Last summer I visited Howarth, a beautiful old town in West Yorkshire, famous for being the home of the Bronte sisters. If you are a writer, or even an aspiring one like me, there is something magical about visiting a place with such a pedigree. Walking the streets where Emily, Charlotte and Anne once trod sent a shiver down my spine. Paying to get into their house sent a tremor through my wallet but it was worth it. History comes alive in places like that.
Strangely, the thing that most sticks in the mind took place not in the Bronte’s home or even in the quaint cobbled streets, it happened in the car park.
We had parked our car in the normal manner and I went to buy a ticket. Just before I got to the pay and display machine I was accosted by an elderly man who offered to sell me a book. He was sitting with the boot of his car open to display the said books, and he explained that if I bought his book for a fiver he would then buy my parking ticket for me. Furthermore he also explained that his books were raising money for charity and it was all in a really good cause. I had a quick look at the book, but it didn’t really seem my thing at all, I vaguely remember it was some true life historical story of someone in the Second World War, so I declined. He seemed a little put out and started explaining it all again and I had to be quite firm about wanting to buy my own parking ticket rather than a book. I felt a cold disappointment eminating from him as I purchased my ticket and went back to my car.
It was a strange encounter, and weirdly it is one that like to replay I my mind, mainly because I think I’ll use it in a story sometime. Even stranger, I did some research and it turns out that he actually owns the car park and has been accused of using the selling books tactic as a way of distracting people when buying their tickets, making it all the easier for him to clamp their cars and charge £90 for them to be released. He’s notorious apparently. If you are seconds late back you’ll find your car clamped, especially if you didn’t buy the book!
Admittedly selling books isn’t easy. It is even hard to sell free books these days. Seems like everyone on Twitter is either an author or a book promoter, which to me doesn’t add up, and my kindle fills up with free books faster than I can read them.
All of which leaves me a bit stumped as I’m moving into indie publishing, but I have decided one thing, one overriding principle. I am NOT aiming to sell as many books as possible. If I do that then I’ll probably just waste loads of time trying to sell books to people who don’t want them and even if they did buy wouldn’t like them anyway. I can’t see that being good for reviews.
Might as well sell them out of the boot of my car.