Well, it couldn’t be much more different to pile-it-high-sell-it-cheap, could it, binding your own books? All those free giveaway downloads (that most people will probably never read), all that worry about potential poor reviews, the need to sell thousands of copies to get anywhere – it’s as far away from that as you can get. I make books and I sell what I make. It’s very satisfying.
I have made ten copies (that’s all!) of The Herbarium to take to the Blandford Literary Festival this Saturday. If they sell, that’s great and I’ll make some more. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter – I can relax knowing I have a few ‘in stock’ and cheerfully get on with another project.
I used to be in a froth of worry at these sorts of events in case I didn’t sell anything – a clear sign of failure as a writer. These days I don’t really think about it like that. People like them or they don’t, buy them or they don’t. When they’re gone, they’re gone, at least until I can make a few more. And the great thing about a hand-bound book is that it’s a great conversation starter. I always have something to say, and indeed, the book, being illustrated, says a great deal for itself. It’s entirely a win-win situation for me. No longer am I the unhappy author whimpering ‘please buy one of my books’ to an uninterested, overloaded market. This is the sort of publishing I can happily deal with. One book at a time! And I get to tell people how I did it, too. I’m sure it will be a very enjoyable day.
Blandford Literary Festival, The Corn Exchange, Blandford Forum, Dorset. My talk will be at 11.45am on Saturday 23 November, as part of the Dorset Writers Network Open Day. Admission free.