Friday, 4 September 2015
WHSmith Does Not Stock My Books
A fellow writer posits that they see similarities between Romance and Crime fiction. Not sure. At least, there may be some similarities in content (as in: ''She was struck by a piercing glance from his dark brown eyes ..'' etc). But we are totally different animals in the writing room. Yes, indeedy. Writers of Romantic fiction compose with a red rose tucked behind their left ear, and a big box of Black Magic on the desk beside them. Bluebirds sing outside their window, and small fauns gambol on the green lawns. Sometimes a white horse, ridden by a dashing male figure in breeches and a wet white shirt slashed to the waist, gallops by in the lane below.
By contrast, writers of crime fiction crouch menacingly over their keyboards, a kitchen knife gripped between their clenched teeth, ready to stab at any dark hidden depths that might float to the surface during the writing process. They write at night, furtively glancing over their shoulders every now and then, their ears peeled for footsteps coming slowly up the creaky wooden stairs. I know this, gentle blog reader, for I am such a writer. That is also why the highest award for a crime novel is in the shape of a dagger, while the equivalent prize for the best Romantic book ... isn't.
I hope we've got that sorted, though I doubt it. And so to the subject of this blog. WHSmith, bastion of pens, pencils, sticky notes and books, do not stock any of my Victorian Crime novels. I have tried asking them to, but they claim I do not exist. I do not exist because I am not on their supplier list. I am not on their supplier list because they refuse to ask for me to be added, despite numerous people locally trying unsuccessfully to order my books from them. Go figure.
It is all part and parcel of The Great Bookshop Ripoff. All bookshops demand a big discount from publishers. They then add the markup and pocket the difference. No exception is made for self/small publishers, who cannot run on such negative profit margins. This is why Amazon et al flourish, and all the whining from bookshops about poverty is purely their own fault. They could set up special deals and discounts if they wanted. Plenty of other retail outlets in different sectors do. Also big publishers PAY for table space and window space, which the rest of the smaller publishing world can't.
It is a ripoff. Both for authors struggling to get their work known to a wider reading public, and to readers who are being denied access to some very fine writers. What saddens me, as a writer of Victorian fiction, is that WHSmith started trading as a newspaper distributor, book seller and lending library in Victorian times. The first station bookstall opened in 1848, at Euston Station. They even score a mention in the 4th book. Their loss. And yours.
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How utterly ridiculous; it saddens me that WHS and their customers are missing out on your wonderful writing, and that of so many other authors who are with smaller publishers or self publish.ReplyDelete
Given that self/small publisher books are now taking over the market, it is shortsighted not to move with the way it's going. In Victorian times, that was all there was! Irony!Delete
Every step of writing even after publication is a battle. I loved your descriptions of romance and mystery writersReplyDelete
...ultimately they may well be, ‘hoisted by their own petards’... they live by the written word, and they may well die by the lack of the written word...ReplyDelete
Many do. It is crazy. They are actually turning down business for the sake of their suppliers policy. What I don't 'get' is the attitude of small independent bookshops. Surely a small amount of money is better than no money at all? Nose, Face, comes to mind.Delete
It's yet another reason to support local, independent bookshops. I know I'm privileged to have one in the town where I live, but I do look for them wherever I go. They are the ones who go out of their way to support local writers.ReplyDelete
Have to say, you are lucky! see my above comment. Only support I've had is St Albans Waterstones, and that's because they stock the Usborne books, so I am a known writerDelete
God bless our local bookshop -- I went in yesterday to ask if they had a book of Hardy poetry and the assistant said 'I think you will find most of our poetry is robust!'ReplyDelete
It's such a lottery, with some being lucky in their towns, and others not. Even if books are listed by distributors, stores refuse to even look. A total disgrace!ReplyDelete
Now back to my knight in not-so-shining armour and the box of Black Magic. Can't let it go to waste...
quite...*grips dagger more firmly*Delete
Oh Carol, I now have this image of you writing with a dagger between your teeth. It has bright red rubies on it.ReplyDelete
The only place that sells books here is WHSmith, no other bookshop. The town centre here is like many in Glasgow full of charity shops,pound shops and 3 Boots the chemist. Which I don't understand, who needs three?
We also have numerous charity bookshops, which is fine...except that writers don't get a penny from them.Delete
Sad to here. I was very pleased to spot one of your children's books in my local primary school library and had it not been for social media I wouldn't have known who you were.ReplyDelete
Thanks. The children's books were published by a mainstream publisher, so stocked wherever. The reluctance of bookshops to stock good indie writers makes review sites like yours doubly important... it's often where readers pick up information about a 'new' writer.Delete
That sounds frustrating. On the other hand, good job for having such strong local support!ReplyDelete
Bookstores will have to adapt sometime.
Well said, Carol.ReplyDelete
Too right. I discovered last year that a certain bookshop, ahem, had asked one of my publishers for a large sum because they loved one of my books and wanted to stick it in their bookshop chart, and said publisher had declined because they didn't reckon I would sell enough copies to give them a healthy return on their investment. A few months later, said publisher dumped me due to, no kidding, low sales. What a world we live in. It's luck all the way in publishing. And mine is definitely out.ReplyDelete
Can totally empathise with this. I had 4 books published in e series with Usborne..they were ticking over...not making a fortune but selling steadily. Usborne, having said they'd go for a 5th, then changed their mind. AFTER I'd written it, told me I had no contract, so they weren't doing anything wrong. Books are still selling steadily. Publisher are TOO GREEDY, as are bookshops. And your luck will change. Mine did.Delete
My two most recent novels are with a lovely small press in the US. They're ebooks at the moment, but will both be released in print before Christmas. Will WHSmiths etc stock them? I won't be holding my breath. Two new books by a British author with British characters in a British setting, but if a reader wants them in print they'll either have to go to a bookstore in America or buy them online from Amazon. It's daft.
And the most irritating thing is that when these shortsighted bookshops go under, as they inevitably will, they'll be bleating that people should have supported them but didn't. Bless them.
Absolutely, it's CRAZY! I am shortly going to do some promo evenings for local libraries. So who will be supplying my books and pocketing the dosh? Me!!!Delete
It's the same as in all other spheres of business, isn't it? Big money rules, and the small retailers and publishers are dispensible. Sickening! Total independence has its own advantages though...as you rightly say! Love the first part, CaroleStar!ReplyDelete