited shelf space, but we will still consider every application.
5. We recommend that you try to have your book stocked by Gardners or Bertrams, the two main book trade wholesalers, at a standard trade discount. Their websites have lots of information for self-published authors and smaller publishing houses about how to do this. This simplifies ordering and significantly increases your chance of being stocked by all bookshops.