Authors never quite know what’s going on out there. What I mean by that is, we have books spread around the country (and indeed the world) lying on shelves in bookshop, in piles in warehouses, by bedsides in homes, tucked away in libraries and in people’s bags. We don’t really know who’s reading what we write, or what they think of it, save for the few who review, and generally we don’t know where our books are popular or even, most of the time, how well they are selling.
I know my memoirs are popular in Yorkshire because they are set there, and they also go down well in Surrey, for some reason – I’m aware of this because I once randomly checked online library catalogues to see how many of my books were out on loan and was amazed to find that Surrey libraries have 57 copies of All Teachers Great and Small. People of taste…
What isn’t easy to find out is which bookshops stock your books. Some who are supposed to have it sometimes don’t; some indie bookshops do and some have never heard of it; some places sell a lot and others find books gathering dust. There are all sorts of factors at play here, of course, but what is certain is that it’s always a pleasant surprise for a writer to discover that his or her book is a hit somewhere unexpected.
And that’s what happened to me today. I’m very grateful to a fellow children’s author, football fan and friend Helena Pielichaty who saw the page pictured below, in a Newark newspaper. I had no idea that I was so popular in this most excellent of Nottinghamshire towns – and certainly not the number one bestseller! What an honour – and, I must say, it’s been a lifelong ambition to beat KNIT YOUR OWN BOYFRIEND. Thanks for sending me the pic, Helena, you’re a vnp.