I heard a story the other day that made me wonder how much readers know about the limitations of retail distribution for books. Before I was an author, I certainly didn’t. If I wanted to buy a particular book I’d go into a bookshop or two and assume I’d find it on the shelves. Wrong. For most authors – even quite successful ones – having widespread retail distribution for their books is a pipe dream. Thank goodness for Amazon. But not everyone is comfortable buying from the platform.

However I digress. The lack of reader knowledge about how to get hold of a book they want was brought home to me by a relative, an avid reader, who was in The Works buying a copy of The Dubrovnik Book Club. It’s the first time any of my books has been widely available through a national chain, and I’m very proud of it. My editor was excited when she told me earlier this year they wanted to stock it, which underlines how rare it is, even with a large publisher like mine.

Back to my relative. I assume she may have told the girl on the till that the book had been written by someone she knew. The girl was enthusiastic, even going as far as to say that her friend who worked in Waterstones had told her about people asking for it. Which instead of making me ecstatic, made me rather sad.

The thing is, Waterstones haven’t taken The Dubrovnik Book Club, so you won’t find it on their shelves. This is not unusual. So many books come out each year, they couldn’t possibly have space for them all, and most retailers go for safe bets; established authors, celebrities, TikTok sensations. So readers wanting to buy my book – and, let’s face it – most books by most authors, may well look for them, even ask for them, in both national and independent bookstores. But they won’t find them there.

However they can order them. But how many readers realise that? Every bookshop up and down the country will do this for you, but sometimes the staff are just too busy to offer this service, or assume if you wanted them to do so, you would ask. You can even pre-order a book, so it’s there for you the day it comes out. I know there will be a significant minority of readers who know this, but many won’t, so please spread the word. You’ll make your fellow readers – not to mention quite a few authors – really happy.