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Opinion: Getting into Bookstores: Why I Did It My Way Anoushka Beazley

Headshot of Anoushka Beazley

Anoushka Beazley, indie ad proud of it

Part of the joy of being an indie author is that you can choose to do things your own way. Sometimes you may feel compelled not only to defy trade publishing conventions, but to fly in the face of received wisdom on the self-publishing circuit. Thus rather than pursue the POD online route to paperback production and distribution, as recommended by Data Guy, Digital Book World, ALLi and so many other authorities, novelist Anoushka Beazley beat her own path to being stocked by bookstores. Over to Anoushka to explain what she did, why and how…

Wise man: ‘You should self-publish.’
Me: ‘I want to be in a bookstore.’
Wise man: ‘Do you want your book to be read or on a shelf?’
Me: ‘Can’t I have both?’
Wise man: ‘Not really.’  

This conversation stayed with me. I tried the traditional route and received amazing feedback from agents but no takers, so I self-published with Amazon’s CreateSpace. I selected Ingram Spark for my extended distribution because I was told book shops were less receptive to accepting books from CreateSpace but, provided you have a professionally designed book cover, and choose the cream paper and matt finish if fiction, the CreateSpace books can look really good.

I was selected as the September read for international book club Poppyloves and from there I took part in the Chiswick Book Festival launch event at Waterstones.

This was a real ‘in’ for me as it meant that my books were in a store (and therefore on a computer system), albeit only one.

Author outside bookshop window

In the window at Daunts

From there I was able to pique the interest of Daunt Books. My local branch in Hampstead agreed to take a few copies and once someone had agreed to take a chance it made the other branches more confident in doing the same.

My friends suggested it would be a good idea to do an actual event so I asked Daunt if I could hold it at the store. I promoted and catered the reading/signing myself and had my wonderful Q&A with Harriett Gilbert (Radio 4, BBC and my old Creative Writing MA professor!).

Branching Out

This led to features in local papers.

Then I started to go from shop to shop, literally, with a suitcase full of my books and my three children (aged 9, 7 and 2) – bribed heavily with the promise of ice cream.

None of the bookshops had any issues with the fact that these books had been printed by CreateSpace. It seemed to me that getting them to agree to take you on was the hardest part. Once you had achieved that, and as long as the book looked good, where it was from was inconsequential.

In the beginning I supplied them myself, on 60% sale or return, but the bookshops prefer to go straight to their distributors so I ended up signing up with Gardners, who supply my books to the shops directly when they want them, and changed my printers from Ingram to Clays.

Reviews by Book Bloggers

Author signing books in a store

Enjoying an instore signing

I contacted independent book bloggers to review The Good Enough Mother. Thankfully they loved it and gave me brilliant reviews. With these reviews I was able to offer to write guest posts on award winning lifestyle, parenting and motherhood websites and was named in Red magazine’s top ten Christmas Book List 2016. I’m currently working with the BBC, BFI and Creative Skillset to turn the novel into a screenplay.

I wrote two novels before this and have been writing and trying to get published for seven years. I had months where I gave up, thinking this is just too tough but I always came back to the laptop eventually. I could never have predicted this would be the route I would take but I think what made the difference is the day I decided to take matters into my own hands. Adjusting my mind-set.

Doing it for yourself gets your work out there which is all I ever wanted, and every day I surprise myself with the results.

OVER TO YOU What’s your take on Anoushka’s unusual route? Has a similar approach worked for you or do you have cautionary tales to share?

Marching to a different #selfpub drummer - @AnoushkaBeazley shares her story Click To Tweet

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4 Responses to Opinion: Getting into Bookstores: Why I Did It My Way Anoushka Beazley

  1. Elizabeth Ducie February 19, 2017 at 9:54 am #

    Anoushka, what an inspiring story. And a vindication of the route that other indies are starting to take (myself included). I started with gift shops and my local post office. Now I’m starting to expand into book shops: one shop at a time, one book at a time.

  2. B.M. Allsopp February 17, 2017 at 8:20 am #

    Congratulations, Anoushka! You’ve cracked a very hard nut indeed. I’m now part way along your road with my debut novel, Death on Paradise Island: a Fiji Islands Mystery. Four Sydney bookshops now stock it. Two have bought on consignment, one purchased firm sale, and one ordered through Ingrams (I printed the paperback with Ingram Spark, who print in Australia). I’ll agree with whatever way the bookshop wants to do it, as they are my customers. The University bookshop in Fiji has also ordered from Ingrams, and I’m thrilled that the Radisson Fiji now wants it for their gift shop. All this amounts to a few copies here and there and very little return, but my e-book sales haven’t exactly taken off. I think if I try all avenues, I’ll learn how best to market for the second book.

  3. Lorna Sixsmith February 16, 2017 at 8:40 am #

    I went a similar route and now all Irish bookshops stock my books via the two main wholesalers. I’m starting to get some press coverage in the UK now and have been supplying books to a number of farm shops (many of them sell gifts / books as well as produce) at a 35% margin. Next up is the task of contacting rural bookshops and seeing how I get on.
    It does take time but is so worth it once they say yes. In October, I contacted about 20 farm shops and 8 said yes.

  4. Mary Deka February 16, 2017 at 5:06 am #

    This is such an inspirational story, Anoushka! Thanks for sharing! And best of luck with turning the book into a screenplay! That sounds challenging but exciting.

    I just self-published a poetry book with CreateSpace, and I’m working on other writing projects (fantasy novel, travel book, another poetry book) that I might end up self-publishing.

    It’s always good to hear about others’ stories when it comes to publishing/self-publishing. It can be daunting at first to try to figure out how to get news of your book out there. I’m glad that you’ve had success. 🙂

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