In May 2009, seeing as I had to take my visiting daughter, Nicci, to Port Elizabeth, there was the opportunity to visit bookshops with the object of encouraging my book sales. At Walmer Park, I took 3 copies of each to Fogarty’s Books in the same complex and Theresa Fogarty took them on consignment. These were the first I had on sale in any bookshops, but I had plans to go further afield. The Cape Town Book Fair was just around the corner.
So on 11 June 2009 I left for Cape Town in my old Peugeot 404, going via Bernie and Kerrie Marriot who had built a home on a smallholding near the Robertson Pass between Oudtshoorn and Mossel Bay. I dropped off a copy of The Barros Pawns as I had used Bernie’s photo of a parachute on the front cover.
From there I took the route through Carlitzdorp, Montagu and Bonnievale to the N2; Sir Lowry’s Pass to Somerset West, arriving there in the late afternoon to spend the night at the home of old friend Spine van Niekerk, with whom I had worked in Mozambique way back in 1971.
The next day after breakfast I headed via Muizenberg to Fish Hoek. My brother-in-law, Tom Maling and his wife Shirley had kindly agreed to put me up for the rest of my stay in Cape Town.
Rick Prince, a friend of Bernie’s, who was also writing a novel, phoned to ask to join me at the Cape Town Book Fair. He agreed to pick me up the next day and take me along
We took the Ou Kaapse Weg route over the mountain with its beautiful views over False Bay and down into the City. The Cape Town International Convention Centre was where the Book Fair was on, alongside a Muslim Convention. Robin Stuart-Clark’s stand was C13 and I had to bluff my way in as his phone had been stolen and I could not get hold of him to bring me my author’s entrance ticket. It was weird, and pleasing, to see my books on display there.
I tried to get hold of Andrew Marjoribanks of Wordsworth Books but they told me he would only be coming in the next day. Exclusive Books were not allowing more Vendors so I shall not be selling through them. Clarke’s Books had not received my invoice yet so were not selling The Barros Pawns although they have Purgatory Road on their shelves but had ‘lost’ the invoice for that. Friend Dirk Versveld, who was proof-reading my next book, the first in the Detective Dice Modise Series, phoned to say that he was on his way just as we were leaving, so I’ll visit him at home tomorrow.
He said there is an article including Purgatory Road in a book review from The Mail & Guardian, under the heading, The Rise of the Slasher. It suggested that the four books the reviewer had lumped together were all jumping on some sort of gory story bandwagon.
On Sunday, I drove the Peugeot to the CTBF on the same route as Rick had taken me the day before. I couldn’t get hold of Andrew Marjoribanks but attended a lecture on self-publishing and met one or two interesting people. In the early afternoon I phoned Dirk and got the directions to his home. What a lovely job he has done in renovating the house from a single storey to a double with a garage beneath it.
The following day, I stood Tom and Shirley to lunch at the fish & chip place called ‘Kalky’s’ in Kalk Bay after we went to see the bookshop there who were not interested in selling my books. Thanks to Tom and Shirley’s persistence, I placed 5 of each with a coffee shop in Fish Hoek and 10 of each with a chain store called The Write Shoppe in the Longbeach Mall which had 4 other branches.
After dropping off the orders at the coffee shop and The Write Shoppe on Tuesday, I got back to Tom’s in time to see Andy, his son, and Colleen arrived. That was a treat because I had missed their wedding there in Cape Town back in February, while holding the fort at home when Sheila and Neil had come down for the event.
By Wednesday evening I was back in Haarlem, not having found any more receptive bookshops for my novels along the way. That was the start of my rather futile attempts at book sales and marketing, but interesting, never-the-less.