There’s still time.
Post a comment over at Faster Than Kudzu before FRIDAY at Midnight, EST, and you could win a SIGNED COPY of my book.
It’s going to be a gorgeous weekend here in Dahlonega, with a high of 70 on Saturday, plenty of colorful leaves still on the trees and an abundance of golden autumn sunlight all weekend long. We have local wineries with tasting rooms on the square. We have incredible restaurants. We have options to explore art, history and nature galore.
If that’s not enough enticement, this weekend is the 9th Annual Dahlonega Literary Festival. It’s free, free, FREE! Come on, you KNOW you want to come join us! Check out the full details here.
Here’s what I’m looking forward to this year:
On a personal note: Mike and I met at this festival three years ago so it will always be near and dear to our hearts. (Note: Any man who invites a writer to a literary festival for a first date is more precious than Dahlonega gold.) Since we now live within walking distance, we will be volunteering &/or attending events for the entire festival. We really, truly and fervently want this festival to continue to flourish and grow…otherwise, how will we celebrate our anniversary in years to come? If you can’t join in the fun this year, please consider supporting the festival in other ways.
Now I’m going to take my turn and describe the bookstore I’m planning to create as soon as I win the lottery. Or find a rich relative to
bump off invest in my dreams. Or work up the nerve to beg for dollars in the Shark Tank.
I’d start building my bookselling paradise around three little words: Espresso Book Machine. Have you seen this thing?!?! It’s the one, super incredible ingredient that could guarantee my bookstore’s success. Check it out!
It’s kinda like Redbox for books! Okay, reality check. It’s expensive…REALLY expensive. And it doesn’t have the ability to print every book that’s currently in print. But I’m telling you, if they ever figure out a way to link Amazon’s vast inventory of new books to this whiz-bang baby….WOW! Book buying (and selling) UTOPIA!!
Of course, I wouldn’t be able to let the unwashed masses browse or cough or drool over my lovely literary machine. So I would need lots of touch screen browsing for books.
Shhhhh…Can you hear the traditionalist book lovers whimpering right now? “Oh, no! No, no, no. I don’t like touch screens or online shopping. I’m old-fashioned! I need the pleasures of touching and fondling many books before I can buy one!”
STOP the whining! I could easily print color versions of the front and back covers of most new releases, classics, IndieNext favorites, local authors, award winners, etc, etc and laminate them so that my touchy-feely customers may lovingly stroke and caress many book covers…while I would only need to invest a FRACTION of what it costs for an independent bookseller to order a decent stock of books in today’s market. And I LOVE a healthy mix of old and new, so I would definitely include a Used section in my bookstore.
Check it…that’s same day access to an unlimited inventory of books AND plenty of physical books to touch. Woo hoo! Everybody’s happy!
Next most important ingredient: Location, Location, Location.
Here is where my business sense checks out and my emotional, environmentally conscious, community-minded, mystorical soul checks in. My bookstore simply MUST be located in a historic building. Remember this Cleveland, GA beauty? Even better, the historic Hillcrest home in Dahlonega, GA. Why go historic? Because, in my bookstore, there must be:
Why? Just BECAUSE. Historic properties vibrate on a whole different frequency than normal retail space…they whisper softly of possibilities.
Okay, what else?
I’m an animal lover, so there simply must be a rescue pet (or two) who calls my bookstore home. I love rescue cats and there’s always a plethora of homeless felines. That said, there used to be a ridiculously sweet rescue greyhound that greeted the customers at “M” is for Mystery bookstore in San Mateo, CA. He was something so special and unforgettable…and there are always plenty of greyhounds looking for forever homes over at Southeastern Greyhound Adoption.
What else? Like SK Quinn, I believe in offering some food and beverages:
We’re almost there. But I’d like to take it to a whole new level with a second, super incredible ingredient for success. This next ingredient is a bit of a pipe dream, possibly harder to obtain than the Espresso Book Machine, but the most important refreshment I’d want on my bookstore premises would be my beloved Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine.
Oh man! Give me a way to browse the latest IndieNext selections with a lime + raspberry Sprite Zero in my hand and I am in HEAVEN.
Honestly, I think I could make the bookstore successful from there, but there’s plenty more I’d like to do:
Oh my! The list could go on and on and on.
Last, but not least, I think I’d want to offer resources and support specifically targeted toward authors interested in indie publishing. Ah, but Indie publishing is a whole ‘nuther topic for a whole ‘nuther day. Coming soon….very soon. I promise!!
What have I missed? Would anyone else out there care to take a turn at fantasy bookstore world-building?
PS: I’ve added a new page to highlight my first novel, Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away (currently in submissions) with a brief sample. What do you think? I would love some feedback!
Let’s get one thing straight. I love, love, LOVE bookstores. And I love them ALL.
I love indie bookstores with their fierce intellectual passion for all things BOOK. I love the dusty, dim and cluttered used bookstores with their slightly musty moldy smells and totally unpredictable inventory. I love the big mega Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million bookstores with their mind-boggling physical inventory of titles I never knew I might want to read until I walked through their front door…not to mention the magazines I never knew existed before I perused their massive periodical sections. And yes, I do love Amazon too. But not for the cheaper prices everyone keeps harping on about. I love Amazon for the incredible convenience; the ability to find and buy just about any book or ebook at any time of day in any weather from any location where I can get a Verizon signal on my iPhone.
I mean, I’m sorry all you Amazon haters and industry doomsayers, but it CANNOT be a bad thing for readers to be able to purchase books just about whenever/wherever the impulse hits.
One experienced editor from a well-established, mid-sized publishing house explained it like this (though I am paraphrasing): With the rise of Amazon and eBooks, the average consumer is reading more. People who purchased 5-10 books in 2006 purchased 10-20 books in 2011. Someone who bought only one book in 2006 probably bought two books in 2011. In other words, there has been substantial growth in the industry in the past few years and there is a huge potential for more growth. Unfortunately, everyone keeps focusing on the sectors of the industry that are experiencing declining sales instead of the new frontiers of potential.
Which doesn’t surprise me.
Bookstores, I love you. I really, really, REALLY do love you. But it’s time for some more tough love from Slay the Writer.
I want to browse your aisles and read your thoughtful recommendation cards. I want to continue to spend my hard-earned money at your cash registers. Not only that, as a writer, I want to create a product that will sell well for you. I want to find readers among those who walk through your front doors and I want to send potential readers to your place of business. I want the whole industry, including each and every one of you, to not just survive, I want you to THRIVE in a bright new evolution of the business.
Therefore, it sort of sets my teeth on edge when I walk into a new indie bookstore excited to dive into a bookish bonanza only to be confronted with signage admonishing me to KEEP OUR DOORS OPEN, or BUY HERE, BUY NOW, BUY LOCAL, or WHY BUYING ONLINE HURTS OUR COMMUNITY. Good grief!!!
It is YOUR job to keep your own door open with a solid business plan that successfully woos my hard-earned dollars out of my hand. It’s not a difficult thing to entice and bedazzle me (or many thousands of readers and writers like me) into a book buying binge. I swear, I think my Visa and my debit card jump out of my wallet and run screaming toward the cash register begging for mercy as soon as I spot an open bookstore. Focus on my adoration, my outright bat-crazy addiction for books, my desire for lovely, escapist literary interludes. You will win my dollars. Easily.
I know every aspect of the publishing industry is evolving in ways that seem threatening, dangerous and absolutely terrifying to those who want to cling to the old, comfortable business model.
That said, I wish all independent booksellers would take a lesson from Star Wars:
“Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will…”
Stop spewing your anger and hatred of Amazon’s business tactics. Stop fearing your opponent so openly. Stop attacking potential new customers who might just have a Kindle hiding in their purse. Start exploring your strengths and exploiting your competitor’s weaknesses.
Now…let’s talk about the new universe possibilities!
I read this post on The Bookstore of the Future last week and since then my brain has been bubbling and boiling with inspiration, ideas…so many lovely possibilities!
Take a moment to read the post. Go on. I’ll wait here. Don’t fake it. Read the whole thing! And don’t fail to watch the lovely Day of Glass video at the end. It is absolutely magical.
I love the optimism and simple innovative thinking in that post. In my next post, I’ll be taking you to MY personal version of the Bookstore of the Future. I have a few twists and tweaks to add to her basic premise. But that’s for my PART TWO (coming soon).
Now tell me, what do you LOVE about the old bookstore business model? What are they doing wrong? What do you fear about the brave new world of 21st century bookselling? Do you think it’s a foregone conclusion that bricks and mortar stores will never be profitable icons of business success? Or should bookstores give up on the for-profit business model and move to a fundraising, PBS-type, not-for-profit model to keep those doors open?
Before I sign off, are there any fans of the British comedy Black Books out there? Let’s take a moment to celebrate the really cranky, smug, totally disinterested in customer service booksellers of the world (because, yes, I DO love them too). Here’s a montage of scenes showing bookstore owner Bernard interacting with his customers:
First of all, let me say that my life is glorious! No, I’m not one of the 1%. But seriously, my life is really quite fabulous in the greater scheme of the universe. Look above. How many humans on this planet get to witness a sunset like that?…Over a gorgeous lake?…Less than 2 minutes from their house?
And yet, I’m not blissful or content. Right now, I am hatching a plan for 2012. They say “stunt” blogs are dead. Maybe not.
What about Creative Wellness Project 2012? Creative ways to enjoy life and feed your soul while eating delicious gourmet foods and losing weight? Would you “click in” to receive a daily tip/inspiration on ways to truly enjoy living healthy? More on that soon…but feel free to comment.
This week, there are two news stories that are causing my brain to boil in very uncomfortable ways:
Now here’s what I have to say about those two articles:
It all boils down to this:
Am floating around on a fluffy cloud of happiness. One of my most favoritest authors (who also writes one of the most hysterically funny author blogs out there – Faster Than Kudzu) is being featured in a new Georgia Perimeter College advertising campaign, complete with MARTA bus signs. She posted a contest. The first blog follower to send her a picture of her ad on an actual bus would win a whole heap of lovely prizes.
I won!!! Here’s her post: Trisha Slay is Awesome
Actually, the coolest prize of all is the fact that she put my full freaking name as a title on her blog. WOO HOO!!!!!
BTW – Joshilyn is going to be a featured author at the Dahlonega Literary Festival in November, along with some other FABULOUS authors. I’m a volunteer for this festival (and even met my sweetheart there in 2009) so expect to hear more about this year’s festival and the associated publishing conference very soon.
Wow. I’m a mess. Still in the process of moving. This is going to take much longer then previously expected.
Do you remember that whole no cleaning issue at the new house? It goes much deeper than I previously thought. And I’m not going to say any more about that right now.
Let’s have a little escapist fun:
Let me start by saying that I have submissions out to 3 amazing agents. If I get “the call” from any one of those agents, I will jump up and down and scream YES! like a freshman cheerleader invited to senior prom by the all-star quarterback she’s been dreaming about all year. (That is, once I hang up the phone and can no longer horrify the poor agent with my unmitigated glee.)
I really, really hope that happens. I do.
But…all of the experts seem to agree that this publishing process is a numbers game. Sort of like dating. You’ve got to circulate and keep an open mind. Do not hang all of your hopes on a small “dream team” of literary agents. Even with the best possible manuscript polished to near perfection and the world’s most intriguing query letter, even then, it’s still a numbers game. And I need to step up my game.
This week’s challenge: Every day for 7 days, identify at least one literary agent who seems like a good match for my manuscript, figure out the necessary submission guidelines for electronic submissions (I like to keep it green) and send a query.
Why all the work? If it’s a numbers game, why don’t I just submit to every single agent in that big, thick Guide to Literary Agents that’s sitting on my desk?
You see, the truly committed novelist in search of the right agent needs to search and search and search again. Then take all the data from those initial searches and dig into some research, then more research and then maybe research even more. It takes time. Lots and lots of time. Why? Because today’s savvy novelist is expected to target the best possible agents for what s/he has actually written. Common sense, right? Yes.
However, there are hundreds of literary agents in this country. And I don’t care what anyone says, it is NOT easy to find the agents who (1) are open to new, unpublished authors, (2) make it easy to find all the authors/novels they’ve represented, and (3) have successfully sold manuscripts that are anything like my manuscript.
Seriously, it frustrates me to no end when “helpful” people tell writers in search of literary agents to “Just look in Writer’s Market” or “Check the acknowledgments in comparable books” or “Search the agent’s names in Amazon.” Yeah, yeah. I know all that. I do all of that. It’s still a VERY time-consuming process. Plus, many of those agents who represent the “superstars” of your favorite genre are no longer looking for new clients.
Also, keep in mind that while I am working very diligently to present myself as a professional, respectful type of person to every agent I query, those same agents are receiving electronic floods of queries every day from hundreds of hopeful writers who have not even reviewed a basic “Query 101″ tutorial.
I just found a Tweet by a literary agent (Nerktwin) that says “Got query directing me to a website: ‘I simply cannot take the time daily to spend writing agents and publishers.’”
Really?!?! Imagine if a job seeker sent something like that to a potential employer. “Too busy to create a resume or cover letter. See my link.”
If I were a truly gifted tech entrepreneur, I would develop a site like eHarmony aimed at matching writers with agents (and vice versa). You know, base it on the “deeper levels of compatibility” that eHarmony’s commercials are always blathering on about. There’s no way it would be perfect. Trust me, eHarmony’s process certainly isn’t as perfect as they like to pretend. (Not that I’d know anything about that on a first-hand basis….ahem.) Still, I have to imagine there is a better, more efficient way for authors and agents to connect.
That said, this is not a rant. I am not complaining. Well, maybe I am complaining a wee little bit, but not too much. This process may be time-consuming, but it can also be quite fun.
I’m not just a writer. I’m a reader. And there are soooooo many interesting books that have been published in the past few years that I have not read. Doing this agent research leads me to many new authors. Reading about those authors leads me to books that I suddenly NEED to read. With my handy, dandy eReader at my side–zap, zip, boom! Hello exciting new book in my queue.
Anyone lamenting the eBook revolution simply must not understand how easy it has become to make impulse book purchases. Any time of the day or night!
Just a few years ago, I was keeping a small notebook in my purse with this loooooong list of books and/or authors I’d heard about or read about and wanted to remember to check out once I actually made it to a book store. I would build up this list, then walk into a bookstore–either a large independent or one of the “big box” Goliaths–only to discover that most of the books on my list were not on the shelves. I would have to special order and pick it up next Tuesday. Or call around to other book stores to see if they had the book and would reserve a copy for me. Or I could just browse around and find other books to buy (not an arduous task). Here’s the thing–I didn’t end up buying 50- 75% of those books on my list.
Now….Zap, Zip, Boom! New book!!!! I want it. I get it. Easy as that.
In the long run, I am hoping the ultimate reward for all of this research will be the right connection with the perfect agent for my manuscript. In the short-term, I am rewarding myself with LOTS of new reading material.
Oh, and even more fun for free…book trailers! In today’s publishing world, just about every new fiction novel has a book trailer. Some of them are works of art.
This is my favorite book trailer from today’s agent search:
Seriously, isn’t that amazing?! That’s what you get when a debut author is published by Disney/Hyperion. (By the way, that trailer is not new. Katie Alender has a 2nd book out and a new book trailer out there. I like the first one better.)
So, today’s query has been submitted. Am now going to sit here and imagine the perfect book trailer for Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away….
8/14/11 UPDATE: I just found this agent’s blog showing the number of queries and pages she reads. Holy mind boggle Batman! Is it any wonder many agents stop accepting queries after a few years/successful sales? For anyone who grumbles and groans about how unfair the agents are, how unfair the query process can be….read that post! I think she perfectly illustrates the agent’s side of the query equation.
Lots of good stuff going on. Too much to process/post this week. So I’m going to get by with a little help from my friends…
First, for my Humane Society/pet-loving/currently-rescue-dog-fostering friends, this is one of the funniest posts EVER from one of my favoritest authors:
Second, please concentrate all your healing thoughts toward this sister blogger’s sister:
Listen to me. Do not feel sorry or sad. Feel hopeful for her of go away!!!
Now seriously, check out this post, the 11th paragraph that starts “At Staples…” Is that not the most perfect, specific-and-yet-universal scene you’ve ever read?
Third, Steve Sansweet wrote back and he absolutely is the decentest, quirkiest, friendliest sort of guy ever! Thank the Maker!!! I love it when my super heroes talk back!!!
And Steve reminded me that any readers who love Star Wars and need to find a great book for the younger readers on their gift list would love The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.
Fourth, I will be writing a whole post dedicated to Sally Apokedak very soon. Sally is amazing and she writes a gorgeous blog for other YA writers. Sally has helped me understand many things that my Blogging 101 class never truly explained. Basically, I’m a failure at most measures of successful blogging, but that’s OK. At least I’m still blogging.
And (BLESS her heart) Sally always reads my blog and always posts comments that encourage me. She is (to me) what true Christians should be. And this praise comes from a “There are many doors to heaven” and “More spiritual than religious” type of girl.
Lastly…I HAS A SECRET!!! It’s not a writerly, publishing secret. It’s a magical, bubbly secret. I’ll share it soon. I just want to hold it close to my heart and savor it for a week or two.
Here’s my question…
Have you ever had exciting news that you wanted to keep it to yourself for a while? For no better reason than you just want to keep it to yourself for a while? Yes?
Could that be the basis for a novel? A short story? A screenplay? A flash fiction? A painting? Hmmmmmm…
Writers, artists & designers out there…Share if you dare!!
Do you remember this scene from Pretty in Pink?
Andie (Molly Ringwald): Did you say you went to your prom?
Iona (Annie Potts): Yeah, sure.
Andie: Was it terrible?
Iona: It was the worst.
Andie: (babbling) But it’s supposed to be, but you have to go, right? You don’t have to. I mean, it’s not a requirement.
Iona: A girlfriend of mine didn’t go to hers. Once in a while she gets a terrible feeling, like something is missing. She checks her purse and her keys, she counts her kids, she goes crazy. And then she realizes that…nothing is missing. She decided it was a side effect from skipping the prom.
(NOTE: That may not be the exact dialogue, but it’s close enough.)
I worship John Hughes, but Pretty in Pink is probably my least favorite of his classic 80′s Gen-X films. Even though Jon Cryer as Duckie is just freaking amazing, the overall effect of that movie left me cold. That said, 25 years after seeing it in the movie theater, this brief little scene about the side effect from skipping the prom occasionally haunts me. Why? Because I skipped my senior prom.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea. My prom night was fabulous! I would not trade that night for all the pink dresses on the planet. A group of my friends who were either single (me) or entirely disinterested in the whole prom thing went out to dinner then ran wild the rest of the night doing all the things the PSA spots warn kids NOT to do on prom night. Luckily, no police records were obtained nor permanent damage inflicted.
Wishing I had opted to go to prom my senior year (stag, of course) instead of skipping it is a lot like wishing I could be a 5’9 redhead with green eyes…it defies my basic chemistry. Still, occasionally I do get little twinge that feels a bit like regret.
This past Saturday was prom night for many of the local high schools here in northern Georgia. While window shopping in downtown Gainesville, I spotted three of the most gorgeous creatures I’ve ever seen posing for pictures on the town square. It was like watching a living kaleidoscope of ultramarine, celadon, coral and crystal. These girls had the hair, the makeup, the jewelry and the gowns to walk the red carpet. Seriously, they looked 1000 times better than Cate Blanchett in that lumpy lavender Givenchy gown at this year’s Academy Awards.
I would love to be able to show you a picture to prove it, but I decided it was just too darn creepy (and possibly even illegal) to snap covert photos of prom girls (who may not even be 18-years-old yet) in order to post them on my blog. So you’ll just have to trust me. Those girls were a living, breathing work of art.
As I was watching the scene on the square, I happened to catch my own reflection in a store window. Zoinks! Is it really that easy to zap myself right back into my high school inferiority complex? Yes, it really is. And maybe that’s another reason why I love YA literature so much…I still have such a solid, sometimes painful, relationship with my inner teenager.
Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my top 5 absolute favorite YA authors (and she’s a warm, lovely person if you have the opportunity to meet her on one of her book tours). I’ve loved every book of hers that I’ve read (even the picture book about Thanksgiving). She’s best known for historical thrillers &/or gritty, difficult subject matter (if you have not read Speak or Wintergirls, get thyself to a bookstore or your eBook seller of choice and remedy this ridiculous situation immediately), so I was surprised when I discovered a few years back that she published a very light, humorous contemporary novel entitled Prom in 2006.
The only reason I read this book is because it had her name on the cover. To say I didn’t have very high hopes for this book would be an understatement. And I was very pleasantly surprised! In my opinion, this book wins in every way that Pretty in Pink failed. If you are a Pretty in Pink fan, please don’t be insulted. Continue to enjoy Duckie’s antics in perfect happiness.
Whether you are anti-prom, prom phobic or just plain mystified by the whole prom hysteria thing, I think this book takes the subject and shakes it up in all the right ways.