Friday, March 31, 2006

People in bookshops.

At the risk of sounding like that clinically enthusiastic Paul Whitehouse character from the Fast Show, aren't people in bookshops brilliant?

I spent the morning visiting my local bookshops - Prospero's Books in Crouch End, the Muswell Hill bookshop, Highgate Bookshop and Ottakar's in Wood Green. A week away from the publication date, I wanted to introduce myself and encourage them, as far as I could, to get their orders in. I also had a 'local author' poster, produced with the help of some friends, that I wanted to share with them.

The poster shows a shot of the book cover, with the headline 'He takes the tube from Highgate. And takes comfort wherever he can.' It was designed especially for bookshops in the North London area.

Anyhow, I was pretty nervous about playing the part of my own rep. It's not something I feel entirely comfortable about, but I knew no one else was going to be doing this for me, so off I went.

I needn't have worried. Everyone was very friendly and keen to take a copy of the poster, which they assured me they would be able to use. (I think it went down particularly well in Highgate Bookshop, where we had a good old chat about the spooky bits of Highgate tube station.)

I tried not to be too pushy. After all, the area is crawling with writers, and I'm sure every one of them would like to have their books in the windows of the local independents. This was confirmed by Tim, the manager of the Muswell Hill Bookshop, who said he appreciated my 'softly softly' approach. The hunted look in his eye when he first came out of his office made me think that the words 'There's some author bloke to see you' were not ones he generally looked forward to hearing.

Anyhow my bumbling diffidence must have paid off. He said he was going to up his order of the books. Ben, the duty manager of Ottakar's in Wood Green, checked the system, found the book wasn't ordered and made a note to correct the oversight. When I thanked him, he said, 'Not at all. We always like to support our local authors.'

All the people I spoke to took my number and most said they would call me when they got the copies in, so that I could pop in and sign them. It seems weird that my name scrawled on a title page will be seen as adding value, but I was assured a number of times that it really would help.

One thing I was supposed to tell them was that the Ham & High article about the book will be coming out on the 7th - publication day! I think I remembered to mention it once, but after that it completely went out of my head.

So, yes, I did the interview with Harun this morning. What was great was that he had actually taken the trouble to read the book, which meant that he asked some great questions. There was a decidedly nervous edge to his voice when he asked me if the book was in any way autobiographical. And a definite note of relief when I reassured him that I'm nothing like Rob Saunders. Well, not much. Maybe just a little bit. Now, where did I put my briefcase?

Read Debra Broughton's review of Taking Comfort here.


Dr Ian Hocking said...

I'm glad you're getting plenty of support, Roger. My own experience of local bookshops has been disappointing...I hope yours is more typical for authors in general.

Tom Saunders said...

Well kudos to both of you. I've been too scared to go near any of mine!

roger said...

I was very anxious about doing it - but then I realised I was more stressed by the thought that I should be doing it! I needed to at least make an effort, then no matter how badly it went, at least I could say 'I tried.' As it happened it was fine, though I did feel incredibly self-conscious.

Tom Saunders said...

Well done, mate.