Thursday, 8 December 2011

Meeting The Sales Team

English: olives
Image via Wikipedia
Yesterday morning saw me loitering around Mall of the Emirates at the ungodly hour of 8.30am - I had an appointment to present Olives - A Violent Romance to the sales team at Jashanmal's - the company responsible for taking my book and putting it on sale - not only in their own outlets, but in stores like Spinneys and Virgin Megastores. This isn't by any means an automatic process, and actually requires effort and sales skills. Bookshops don't stock all books publishers push at them by default, but only those they believe they can sell. And getting onto those booksellers' shelves can be hard - even in the Middle East. In the UK or US, it's so hard as to seem almost Sisyphean.

Author friends have frequently commented on how important this process is to a book's chances of getting anywhere. You can advertise and promote a book to death, but it needs to be there in front of people's eyeballs. Sure, your book's great, your blurb is catchy and your cover looks wonderful. But if it's not in the bookstores, nobody will ever see it. The sales team can define whether a book lives or dies and, all too often, new authors and those consigned to the 'mid list' (ie: they do quite well, but never quite as well as JK Rowling) are introduced later on in the sales team's pitch and are neglected. Which means they don't get on display, or are put in that dusty corner at the back, while some glitzy piece of schlock by a witless semi-celebrity gets front of store billing. It's no wonder authors get bitter.

So the chance to actually present to a sales team - to share what the book's about, what made you do it, why you think it will sell and who it'll appeal to - is a rare and wonderful privilege and opportunity. I took it gratefully, gave my chat and answered questions, shook hands and exchanged smiles. Now it's up to them.

Saturday will see the 'official launch' of the book on the first night of TwingeDXB - the first Dubai Urban Arts Festival. I'll be talking a bit about what makes Olives 'tick' and doing a reading from the book. I'll be helped in this by Irish poet and Man of Mystery Frank Dullaghan, who'll be reading Gerald Lynch for me. Lynch, the somewhat brutally inclined spy in Olives, is from Northern Ireland and while I can usually mug up a reasonable 'Norn Oirish' accent for a phrase or two, I just don't have the consistency to keep it up through dialogue. Frank does the twisted vowels brilliantly.

You can find out more about TwingeDXB, including the link for live streaming if you live outside the UAE here on the official TwingeDXB website. Other highlights of the 'Praise for Prose' evening on Saturday include Frank reading from his own work, the second birthday bash for the Twitter Book Club, a talk from Emirati author Sultan Darmaki and a display by free book initiative blog, The Book Shelter.

Copies of Olives will be on sale (Jashanmals is sponsoring the evening) and I'll happily sign them, although I do warn you that the rarity value of an unsigned copy is currently considerable.


TwingeDXB goes on all week, by the way, it's not just one night. There are events spanning poetry, music, comedy and more - the website's well worth checking out.
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3 comments:

liz fenwick said...

Good luck with the launch!
lx

S.E said...

hey pal, good luck, and I hope they decide to sell your book and stock copies in all of their locations. you deserve it!

Sara said...

Yay just bought Olives on a friend's Kindle! Yours is officially the first book I will ever read on a kindle.

Can't wait to read the final version!

Pls post pics of launch. Good luck!

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