Thursday, 25 November 2010

Getting a book into Waterstones

This seems to be the holy grail for UK writers. As a small press author who seems to have managed it in a few stores, speaking to my publisher I found out it isn't as easy as you think.

Some articles make it sound like walking into any random store with your book and waving it at the manager stand you in good stead of shelf space. This is misleading. Although Waterstones managers do have some discretion over what goes on the shelves, they do also have a central list that they pick from. The three basic things you need to get into a book store seem to be:

1) ISBN: you have to have one.
2) (in the UK) be listed on Nielsen
3) A recognised distributor who manages sale or return.
4) Access to the Waterstones independant books listing

These will let you get listed on the Waterstones computer system, without which the managers can't order the book. Now they can order the book, you need to persuade them to do so. If you have a good distributor, they will handle this, but otherwise you need

3) A good commercial, marketable, book.
4) A media pack of press releases,posters, and details of how to order your book
5) Good walking shoes.

Just because your book is available for them to order doesn't mean they will order it, or even know about it. You need to speak to the store owners, arrange events and promote your book.

Sales reps do this nationwide and have many years experience. Normally I'd say leave it to them, with one exception: if you are a compulsive bookbuyer and on first name terms with your local, (e.g. your store knows you well enough to special-order books before you even know they are out, phone you, and then fetch them out of the warehouse shipment for you) you might want to approach those stores yourself. It worked for me.

Here's some more information, straight from the horse's mouth:

(And if you read that, you can probably guess where one copy of my book and its covering letter will be going on 2nd December.)

One thing that surprised me: Being listed on their website for order is not the same as being available through their store system. If you are on Neilsen's feed, you'll probably show up on their site since they can order the book. Fire Season showed up there before it even had a cover, but was not available to stores for several more weeks.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

A Nano update

At the weekend my final copy of the manuscript went off to the publisher. They let me know it had gone to print earlier this week, so everything is progressing nicely.

Now I should be working on selling my book, but it's a little difficult with one remaining ARC and no printed books yet. So, for the next two weeks, my attention will be on something else I have been neglecting: NaNoWriMo.

I've got the first few thousand words written up, but not put in yet, and since we are halfway through the month I have some catching up to do!

Friday, 12 November 2010


This was going to be a post about the difficulties of promotion when you're an author with a small press, since the channels for established publishers assume you are self-publishing and the ones for self-publishers assume you are with a company and have unfair advantages. I'll put this post up another time, however, since I actually have a few updates on the book.

The book trailer has been accepted for YouGottaRead's trailer contest for January, so I'll probably be Tweeting a lot about that when it occurs.

My publisher let me know that the Nielsen feed has updated with cover and distribution details, so the book is available to be ordered Sale or Return from just about every bookshop in the country.

Clover Hill Book Reviews took an ARC earlier this year and kindly got back to me with two reviews, Goodreads and the Clover Hill Book Review blog. Phrases like "well-researched" and "Compulsive Reading" as well as the 4.5 stars out of five definitely made my morning.

"Thought provoking, emotional and compassionate, this is a book I could read again. A recommended read." Clover Hill Book Reviews


Monday, 8 November 2010

Cover Image!

Last week I was told the publisher had received a copy of the final artwork from Barry Weekley.

This week I got my final cover layout. The "furniture" like author name and publisher logo are still being adjusted, but this is apparently pretty much what the front is going to look like. The back? Well as I hoped it's a wrap-around cover and the image continues on the back. What is on the back won't be a surprise to anyone who followed my story on Twitter, or anyone who's seen the lens.

I have to say, I rather like it. It certainly stands out.

Fire Season by VH Folland
Pre-order Fire Season from

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Twitter Story - Week 12

"I don’t think he planned that far. You missed him trying to get Rose’s help, through an odd mix of begging and barking." Jake’s tone was light, and Jim grinned. The crop sprayer pilot had never been good at asking for help, even when he needed it.

"You know she’s not qualified to work on it, right?" he asked and Jake nodded.

"That’s what she said. Think you might know anyone who could give him a hand?" Jake’s suggestion was deliberately casual and Jim sucked his breath through his teeth in mock thought.

"A few. Say ten or so." He knew her old crew would be more than happy to have a quick look up here and see what had happened to their old lady. Looking down at Matt, now shifting the stepladder along the wing to a new spot, Jim smiled. She might not be his, but his grey lady had definitely found a good home.


And that's the end of the story. This short story preceeds the novel by a few years, but if you want to know more about them, and what they do with their odd acquisition, you'll need to read Firestorm (excuse the gratutious shill).

The story, about 1,200 words was run as 83 seperate tweets, released daily through my twitter feed, under hashtag #vhfstr1.

Follow VHFolland on Twitter

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Twitter Story

As the story nears its end, the final round up will be tomorrow.

Happy Bonfire Night, and stay safe!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

A Goodreads giveaway

The Goodreads Giveaway complete yesterday and I sent the books off this morning.

I'll admit I have doubts about sending out proof copies. After all these aren't the finished copies so complaints about justification, or the cover art, would be somewhat unfair. However this appears to be standard practice in publishing, so I'll follow my publisher's lead and keep my fingers crossed for good reviews.

On more hopeful news the lens about my book,, will be one of the featured lenses for their Books cateory until the second of December. That should build some interest. An advertising campaign targeted to specialist interesed parties, will also kick off later this month.

In some ways I feel as if this is getting away from me a bit. When I started I was expecting a small release, a few reviews up before it came out, and any interest to build after that. Instead my publisher is talking to distributors, handling pre-orders and promoting it with a fair degree of advertising. I'm not complaining, believe me, but I am wondering if I can keep up with everything!