I kept trying to come up with a better title than that, but I think whomever came up with “Indiependents Day” nailed it. Who am I to try to best it? I suppose I could answer that with…I’m a fiction writer…that’s who I am! But I won’t bother this time. Indiependents Day works.
I’ve decided to write a brief series of blog posts on my experience at Indiependents Day (I hate how MS Word keeps redding me on the incorrect spelling of “Indiependents” but I guess I’ll just have to put up with this). This event was sponsored by the North Carolina (The Writingest State! …again…what the F is up with the witty incorrect spellings in order to name things?) … sorry, let me start again.
This independent author event was sponsored by the NorthCarolina Writer’s Network and the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). SIBA covers the Southeastern United States and just so happened to have had their convention in Raleighwood (also known as Raleigh), North Carolina. Several of the independent authors in attendance were from other areas of North Carolina, which is admirable, because it is a loooooong state from the Mountains to the Sea.
One thing I learned about the publishing industry is that the independent book sellers are in regionally based associations. This was SIBA’s fall regional event. Book buyers in the Southeast (which really means in many cases, the bookstore OWNER him or herself) come to the event for the weekend, attend workshops, panels, keynote speakers, overpriced luncheons, and meet authors and publishing house representatives who are pushing their books. Authors can’t just show up – it isn’t an author based event with all kinds of book signings, but there are some who have been invited for various reasons.
There is a trade show also going on during the event, which includes an exhaustive list of publishing houses. There are the Big Boys, like Harper Collins…and then there are The Cute Little Guys That Could, like the small publishing house from New Orleans with the adorable representative with a British accent. The Little Guys obviously have a much smaller selection, maybe only 2 books for the Fall, that they are trying to sell to book buyers. But since I am a believer in the spirit of the entrepreneur, I appreciated seeing just how many small publishers are out there. My own publisher is based out of Indiana and is also a small publisher. A small publisher is the one that gave me a chance.
It was very hard for me to walk by A Large Publisher Who Shall Not be Named and NOT pull out my inner Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman and say, “You work on commission, right? You rejected my query letter. Big mistake. Big! Huge…” and then walk away…
The author event was well attended, especially for the first time this has been done, and it was full of very helpful information. I am going to post about each workshop topic in separate posts, but my overall experience included the following:
If you want an independent, local bookstore to carry your book or host an author event for you…never, ever ever ever bring up Amazon. Amazon is the enemy of the little bookstores. Amazon is the Walmart and the local bookstore is the mom-n-pop hardware store. “Buy Local” is more than just a slogan with independent bookstore owners – it is their livelihood, their bread and butter, their battle cry. They don’t just sell you books. They sell you a world. They sell you an experience. They sell you a relationship.
So while the public is always being told to “Buy Local” because it supports your local economy and gives back to the folks who live and work there, authors especially need to find a balance between selling their books on Amazon and then also being very supportive of their local independent bookstores. While an author is not likely to piss off Amazon …because let’s face it…it is kind of a big black hole, an author does NOT want to piss off their local bookstore and its people. Just be nice. Be respectful. Be aware of their role in your journey as an author and YOUR role in their journey as a bookseller. Your local bookstore can be one of the best and longest lasting relationships you make as a published author.
One thing that I will be sure to do – once I actually have something to sell! – is to promote, as much as I can and as professionally as I can, the indie bookstores in my state. They are entrepreneurs. And entrepreneurs are the backbone of this country.
While they are not the same as Amazon, independent bookstore owners DO have an online way to purchase books. It is called IndieBound. I had never heard of it before! And if you haven’t either, now you have.
If you are interested in supporting independents, maybe the next time you want to buy a book online, go to Indie Bound instead.
Thanks for reading…