Although I’ve been busy writing away in a vampire-style, hermit fashion, I have read one book recently that made me chuckle and say ‘this sounds familiar’. Why familiar? Well it’s because this book gives an honest insider’s view of my part-time job, and that book is Shaun Bythell’s ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’.
If you haven’t guessed by now or read my other blogs, I’m currently working part-time in a large second hand bookshop. It’s got two floors and over seventy thousand books, with genres ranging from fiction, sci-fi, classic fiction and children’s to history, science and art. Seventy thousand is a big number, and as John Green mentioned in his vlog on Tuesday, humans tend to be pretty bad when it comes to visualising big numbers. So think of it this way, imagine your average small retail shop and then times it by six or eight, that’s about the size of the bookshop I work in. You may be wondering why I’m trying to get you to visualise the scale here, but scale is important. Shaun Bythell, the author of the ‘Diary Of A Bookseller’, runs The Bookshop in Wigtown in the Dumfries and Galloway region in Scotland, which has one hundred thousand books. read more
So it’s the one-year anniversary of when I finally moved out on my own and started volunteering part-time in a book shop, and it has been an amazing and rewarding year, both for my general confidence and my writing. I’ve learnt more about the world through direct experience and talking to people in one year, than I ever did at school or university, and I feel that that is a really important thing to note. I’m not saying that traditional education doesn’t have it’s uses, it does, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that our educational systems are somewhat lacking in life skills. But enough about that, education is a topic I could talk about for forever and I want to share with you what I’ve learnt in the last year. read more
The idea of marketing your book can be overwhelming, especially if you’re an indie author and you’re just starting out. Below are some of the thoughts and suggestions from a marketing friend of mine who has been looking at the most effective promotional tools for authors. From branding, to online and offline marketing, here is everything you need to know to get started…
The wonderful thing about writing is that you can write anything, including all those things that you really want to say but are too afraid to. Writers are commonly described as introverts, and I would tend to agree since I lean towards the introvert end of the spectrum myself. During my school years I was painfully quiet, every parent’s evening my teachers would praise my work and grades and then they would say the dreaded ‘but’ word, usually followed by something like read more
I have recently read George Orwell’s essay ‘Bookshop Memories’ – the cynic in me was delighted. I’ve been working in a second hand bookshop part-time for the past couple of months and even though I haven’t come across all the types of customers Orwell describes, it’s safe to say I had little trouble imagining them.
I can understand honestly Orwell’s frustrations, but I think his account is somewhat unfair and not quite so accurate nowadays, though I guess time may change my mind. I do believe that you have to be a certain kind of person to enjoy working with books, and although I’d struggle to describe that type of person, even to myself, I can tell you what type of person it most definitely isn’t. read more
Admittedly my trip to Wigtown was booked rather last minute dot com. I had been meaning to visit Scotland’s National Book Town for some time, but between searching for properties and moving out, I hadn’t gotten around to it. Then there came a two week lull where all the agreements had been signed but my new flat was left waiting for broadband. Since my work is all home-based and requires the internet, there was little I could do, so I decided that this was the perfect time to book an overnight trip to Wigtown.
I went online, searched for places to stay in Wigtown, and quickly found a great priced room available for one night at the Hillcrest House B&B. My goal in Wigtown was to be nosy, get a general feel for the place, and go around all the book shops and dig the owners’ brains for any tips and advice for anyone who is thinking about setting up a book shop for the first time. (I also personally aimed to buy a book from every book shop in the town.)
Now for those of you who don’t know, Wigtown is a little town in the Dumfries and Galloway region in the Southwest of Scotland. It has a population of around 1,000 people and is home to several, independent, second-hand book shops. Now this may not seem like a lot at first glance, but it means there’s one book shop or book café for every 100 residents. To put this into perspective, Edinburgh would probably read more
Now I am not an expert here at all, and as a new author I’ve only had one encounter with a bookshop so far, to say it went badly would be an understatement. However, I learnt some valuable lessons from that one encounter and I’m going to share those lessons with all of you aspiring authors.
As a new author you will want to contact local and independent bookshops. WH Smiths and Waterstones may be less likely to take you, as a new author, seriously but that’s not to say they won’t stock your book at all. Many Waterstones have a local author’s section but as I’m sure you have noticed, the giants tend to stock the famous authors and celebrity cookbooks. Local and independent bookshops will also stock these books but they are more likely to stock your book too. read more