Why book selling doesn’t work!

abctales 1.png

Warning, I’m going to try and sell you something. It’s billed as ‘the best new writing from ABCtales’. Who decides what’s best? That’s a question that is often difficult to answer. Certainly, Stephen Thom, who wrote story of the year is here. And Alex Graves who wins poems of the year, every year, is included. My work is also in, but I’d guess that’s because I’ll have a book out later this year in which ABCtales act as my agent and get a fee. I’m glad about that. Although it costs nothing to join ABCtales, or to publish your work online, the expense of running the site is met by Tony Cook, chief cook and bottle washer. Every year I pay around £40 to ABCtales because I know it’s not free and I can afford it. Mr Cook will probably pop up here and say no you don’t – in the eight years you’ve been here you’ve paid six shillings and two pence. But listen, I’ve got an active imagination and no real interest in Facebook, I do like stringing a few sentences together and passing them off as original prose. And I get a buzz when someone reads it and comments. Without a reader the circuit of writing is not complete. ABCtales gives me that opportunity. It gives you that opportunity. But I’m not stupid. I know whatever I’ve written will be forgotten quicker that a photo of last night’s dinner. That doesn’t bother me. There’s no glory in what you’ve written, but what you’ve still to write. Even then, I’ve no illusions, ABCtales is gang hut in hyperspace few folk know about and fewer still cares?

abctales cherry.jpg

Well, I care, because it’s my gang hut and my turf. And John Wilks who edited this slim volume also cares. He offered up his time and expertise to get this published. Publishing is the easy part. We all know that now. There’s an extract from Joe Lawrence’s East End Butcher Boy here and it’s better than anything published by Unbound, and I include my own work in that. The difficult part is selling something. I know that and Laurie knows that and Ewan knows that and Tony knows that. And I’d add that Scratch (Peter) who has also written a novel on ABCtales, although he’s not included in this volume, also knows that. It’s only when you actually go and try and sell something that you realise how difficult it actually is. It’s not like that Kevin Coster film Field of Dreams, when you build that baseball diamond, ‘they will come’. No they fucking willnae.  Ask Richard Penny,  who has a story here ‘The Tipping Point’, but who also published a sister volume,  My Baby Shot Me Down which included the works of some my favourite writers on ABCtales, including Rachael Smart, Claudine Lazar and ‘Katherine Black’ (Harpie). And really if you’re going to publish the best of ABCtales you’ve to have something from Maggy van Eijk. Why stop there? What about Philip Sidney who is also not included in this volume and to my mind merits inclusion (I love this for example,  http://www.abctales.com/story/philip-sidney/triptych-1-mass). But I don’t really think it matters that those other names aren’t there. That’s editor’s choice. I’ve been there with A Celtic Anthology, which I co-edited with Kevin McCallum (Old Pesky on ABCtales). I could rattle off another few anthologies I’ve been involved in. It’s that gang-hut mentality that makes you part of a group, and your mum and your sister and their brother might buy a copy. And then you become invisible. Christopher Isherwood’s narrator in The Berlin Novels jokes about selling eight copies of his poetry before fleeing England for Berlin. Funnily enough that’s the number of copies John Wilks claimed to have sold so far. I can name a few buyers. Joe Lawrence, Claudine Lazar, Ewan Lawrie and myself. That’s 50% of the buyers. And it’s pathetic. Thirty of those published in the volume haven’t bothered buying a copy. Whatever the opposite of resounding success this is the opposite.  Build the field and they will come? Just because you get ABCtales for nothing, doesn’t mean it costs nothing. Put something back (if you can afford it). There’s some good stuff here. I can’t claim any credit for that. At least think about it.

http://www.best-book-price.co.uk/Product-266239/1326510258-Abctales.html

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/1326510258/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_1_olp?ie=UTF8&qid=1453034710&sr=8-1&keywords=abctales

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Why book selling doesn’t work!

  1. Frankly, I was surprised I was asked. No false modesty there. I think of myself self more of an amuser (not a real word, I’m sure) than anything. And I’m fine with that. But there are so many who work so hard at their craft who weren’t included. It didn’t feel right. I was a little embarrassed. I did buy six copies to send to folks this side of the Atlantic who actually bother to read my stuff. They think I’m feckin’ brilliant. lol. Wonderful write, Jack. As always. Cheers.

    Like

  2. Frankly, I was surprised I was asked. No false modesty there. I think of myself self more of an amuser (not a real word, I’m sure) than anything. And I’m fine with that. But there are so many who work hard at their craft who weren’t included. It didn’t feel right. I was a little embarrassed. I did buy six copies to send to folks this side of the Atlantic who actually bother to read my stuff. They think I’m feckin’ brilliant. lol. Wonderful write, Jack. As always. Cheers.

    Like

    1. We’re all amusers, unless we’re liars and I like to think of myself as one or other and probably both. As I said it’s our gang hut. I don’t like to think of John Wilks doing all that work and being slapped down. I guess if we’ve been any kind of writer at all, we’ve all been there.

      Like

      1. I like the gang hut as well, Jack. I like John Wilks. He was very encouraging to me and I support the book. Wouldn’t want to see him slapped down, either. There’s good stuff in there.

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s