How to get started on Etsy as a UK Seller

This is my Beginners/What I learnt from painful experience Guide to getting started on Etsy as a UK Seller. There is a lot I think you need to be mindful of when selling on Etsy that I had no clue about and had to find out for myself.

Hopefully this guide will help you get started more efficiently on Etsy and avoid a few expensive mistakes.

Get your 40 Free Listings

If someone else refers you to Etsy, they and you will get 40 free listings. If you don’t do this every listing you create will cost you about 16p. So this is a great way of listing products without having to pay and you can usually easily find a link from people but here’s mine if you need it: https://etsy.me/3d73viE.

Be mindful of Etsy Fees

You need to make sure you allow for Etsy fees in the costs of both your shipping and your products. Etsy fees are numerous and vague and will vary depending on your price point so do your research. You will be charged a transaction fee, a listing fee and a payment processing fee among others. You can use this etsy fee calculator to help you and get an idea.

Etsy set up help. Etsy Guide for Beginners. Etsy UK Sellers. How to Guide for Etsy.

Use keywords in the title of your products. I didn’t do this until TWO YEARS into my shop and boy I wish I had bothered ALOT earlier. These keywords will make your products look long and messy but they will also make your products show up for multiple searches. I saw a huge increase in orders after I did this for each of my designs. So now I put the title of the product followed by keywords associated with that fandom or design.

If it’s not handmade don’t say it is

Back when I first opened my Etsy everything I did was handmade, I printed the bookmarks and cut them myself so it was fine. But when I moved to getting my bookmarks from a supplier, I should have added a production partner but I didn’t (at first). You can keep your production partner private but make sure it’s on the listing so Etsy knows.

Delivery Profiles

If you are planning on selling on Etsy you need to work out your postage and create delivery profiles. These delivery profiles can be assigned to each listing and can show different shipping costs depending on the location of the buyer. Now I say they will show you different costs but that depends entirely on how much you charge for shipping.

My shipping is cheaper in the UK and more expensive for EU and International Orders. Some people offer free delivery and add the cost of shipping into the cost of the item. It’s up to you. Don’t stress if you don’t know how much to charge because I am just about to get to that.

Delivery profiles can be found by going to Shop Manager – Settings – Delivery Settings – Delivery Profiles.

Working out Shipping Costs

If you have a standard parcel size and a maximum weight working out delivery profiles is made a lot easier. The hard part is this – figuring out what your average weight and size of your orders would be and making sure to charge enough to cover materials as well as the postage.

For me I worked it out like this.

All my bookmarks and metalmarks are the same size just vary slightly in depth. All my products can fit into a C5 envelope or jiffy bag depending on quantity. I weighed my metalmarks as my paper bookmarks weigh next to nothing and I know they weigh about 15 grams each. My shipping costs allow for about 5-6 metalmarks in one order. If and when I add more stock I will have to adjust the pricing to cover the weight.

NOTE: Make sure to weigh the envelope/box/bubble mailer you are using as it all counts.

Shipping Labels and Presets

Once you know roughly how much each parcel you are sending can weigh (maximum) and the size of the parcels, you can then workout shipping costs and set up shipping label presets on Etsy as well as create those Delivery Profiles we discussed earlier.

You can set up default shipping presets (mine are for UK, EU and International orders) when you get postage labels for your orders. Etsy will also work out the cost when you input the weight and size of your parcel which is how you can start figuring out what to charge for shipping.

Alternatively check the Royal Mail website and they will show prices depending on size and weights – I think Etsy is cheaper in some cases though!

Shipping label presets can be found by going to Shop Manager – Orders and Delivery – tick any order – get postage labels. Note: You don’t need to purchase the label when you are making your label presets you can just exit the window and they will stay and no label will be purchased.

Customs Forms

So first off if you didn’t know any parcel you are sending outside the UK and not in the EU (this will change because of Brexit no doubt) will need a customs form filling out and attached to the parcel.

I buy all my shipping labels through Royal Mail via Etsy now but I spent a good year buying all my postage labels separate through Royal Mail Click and Drop and filling out customs forms MANUALLY before I figured out how to use it.

If you buy a label through Etsy you can get the customs form partially filled out (you just need to add the weight of each item) and it will print signed and dated which is huge time saver in the long run.

Invest in a label printer

Okay so this is a £200 investment so only do it if you have the quantity of orders to need it BUT it’s so much easier than cutting out and cello-taping labels. I bought a Dymo 4XL which is compatible with Etsy and prints 4 x 6 inch labels (black and white only as it’s a direct thermal printer). I buy compatible labels in bulk from Amazon. A label printer changed my life and has turned a 3 hour chore into a half an hour job.

Get proof of postage

Speak to your post office because if you find your shipping in bulk it can be harder to stand there with 30+ orders and get a receipt for each. There are options for you depending on how many orders you are sending and frequency. At the moment I fill out a Bulk certificate of posting and get it stamped at the post office. This just helps to cover your back in case an order goes missing and someone claims you never sent it. It also means you can claim compensation back from the Royal Mail on any orders that never arrive (in theory as I’ve never had to do this yet).

Privacy Policy

This is important for UK sellers because of GDPR but your shop MUST have a privacy policy. Etsy have one you can basically copy and duplicate into your own shop, you just need to edit it so it fits what you are doing. This is important because you are handling over people’s data and you need to make it clear how you protect that data and how you are using it.

Shop Policies

Make sure to update these immediately because if someone wants to cancel an order or return something and you don’t have them in place then Etsy will side with the buyer. My shop policies are pretty basic, you can only cancel an order before it’s shipped etc. Again Etsy will help you out with this you just need to put the data in that works for your business operations but for myself I kept most of the things that Etsy suggested.

Separate your personal and business accounts now

In the UK you are allowed to make a certain amount of money (not profit) on Etsy before you need to let the tax man know about it. A key mistake I made was not keeping my personal and business payments separate. Create a business paypal and use a different bank account, in the long run it is a lot easier when submitting your tax return. Speaking off..

Keep it legitimate and register as Self-Employed

Once I earnt passed the tax free threshold that is allowed I had to register as Self-Employed. I registered as a Sole Trader. This basically means I need to submit a tax return each January and I will taxed on any profit I made. Which also brings me too..

Keep your financial records straight

To submit a tax return you need to know how much profit you made. Which means you need to know how much money you made minus the cost of goods, etsy fees, shipping, supplies etc. You can create a pretty basic cost/profit/loss spreadsheet yourself in excel which I did for a year before switching to a bookkeeping software.

Please do your research but Etsy makes finding out how much money you actually made very difficult. Don’t go by the finances page as it actually isn’t accurate. You want to be looking at the CSV statement you can download at the beginning of each month.

I don’t want to scare or confuse you but be aware!

My bookkeeping software imports all of the Etsy records for me. You also need to keep receipts – digital or printed. Please do not procrastinate on this like I did it’s just not worth it. I also download Paypal and bank statements as proof (hence the separate accounts come in handy here).

Please leave any questions you have down below!

Everything I’ve been doing during the lockdown besides reading

I originally thought when the UK Lockdown started that I would be so productive. My job always hindered my ability to really focus on my shop and now with that out of the way (I was furloughed) I had an abundance of free time to really focus on new designs, products and pushing my shop. I also figured I would get SO MUCH reading done, spend hours on my blog and take lots of photo.

Since what else is there to do all day?

Well it’s actually been very easy to not read at all when you are busy..

Being ill

Just to get this out of the way I did contract coronavirus with my boyfriend so I spent about a week and half doing nothing but binge tv and sleep!

Taking more time for my friends

My friends and I regularly text but I have spent more time video calling them all in the last few weeks then I have in years.

Baking

I got into the habit of baking something every week. I’ve made “Healthy” brownies, Banana Bread and Cinnamon and Nutella Cake. I’ve always loved baking but quite frankly I’ve not been very good at it so it’s nice to bake something that doesn’t end up being a total disaster. Not that all my bakes were perfect, one of my cakes deflated completely!

Playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons

I am SO grateful for the timing of the new Animal Crossing as it’s definitely provided a welcome distraction. This game is so popular I’ve seen people drop £300+ on a Nintendo Switch (if they could find one as they were out of stock everywhere) just to get involved. Animal Crossing allows me to be creative whilst also succeeding goals and completely simple, peaceful tasks, plus the graphics are adorable. Now if all the villagers could stop doing yoga and weightlifting and making me feel bad about playing for 5 hours straight that would be great.

Exercising more

I luckily invested in a Cross-Trainer right before the lockdown and I have been going on it everyday (except when I was ill). I try not to leave the house unless it’s food shopping or the post office ( particularly after I was infected) so the cross-trainer has been a god send.

Watching reality TV

Honestly this is probably what I have spent most of my time on and it’s so bad but when I am stressed it helps me. When my boyfriend and I got coronavirus it hit him a lot harder than it did me and I genuinely thought he would need to go the hospital but I was worried he wouldn’t be able to. It was a very stressful time and with being sick myself I found it easier to shut my brain off and get invested in other people’s drama for a while.

Let me know how you have been keeping busy during this lockdown!

Why I love negative reviews

Negative reviews are absolutely for the reader and no one else. This is a hill most people would happily die on.

I have seen many arguments about negative reviews in my years of blogging and it usually ends up coming down to who reviews are for and if authors should know about them.

It’s quite easy to start reviewing books and thinking the author needs to know your thoughts or how will they improve their writing next time, right?

Wrong.

Some authors hate any sort of criticism even if the rest of the review is glowing, some authors think anything under five star is crap and most can agree they don’t like to be tagged as they can’t respond/do anything about the criticism being offered.

After all the book is published now, they can’t go back and edit it.

This entire argument is nuanced and there’s been bad behaviour by both authors and readers alike so my advice is simply this: Don’t stop writing negative reviews, just stop making authors aware of them.

So while I enjoy negative reviews immensely I have learned that my reviews are for me and you and no one else.

My reasons for loving negative reviews are:

They are very often hilarious

Most of the reviews I read that genuinely make me laugh out loud are negative reviews. Nothing gets people inspired like a book they hated. I’ve genuinely laughed at negative reviews for books I thought were amazing. Just because I love something doesn’t mean I can’t see it’s flaws. A perfect example of this is Readwithcindy’s reviews on ACOTAR, which had me crying actual tears despite the fact I really like that series.

What you hate I might love

A review that says everything is amazing is great for the author but doesn’t really help me discern if I will like that book. I usually know better what I won’t like than what I will like. So if someone writes an essay-like rant on a book series that they felt had too much fan service, that tells me that I probably won’t enjoy the book either. As I hate when a book series ends up playing up to the fans and loses itself.

Negative reviews can inspire new readers

Negative reviews can have the opposite effect and inspire people to pick up a book rather than put it down. I am very much a “I would rather see for myself kind of person” and I am not usually put off by negative reviews unless they mention specific tropes or themes I don’t like. EVEN THEN I might read it for the hell of it.

I think negative reviews in general appeal to a certain type of reader. I myself don’t generally read reviews until after I have already read the book. I am usually just looking to see if anyone else has the same opinion as me.

How to Bookstagram: Your questions answered.

To be honest I don’t get a lot of questions about my bookstagram. I have a reasonably well-grown account and I’ve been lucky enough to use my account to grow my own small business. I wouldn’t say I am well-known within the bookish world by any means but I wanted to do a Q+A to share how I got started. So I did ask you guys for questions and some of you did respond so here goes:

How did you grow your bookstagram? Did you start off slow or did it gain quicker than expected?

Growing my bookstagram definitely started off slow. I started in August 2017 and I had 900 followers by January 2018. After that my followers started to shoot up when I was invited into a Bookstagram pod group. They are quite popular on bookstagram as a way of beating the algorithm. My account definitely benefited from having 10 people comment on my posts daily and it also helped me as I was commenting on their posts everyday.

Now I know that interaction is key to growing an account and you definitely need people to be engaging with your content just as much as you need to be taking the time to comment on other people’s posts.

The bookstagram group I joined was actually how I met one of my bookstagram besties Sammy! and still exists today.

How did you find your theme? And what inspired you to have it as it is now?

So I’ve always used a vintage paper background from my scrapbooking days as a backdrop in my photos. I discovered I was better at flat lays than any other kind of photo and using potpourri as a prop happened when I saw other people using dried flowers and I got confused.

These three basic elements have inspired nearly every photo I have done since. I have gone through many different phases on my bookstagram but I would say my potpourri art pictures have been some of my most popular posts.

I love using bright colours and colour matching so I stuck with the rainbow of potpourri for a long while until I decided to change it a few months ago.

I’ve always admired to the out of focus, creamy, simple yet sometimes extravagant posts I see on some of my favourite accounts and so I decided to use less rainbow potpourri and more natural looking elements. My inspiration for this was out of a desire to make my photographs simpler to take. The potpourri artwork was lovely but the clean up was horrendous and time consuming.

What are some ways to gain a loyal following?

I think a loyal following can be quite hard and I am not even sure I’ve managed it myself. I can go months without really engaging with my followers at all despite posting everyday and this doesn’t help to build relationships. I do see some people taking the time to post and comment on my stuff, and I have my book friends who will DM me but I am not nearly as engaged as I would like to be.

So I guess being someone who takes the time to reply, takes the time to go onto other people’s profiles, like their pictures, replies to stories and responds to DMs. That is how you will get a loyal following.

What do you think attracts others to your profile?

Haha I honestly wish I knew as I would definitely focus on that. I am just myself. I can be ranty and opinionated, or be sharing personal stuff, sometimes I’m posting a new design or I’m shouting about an amazing event I went to.

I guess that just clicks with some people.

Her Bookshelf Challenge: February 2020

I thought it would be fun to start a monthly bookshelf challenge focused on reading the books I actually have sat on my shelves than on new releases. So if you are looking to tackle your tbr take a look.

All challenges are bookish/pop culture/fandom related which you will probably enjoy if you have the same sense of humour as me.

I watched the first season: A book series you abandoned after the first book.

I’ve already started this as I read the first book in the Mistborn trilogy last January and now I’m reading the second book The Well of Ascension.

A nice murder that will cheer you up: Read a murder mystery novel

I’ve been meaning for ages to read my Deanna Raybourn book as I love her other series.

A court of definitely not ya and please shelve properly: A book that is often classed as YA but isn’t.

For me this will be The City of Brass by S.A Chakraborty which I often see in the young adult section.

I’m just here for the pretty cover: Read a book by an author you’ve never read despite owning lots of their books.

I am going to read a book by Mark Lawrence as I own 8 of his books despite never reading anything he’s ever written. My choice for this challenge is The Girl and the Stars.

Let me know if you are participating below and what books you would read for each challenge.

Blog post ideas for book bloggers who don’t have time to read a lot

This year I set myself the task of blogging once a week.

Simple right?

Well not quite because book blogging becomes difficult when you aren’t reading enough to make new content every week and it’s even more difficult when you haven’t been able to read much the past year.

So how do you talk about books when you don’t have time to read lots of books?

Here’s some ideas to get you started.

Opinion Pieces

I’m going to kick straight off with the controversial one but we all have opinions so why not share them? The book world is never short of drama that you can offer your perspective on as evidenced by my blog here, here and here.

How to guides

I don’t know about you but I usually search the Internet because I’m looking for a solution to a problem. For example right now I’m looking for any content I can find on how to be successful on my latest venture: Pinterest. Being able to offer helpful information will always make your blog valuable. This can be on photography, content writing, best cameras for booktube, how to edit videos, how to organise your blogging activities and so much more.

Book events

I have blogged about attending VoyagerCon, YALC, Jay Kristoff signing in London and seeing Leigh Bardugo. I love doing these posts as they act almost as diary entries whilst also giving people who didn’t attend an idea of what the event was like. For these posts I’ve found it’s particularly important to remember the authors answers to any questions and any anecdotes. This is the information that will set your blog post apart and I’m guilty of not remembering enough of what authors said later!

Lists

Lists makes content easily consumable and you can pretty much make lists for anything remotely bookish. I’ve done lists for my favourite covers and book haulsto name a few. You could do lists for anything; favourite reading spots, favourite bookish merch shops, most disappointing reads, most anticipated releases, favourite ways to procrastinate reading. Thinking about your blog posts in terms of ordered lists will really help you come up with new ideas.

And if all else fails..

Ask the audience

I do this a lot recently because it’s always good to know why people read your blog and what content makes people click.

Let me know your favourite blog posts to write that aren’t focused on reviews below.

Top ten favourite book covers in 2019

You aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover but I can’t help it when books looks this good. I can honestly say I’ve bought four of the books in this list for the cover alone without having an idea what the book was about. I blame it on my designer background but I just really appreciate beautiful artwork and I can’t resist a gorgeous cover.

Here are my Top Ten Favourite books covers in 2019. Note: I haven’t put these in any order as it’s impossible to rank them!

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Deep light by Frances Hardinge

Synopsis: On the streets of the Island of Lady’s Crave live 14-year-old street urchins Hark and his best friend Jelt. They are scavengers: diving for relics of the gods, desperate for anything they can sell. But there is something dangerous in the deep waters of the undersea, calling to someone brave enough to retrieve it.

When the waves try to claim Jelt, Hark will do anything to save him. Even if it means compromising not just who Jelt is, but what he is . . .

I genuinely had no idea what this book was about until I copied and pasted the synopsis for this blog post. I got this beauty for Christmas with the gorgeous orange sprayed edges.

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Stormtide by Den Patrick

Synopsis: Book Two in stunning Scandinavia-inspired fantasy trilogy The Ashen Torment.

I’m deliberately NOT posting the synopsis for this book as it’s book two and we all know the synopsis for sequels spoils the crap out of the book before. I bought this book as I was attending VoyagerCon and was investing more in adult fantasy.

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The Binding by Bridget Collins

Synopsis: For a Bookbinder’s trade is like no other. In the house set deep in the marshes, Emmett learns the skills to make exquisitely beautiful volumes, every one as unique as the last and each holding a dark and peculiar secret: a person’s most unconscionable memories. And to Emmett, they whisper in the darkness. Then one day he discovers a book with his own name on it and is forced to choose between forgetting and the dreadful, tantalising promise of remembrance.

Conjuring a magic all of its own, The Binding is a richly imagined story of boundary-defying desire and prejudice wrapped in layers of enchantment, enigma and stunningly evoked detail. Peopled by fully-fledged characters that live and breathe from the book’s pages, it is a novel to fall in love with.

This book wasn’t on my radar at all until I started seeing other people’s copies arrive. I looked for the purple sprayed edged edition after the release and I couldn’t find it anywhere Later on I saw some on someone’s story so ending up reserving it from one Waterstones and getting it sent to my local Waterstones. If I had bothered to check my local Waterstones first I would have seen they had some in stock so I didn’t need to go through so much effort!

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Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff

Synopsis: The third book in the Nevernight Chronicles

Again I am not posting the synopsis as it will totally ruin the Nevernight series for you. This book was without a doubt my most eagerly anticipated and brutally disappointing read of 2019. You can check out my full review on my blog. Still love the cover though.

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Descendent of the Crane by Joan He

Synopsis: Tyrants cut out hearts. Rulers sacrifice their own. Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

I got this beauty in an illumicrate box and I am so glad I did because I am weak for sprayed edges.

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The True Queen by Zen Cho

Synopsis:
The enchanted island of Janda Baik, in the Malay Archipelago, has long been home to witches. And Muna and her sister Sakti wake on its shores under a curse, which has quite stolen away their memories. Their only hope of salvation lies in distant Britain, where the Sorceress Royal runs a controversial academy for female magicians. But the pair travel via the formidable Fairy Queen’s realm, where Sakti simply disappears.

To save her sister, Muna must learn to navigate Regency London’s high society and trick the English into believing she’s a magical prodigy. But when the Sorceress Royal’s friends become accidentally embroiled in a plot – involving the Fairy Queen’s contentious succession – Muna is drawn right in. She must also find Sakti, break their curse and somehow stay out of trouble. But if fairyland’s true queen does finally return, trouble may find her first . . .

I picked this book because the author was at YALC. Originally I thought this book was the sequel to The Sorcerer to the Crown so I convinced myself I didn’t need The True Queen because I didn’t have the first one. However my friend Emily and I decided to look on ebay for the Hardback of Sorcerer to the Crown and found it. So we took it as a sign to both buy The True Queen and Sorcerer to the Crown and get The True Queen signed.

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House of sacrifice by Anna Smith Spark

Synopsis: The third Empires of Dust novel

This book is a sequel so you know the drill by now. I bought this one for the same reasons as Stormtide. I was attending VoyagerCon and decided to buy the entire series after seeing this cover for the final book on Twitter. I was deliberating between paperback and hardback before my friend Sammy decided on hardback for me. I got them all signed at VoyagerCon and I can’t wait to read them.

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The Cerulean by Amy Ewing

Synopsis: Sera Lighthaven has always felt as if she didn’t quite belong among her people, the Cerulean, who live in the City Above the Sky. She is curious about everything–especially the planet that her City is magically tethered to–and can’t stop questioning things. Sera has always longed for the day when the tether will finally break and the Cerulean can move to a new planet.

But when Sera is chosen as the sacrifice to break the tether, she feels betrayed by everything in which she’d been taught to trust. In order to save her City, Sera must end her own life.

But something goes wrong, and Sera survives, ending up on the planet below in a country called Kaolin. Sera has heard tales about the dangerous humans who live here, and she quickly learns that these dangers were not just stories.

Meanwhile, back in the City, all is not what it seems, and the life of every Cerulean may be in danger if Sera is not able to find a way home.

I absolutely love everything about this cover and I didn’t know anything about the plot until now. Unfortunately it’s not a book I own..yet.

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Spin the dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Synopsis: Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.
And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

This book was very popular on bookstagram this year and yet somehow I still don’t own it.

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The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

Synopsis: The waking forest has secrets. To Rhea, it appears like a mirage, dark and dense, at the very edge of her backyard. But when she reaches out to touch it, the forest vanishes. She’s desperate to know more–until she finds a peculiar boy who offers to reveal its secrets. If she plays a game.

To the Witch, the forest is her home, where she sits on her throne of carved bone, waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant their wishes. One night, a mysterious visitor arrives and asks her what she wishes for, but the Witch sends him away. And then the uninvited guest returns.

The strangers are just the beginning. Something is stirring in the forest, and when Rhea’s and the Witch’s paths collide, a truth more treacherous and deadly than either could ever imagine surfaces. But how much are they willing to risk to survive?

I really don’t know anything about this book I just stumbled across it when I researching this blog post. However it has witches in and I’ve always loved stories with witches.

Comment your favourite covers below ♥️