Wednesday, 16 March 2011

How low can you get?

There was a publishers' panel at the Derbyshire Readers' Day comprising small indies. A member of the public asked about book sales. Route came out tops with 14,000 copies sold and counting of their music and rugby league-land memoir Bringing It All Back Home (a great book). Shoestring remarked on the astonishing success of their Daily Mail promoted academic book that included the words "swapping wives" in its title, though the Mail readers must have been terribly disappointed that it had nothing to do with the sort of swapping wives that they are used to. Poetry? 300ish seemed about standard, with Peter Sansom from Poetry Business remarking that certain well known poetry publishers rarely achieve above 500 for single author collections. Peter also said that sales can be much lower, with one of his titles selling two copies. Two. Clearly that author did not even have aunties. I can't remember if it was on or off the panel when he mentioned a certain major poetry publisher only selling seven copies of a book by a well known writer, albeit one that does not do readings.
This sounds like the common poets' conversation of describing their worst and least well attended reading. Ian McMillan always scoops the pool by describing an early reading of his which was attended by minus one. When Ian got to the event the audience was one person but he had not realised it was Ian reading and left immediately making, in Barnsley logic, an attendance of minus one.

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