Last Saturday was the first anniversary of selling my book, Around The Races In Eighty Days. Roger Lowson was the first brave soul to offer up his readies for my peculiar slice of literary cake – Sir, I salute you as a pioneer! Since then, hundreds have followed his lead, but what have I learnt after a year on the selling bandwagon?
Well, first is the extraordinary power of Amazon. It is recently estimated that 73% of vehicles on the UK roads in December are delivering Amazon parcels (source: BOMUS*). Despite the hardback being cheaper on my website than Amazon, a majority of sales are through the online behemoth. Many of you may be unaware that you can purchase a paperback because it is only available on my website (you would not believe how tight the margins are when you are not printing in the millions like Rowling and Patterson, and Amazon take a lot more commission than Paypal!)
(* Bureau of Made-Up Statistics)
Secondly, that the British public are much easier to deal with than companies. It has been devilishly difficult to get paid by a variety of organisations from book wholesalers to the Racing Post. And it has astounded me how convoluted the process of selling can be – one recent Waterstones website purchase had a chain of five links from customer to me.
Thirdly, there will always be books. The electronic edition has been available on Kindle since the summer, yet hardback sales have matched eBooks in that timeframe. There is something reassuring and trustworthy about holding a book – it will never run out battery, have a sync conflict, or corrupt the global template (whatever that is), and as a man who has spent more than an hour this morning trying to remove 10GB of temporary files that are apparently irremovable, that is a comforting thought.
Fourthly, horse racing is a truly national pastime. My books have been flung to the four corners of the land, and further, across the Irish Sea. Many of the destinations have been a long way from a racecourse. It is hard to think of a sport that transcends geography and sociology as much.
Finally, it is now clear what I suspected all along – writing books does not provide an easy route to financial success. The publication is now in profit, but it is safe to say that I shall not be retiring on the proceeds just yet. I was strangely overlooked in the William Hill Sports Book Of The Year Award, which went to William Finnegan’s memoir of his surfing life. I still harbour hopes for the Cross Sports Book Awards in the Spring, but won’t be holding my breath. What has been enormously rewarding, however, is the generous feedback I continue to receive from real customers. Really, it has made it all worthwhile.
Just two boxes of hardback first editions remain in my front room, now somewhat dwarfed by their smaller but more abundant paperback cousins. All of them are looking for a new home for Christmas. If you know a lover of journeys that would be willing to adopt one, the purchasing window is still open. The last posting day before Christmas is Saturday 17 December, and all books are sent out first class. Just click on the image above or the link below: