Friday, 21 May 2010

Brick wall

Today a would-be purchaser of Marjorie Ann Watts’s Are they funny, are they dead? went into the Hampstead Waterstones to buy a copy and was told it’s not yet in print.

That shop is Marjorie Ann’s local bookshop. She is known to the staff; she has even been in there with variant roughs of the cover, asking – and taking – their advice, and everyone was very friendly. The book has been available from the distributor, Central Books, since early April. In January the Waterstones ‘independent publishers coordinator’ told me he had ‘alerted the relevant buyers’.

The Waterstones children’s fiction buyer has said encouraging things about Nicky Singer’s Knight Crew, which was staged at Glyndebourne as a youth opera with great reviews in March, and there’ll be three BBC TV programmes about that in June, presented by Gareth Malone; whether you’ll be able to buy the book in Waterstones I cannot tell.

Selling the books – no, just making them available – is damn hard. And it’s not just the chainstores. Last year I sent catalogues and personal covering letters to around a hundred independent bookshops; not a single order resulted.

Worth the candle? (See last post, below.) Yes. These are good books. But my forehead is deeply bruised.

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