“So, you see, it’s distribution that’s more of a problem. The mechanics of it needn’t be, though. For about £8.50 a year - it varies according to how VAT varies – this particular Print On Demand provider will hook your title up to tons of distributers – people like Amazon as well. But it’s still difficult getting the general public to notice the book. Still, you’ll get a trickle of sales anyway, even if your marketing isn’t all that dynamic. And you can set it up in such a way that it’s impossible to lose money except maybe the set-up costs.”
Alex enjoyed it actually when people asked him to talk about his publishing business. It reminded him that he actually loved producing books. Never mind the pitfalls – the titles that didn’t sell, the authors who couldn’t respond to editorial comment and the constant realisation that if he’d put as much effort into any other business as he had into this, he’d be making a heck of a lot more money.
She was a determined woman. Mid-fifties, he would have said. She’d made copious notes and asked him some really intelligent questions. Nothing he’d said seemed to shock her. She obviously already knew a fair bit about the publishing business.
Suddenly, though, she sat up straighter. Her eyes glazed over and she seemed to be looking at nothing in particular. Then she focussed and took up eye-contact with him again. “Look. I think I need to go now. Thank you so much. You’ve given me some really useful information.” She stood up and started gathering her things.
“Well, don’t hesitate to get in touch if I can be of any more help.”
She nodded and scuttled away. Alex wondered whether she had a bus to catch or perhaps she was just trying to avoid the rush hour. It was ten past four.
He met her again a few months later. He’d been invited to what turned out to be a well-attended book launch. He spotted her in the crowd.
“So is this your imprint?” he said.
She shook her head. “It might have been though. Six of us were going to run it. Now it’s just Colin and his wife.” She nodded towards the table where the author was signing books and near to which the publisher and his lovely wife were talking enthusiastically to those waiting in the queue. “But my meeting with you was really helpful. It made me realise how much effort it all is. And it made me and the other three decide we’d rather put our energy into our writing. Leave all this to people like yourself who know what they’re doing.”
I do, do I? thought Alex.
The women, whose name he still didn’t know, took another sip of her wine. She grinned. “Colin and Judy are publishing my book next month. Will you come to my launch as well?”