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FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENTS: BOOK SERENITY

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No, this isn’t a Firefly post.

With the demise of Borders, and the “iffy” future of Barnes & Noble, many book buyers who love to frequent brick-and-mortar stores are nervous about what is to come. Will they have to buy every print book online? (Well, there are those discounts, and fast shipping.) Will they soon have to read everything in e-format?

How can a traditioanl paper book buyer find any peace?

A while back I contributed to a special section in Locus magazine about the small press and independent press. One of the questions asked about the future of publishing, and I have always thought that when the big chain stores go out of business, we’ll see a rise in the independent bookstore. Indeed, the early numbers are already bearing out that idea. Chains put a lot of the independent bookstores out of business. Amazon, ebook retailers, and other onlilne venues had a part to play in crippling the chains. So why not bring back the independents?

Just today I had lunch with my sister in my hometown of Kalispell, Montana, and afterward she took me across the street to their new bookstore. Before this, the city of Kalispell had a big Borders. It did indeed drive my sister (and others) crazy not being able to go inside a bookstore to browse. Now here was this independent store (Bookworks). Small, cozy, limited selection, but it absolutely bled charm. They knew my sister by name. They told her the book she’d ordered was on its way, and apologized for the delay. Granted, the science fiction section, tiny by most stores’ standards, had a lot of big name fantasy authors (Butcher, Martin, Brooks, etc), and a bunch of Orson Scott Card, some classic authors, and a few odds and ends. But there were some nice surprises. I saw a book on the shelf from a friend of mine, and one of the owners said those books were doing well for them. (I actually ended up buying something from the mystery section, Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish, the first book in his Longmire series.)

There’s something to be said for the homegrown experience. Sure you’re paying full price for books. Sure you’re waiting a little longer for special orders. But in my opinion, nothing beats a good tour of a cozy bookstore. My sister didn’t hesitate to mention my book coming next summer from Tor. The owner said, “Oh, science fiction or fantasy?” She knew the imprint. She asked me for the title, and told my sister to make sure to remind them when it got closer to the pub date.

A friend of mine has a local bookstore he goes to in his hometown of Sumner, Washington. They know him by name. He orders books through them. They also have a thriving online business, which keeps the brick-and-mortar store going.

Don’t you wish you all had a corner independent bookstore just around the corner from you? Total serenity.

If you are one of the lucky ones who has the cool bookstore nearby, it’d be fun to hear about it in comments.

*UTM* IS OFF TO NEXT STEP

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Mostly, I’m doing this blog post as a test to make sure this is going to crosspost to Facebook and Twitter, as it’s supposed to. But I should put some content here beyond a behind-the-scenes PSA.

So what’s new with the novel’s journey? The edits were completed and the manuscript delivered and accepted. So  it’s now in the hands of the production department, as well as the art department. It will also be heading to a copyeditor, and I should get copyedits sometime in October, roughly.

Nothing to do now except work on book two, which I wish was farther along than it is as I approach summer’s end. But 3/4 of the rough draft of UTM was written in three months during the fall/winter while teaching, so I know I can accomplish much when I need to.

THE WEBSITE GOES LIVE!

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So on this day, summer of 2013, my author website goes live, with just one year to go before the publication of my first novel. And what’s more, I have a blog that will most likely crosspost to a few other venues, most notably Facebook and/or Twitter. There’s an old LiveJournal site still kicking around too that has gathered cobwebs since I joined Facebook, but maybe these posts will slip over there too.

This is a short catch-all post to start with. First off, I want to thank Jeremy Tolbert of Clockpunk Studios for the fine work (and the excellent instruction and support) getting this website off the ground. Even as I type this, he’s behind the scenes, giving feedback and adding those last little touches I’ll need on the admin side. It’s fabulous to have a site looking so snazzy.

I also want to thank Jordan Grimmer, who did the artwork for the banner. What a talented artist! There’s a link to his website at the bottom of the site. Since it’s too early for any kind of book cover artwork yet, I gave Jeremy some character and scene descriptions from The Ultra Thin Man to give to Jordan, and he got to work right away and nailed it. This has been a scene in my head for many years. Jeremy took that art and those colors and worked the site around it, including that cool thumbnail of two of the characters for new blog posts on the home page.  I’m pretty lucky. The plan was down the road to switch out this art for the cover art for the Tor book, but right now I can’t even imagine there being anything else there.

I couldn’t deal with the empty placesaver for the novel so I made a mockup cover with Jordan’s header art.

What a new process this all is, having a website strictly devoted to my writing, and primarily due to the sale of my first novel. Time will tell how it’s all going to pan out, but for now, I’m along for the ride. Hope you enjoy tagging along.