State of the nation Q&A • 30 March 2011 • The SnowBlog
State of the nation Q&A
Thanks for the comments on the state of the nation post, below. There were a couple of questions, as well as pretty universal interest in our eBook plans. I'll cover eBooks tomorrow, but in the meantime, here's my response to Wayne's question about retailers. Wayne asked: "One thing I'm curious to hear more on is your perspective on how the situation with booksellers today, ie: Waterstone's scaling back etc., has affected indie publishers? Do you think that booksellers in general are more likely to cut back on lesser known genre authors in favour of stocking another shelf with the Kings and Nesbos and Larssons of this world?"
Thanks for the question, Wayne. It's a good one, but it's not a new one. Since we started, every month I've thought 'phew, another month when [insert retailer name] has kindly selected our books for promotion / listed them in range / maintained their stocking levels. But next month is bound to be harder!'
Getting a book accepted into range or onto promotion is always a big deal, and it's Snowbooks' primary aim in publishing. Getting a book into a good spot in a chain bookstore is, rather obviously, a very good way to sell it, and the effort we put in to achieving this is much greater than the effort we go to to get newspaper reviews, to plan launch parties, or to attend literary festivals. (In other words, we put close to zero effort into those things that, based on our experience, we know to have a close to zero effect on sales, and masses of effort into retailers.)
We have always been lucky with our books. Retailers have supported us enormously well. I hope, however, more often than not, retailers don't have to make a choice between maximising margin per linear foot and listing indie titles. Indies provide the same discounts as larger publishers; the same promotional support; the same returns agreements. We provide depth to a range, and give the retailer a genuine chance to get behind new writing. Snowbooks' covers look the part and our writing is as good as it gets, so it's not exactly a charitable effort on the part of the retailers to list our books.
I don't see a significant difference in the last 12 months to the last 8 years. It's always an achievement to get books into retailers. It's as hard, or easy, as it ever was. I'd say that our covers help enormously, and the fact that our books do in fact deliver sales.
And remember, Larsson is published by an indie!