Good morning dear reader and welcome to a cold and sunny morning in North Yorkshire. I hope you are well and enjoying the beautiful colours of autumn. The colours of the leaves are spectacular at present and I love scrunching through them when out walking around our village. I try to restrain myself and behave as an adult should, but if there's no-one about I kick my way through the piled up leaves with huge enjoyment. Perhaps a second childhood beckons.
As you might be aware, dear reader, as an independent author, placing and selling my books is very much down to me. Yes, they are available on Amazon, but by the time the supply chain has taken their cut, my payday is derisory. So, the best way for me to market my books is to do it in person by giving talks to small groups and selling books afterwards. Pre-Covid, I enjoyed these events as reading and talking romantic comedy and 'Tales' made for a laughter-filled evening and who doesn't like that? However, we are not out of the Covid woods yet and I am reluctant to stand and give a talk in a warm people-filled room without wearing a mask. So ... what to do?
I had a brainwave. Sell books outside in the fresh air, from my own bookstall. And the venue? The local railway station. A busy place, lots of people passing by and I could catch the Christmas shoppers. So, I approached the Station Supervisor with this idea and, God bless his cotton socks, he was very enthusiastic about the project and supporting local enterprise. He suggested Saturdays as their busiest days and showed me where I would be best placed to set up shop. He was 99% certain the project would be approved, but would have to check with his boss when he returned to work after his man flu.
I was rejoicing and went home to try out book displays on my tables, etc. A week later the boss returned to work and thankfully, he too was enthusiastic about the bookstall idea. Only he would have to check with his boss!! Aye, and there was the rub. The next boss up uttered the fateful words, "Health and Safety". Firstly, I would have to get a Traders Licence from the Council, (fair enough), and also Public Liability Insurance for five million pounds, arranged through the Railway Company. As the Station Supervisor wryly pointed out when breaking the news to me, 'What are you going to do, drop a book on their heads?' Obviously book selling must be a dangerous activity if I have to be insured for five million pounds. The very act of passing a book to a customer and receiving cash in return, or worse, they hold their bank card over my card reader ... Mmn, yes, I can see a risk assessment excercise must be carried out and sharpish!
I suspect the Insurance costs may be prohibitive, but, as the saying goes, 'when life gives you lemons make lemonade'. (Actually I prefer the one that says break out the tequila and salt). I am not giving up hope yet and have begun enquiries with the Railway Company. I hope that one day I may have my stall at the Station and in the meantime I am studying form, spending some time on the platform with my notebook and pen. Passengers probably think I am trainspotting. Of course, I'm not, but I'm having a high old time gathering up new characters for new books and sizing up the potential market for future sales. Fortune favours the brave. I hope it also favours those half freezing to death on the railway platform!
Ah well, I will let you know if anything comes of my endeavours. At any rate it is very heartening to find there are still good people in this world, willing to help. Mr Station Supervisor I salute you as one of the good guys. In the meantime, my dear reader, have a good week and have a good kick about in the leaves - very satisfying. No risk assessment or elf and safety in sight.