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A few years ago cupcakes were all the rage. Adorable little cupcake shops were cropping up everywhere and customers were flocking to them. I admired these entrepreneurs and their gumption for transforming their passion–baking cupcakes–into a business.

But what if Hostess (owned by a venture capital firm before it went bankrupt) declared it had the only real recipe and process for baking cupcakes? What if Entenmann’s (which produces all manner of baked goods, including cupcakes) declared only its processes could produce a quality product? What if these large companies spent millions upon millions in advertising and marketing to convince others in the baking industry that any cupcakes not produced, marketed, and sold by them were somehow not only of poorer quality but that they damaged the whole cupcake baking enterprise? That they were dangerous! That entrepreneurial cupcakes were more fattening and led consumers down the road to laziness and sloth and that with all those inferior and dangerous cupcakes lurking out there, how were lovers of baked goods to sift through the chaff to find the wheat of goodness that they themselves produced?

That’s crazy, you say. Well….

Let’s say your passion is not baking. Let’s say your passion is writing. And let’s say you’d love nothing more than to write a novel and publish it yourself–hire editors, proofreaders, designers, and, being entrepreneurially minded, sell it directly to readers. Just a few short years ago, you’d have been be a pariah in the publishing world. How could you–a writer?!–deign to write, package, publish, and market your own book? How could you create an actual business around that when obviously (the publishing world would say) your recipe and your ingredients and your processes are so inferior as to be dangerous to the culture at large. How could you even KNOW if your product is ready for the marketplace if it hasn’t gone through the processes established by the major players in the industry? And publish your OWN WORK?  It’s permissible to start a small press and publish OTHER people’s work–but your own? No, no, no! No writing and publishing for you–unless your work has been vetted by the Hostesses and Entenmann’s of the publishing world. Unless you hand over your recipe to a traditional, established company to produce, your work is of no value at best and dangerous at worst.

Sound ridiculous?

Unfortunately, it’s not. That attitude still exists in some corners of the publishing world, and the only reason it changed at all is because of Amazon–that horrible, terrible, no good, very bad Amazon that developed the technology and opened up a platform to entrepreneurial authors and revolutionized an industry. Of course there is a difference between baking a cupcake and writing a book. So let’s expand the cupcake example out to cooking in general.

Imagine the presidents of such culinary behemouths as McDonalds, Applebees, Olive Garden, Chick-fil-A and Subway taking a stand and telling the world that Grant Achatz–owner of Alinea in Chicago, recognized leader in molecular gastronomy and someone who has revolutionized cooking and dining–and his recipes and his processes are of dubious quality and that he is a threat to the culture of food because he didn’t franchise his restaurants through one of their companies. After all, although he might have a degree from an established culinary school, he can’t just run around starting restaurants using his own recipes. That’s, horrors, self-restauranting! 

The idea that any group that publishes books by “writers” like Snookie and the latest YouTube cat sensation owns the moral high ground and should be taken seriously when they run around declaring they are the only true arbiters and protectors of culture is ridiculous. And the idea that they need to be protected from competition is even more ridiculous. We’re in the middle of a publishing revolution, and, I’m afraid, as in most revolutions, blood (metaphorical, in this case) will be spilled. War cries are echoing far and wide as publishers and authors take sides, declare loyalties and allegiances, and brand one side as the devil incarnate and the other as innocent victim.

I have, my whole life, been a writer. I’ve written bad poetry, worse short stories, and started and completed several novels. But it was only in the past five years or so that I ever attempted to actually get published. I polished off a novel, sent queries to about twenty agents and editors, got lots of rejections and a few requests for partials and fulls and even an if-you-edit-this-a-bit-more-and-send-it-back-we-think-it-will-fit-our-list maybe from one editor. So I hired an editor, reworked the manuscript, and then didn’t send it back. Why? Because in the meantime, technology changed, Amazon single-handedly created a forum through which authors could publish their own work, and, after looking at the book covers and reading plenty of books repped by or published by those I’d queried, I decided I could do the publishing end of the job just as well as they could. After all, don’t I run a small press? Don’t I publish other people’s work? Why should I be ashamed to publish my own? As a restauranteur, would I only prepare and serve other people’s recipes?

Oracles of Delphi, my historical fiction set in 340 BCE in Delphi, Greece and put out under the name Marie Savage, will be published by an imprint of Blank Slate Press this fall. Why the pen name? Because I’ve also co-written and am in the midst of self-publishing a sci-fi/YA trilogy with my daughters under the name K. Makansi and I don’t want to confuse the two author names in the marketplace.

I have great admiration for entrepreneurs in general. Folks who put it all on the line to create a new business and to put themselves out there. Take indie bookstores. I have often dreamed of owning my own bookstore/coffee shop/wine bar/art gallery and so I’ve always sympathized with and recognized the challenges independent bookstores face when competing against huge retailers. Just a few years ago, it was Barnes & Noble and Borders who were the big boys throwing their weight around and the indie bookstores had to compete against their ability to discount titles given that the big publishers gave the big chains better terms because of higher volumes.

Bookstores–big and small–are wonderful. But back in the old days (last year), your local indie was most likely the only bookstore to take on a book (let alone feature it) by a local entrepreneurial author. It hadn’t been vetted was one reason, and it might be awful (and often times I’m sure it was awful) was another. Or it had to be sold on consignment, which is a pain. And if a store took one self-published book, it would open the floodgate to a gazillion others begging for limited shelf space. Certainly no chain bookseller would touch a self-published book–at all. Period. Unless, of course, somehow the book had sold a gazillion copies already.

But now?

All that has changed thanks to Amazon. Amazon, along with advances in digital printing and companies such as Ingram/Lightning Source, created opportunity for entrepreneurial authors–authors that everyone else in the publishing world treated with scorn–and  now every big publishing company on the planet wants a piece of that same self-pubbed author’s purse. These big publishers are snapping up companies like Author House or are creating their own paid self-publishing platforms. Amazon created a market for authors to reach readers (and in the process allowed many authors to make real money off their writing for the first time ever) and the very publishers who decry Amazon’s dominance are scrambling to get a piece of that same market–a market they wouldn’t have touched with a 100-foot pole just a few short years ago.

Yes, Amazon’s dominance in this new marketplace is real, but I suspect part of the reason large publishers fear that dominance is because through the democratization function of the self-publishing platform, power has shifted away from the publisher as gatekeeper to the author as creator. This is, as a small publisher and self-published author, a welcome development, and I don’t understand how anyone who believes in free and unfettered access to the marketplace could see this as a bad thing. With lower barriers to entry, there will be more suppliers and more choices for readers, a more competitive market that will drive authors to strive to improve their work in order to stand out from the crowd, and lower prices to the consumer. And, readers, authors, publishers and retailers benefit (not to mention trees) when books sitting on “online shelves” don’t have to be returned and pulped to make room for the next big (or small) thing. At the end of the day, the best thing for the marketplace is a diverse ecosystem in which consumers have the widest choice, authors have agency over their product and are valued and monetarily rewarded for their creative content, and publishers and retailers can make a profit. There will naturally be give and take on all sides as the marketplace evolves.

My mantra in life is that if you meet anyone who insists they KNOW the THE TRUTH, turn and run the other way. Life is complicated. Nothing is black and white. Markets are messy. Companies put their own self-interests first. If publishers believe Amazon is out to ruin them and, in the process, usher in the end of books and of culture itself, why continue to do business with it? If authors truly believe Amazon is the devil incarnate, why are they not stipulating in their contracts that small independent bookstores be the only outlets for selling their books?

As  a reader, I ADORE brick and mortar bookstores (especially the small, often quirky indies!), and I have spent countless hours in them browsing, finding new gems to read, and generally soaking up the ambiance. But, as an author, I THANK my lucky stars that Amazon has revolutionized the technology to democratize publishing and to give writers like me (and my co-authors) the ability to compete for readers without bias or without being segregated or scorned for daring to be entrepreneurial. As a small press publisher, I LOVE BOTH indie and chain brick and mortar stores AND Amazon and other online retailers for allowing me to connect the authors I believe in with the readers who will enjoy their books.

I’m not great at baking cupcakes or at creating innovative recipes, but as a writer and a publisher–both of other people’s work and of my own–I shouldn’t be ashamed of the desire and the drive to be entrepreneurial, and I am thankful that Amazon created the market environment in which I was able to transform my passion into a business.

Now, I need a cupcake.

 

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It was a packed house last night for the KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club hosted by Charlie Brennan featuring Kevin Killeen and musician John Pizzarelli, author of World on a String: a musical memoir. Both Kevin and John were entertaining speakers and happily stayed after to meet readers and sign books. And Kevin graciously gave a shout-out to Jean Ellen Whatley and her book, OFF THE LEASH, and a gave a great plug for Blank Slate Press and our mission.

And I want to extend a HUGE thank you to Left Bank Books for doing such a great job on handling the book sales.

I would also like to say a word about best laid plans and the perils of proofreading in a hurry.

The best laid plans are that every project we undertake is completed without a hitch. Well…we worked like frenzied people to get NEVER HUG A NUN ready for all the holiday events and book promotional activities, and, as it often turns out when people work in a hurry, we let a few typos slip through uncorrected. I feel absolutely horrible and awful and terrible (etc.!) about it, and, as Kevin so elegantly puts it, we feel like we’ve shown up to a fancy dinner party with mustard on our shirts.

So what? Everyone makes mistakes, right?  I can rationalize it away and say that I can’t pick up any book, even by a Bix Six publisher, without finding typos. But that’s just lazy thinking. And one thing a small press publisher cannot be (and survive through the day) is lazy.

We’ve submitted corrected files to the printer and the next print run will have the problems fixed. But, in the meantime, we’d like to make it right with our readers. If you’ve purchased a copy with errors in it, please send me an e-mail (kbmakansi @ blankslatepress.com) and I will send you a COMPLIMENTARY PDF OF THE BLANK SLATE PRESS BOOK OF YOUR CHOICE: Dancing with Gravity, Slant of Light, Off the Leash, Never Hug a Nun, or the novella Driving Alone. 

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Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12
Kevin Killeen - KMOX-Fontbonne Book Club - 11.27.12

 

As always Mike Shatzkin’s blog makes for fascinating and illuminating reading–especially for a relative newcomer to publishing trying to build a business in such a rapidly changing field. I just got around to reading his post from 11/26 (Peering into the future and seeing more value in the Random Penguin merger) and found, at the end, a concise articulation of one of the observations I had on the recent presidential election.

Prior to the election, many of my conservative friends went on and on about Romney’s business and managerial experience while I contended that running a business is not the same as governing. But they were not convinced. Several predicted a landslide Romney win based on the their candidate’s superior management abilities and his campaign’s high-tech GOTV program.

But…they were wrong. The community organizer and law school professor beat the private equity millionaire–precisely because the Obama team managed the campaign better and leveraged their data better. The Obama team won precisely because they did the things Romney said he could do and they did them better.

So, you’ll have to read Shatzkin’s post to understand how it relates to the future of publishing, but I want to quote from his political observation on the role of management and data here:

“Among the many reasons that President Obama convincingly defeated Governor Romney was the superior execution of the Obama campaign around data and operations. They were simply better analysts and managers and they executed better than the Romney campaign.

So can we please put to rest the notion that “getting rich” or “running a business” is a proxy for “management skill”? The most frequently-offered argument from Romney was “I’m a successful businessman so therefore I can run things better than this guy who is community-organizer-turned-public-official.” Actually, Governor, you couldn’t. You didn’t.

The last presidents we had with business experience were (working backwards) George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, and Warren Harding. There is no historical evidence in there that shows that business success correlates with the ability to run the United States government. Or even, as we’ve just been shown, an effective national campaign.”

We’re delighted to report that we’ve got a lot going on in the next couple of weeks. First, as described in our last blog post, we’re excited to participate in the Saint Louis Literary Consortium’s 2012 Holiday Book Signing at Left Bank Books on November 9, 10, 11th. We hope everyone in STL will come out and support a great independent bookstore, wonderful literary organizations, publishers and, of course, local and regional authors.

BSP authors Steve Wiegenstein (SLANT OF LIGHT) and Jean Ellen Whatley (OFF THE LEASH) will be in store to sign their books. Jean will be signing from 6 – 8 pm Friday evening, and Steve will be signing from 12 – 2pm on Saturday. This is the perfect opportunity to buy the best gift of all–BOOKS–for everyone on your holiday list! And, even though NEVER HUG A NUN and DRIVING ALONE won’t be available for in-store purchase yet, you can pre-order your copies at the register.

Next, we’ve got another wonderful event coming up for OFF THE LEASH

 Blank Slate Press author Jean Ellen Whatley, Subterranean Books, and the Human Society of Missouri are coming together to do a book signing and to promote pet adoption. A portion of all sales will go to support HSMO’s mission. Jean will have a great slideshow and talk about how her dog, Libby, inspired her to go on a cross-country journey to rejuvenate, reenergize, and reclaim her life. Libby accompanied her every step along the way and their already strong bond became even stronger. It’s amazing how much we love our dogs!

So, if you love your dog, if your dog inspires you with his/her love and devotion, plan on joining Jean and supporting the HSMO.
>> when: November 18, 1:00 pm
>>where: 1201 Macklind Avenue | St. Louis, MO 63110 | phone: (314) 647-8800
>> Here’s a blurb from  from the Riverfront Times about her last event at Subterranean Books. And a clip in which she talks about the importance of Libby in her life and on her journey.

And the buzz is building for Kevin Killeen’s NEVER HUG A NUN

We’ve got a number of events on the schedule to make sure you can get a copy of NEVER HUG A NUN for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Yuletide, no matter what holiday(s) you celebrate, you’ll want a copy of this delightful book that celebrates the innocent mischievousness of being a kid.

>> KMOX Fontbonne Book of the Month Club with Charlie Brennan
> Tuesday, November, 27
> 7 to-9 p.m. at Nerinx Hall in Webster Groves
>  Featuring Kevin Killeen and musician John Pizzarelli, author of World on a String: a musical memoir
> Charlie Brennan will interview Kevin on KMOX on November 14th

>> KMOX Holiday Radio Show
> Monday, December 3
> The Rep on the Webster University Campus, Webster Groves
>  Featuring Kevin Killeen and the whole on-air KMOX crew

>> Booksigning at Webster Groves Bookshop
> Saturday, December 8 , 1-4
> 100 West Lockwood Avenue,  (314) 968-1185

>> Reading at the Newly Remodeled Central Library
> Tuesday, December 11 at 6:30 p.m., Carnegie Room (3rd Floor)
> 1301 Olive St., downtown – (314) 206-6779.

 

New Literary Group Announces Joint Book Signing
Holiday Event at Left Bank Books – CWE

The newly organized Saint Louis Literary Consortium is pleased to announce their first joint event to be held in conjunction with Left Bank Books. The event will host publishers and featured authors on the weekend of November 9, 10, and 11 at Left Bank Books’ Central West End location, 399 North Euclid Ave, 63108. While books from each of the organizations will be available the full three days, featured authors will be present for signings at various times throughout the weekend. (Store hours are: Friday and Saturday – 10:00 am to 10:00 pm; Sunday – 11:00 am to 6:00 pm.)

“Saint Louis has a long and rich literary history, and this event is a way to celebrate continuing that tradition of excellence. We’re delighted that Left Bank Books is hosting us and giving us the opportunity to showcase local publishers and authors just in time for the holiday shopping season,” said Winnie Sullivan, Executive Director of PenUltimate Press. “For readers who love small presses and who want to support local authors—and local booksellers—this will be a great weekend.”

“This is just the first event that our new group has in the works as we come together as publishers and organizations to promote the literary arts in the Greater Saint Louis area,” Nancy Hughes of the St. Louis Poetry Center said. Along with the St. Louis Poetry Center and the St. Louis Writers Guild, participating organizations include Blank Slate Press, PenUltimate Press, Stonebrook Publishing, and Walrus Publishing.

For more information about the event, contact Left Bank Books at 314.367.6731. For information about the Saint Louis Literary Consortium, contact any of the participating organizations or Kristina Blank Makansi at kbmakansi@blankslatepress.com. Organization website addresses are: www.blankslatepress.com, http://www.penpressinc.org/, http://www.stlouispoetrycenter.org/, http://www.stlwritersguild.org/ http://www.stonebrookpublishing.net/ http://www.walruspublishing.com/.

Participating Authors

Over 40 authors will be a part of this event! A schedule of book signing times will be announced soon.

Qiu Xiaolong
Mary Ellen Howard
Tullia Hamilton
Catherine Rankovic
Matt Freeman
Curtis Comer
Angie Fox
TW Fendley
Cole Gibsen
Brad R. Cook
Peter Green
Linda Austin
Claire Applewhite
Leigh Savage
Brenda Neubauer
Liz Maloney
Faye Adams
Bill Adams
Pat Bubash
Bruce Lucas
Robin Tidwell
Steve Weigenstein
Jean Ellen Whatley
Hannie J. Voyles
Vicki Bennington
Daniel Brannan
Loretta Goebel
Wanita Zumbrunnen
Denise McCormick Baich
Steven Schreiner
Mary Ruth Donnelly
Jennifer Fandel
Susan Grigsby
Gaye Gambell-Peterson
Niki Nymark
John S. Tieman
Marjorie Stelmach
Glendall Wallace
Drucilla Wall
Eamonn Wall

This holiday season give the gift with a St. Louis touch, support your local authors!

 

It’s been a while since we’ve done a comprehensive update on what’s going on at Blank Slate Press, so we’ve got lots of big news and exciting events coming up. First up:
Blank Slate Press has joined forces with several other organizations and small presses to form the Saint Louis Literary Consortium. Our first collaboration is a book signing holiday promotional event at Left Bank Books in the Central West End the weekend of November 9, 10, & 11th. Along with featured Blank Slate authors Steve Wiegenstein and Jean Ellen Whatley, authors from the St. Louis Poetry Center and the St. Louis Writers Guild will also be on hand. Other publishers participating in the Consortium and the event include Penultimate Press, Stonebrook Publishing, and Walrus Publishing. For more information, contact Left Bank Books at (314) 367-6731.
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Also, we’re pleased to announce that we’ve joined the Small Press United/ Independent Publishers Group team and that all our books will now be distributed through SPU/IPG. This is big news for a small press like BSP, and we’re very excited about the opportunities ahead.
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Jean Ellen Whatley’s Book Launch @ Subterranean

October 29th, 7-8 pm, 314.862.6100

We’re delighted to announce that Subterranean Books in The Loop will host former KDNL/ABC-30 on-air personality Jean Ellen Whatley’s launch for her debut memoir, OFF THE LEASH. The event will held on Monday, October 29th from 7:00 – 8:00 pm. Call 314.862.6100 or visit www.subbooks.com for info or let us know you’re coming  on our Facebook event page.

Here’s the back flap description of the book:

From sea to shining sea and then some, Jean Ellen Whatley and her dog Libby set out from Saint Louis to drive nearly 9,000 miles across America to revive her life. But she’s got enough baggage to bottom out a truck: her ex-husband got out of prison just as she was getting the last kid through college, her mother and two brothers died inside a few years and she’s got another brother who she has never seen but needs to find.

With a family history of secrets and betrayals, addiction and abuse, survivor solidarity and abiding love, our unlikely heroine wrestles her life to the ground and hogties it as she frees herself from the traps of the past. What unfolds on this odyssey is nothing short of life-changing-aided and abetted by strangers on the highway, long-lost family members, cosmic playing cards and the ever-present comfort of Libby who reminds her to live in the moment.

Listen to her interview with St. Louis On the Air’s Don Marsh here. 

Jean is also going to be featured on McGraw Milhaven’s show on KTRS-AM, The Big 550 on Thursday, October 25th in the 9:00 to 10:00 segment.

Want to know more about Jean and her incredible journey? Check out her blog and watch her trailer here.

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NEVER HUG A NUN goes to press & you’re going to want to buy copies for everyone on your Christmas list!

Our official launch for Kevin Killeen’s comic novel of boy hood antics in 1960s Webster Groves will be December 8 at the Webster Groves Bookshop, and you can preorder your copy now. Call the bookstore at (314) 968-1185 to reserve your copy for the December 8th signing, or preorder online at Blank Slate Press. The book should be available in time for Christmas.

Kevin’s book will also be featured at Charlie Brennan’s (KMOX) November Book Club and will be available at the KMOX Annual Holiday Show. We’ll send out an update with specific dates & times. In the meantime, Check out Kevin’s blog and see how he feels about his “baby” going to press. Hint…it’s funny.

We’re also delighted to have a couple of wonderful endorsements for the book:

“If Webster Groves were Hannibal, Patrick would be Tom, Ebby would be Becky, and the tracks would be the river. How often does a radio guy make you think of Mark Twain? Kevin remembers what it was like to be a kid. This is fun stuff and would be great for book clubs.” – Bill McClellan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“Kevin Killeen’s utterly winning novel gives us the human comedy in full measure. Blessed with a genuine comic gift, Killeen manages to write with both hilarity and humanity. The book is a buoyant delight from beginning to end.” – David Carkeet, author of The Full Catastrophe

 “An engaging, funny, adventurous, warm and very nostalgic read. This is a book about memories, and why they never leave our hearts.” – Harry Hamm, KMOX Radio Entertainment Editor

 

Want to know more? Here’s the NEVER HUG A NUN back flap description:  

Fom falling for a girl with no-good-for-sports stick arms and beautiful penmanship, to jumping freight trains, smoking cigarettes, projectile vomiting, robbing the local Ben Franklin–and, in his spare time, trying to get to heaven–Patrick Cantwell is learning all about life at Mary Queen of Our Hearts parochial school. By the time Patrick graduates second grade, he’s practically a grown-up, complete with a broken heart, a police record, and memories of the Beatles at Busch Stadium.

Written with the same keen sense of comic timing Killeen brings to radio station KMOX’s “A Whole ‘nother Story” and the annual Holiday Radio Show, Never Hug a Nun is a sweet, laugh-out-loud look at the innocence of childhood in the leafy Webster Groves suburb of 1960s Saint Louis.

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Know someone who loves the heat and grit of hard-edged southern gothic? DRIVING ALONE is the perfect holiday gift.

Preorder a copy for everyone on your holiday shopping list who loves a great love story wrapped in the sweltering heat of the damned. DRIVING ALONE is beautiful and not a little disturbing.

Here’s what early readers had to say:

“Driving Alone is a gorgeously grim new take on redemption and romance. It is unsettling and provocative, combining the classic romance of the open road with the claustrophobia of a morality play. If Hell is other people, Driving Alone has the devil riding shotgun.” - Jared Shurin, reviewer for Pornokitsch, director & literary judge of The Kitschies

“Hardboiled, hardbitten and haunting as well as lyrically libidinous and lovingly lascivious, Kevin Lynn Helmick tackles sex and death along the lost highway the way the damned do–alone.” – Jedidiah Ayres, author of A F*ckload of Shorts

“An intense nightmare that shimmers with beauty and darkness. Helmick broils these characters in southern humidity and human tragedy until the reader is left sweating, breathless, and amazed.” – Fred Venturini, author of The Samaritan

Here’s the back flap description:

Billy Keyhoe’s luck just ran out. After beating his girl to a bloody pulp and being shot at by the clerk of Earl’s ’66, Billy takes off in his Daddy’s beat-up 66 Caddy toward West Texas, leaving Waycross, Georgia and all his troubles in the rear-view mirror. At a crossroads, he picks up a beautiful hitchhiker who seems to know more about Billy than he knows himself. The farther they go, the more Billy is drawn to Feather until he realizes he has “fallen in love somewhere out there in the night, with something or someone, or just an idea, it wasn’t clear.” But unfortunately for Billy, he discovers that even true love cannot save him, and he finally realizes he might have gone too far to ever make it back.

Preorder your copy today. 

Kevin maintains a blog at www.kevinlynnhelmick.blogspot.com.

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SoL Cover

Steve Wiegenstein makes it to the big leagues

Last but by no means least, Steve Wiegenstein’s debut novelSlant of Light continues to receive great reviews, and we’re delighted to announce that he has been invited to participate in the  Arkansas Literary Festival. We’re thrilled that Steve will be rubbing shoulders with so many amazing authors!

Besides the Left Bank book signing, he’s got several events coming up. If you’re in the neighborhood–and especially if you love historical fiction, Missouri fiction, and books about the Civil War–please stop by:

10/27 – signing at Main Street Books, St. Charles, 3-5 pm
11/13 – talk and signing, Daniel Boone Regional Library, Columbia, 7 pm

Get your copy of Slant of Light at your local independent bookstore, online at Amazon or B&N, or directly from us at  http://blankslatepress.com/how-to-buy/ .

The author being interviews for New Mexico Style on KRQE (CBS) KASA (Fox).

Today is  a big day for Jean Ellen Whatley, one of our fantastic Blank Slate Press authors. She’s back in Albuquerque, NM, her old stomping grounds, for her first book signing and for the 2nd Annual Don Whatley Memorial Golf Tournament named for her late brother. The golf tourney raises much needed funds to help some 7,000 homeless children and their families in the Albuquerque Public Schools. In it’s inaugural year, more than thirty-eight families received incentive awards from the fund administered by the APS Title 1 Homeless Project of which Don Whatley was an integral part.  Don is best remembered for his 20 years of leadership in the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.

Don’s death from cancer in 2010 was part of the motivation for Jean to quit her job, grab her dog, and embark on the 8,600 mile road trip across America to reconnect with the people and places that shaped her life–and that led to her book OFF THE LEASH. When she worked in Albuquerque, Jean was an on-air reporter (she was known as Jean Shepherd back then) for KOAT-TV.  Tonight’s book signing is the official launch of her book , and today she taped a feature on the news magazine show New Mexico Style for their author spotlight segment on KRQE (CBS) KASA (Fox) which will be broadcast the week of October 15.

The book signing will be held at Serafin’s Chile Hut on Central Ave. tonight from 5:00 to 7:00 in cooperation with Bookworks, a local independent bookstore.

Bookworks sounds like a great place: “As one of Albuquerque’s last remaining local, independent bookstores, we pride ourselves on supporting our community and putting books and people together. We hold over 300 in-store, out-of-store, and kids’ events per year, showcasing the work of major nationally-known authors and small, locally-published authors alike.”

If you’re in the area, please stop by the event or get your book directly from Bookworks.

 

 

We had two events this past week that featured our wonderful writers and that gave us a chance to give readers a peek at our upcoming release, DAYBREAK by Steve Wiegenstein. First, on Wednesday night, Anene Tressler read from her debut novel Dancing with Gravity at the Kirkwood Public Library. It was a well attended event and we even had a chance to sell some books thanks to Main Street Books in St. Charles.

Then on Saturday and Sunday, we enjoyed the beautiful weather at our first-ever booth in the Historic Shaw Art Fair. Thank you to the Art Fair organizers for letting Blank Slate Press participate and thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth to buy a book and meet our authors! Fred Venturini, author of The Samaritan, was on hand to sign books on Saturday (and sign 100 books those who participated in our Klout promotion!), and Anene was in the booth visiting with readers and signing books on Sunday. It was a wonderful opportunity to connect with old friends and make new friends among neighbors, art lovers, readers and writers from across the country. The weather was perfect, the conversation was animated, and besides some tired feet and aching backs, we had a fantastic time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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I added our presenter’s notes to the slideshow Jason Makansi used at the recent St. Louis Publishers’ Association meeting. The meeting’s focus was public speaking and how authors can use events to promote their work. Let us know if you have comments/ideas/suggestions on the presentation or gives us your ideas for ways authors can use events to engage their readers.

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Anene just wrote a fantastic blog entry about why Borders went bankrupt (there are other reasons, but she touches upon the big one). She talks a bit about all the effort that Borders made to draw people into their stores: The coffee, the food, the free wi-fi, the comfortable setting, etc. And she discusses how, unfortunately, many people abused those perks instead of buying books at Borders.

Now, Borders closing might have a positive impact on independent bookstores…if those bookstores learn from (a) human nature and (b) Borders’ mistakes. Here are a few ideas:

  • Don’t give away wi-fi. But also don’t charge for it. Give people access to wi-fi after they buy a book or coffee.
  • Same thing with author events. Don’t allow people to attend author events for free, but don’t charge them directly. If people buy a book before the event (any book), they get access to the event.
  • Work with e-retailers. It’s easy for anyone to walk into a bookstore, browse for a book, and then hop online on their Kindle or iPhone and buy the book or ebook for cheaper. So make deals with the major online retailers so that when someone uses your wi-fi to buy a book, you get a cut of the profit on the back end.
  • Anene points out that some people bring books and magazines into Borders to read, then they leave. I don’t know how you prevent that without looking like an ass, but frankly, that’s not cool, and there needs to be a way to cut down on it.

Overall, though, I think we need to remember that books are entertainment. Us publishers can’t simply expect people to buy our books because they’re there. We need to publish books that exceed the entertainment value of the alternatives–books, movies, music, etc. That doesn’t mean that we stop signing literary authors. It simply means that we need to publish books that immerse people into a world in a way that movies and TV cannot.

If you think about it, it takes two hours to watch the Captain America movie (which is actually quite good). But it takes 6-8 hours to read your average book. In terms of hours of entertainment, the book is the clear winner. So let’s keep publishing books that make people not want to put them down for 6-8 hours. If we keep doing that, people will go to bookstores to find those books, and bookstores will survive.