Tag Archives: bookstore

Witty Writer Book Buttons

I discovered early on that a really good way to learn about becoming a mystery writer was to attend writers’ conferences and conventions. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made lots of friends and had the opportunity to meet my favorite authors as I scampered between classes and also sessions where authors talked about their careers and experiences, and I saw awards being presented and interviews and speeches being made and then there was—shopping! Shopping? What’s shopping got to do with anything? Well, let me tell you.

Conventions always have a book store so fans can purchase the books authors talk about during the event and I did plenty of that. But not all book stores only sell books. One of my favorites sells puzzles, jewelry, clothing (including T-shirts), even tea pots and book buttons!

I have a small collection of clever book buttons mounted on ribbons that hang from a shelf in my office, just to the right of my work space. Whenever I pause to think or rest, I can’t help seeing those buttons. They make me smile, bring me back to where they were purchased, remind me of those writers who have fulfilled my life with their stories and friendships. But I digress.

Topics of book buttons are as varied as the authors who create them. Some are about writing itself, while others have to do with a furry pet assistant, or perhaps the problem of owning too many books, or they may be quotes by famous people.

The following fit that category:

“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” —Jane Austen

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” —C.S. Lewis

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”   —Jorge Luis Borges

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”  — W. Somerset Maugham

Since I write in the mystery field, cats are common in that genre.

To a cat, “No!” means “not while I’m looking.”

Cat hair is the new black.

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Or catchy phrases:

Books: the original search engine.

Lit Happens!

Grammar Police: To correct and serve

Grammar Ninja

Warning! Anything you say can and may be used as dialogue in my next book.

The book was better.

Don’t judge a book by its movie.

First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.

Writer’s block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.

Some of my best friends are fictional.

My weekend is all booked.

If you walk a mile in my shoes you’ll end up at a bookstore.

Some more of my favorite book buttons below. Do you have favorites, too?

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Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You Can/Can’t Judge a Book by its Cover, by Carole Howard

In a bookstore in Paris, all cluttered with tomes, I was looking for Madeline … for my granddaughter. (She doesn’t speak French, but she does speak Madeline.) After I found the book I wanted, I wandered around, as if the books might be an insight into aspects of French culture. And indeed they were.

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I realized, with a shock, that the French really don’t judge a book by its cover.

Full disclosure: that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Truth is, there really are plenty of books with the same kind of eye-catching covers we have in the U.S. The ones in the photo are the old style (though a French friend tells me this kind of cover is coming back), when all the books had that same cream-colored cover. There might be an outline inside the edge, either red or blue, single or double line. The title/author might be in modestly-dressed Times Roman, or maybe something a tiny bit more exotic. But for the most part they were truly “plain vanilla.”

It started me wondering: is that a good thing?

Imagine: You’re in a bookstore, not looking for anything in particular, just engaging in some luxurious browsing. You’re drawn to the shelf of “New Fiction,” maybe. Or “Best Sellers.” Or – one of my favorites – “Staff Picks.”

And they all look the same. Fifty Shades of Gray, The Goldfinch, Deadly Adagio, The Scarlet Letter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Picture them: cream cover, stark type. No pictures to guide your choice, no colors, no fonts that hint at the genre. Mystery, romance, paranormal, erotica, literary, historical? All the same. There wouldn’t even be any blurbs from quotes to let you know that, for example, Ann Patchett liked this book so, if you’re a Patchett fan, you probably would too.

I can’t imagine I’d like this. I even have trouble when I read a digital book and don’t see the cover or title every time I pick it up (because the device keeps track of my last page read). Sometimes I even forget the title of the book I’m reading, because I see it so infrequently. And I don’t like that. Not at all.

How in the world would you choose a book if all covers were identical? Personal recommendations, yes. Books by an author you love, sure. Otherwise…… what?  I, personally, need a little come-on, like the coming attractions for movies.

Then again, some books have several editions, each with a different cover. I looked at the listings on Amazon for Moby Dick, for example, and stopped counting when I reached 10 covers.41Adtkskt7L._SL160_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-dp,TopRight,12,-18_SH30_OU01_AA160_51A2zA7DqvL._AA160_ So which edition of Bel Canto would speak to you, saying “Pick me up, buy me, read me”? I guess it’s different come-ons for different folks.

What do you think? Would it be better if all book covers, like the uniforms some kids have to wear to school to avoid being judged by their clothing, were the same? Or do you like to have a hint of what’s inside?

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Carole Howard is the author of Deadly Adagio, recently published by Second Wind Publishing.

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Not Seen in Bookstores by Noah Baird

I recently read an article on the plight of the independent bookstore. The point of this particular article, similar to other articles I’ve read, was independent bookstores were having difficulty competing with Amazon.com. Our local bookstores are turning into Amazon showrooms. People (I’m not referring to them as ‘customers’ on purpose) are going into bookstores, browsing books, and then buying the books off of Amazon at a lower price.

I have to admit I am guilty of this also. However, I usually make a point to buy a book in the store; partly because I feel guilty, but mostly because I won’t get the book from Amazon for another week and Daddy needs his fix.

As a first time author, a counterpoint to the fall of the independent bookstore is it is often difficult for new writers to get their book on the shelves of an independent bookstore. The explanation I’m given usually covers one of the following reasons:

  • There is not enough shelf space for every new author. Translation: “We are only going to carry books we think are going to sell.” Which means they are going to carry the same books Barnes and Noble sells, but don’t have a Starbucks.
  • New authors don’t have a large enough fan base to warrant carrying the book or hosting an author event. This is a b.s. excuse. People pick up books from authors they’ve never heard of. Most people don’t care if it’s the writer’s first book or fifteenth; if the book looks interesting, then they will buy it. Secondly, I realize a very small percentage of a bookstore’s customers are writers. But there is a larger percentage of customers who want to be writers. People who are interested in writing will go and listen to writers, regardless of genre or popularity.
  • They won’t carry books from a particular publishing company because of return policies. I don’t know enough about return policies between booksellers and publishers to write anything intelligent. However, it seems like the bookseller knows which publishers have return policies they like. Usually, if your book wasn’t published by one of them, then you are out of luck. In my experience, they won’t investigate what your publisher’s return policy is; they just deal with the one they know about. I am not a publisher nor a bookstore owner, but this seems like a navigable obstacle. Both parties are in the business of selling books. It seems logical that a compromise could be made to aid in that goal.
  • Sometimes they are willing to take the books on consignment in return for a larger percentage of the purchase price. Translation: “I want you to write the book, get it published, haul it over to my store, and give me a larger portion of your royalties for your work.” This is always my favorite.

I have to admit, I was surprised by the responses I was getting from my local, independent bookstores. I wasn’t deluded enough to think they were waiting for me, but I assumed there was more of a symbiotic relationship between the stores and the writers. In hindsight, I was under the impression bookstores liked writers. And I think most of them do, but they are more interested in making a profit than establishing relationships with local writers.

I realized my impression that independent bookstores were kindred spirits to independent writers and musicians was wrong. I’ve been to countless indy music stores, and they were full of music by artists you’ve never heard on the radio. This is an interesting parallel; discovering an indy musician not heard on the radio, or before they became big (aka – sold out) is considered a testament to your taste. The same is not true for indy or small press writers. If a writer is not carried by one of the big publishers, then you aren’t truly vetted, and therefor aren’t worth reading. Regardless of the fact that there are countless books by independent writers which are excellent, as well as some really crap books published by the large presses. The reality of it is, some independent bookstores have become arbitrary gatekeepers; Saint Peters of Nightstands. My issue with this attitude is our work isn’t measured for quality, but weighed for the popularity of the writer and the size of the publisher.

The irony of this attitude is studies indicate the reason potential customers pick up a book is the cover. Most people decide if they are interested in a book within 10 seconds of picking up the book. Within those 10 seconds, a customer decides to make a purchase based on two pieces of information: the cover and the synopsis. Reviews and blurbs are also influential, but really confirm the customer’s impulse to buy the book. The price of the book is a distant 4th. The author’s name does influence the decision if the author is well-known; a Stephen King fan will pick up a new Stephen King book. Otherwise, an author’s popularity or the publishing company are not considered. Interestingly, when asked after making a purchase, a customer often does not know the name of the author of the book they just purchased. It isn’t until they have read the book that they commit the author to memory. Yet bookstores behaving like high school girls ordaining popularity based on factors transparent to the customer remains pervasive.

I think this the wrong attitude for bookstores to have. Several years ago, I went to Florida for a business trip. My flight had a long delay in Philadelphia, so I finished the book I brought with me faster than I anticipated. After I checked into my hotel, I wandered out to grab a bite to eat and pick up a new book. The hotel was in a funky beach town with several shops across the street. As I cruised around enjoying the sights, I noticed one street had two little bookstores. One bookstore was hosting an event for a local writer I’d never heard of. I went into the bookstore hosting the author event only because it had something more interesting going on than the other store. I bought three books- two by the author the event was being held for.

I was going to buy a book that day. I bought more books than I planned (which isn’t unusual), but I bought them from the store that had something going on that day. All things being equal, one of those stores was going to make a profit that day. The store with the author event got it. I would like to reiterate I had not heard of the author before that day. He was local author with a regional following. Since then, I have bought every book that writer has published to date, several from a small bookstore that will order books for me. A sale, is a sale, is a sale. A win for the writer translated to a win for the bookstore. That win transferred to another bookstore who made sales on books it didn’t carry.

I’m a bibliophile: I love books, I love bookstores, and I love writers. As a reader, I am concerned with what is happening to local bookstores. As a writer, I’ve embraced Amazon. I may be just a number at Amazon, but at least I’m acknowledged there. And for a first time author, that gives me a fighting chance.

By the way, the author in Florida was Tim Dorsey. If you’ve never heard of Tim Dorsey; mix Carl Hiaassen with the TV show Dexter and give it a bunch of Red Bulls and vodka.

Noah Baird is the author of Donations to Clarity, which often is not found in an independent bookstore.

Donations to Clarity

Donations to Clarity

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What’s Up?

  I’m getting ready to make a few personal appearances to promote the release of my latest thriller novel SNARE, released by Second Wind Publishing. To date, SNARE has received four extremely favorable reviews and I couldn’t be more proud of the reception readers are giving the work. I’ve nearly run out of the first box of books from the publisher and am awaiting more for me to have available at the Left Coast Crime 2011 Convention in Santa Fe later this month.

I’m having a bit of trouble making contact with bookstores that will be represented at the conference—only one vendor seems to want to commit to handling books before the conference so it looks like I’ll be lugging a lot of copies with me.

A bookstore owner in Taos wants to meet with me while I’m in New Mexico, so that’s exciting. I sent a preview copy of SNARE and hopefully they will want me to make a personal appearance there this summer as well.

I also need to get to Winston-Salem and make an appearance at Barnhill’s Bookstore and say hello to the folks there. Since they’re affiliated with Second Wind and my books’ locations are set in North Carolina I hope there will be a warm reception and that we can sell a lot of SNARE and STACCATO.

Several fan letters have even come my way. I love to receive these–and to know that readers are enjoying the continuation of Steven Hawk’s journey, even though SNARE does feature a completely different theme and female lead.

Unfortunately due to working hard on promotion, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually write much of anything the past few months. I did finish the first draft of a short story for the upcoming Desert Sleuths Chapter Sisters in Crime anthology, but haven’t had the opportunity to work on my traditional mystery . . . which looks to be turning out to be more of a YA novel.

Deborah J Ledford’s latest novel SNARE is a nominee for The Hillerman Sky Award at Left Coast Crime 2011. STACCATO is book one of her Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. Both novels are published by Second Wind Publishing. To find out more about Deborah, receive a Free Download of the first chapters of her novels, and to read a few previously published short stories, she invites you to visit her website.

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STACCATO on the Shelf – by Deborah J Ledford

STACCATO at Changing Hands BookstoreYet another publishing dream came true for me November 1st when my debut thriller STACCATO became available at the  top independent bookstore in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Changing Hands Bookstore is currently featuring STACCATO on “The Wall” along with bestsellers, staff picks and IndieBound favorites.

I cannot begin to express the feeling I experienced when I walked into this venerable bookstore where most recently Madeleine Albright appeared, and where they are now promoting the upcoming appearance of Garrison Keillor.  Changing Hands is where virtually every bestselling author schedules for a signing in Arizona.

To think that I share a shelf with Diana Gabaldon and that the mega-bestselling author Stephanie Meyer is featured below is something I never thought would happen.

Again, this is verification that dreams really do come true. And again why I am so grateful to Second Wind Publishing for believing enough in STACCATO to see my every expectation for the novel come to fruition.

If you work hard enough, don’t settle for anything but perfection, and most of all, never give up, you too may see the novel you write displayed on your favorite bookstore shelf.

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel Staccato, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, Kindle, and independent book stores.

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