Cat Connor of the Writers Plot Bookshop in Upper Hutt backgrounds the birth and development of New Zealand’s only bookstore devoted exclusively to Kiwi authors.
One day three years ago I grumbled about the lack of support for Kiwi authors and voiced this discontent at my writing group. We talked about how we’d never see our own books in shops. And then we set about embarking on a dream to create a new bookshop exclusively for new New Zealand writers – a bookshop that not only offered shelf space but was somewhere writers and prospective writers could seek advice.
The dream became a reality. The Writers Plot Bookshop is situated on Fergusson Drive in Upper Hutt directly opposite the railway station between Tommy’s Real Estate and the Cake & Kitchen cafe.
We’re a not-for-profit society and the shop is staffed by volunteers. We don’t get paid (yet). We’re open Monday to Friday, and some Saturdays too.
The shop works like this: authors make contact, and we tell them either yes or no when it comes to stocking their books. If it’s a yes, we send a contract, they fill it in and return it with the books. At the moment we have over 630 titles from 192 publishers and authors.
All our stock is taken from publishers and authors on consignment (sale or return). The shop takes 35% of the recommended retail price at the time of sale.
We’ve also staged a children’s literary festival and a writing group meets in the shop every third Saturday of the month. The group has split into two – one for new writers and those who haven’t yet finished a body of work, and the other group for published writers. The newbie group is all about motivation and getting the words written; the second group is more about the industry of publishing, marketing, and a place we can bounce ideas.
Workshops on writing, and also aspects of the publishing industry, happen through the shop when we feel there is a need. We’ve even done a workshop on creating video content for our authors.
Upper Hutt city is a fantastic place and the perfect place for our bookshop. Upper Hutt City Libraries, Upper Hutt City Council, and The Lion Foundation are a few of the people we’re grateful to for continued support, encouragement, and their belief in us and what we are doing. If it wasn’t for funding we wouldn’t be able to continue.
We’ve helped publish quite a few books for authors who need extra help but want to self-publish. They include Brian Newth and his book Moscow Story: The New Zealand story of the Moscow Olympic boycott, which gained a lot of media attention. We’ve also facilitated publication of 11 spiritual books and published three short story anthologies.
Our main focus is on bringing new authors to readers and new readers to authors. Michele Clark McConnochie went from self-published to signing with a US publisher and re-launched the first of her (middle grade) Strange Saga of Sabrina Summers series at our shop. Andrene Low writes hilarious chicklit; her Excess Baggage series is published in Detroit and London. Nikki Crutchley’s Nothing Bad Happens Here was a finalist in the Ngaio Marsh Awards best first crime novel. And sci-fi author Keith Fenwick came down from Auckland in August to launch the fourth book in his Skid Chronicles series at Writers Plot.
Authors drop in regularly to say hi, buy books, and generally touch base. We’ve met a lot of our 192 authors and publishers and keep in touch with all of them with newsletters and via Facebook. We sell all our titles in store and online at, which makes it easy for anyone outside of the region (and country) to tap into the amazing titles we have on hand.
People come in and say, “Oh, Kiwi stories.”
I reply, “No, Kiwi authors.”
The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books.
Subscribe to Rec Room a weekly newsletter delivering The Spinoff’s latest videos, podcasts and other recommendations straight to your inbox.