Category Archives: indie worlds

For Authors of Indie Presses #2: Book Store Reading Reality

Life has been so utterly cuckoo I am just now getting the second post out of a series I started two weeks ago. I initially thought of this as tips for Indie Authors and Authors of Indie presses, but really, I should just call it REALITY CHECK.

The series was inspired by my own reality check as an author, as well as an excellent interview I heard by Cory Doctorow

This post is a continuation of the last one on making public appearances.

#2 Bookstore Reading Reality

Many debut authors dream of that successful bookstore reading: a packed house, a line of people out the door waiting to get their books signed. Even I was prone to such fantasies.

You may be surprised to learn that for a debut author (especially an indie author or author of a small press), bookstore readings are really not the best way to go. Not even close. Especially in a town where you don’t have many friends or much family.

empty chairs

Think about it… how many times have you gone to a bookstore reading by an author you aren’t familiar with? You may have heard new and unfamiliar authors read at conventions and festivals or at readings where they were featured with other authors you knew, but generally, one doesn’t drive across town to a bookstore for an unknown author. The author may be brilliant, but people just have too many other things vying for their attention.

You will realize this after your first bookstore reading with 5 people in the audience (and one is your publisher/mother/spouse/best friend).

Don’t despair. Once after a reading of low attendance, one of the bookstore workers told me the first time he ever hosted Chuck Palahniuk, only one person showed up.

The best way, I think, to get an audience, is for you to find an audience that already exists. For instance, if you can do school assemblies, you have a built in audience. There are also book clubs who like author guests and regular reading series that pair open mics with featured readers. Readings at conventions and festivals can still be iffy if you are unknown, so see if you can read within an event that features several authors. That way you all increase your audience.

If you insist on having a bookstore reading, here are a few tips to make it go better:

**stick with smaller, indie bookstores
(unless your chain store is very community oriented)
**find out from the store what nights have generally brought in more people
**pick a store close to where lots of your friends and family live
**use some kind of e-invite or facebook event page to invite folks
**DO YOUR OWN MARKETING (don’t expect the bookstore to take care of this)
**if your book is special interest, contact that community to let them know
**do OTHER events around the community so people will know who you are

The best bookstore reading I did was a packed house at Ms. Figs after I had done two school assemblies in the area. The kids got excited and brought their family and friends.

Even authors with large publishers and multiple books sometimes have trouble getting audiences at bookstore readings. I think it’s best to find the audience rather than have the audience find you.

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For Authors of Indie Presses #1: Public Appearances

I’ve been mentally jotting what I’m learning about the realities of authorship since the launch of my first children’s novel with Hydra House (not Random House’s new ebook imprint Hydra). I deliberately chose to work with a small press for various reasons and I’ve been enjoying the ride ever since, though it is a long, slow, challenging ride.

I had enough jottings to put together a list of Tips (AKA “reality checks”) that I hope you find useful.

#1 – Make Public Appearances

Make as many public appearances as possible. Social media is competitive. Large presses have bigger advertising pockets. People are inundated with information and marketing ploys. Put a face to your work, make relationships, and support others. Appear at other writer’s readings and book launches. Be the support you want to have.

Offer to be on panels, propose courses at local conventions, visit schools and festivals and literary arts centers. Be gracious and grateful. Be nice to have around. I’ve often bought the work of authors I’ve met simply because I enjoyed our conversation or thought they had some useful insight.

(Here’s a bonus tip for those who have trouble being consistent bloggers because of time constraints: work your posts into a series)

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Interview with Indie Debut Author Jo Ramsey

I’m putting all my White Forest novel series and Indie Debut 2010 information on my new website: The White Forest

If you have a moment, take a look-see. I just posted an interview with debut author Jo Ramsey, who is the first Indie Debut 2010 to launch a book this year with her YA metaphysical fantasy Connection.

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Indie Debut 2010’s First Debut of the Year!

(First off, anyone else out there wear potentially conflicting hats in the blog-o-sphere? I started The Accidental Novelist so I could talk about the writing life ups, downs, ins, outs… for an adult audience. It’s not all that risque, but definitely has contained some mature themes. Because my novel is a children’s novel, I’ve started to watch what I say around here. I’ve never been one to censor myself, so I’m having conflicting thoughts. Eventually, I’ll move all my kid-o-sphere material over to my novel series website: The White Forest)

AND NOW…

I belong to a fabulous collective called Indie Debut 2010. We are a group of writers who all have debut children’s books being released in 2010 by Small and Independent Presses.

The collective was started due to the marketing and distribution challenges of small presses. In my previous post, I mentioned how small presses couldn’t usually get on the shelves at major bookstore chains and were reliant upon online distribution, social media, and good old grass roots footwork.

When asked in a recent interview why she began the group, founder Amy Cook stated:

Frustration.  I saw how much buzz was being built by marketing groups like “Class of 2K9” and other debutante groups.  I wanted to join but was told over and over that I wasn’t eligible, because my press wasn’t listed in Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market.  A lot of small presses aren’t…  I knew I couldn’t be the only person in this situation, and being a die-hard ‘do-it-yourselfer’, I thought I’d put together my own group. I also hoped we might be able to capitalize on the recent groundswell of support for Indie Bookstores to generate publicity for our publishers and our books.

The first book to launch out of this group is Jo Ramsey‘s metaphysical fantasy YA novel Connection, which will be released next Friday (the e-book was already released last week). She’s been doing a blog tour this week and will be over at my new website: The White Forest this Friday.

This is so very exciting for us. There are a total of 12 of us for 2010 (and one author on board for Indie Debut 2011). It’s also a lesson that when we start to feel alone, frustrated, or overwhelmed we can always create a community of like-minded people and work together to ease the pressure.

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