Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Mission Bookspedition

 The Date -         Saturday 31st October 2015
 The Team      Twelve children’s writers, bloggers and readers.

 The Location - The leafy suburbs of Dulwich.

 Our mission?   To visit three independent bookshops and chat to the booksellers there.

Now, spending all day wandering around bookshops is a joy of itself but when Miriam Craig and I organised this event we had particular aims in mind. Earlier this year we attended a writers event (run by Non Pratt and Robin Stevens) and something they flagged up as very important was getting to know your local booksellers. 

Non and Robin encouraged everyone to pluck up the courage to chat to booksellers though they and everyone in the room acknowledged that it wasn’t always easy! We realised that many new writers, including ourselves, might feel awkward and anxious but if there was a group of us then it we hoped it would be easier and less pressured.

                                         And thus  the idea for Bookspedition was born! 

With a bit of help from blogger extraodinaire Jim Dean, who suggested Dulwich as the place to go we started organizing dates and times, revealed our plans on Twitter and were soon fully booked.

Dulwich Books with Chloe (centre) and the gang
 First up on our trek was the lovely Dulwich Books where we were greeted by Halloween goodies and the fabulously - costumed  Chloe. It was great to learn that with the help of a grant from James Patterson  the children’s/teen section will soon be expanded here and Chloe is keen to build up their graphic novel selection.   

Talking to Chloe was fascinating, she opened our eyes to the fact that different bookshops, even within close proximity to each other  will have very different customer profiles. So one bookshop in your local area may not want to stock your book because they know they won’t sell many but one just a few streets away may be thrilled to have your book because it fits exactly with their customer profile! 


       Tip – don’t be offended if bookshops don’t want to or can’t stock your book. It doesn’t mean your book isn’t great, just that it might not suit that particular shop. 

Miriam, Tereze and Lorraine at Tales on Moon Lane
We all stopped off for a chatty and much needed lunch before heading to the beautiful children's bookshop Tales on Moon Lane where we met Tereze. She talked us through some of her favourite titles and the popular events they run at half term  which are very often sold out. Their customers are often looking for non gendered books/ strong female protagonists and also the darkly funny does well here. We could have spent hours browsing this Alladin’s cave  of gorgeous books  but had to move on eventually to visit our third and final shop.

 Tip – many bookshops run events either at their shop or alongside school s but be realistic when asking for their help as it can be difficult to sell out events for unknown authors without a previous  fan base. Perhaps team up with other writers from your genre and hold a joint event.

Peter, Darren, Miriam and Allison browing at Tales on Moon lane.


Our third and final shop for the day was Village Books run by the lovely Hazel  who handed out much needed glasses of Prosecco to all the surviving members of Bookspedition! They have a wide children’s selection downstairs and recently moved their YA section upstairs. This was proving very popular with local teenagers who could now browse books without watchful adult eyes upon them. It’s also a great event space and Hazel is always keen to meet local authors.
Helen, Lorraine. Miriam, Hazel, Jim and Peter at Village Books


Tip-     Every one we spoke to said they loved it when authors visited but it’s a good idea to email or phone first. Booksellers are very busy and may not have time to talk if you just turn up.



Miriam and Lorraine with Prosecco!
A big thank you from Miriam and myself to all the booksellers who took part in our event for being so generous with their time and experience. It was wonderful to see so much passion out there in Independent bookshops to get good books out into the hands of children and parents. As writers we’re very lucky to have that kind of passion on our side. 

We’re planning to run another Bookspedition next year and visit some more fabulous bookshops so look out for an announcement if you’d like to join the next one.


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