Self-published authors should know their book’s market and their “position in the industry” before pitching to retailers, panelists said at yesterday’s How to Sell Your Book seminar. Retailers Henry Layte, of The Book Hive in Norwich; Sheila O’Reilly, of Dulwich Books in London; and Matt Bates, fiction buyer at W H Smith Travel told indie authors to think about how their book looks and not to be arrogant when pitching it.
Layte, who also co-founded Galley Beggar Press, which published Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction winner Eimear McBride, said: “It’s quite a good idea to get your attitude about your book and position in the industry right before you approach retailers. We get people turning up quite arrogantly, saying: ‘I’m a published author, what are you going to do about it?’”
Layte also advised indie authors pitching books not to send a copy, due to the volume of books he receives. “Someone once sent us a book, then three months later sent us a bill for it. It all went in the bin,” he said.
O’Reilly advised authors to discover the preferences of retailers’ buyers before pitching to them. “Find out what they like,” she said. “There’s no point sending me a book of science fiction or fantasy because I don’t read that—and I have a phenomenal amount of books I do want to read.” She added: “Make sure your book has a spine, which sounds obvious. Make sure it fits on the shelf and has an ISBN.”
Bates has bought in a number of self-published titles for W H Smith Travel, including Piers Alexander’s The Bitter Trade and Jasper Gibson’s A Bright Moon for Fools, which he said has sold around 9,000 copies since it started stocking the title last summer. Both books were picked up because they looked impressive and professional, said Bates, adding: “I am looking for a product that looks strong and commercial.”
The panel was hosted by The Bookseller associate editor Cathy Rentzenbrink.