If you want to impress an indie bookseller, don’t discuss your Amazon ranking: What I learned at SIBA

I’m spending the next few days at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show, at the request of my publisher, who wants to sell my book as badly as I do. This means I’m spending a lot of time with indie booksellers and I’m learning a lot about what it’s like to be an indie bookseller.

The struggle, as the kids say, is real. Here’s what I learned tonight on a trolley ride from Tybee Island back to my hotel in Savannah, all from indie booksellers:

Don’t tell an indie bookseller how great your book’s doing on Amazon. Think about it: this is like telling Steakhouse A how much you eat at Steakhouse B.

Don’t act as though they have to sell your book. They don’t. Even if you’re J.K. Rowling, no bookstore needs your book. Books are like trains: If you miss one, there’s another one coming in behind you.

Do patronize the store. Customers who are authors get priority over customers who aren’t.

If you do get an author event, don’t advertise it with a link to buy the book on Amazon. Or anywhere else other than the store. What good does it do the bookseller if 100 people show up to hear you read and they’ve all bought the book on Amazon? What, you think they appreciate you taking that extra wine off their hands?

I found the entire conversation enlightening; I never would have thought of some of these things, but it became clear quickly that they matter greatly to the indies. And, since they’ll be the ones selling my books, I’m happy to oblige. Also, as an author, I’m quite on the outside looking in on these booksellers who, even on the first night, are clearly a close-knit group strung across the south. They help each other, they rely on each other and they seem to genuinely care about everyone succeeding.

You don’t see that with Amazon. I’m fairly certain they don’t care about helping out Barnes & Noble.

Oh, also? I’m hoping Inkwood will agree to sell my book, but until then, you can buy it directly from the press. No Amazon required plus you get $5 off; click here and use code AU916 at checkout.

Craig Pittman, Backroads of Paradise and Oh, Florida!

When Craig Pittman told me my publisher had asked him to read my book, Backroads of Paradise, I vacillated between thrilled and nervous (this is actually a common state for me). Thrilled because, Craig Pittman, whoo-hoo! — and nervous because, well, Craig Pittman. In Florida circles, he’s kind of a big deal.

He liked it, and said so.

Then I had the chance to review his book, Oh, Florida! Turns out we both like each other’s writing.

Here’s my review on Goodreads, which, of course, links to the full story at Creative Loafing Tampa.

Oh, Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the CountryOh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country by Craig Pittman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I reviewed this for Creative Loafing, and I also know Craig, so know that. However, I was prepared to shred this book if I didn’t like it. I did. A lot. Rather than paste in my whole article about why, here’s the link to what I’ve already said. Big deal to me is how Pittman doesn’t treat Florida as though we have only idiots.

View all my reviews

The book has landed (almost!)

Backroads of Paradise
This is my book, Backroads of Paradise. Well, it’s the cover. OK, technically, it’s a photo of the cover. Stop harassing me!

You guys.

You can pre-order my book.

Part of me wants to play this cool and be all, “Yeah, it’s cool, you can pre-order my book” and the rest of me — the real me — has an almost-insurmountable compulsion to run around the house screaming “My book! MY BOOK!

So severely conflicted on this am I that it took me 19 full days to write this post, which has to be some sort of record for something, even if it’s a record for how batshit crazy things get inside my head.

Forget all that. The post has arrived, as has the book. It feels as though I’ve lived a lifetime since I first had the idea, which I suppose happens to many writers, unless, of course, you happen to be James Patterson, because that man is a machine. And if you are James Patterson, hi. Buy my book, OK?

Technically, the book has not arrived: You can pre-order it now on Amazon (or from the University Press of Florida) and they’ll ship it to you on October 4, the actual release date. Also, if you want it as an ebook, you have to wait — I mean, not much longer, but apparently the something about metadata or other things I don’t understand and don’t you dare pretend you do, either. The takeaway? You will have the chance to buy the ebook and no, I don’t know when but soon.

When UPF offered me a book contract, my editor told me in no uncertain terms to never promise people a publication date (well, until the Press itself released one) so I would make jokes when people asked me. My favorite one?

“Well, I’m not certain but I’m hoping sometime before we elect a new president.”

I made it with a whole month to spare.