The most overwhelmingly positive reaction from booksellers and librarians alike. So much so that Under Ten Thousand Stars is now stocked in two major retailers, as well as a number of smaller bookstores, and even my local post office. And I’m picking up new stockists every day. It has really thrilled me to meet so many people that are equally passionate about books and reading, and supporting local authors. An author friend asked me how I’d managed to get stocked in Dymocks, and there was no magic answer. I just went in there and asked if they would like to stock my book. The answer. “Yes, we’d love to.” Of course it’s not that simple. You have to have a quality product to start with, and I credit a huge part of that to the cover design by the extraordinary Christabella Designs and the printers to the stars, or the major publishing houses at least, McPherson Printing. But even with all that, the best book in the world won’t sell if nobody knows about it. So you have to hustle.
I’ve learned a few other things along the way too. Small but important details, such as…
Wear make-up, do your hair, put on something nice, and don’t stand under fluorescent lights, because nobody looks good under those. I learned that the hard way when I’d gone to one of my first bookstores and the lovely owner asked to take a picture for her Facebook page. OH. NO. It was 12 degrees that day, with gale-force winds, so I looked like I’d been spat from a tornado, and pretty sure my T-shirt was on inside-out. Lesson learned.
Carry a pen. Because somebody is going to ask you to sign their book, and you are going to look like a giant dum-dum when you say, “Uh, sorry, I don’t have a pen.” I now have a pencil case in my handbag just for pens.
In the meantime, I’m boxing up books for my next delivery run tomorrow. It is all wonderfully surreal. Even after 20 years as an author, the thrill never leaves me, and I don’t think it ever will.
A week after that, my paperbacks arrived on a truck big enough to deliver a rocket launcher and, possibly because I was jumping up and down, the driver asked if I wanted to see the books.
“Oh, no, it’s fine. I can wait.”
“It’s OK. We deliver to lots of authors. We always open the boxes on the truck.”
If you put it that way, then…
Wow. I can’t even describe the experience of seeing your own book, holding it in your hands, and then watching the delivery driver unload sixteen boxes from a pallet and deliver them to Magpie Tree Press HQ – a.k.a, the garage.
The thing about being a small publisher, and it’s not a bad thing, is that you are involved in every single aspect of the publishing process because, well, you don’t yet have the money to pay anyone to do marketing, delivery, invoicing… It’s all you, baby! So in the past fortnight, I have gone in person to every library and bookstore within a cooee, and some a little further, along with sending a bazillion press releases, media inquiries and contacts to bookstores further afield.
And the result?
It’s been about a month since I released the digital version of Under Ten Thousand Stars into the world, and a lot has happened in that time. I’d been a little tentative about it, mostly because this is your baby and you just hope that everybody – well, most everybody – loves it the way they loved the last. I think I needn’t have worried because things have turned out far better than I could have ever imagined.
But first, let me go back a little…
In the first week of release, the e-book sold a staggering five copies. Yep, you read that right: five. One to my brother, three to friends, and one to a random person, so whoever you are, random person, thank you. After the seller’s percentage, the royalties were just enough for a coffee. Given that you’re competing with about 10 million or so titles on Amazon, it was not at all surprising. Fortunately, though, I’d landed a BookBub feature which, as most authors will tell you, is the holy grail of promotion sites because they have around six million or so subscribers who LOVE to read. Since I’d done one of these promos with The Bay of Shadows, I was just a little excited because I knew what was coming. Still, in the interest of sanity, I decided not to chart my sales until after it finished. By which time, the book had gone bestseller in Australia, Canada and the UK.
Admittedly, it only stayed up there for about 24 hours, but that was enough to win me some very valuable exposure, which meant that nearly three weeks down the track the book is still selling.
MADE IN PIXEL TOGETHER