I am pleased to welcome Guest Blogger Jude Johnson. Jude, the granddaughter of a curandera, a Mexican healer who uses herbs, psychology and a little bit of mysticism, incorporates a bit of family legend into her Dragon & Hawk series. Currently, Book One, Dragon & Hawk, is scheduled for ebook release by Champagne Books in April 2011, with print publication following. Rest assured, Books Two and Three are already written.
Today, Jude asks and answers the question: What Now, Brown Cow ~OR~ Where the &#$* Am I Gonna Sell My Books
Borders Books has declared bankruptcy and is closing more than 200 stores. Barnes & Noble is in such dire financial straits that they are not paying shareholder dividends and are actively seeking a corporate buyer. (Ref: TIPS for WRITERS by Jerry D. Simmons, February 24, 2011, www.WritersReaders.com.)
The publishing business is about as stable as the Middle East at the moment.
The accessibility window for small publishers and indy authors to chain bookstores is now as big as the wee door to Wonderland when Alice is ten feet tall. But we are talking print books here. A revolution has been slowly gathering momentum over the past five years, and it’s called ebook publishing. It has exploded online these past two years, and with the demise of Big Box Bookstores such as Borders and B&N, online publishing will accelerate to Mach Four. As with all revolutions, there will be convolutions, protests, and wailing at the winds of change. And as with many revolutions, there will be grievous loss. Remember Wherehouse and Sam Goody record stores? Remember Blockbuster video? Well, you’ll be remembering Borders and B&N in that category too, and within five years.
So where the &^*% are you going to sell your books? Amazon, of course, though they’re quite akin to doing business with Louie the Loan Shark. The saavy author is going to make sure they have an online presence and a local connection with independent bookstores. Yes, you read that right—indy bookstores have survived and will continue to as long as there are people who love the printed word. Go buy books there. Get to know the manager and workers, send friends there to shop. It’s a mutual relationship: the more business you send their way, the more reason they’ll have to carry your books.
Speaking of your book, make sure it is the best product you can put out there, whether you’re dealing with an established publisher or doing it yourself. ESPECIALLY if you’re doing it yourself. The easier it is to publish a book, the more crap is going to be out there. Don’t allow sloppy, shoddy work to be “good enough.” It isn’t, and it will brand your work as bad like a full-color tattoo—and be harder to erase. Hire an editor, and if you’re working with a publisher of any sort, go over your manuscript with a super-fine toothed comb for every typo, slipped comma, or missed quotation mark.
Be the cream of the crop, not common crud, and your reputation will slowly build into a fanbase.
This is how authors will survive the revolution. Quality rises, consistency builds, and consideration wins respect. Be kind to your local indy bookstore. Be positive and consistent with your online presence. If you have a blog, post regularly. If you’re on Facebook, have a fan page and let people know you’re alive and working on things. If you have local events, announce them and invite everyone to drop in, and if they don’t want to buy your book encourage them to buy something. Yes, it’s going to take a while, but isn’t staying power the point?
There’s more to life than big chains. Enjoy the local flavor and support your independents. We can all keep books flourishing if we work together.
Author of DRAGON & HAWK
due April 2011 from Champagne Books: www.champagnebooks.com