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  • Writer's pictureJ.M.

What I've Learned This Week . . .

picture of The Wonder Girls on bookshop shelf with books by David Walliams
Guess which one of these sold...

Here are the week's revelations on the probably do's and probably don'ts of independently publishing a book for mostly younger readers . . .

After school isn't a great time for after school book related activities.

In spite of having flyered five schools, more or less within walking distance of October Books, I only had two takers for badge-making. But the flyers did fly with some of the lovely things people have said about the story and a picture of the cover. Who knows where they'll flutter past before ending up in the recycling?

Schools like advance notice that you're coming.

I was greeted warmly at the schools I'd emailed then followed up with a phone call, before visiting. I also took a copy of The Wonder Girls for their library which they appreciated. The one school I visited without warning weren't so much cold as, understandably, a little suspicious when I asked them to distribute flyers for me. However they were lovely once they'd had a chance to consider me and what I was pressing on them. As schools are my main strategy for getting books to readers, I'm staying hopeful. I just need one to say yes to a visit...

Listening to your target age reader reading your first paragraph is brilliant.

Of the three target age readers that came into the shop last week, two went away happily with a book. I don't think I did the hard sell, I mostly pointed out that they could try the first two chapters and see if they wanted to read more. But they took advantage of the fact that I was there and might not be next week and bought the book anyway. I'm very happy with that and the very best, most wonder-full thing of all was listening to one of the young readers reading my words to her grown-up before deciding she liked it enough to buy.

I believe in my story - that it's good enough.

Isn't that what you need to sell anything? The story won't be to everyone's taste and that's fine - loads of books out there that I don't like but other people do. Can I persuade readers to like mine - I don't think so. But I'm learning that face to face, I can persuade them to give it a go.

Amazon Print on Demand Paperbacks are probably not worth it.

Persuading people to try The Wonder Girls is a tougher push online. Social media is so fleeting and the 'buy my book' posts, however I dress them up, make me feel so dirty.

I know that books aimed at younger readers aren't ideal for ebooks but younger readers do use iPads and Kindles. I probably need to invest in some advertising, but is it right to advertise to children? (I was really careful in the bookshop to address the adult with my 'persuasion' rather than the child.)

I don't want to give Amazon any more money than I have to. Amazon take at least 95% of the print on demand paperback sales, their books are almost twice as heavy as mine and ship from Poland, so I'm probably going to take the Amazon paperbacks down.

But, to get the story further afield, it would be great to sell some more ebooks. I'm SO grateful to the reviews readers have left on Amazon, and Goodreads, and the heart-melting review bloggage (love that word, Sally P!) I've received. They all make me feel that I'm not pushing alone.

I don't need to panic.

When days haven't gone to plan and that's most list-less days like today, it's easy to panic. But the steady trickle of my paperback sales is just enough to service the 0% credit card and that's what I'm mostly worried about. What matters to me, however, is getting the story to readers, giving it a chance in the world.

Peoples' Vote March, London 19 October 2019
Here's a picture of persistence and not giving up!

Panicking won't help with that, so instead I'm persisting, remembering to be more tugboat, taking firm hold of all the positives and continuing to push.

Thanks so much for reading.

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