When I published my first non-fiction books about education, many years ago, we sold through old-fashioned mail order, and directly to clients when I was working with them. Then I started writing fiction, and set up a website where customers could buy my novels as well as the non-fiction books, using Paypal. I thought we would sell more that way than any other, but that has proved to be quite mistaken. The majority of my paperback novel sales have been through retailers around Cumbria, to local people and to some of the millions of visitors to the Lake District every year who enjoy – as I do – reading about where they are. Ebook sales have been quite good, but again seasonal, with the winter time being slower than the summer, reflecting the number of people who are visiting and seeing my books on sale. We sell through Amazon, and through other bookshops that use distributors such as Neilsen, but not many compared to the actual bookshop sales.
Looking ahead, my hope is to reach more readers, within and beyond the Cumbria region, and that the larger bookshop chains will then be encouraged to stock the books. I need to publicise more, and that’s a goal for when the full trilogy is finished and out there, by early summer 2014. The publication of Part 2, Forgiven, boosted the sales of Part 1, A Good Liar, and the third one ‘Fallout’ could have the same effect. I hope so. But setting up this new WordPress blog has prompted me to consider whether I want to sell books through this website. I think not. To do so would mean an upgrade to allow me to use the site commercially, and is it worth it for the proportion of sales that have come via that route? Instead, I think I’ll use this site to blog about the writing process, use the written word to clarify my own thinking, and engage with other writers and readers too.
If people want to buy my books, they have various opportunities to do so, in both paperback and ebook form. Sales will not be spectacular, but there’s no sell-by date on historical fiction and sales should be steady year by year. Already we’re re-printing ‘A Good Liar’ as stocks of the first 1500 print run are almost finished. Word of mouth and a little local publicity seem to be working. Now if I could just persuade people to buy the books rather than lend their own copy to every friend and relation who wants to read it, that would be good!