Live window displays, a luxury Booktique, book signings, a mini makeover/studio shoot… The Pop-Up Indie Bookshop is a fast-paced, dynamic new way for independent/self-published authors to showcase their work. As a writer myself, I soon realised there was a huge gap in the market when it comes to promotion. Smaller publishers do not have the budget to pay for their authors marketing campaigns, and self-publishers struggle to rise above the flood of books readily available on the internet. The Bookshop gives these authors a platform to showcase their work, connect with readers on the high street, plan their own campaigns, and get help with publicity simply by being part of the venture.
In March this year, I booked a space at the local market and with no budget, dragged a load of abandoned bookcases from a derelict workshop and started painting. The idea was a shabby chic theme with the books displayed on my recycled ‘haul’. The local press, and a mention in ‘Writing’ magazine drew in a few authors, and I was ready to launch.
It rained. The weather was vile, the Featured Authors got wet, and we had to hide the books under a canopy. But we had a good time, chatted about agents, publishers and all things writing, and sold 19 books later that afternoon… One author later admitted he thought I’d give up after that – not someone who knows me very well!
Each time we ‘popped up’ new ideas evolved; having the display table at the front (borrowed), ditching the shabby chic (now peeling) bookshelves, dressing up in Fifties vintage for an appearance at an Arts Fest, getting a proper cash box rather than a wallet with a hole in…
Eventually, as sales rose, all the press releases started to go in, we were joined by genius pro photographer Stef Lilley who took our edgy promo pics. As a working mum, my kids are always involved, and the search for new venues, strengthening our brand, sending out press releases is often done with their help/hindrance!
Our first shop pop-up was Horsham’s Swan Walk (West Sussex), and after making up a professional set of display units, we were soon fully booked with Featured Authors, and stocking works by over sixty authors and publishers. We also added a luxury Booktique, filled with everything you might like to buy to go with you new book; chocolates, cushions, kindle covers (!), a Gallery full of local artists and photographers, free editing advice, and our mini-makeovers. Everything in the Bookshop evolves organically, coming from a customer suggestion, a stray idea, or a throwaway comment. The buying public are very discerning, enjoying the chance to quiz authors and artists, to sample Booktique products and generally gossip in a creative environment.
The most important thing I have learned, (apart from being flexible in just about everything), is that despite government assurances that there are many schemes helping to fill empty shops, and indeed shopping malls and high streets where every other unit is boarded up, the incentives are not enough, and many landlords would rather stay empty than have the ‘hassle’ of hosting a pop-up shop. Especially when the rent that pop-up business can afford to pay probably won’t cover even the electricity! Equally many of our fellow pop-up shops do not have the money to cover a month’s worth of rent and rates, looking instead of a day, or week. To help ensure everyone’s needs are met we are happy to join forces, sharing space/rent and promoting the pop-up community.
The Bookshop is always looking for new opportunities, and the chance to team up with other pop-up businesses in new locations. Our authors regularly feature in local press; with Mick Oakey (The Aviation Historian) recently appearing on BBC’s The One Show.
Daisy White is an author and founder/owner of the ‘Pop-Up ‘Indie’ Bookshop. She lives on the South Coast, near Brighton, and loves vintage clothes (especially 1920’s hats!), champagne, and bacon sarnies with brown sauce.
She writes in a derelict garage block – great in the summer, bit cold in the winter.