Indies Or Wannabes?

indie bookstore“Indie,” by definition, means “independent.” If it’s “indie,” it’s not really looking to others to guide its conduct or operations, and it certainly isn’t bound to others in its decisionmaking or business operations. So why are indie bookstores trying to replicate the not-so-profitable models of the big box booksellers? And more importantly, why aren’t they leading the charge to support the unique (and often dazzling) work of indie authors? Why aren’t they, on the whole, leveraging the opportunities available to them in this age of self-publishing and staking a claim in the digital frontier?

Writing In A Dead World explores these excellent questions with thoughtful insight and a darn good business case. Check it out here: What’s Wrong with Indie Bookstores.

The Power Of Brick And Mortar

“Mom, can I get a book and keep it?”
— A little boy, about age 4 or 5, window shopping as I exited Barnes & Noble today.

I melted into the pavement with a big “awwwww!” His pregnant mom, holding the hand of a teetering toddler, gave a bittersweet laugh and looked at the boy, then at me. “I guess he’s not used to keeping them,” she said. “He’s used to taking them back to the library.” I walked about 10 steps down the strip mall sidewalk before realizing, “You idiot! Turn around buy that kid a book! It’s your chance to do a good deed for the day and perform a random act of kindness!” I turned around, but they were gone. Hopefully, they were inside the store playing in the books, trying to decide which one to take home and keep.

Please support your local bookstores this holiday season, even if they’re big boxes. They’re playgrounds of the imagination, the territory of curious explorers of all ages. They lure us to geographies we’d otherwise never think to venture, and on journeys to places we didn’t know existed — no matter our age or our reading level.  They’re a place to explore books in real time, where we don’t have to keep our eyes on a screen or click any buttons or worry about being disconnected. We can touch and smell what we want to buy, or might want to buy, or what we definitely don’t want to buy but do want to steal a peek at. We can take it home the same day – no postage involved. If we need help, we can get advice and ideas from a real person with a face. Bookstore workers tend to be actually helpful. I really don’t want to live in a world without bookstores. It would be a little like living in a world without spring. Let’s try to keep the toothpaste in the tube as long as we can!

Cover Reveal: BETTER by S. Walden

Second and final installment of the Too Good series!

Anticipated Release Date: Nov., 19, 2013

Anticipated Release Date: Nov., 19, 2013

Their relationship has been exposed, and now their lives are changed forever. Continue reading

Shop ‘Til You Never Drop

Penis Renuzit           Years ago, I worked in a department store. Bed and bath department. A doorway opened to the parking lot. An archway linked us to the men’s department. One day, my co-workers and I heard a frantic kerfuffle in the men’s department. “What’s going on over there?” we tittered among ourselves, straining our necks, forbidden to leave Bed & Bath before our breaks.

Minutes later, an ambulance crew burst through the door with a gurney and oxygen and medical supplies, flying toward the men’s department.

Before long, the same crew ambled back through our department, wheeling a covered body out the parking lot door.

“What happened?” I asked a colleague from the men’s department who was standing agog in the archway.

“A lady just dropped dead on our floor,” he said, stunned. “She was shopping with her family. She … just collapsed. When the paramedics arrived, she was dead.”

HOLY CRAP!

“You won’t believe what happened at work today!” I told my mom that night on the phone. “A lady dropped dead shopping in the men’s department!”

“Really? Wow! That’s exactly how I want to go!” she quipped. “I want to shop ‘til I drop!”

I gasped.

“Mom, I’m not kidding! This lady collapsed on the floor of the men’s department and died! She was shopping with her family! It’s not funny!”

“Oh, I’m serious,” Mom replied. “I think that’s a great way to go. Enjoy life with your family right up to the last minute. I can’t think of a better way to die!”

Then I realized … yeah, she was serious.

If there was an intergalactic shopping championship of the universe, my mom would nail it in seconds flat.

She wasn’t a shopaholic in the sense of “Must have! Must buy! Must overspend!” Shopping was just a hobby and a joy to her, and she was damn good at it. She could smell a bargain at 10,000 paces, but she didn’t need money to shop. She was happy just to browse and try on and oooh and ahhh – even to window shop.

Once, she bought a case of Renuzit air freshener from Big Lots for 10 cents a can. Some wiseguy packaging designer arranged a penis among the flowers on the can, and she overheard the Big Lots staff giggling about it as they pulled the cans off the shelves.

She persuaded them to sell her 24 cans. Then she gleefully gave cans of “Penis Renuzit” to her nearest and dearest friends and family.

She really did want to shop ‘til she dropped, surrounded by the people she loved.

Only half her wish came true. Leukemia got her before the mall did. Today is her birthday, and it would have been a big one – ya know, one of those major benchmark ages that ends with a five or a zero.

I went to visit her in a place far more bucolic than I’m sure she’d secretly choose for her final resting place. I think she’d rather spend eternity in a place surrounded by art or fashion or children.

But I have to believe that she’s busy celebrating in that big Skymall, with our beloved long-gone pets devotedly tailing her as she tries on St. John knits “just to see how they fit”  and honing her radar in on great deals to share with family, friends and charities. I think her birthday party is at a place where she can shop and shop and never drop.

Happy birthday, Mom. ☮

How to Maximize a Book Festival Appearance: 9 Tips

bookfestivalphoto

Don’t sit. Bring posters of your book cover. Stand your books upright. Draw a crowd. And more! Great tips for maximizing your promotional impact and sales at book festivals.

How to Maximize a Book Festival Appearance: 9 Tips.

What This Guy Says … Uh, YES!

Little things matter photo

Terrific, funny, heart-filled post about first drafts, the insecurities and strange obsessions of good writers and editors regarding pride in their work, our universal anxiety about proofreading snafus, and the joy of well-edited work. Check it out by clicking the link below!

Clean Copy.

Some Personal Lessons From “Probabililty Chain”

Probability Chain Pt1 photo        When Regan Keeter offered me a review copy of Part 1 of his novel “Probability Chain,” I did what I usually do when I’m offered an ARC: I accepted. (I rarely turn down free books unless I know there’s no chance I’ll read them.)

I recently wrote about cliffhangers and how indie lit readers seem to have an angry mob mentality about them as a literary device, despite irrefutable evidence of cliffhangers’ recurrent success in pop culture and classics – and in multiple media: TV, film, books, video games, et al. And I expressed fear that great indie writers, their work, and our collective ability to nurture future generations of critical thinkers are threatened by the current mob-minded trendiness of attacking cliffhanger-based books.

I was especially eager to read “Probability Chain” because I was so intrigued with Keeter’s risky format for his work. “Probability Chain” is a serial novel. Basically, you buy the novel in pieces. My review copy was eight chapters and 92 pages in hard copy format. Kindle downloads are 99 cents; hard copies are priced a bit higher.

I love the way Keeter’s serial model celebrates the cliffhanger. When I finished Part 1, I was invested and ready to read Part 2 (which isn’t available yet – Part 1 was just released in September). I say, “Great! Leave me hanging!” And I mean it!

In the world of indie lit, we’re all taking chances and experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. I talked to Regan by phone, and he explained that his serial novel approach is an experiment. He’s trying to find the model that works in his own niche of indie lit. I think that’s brave and necessary. We’re all trying to find a silver bullet in this new age of indie publishing. Indie authors are pioneers! Continue reading

25 Independent Presses That Prove This Is the Golden Age of Indie Publishing

Flavorwire

Independent publishing — that is, publishing whatever an individual or small group think is worthy of dumping their time and money into — is nothing new. From Virginia and Leonard Woolf starting up Hogarth Press to the early days of Farrar, Straus and Giroux championing now-iconic authors that other publishers wouldn’t touch, DIY publishing has long been responsible for some of our best literature.

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