Friday, 3 August 2012

Waterstones, Pocket Novels and Other News...

It's been a strange week, with the Olympics almost taking over the news, but don't worry writing news hasn't been forgotten.

So here's a round up of what's been happening.

There's been the sad news about the passing of two well known writers: Maeve Binchy and Gore Vidal. While I have to admit to never having read either author, I remember snippets of one of Maeve Binchy's stories on the radio, her words conjuring up the Dublin of her youth and the attitudes of society.

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The My Weekly Pocket Novels are undergoing another change. Anyone buying copies recently will have noticed the more modern covers which are certainly more appealing to a potential reader.

This week Womag and Sally Quilford have been sent the new information on the major changes taking place.

Basically there's a name change to Easy Read, with 2 Romance genres: Caress and Liaison; and 2 Crime genres labelled Intrigue and Suspense.

You can read the explanations for each category over at Sally's blog- just download the flyer at the link on the page.

If you're unsure about some of the requirements Sally has a follow up post here, Maggie Seed has clarified a few aspects of the changes.

Like every magazine editor there comes a point when you have to modernise to reach a younger market but hopefully not change too much and lose your regular buyers.

They seem to be going for a Mills and Boon effect cover with elements of 50 Shades starkness. But I like the covers shown on the flyer, so it will be interesting to see w they look on the shelf.

(Meanwhile People's Friend isn't changing- see here.)

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For those who have books to promote and have been fortunate enough to arrange book signings in Waterstones stores, you might like to follow this Bookseller report up.

"Waterstones has issued new advice to its bookstores on running author events, after concern that customers were being put off by writers handselling their own books, and that signings were lasting too long. One author was told that going forward author events should last no longer than 90 minutes, and be staffed by booksellers." (the bookseller.com)

Now I'd assume individual store managers will decide what happens, but one blogger reports cancellations of book signings already (link within the Bookseller article).

There's not enough staff in stores now, so I can't see branches wanting to provide an assistant for authors selling their books.

Authors with first books to promote don't naturally know best practise, or signing protocol. So perhaps Waterstones would be better having a standard sheet of what they do and don't expect of authors doing signings.

Waterstones need book buyers to keep them on the high street, that's a fact of life.

Yes, Waterstones is a business so it's understandable that they have concerns, and want people to buy books from them.

But you have to give people a reason to step inside the bookshop in the first place, and author signings do that.

If a 'handselling' author has promoted their book signing well then people may just go along, and once they're in the bookstore you might just find them buying other books from the shelves and display tables, or even deciding to come back again later.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

2 comments:

Fiona Ross said...

Yes, indeed, it is very sad to hear about the deaths of Gore Vidal and Maeve Binchy. I've read one of Vidal's and several of Binchy's. Wonderful stuff. RIP.

I was interested and dismayed to read your comments about retailers' views on author book signings. Given that most retailers are understaffed these days, you would have thought outlets would be pleased to have an extra pair of hands to help them promote titles and shift stock. We certainly live in baffling times.

Good luck with your own efforts and thanks for all the informative stuff you post up.

Carolb said...

I think with Waterstones it's the big hammer and small nut issue, Fiona.

Big names doing signings is probably fine- they know how to behave.
But it's likely the few self-published or with independents, who don't have the support and advice on what not to do, that are generating complaints and have brought about this heavy-handed response.

I'm sure inexperienced authors would happily welcome and accept guidance notes.