Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



A Voice From The Book Trade

Over at The View From Here Magazine, Helen Miles talks about her experience of the book trade:

I was quite unprepared for the bizarre practices that persist in the selling of a book. Apparently, I must set a price for our books (that must end with 99p, obviously) and then offer a whacking discount to the trade. They then order a couple of hundred copies, hide them at the back of the shop for six months, sell two and send the rest back to me. This is regarded as so commonplace that no-one bats an eyelid, and the returned books are pulped and form the hardcore of motorways. Tell this to an ordinary reader in a Waterstone’s Costa outlet, and they will be utterly amazed. I was too, and also entirely out of pocket.

Helen Miles is the proprietor of Solidus, a small, independent, Stroud-based publishing house using print on demand technology to get up-and-coming writers into print.

3 Responses to “A Voice From The Book Trade”

  1. Brad Green says:

    It’s a system that can’t persist, I think. I don’t know what will replace it. Probably additional channels on the TV.

    jb says: Thanks for the comment, Brad. I don’t know what will replace it either. Maybe some kind of discernment or selectivity?

  2. Jim Murdoch says:

    Although I can follow arguments that suggest this is a great time to be an author my personal feeling is that this is the worst time in history because there is simply too much out there. Choice is all good and well and there was a time, and not that long ago, when all we had to really worry about what the UK but now the whole world is screaming at us to buy stuff and it’s pure fluke if we stumble across something good.

    The scenario Miles talks about is pure farce though. It’s not even as commendable as a pop group buying up all their own singles to get in the charts. At least that’s planning for the future.

    jb says: I also think it’s a bad time for writers, Jim. And for the same reason as you. There’s far too much rubbish being published. I stay away as much as possible from new publications, as experience has taught me that the majority of new novels are not worth bothering with. I suppose we have to look forward to a time when publishers will want to publish books again because they are well-written or they have something new and important to say. Until then, there’s still a few classics I haven’t got to.

  3. Diane Corriette says:

    I remember a friend telling me that the sales from her £9.99 book was a hefty £0.75 per book – I couldn’t believe it. She managed to get work from becoming a published author so that helped but at least now I know why so many are taking advantage self publishing and print on demand instead.