Talk about a reversal of what I expected.
I expected the well-established independents to show more interest in the book than the big guns. And you could almost reverse that.
Ive been to three independents: two large, well established, and one absolutely tiny, eclectic, a part of a music/book/gift shop.
Tiny independent: they loved the book, talked about readings. And have stocked it already.
Larger independents: one has taken the book and is asking 'their advisors' to read it and advise. The shop was seriously lovely... I could have bought the place.
The other showed little interest, and I asked to see their short story collections while they were doing so. I had to be shown where to go, right at the back of the shop, top two shelves, half hidden. They were all the big guns... Asham Award (Bloomsbury), a few other big publishers. No independent presses I could see. I asked about local author events. None. They only have events for writers on a circuit from the well known publishers. There was a list on the wall. All big names. I slunk out, tail between legs.
Waterstones: I called in to say thank you for featuring me in their Spring Newsletter. They were charming.
Borders: nearly didn't go in... but they do stock some Salt titles nationally so I plucked up courage. Ended up with half an hour with a seriously buzzy manager, an agreement to stock the book, to put it on the local author shelves (facing out...) and on the independent publisher's shelves.
Also: an invitation to read at the store, and a fantastic long natter about the manager's own writing (novel, fascinating stuff..) and a recommendation for me from him, research for my book... a 'biography of the Bible'. Now that was brilliant, I was seriously impressed.