I’m only writing this blog-post because I feel the desperate need for some original thought, some new ground. I just must oil the old grey matter with my creative juices. All week I’ve been going over the first two R&M Files: reading, revising, touching up, interfering with, adjusting, tinkering – language, punctuation, grammar, structure, meaning… To be honest it’s not been a lot of fun. I just want to finish it. It’s become a chore. Two down and uploaded to Amazon with revised Amazon summaries. One to go.
It’s been a bit like how I would imagine Christmas would be if I rented a castle somewhere and invited all my immediate family to spend the week together. And they all came. And it snowed heavily. And we were snowbound. And the telly broke. And there were no books. And we ran out of booze. For a couple of days it would be great to meet them all again and catch up. By the end of the week, I could see it as a patsiche of The Shining, as imagined by Roman Polanski.
So, because there’s not much been going on with my writing life this week I’m going to fall back on something I put in the blog-post cupboard for a rainy day.
A couple of months ago I had what I thought was a good idea. I still think it’s a good idea. I think it’s a good idea for me, for my books, for readers and for a certain High Street retail outlet. (Of course, I’m biased.) Here it is.
Actually, maybe it would be best if I just copied and pasted the email I sent to James Daunt the CEO of Waterstones. What prompted me to send the email was that I’d seen an online article in which he’d been interviewed and banged the we must be innovative and inventive and pioneering if we are to survive drum. I thought that my business idea fitted the bill nicely. A win/win for everyone.
Buoyed with my naive and childish enthusiasm I typed.
Dear Mr Daunt
I am writing to you with a business proposition. Books are your business. Books are my business.
You will know as well as anyone how the High Street book-selling trade needs to find and embrace new initiatives in order to continue to survive and thrive. I believe I have such an initiative and I would be grateful for your consideration of it.
I am a successful self-published author. I sell my books exclusively through Amazon. Importantly, with regard to my business proposition, I only sell my books as digital files; no physical copy of any of my books has ever been printed.
My business proposition is this: let Waterstones partner me in bringing my books to their physical form.
My books have received many hundreds of favourable reviews and ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. (I do not use sock-puppet accounts neither do I pay for reviews. The reviews are genuine readers’ comments.) I write three series, the most popular of which is a British police-procedural series set in Dover, Kent. Currently, I have five books available in this series with another two on the way.
The main selling points, if you will, that I feel apply to my initiative are as follows and in no particular order.
1) Waterstones would have the exclusive rights to sell my physical books in any or all of its stores.
2) Because no publisher would be involved we can work together to create, print and promote my books without the interference of a third party.
3) Because no publisher would be involved the retail price of the books could be kept down while still maintaining the same profit margins.
4) I would work with Waterstones to promote my books at Waterstones stores.
5) Attention that a well publicised and highly original initiative such as this would garner could significantly benefit sales of the books, not to mention bring attention for Waterstones in other positive ways.
I would be very happy to discuss my proposal further should you so wish. I would like to emphasise that my books have proven themselves to be popular with a wide range of readers. You can find evidence of this at the web links below.
I look forward to hearing from you.
That was over three months ago. There has been no response. I sent an email to his personal Waterstones email address and a general company one. I think it’s safe to say they are not interested in my kind of innovative thinking. (Or maybe they were and then read one of my books.)
Next week: how I signed a six-figure publishing deal with WHSmiths…