Like the Slow Food Movement and the Shop Local Movement, it’s exciting to see the Indie Movement gain momentum.
Honoring independently inspired, owned, and managed efforts of all kinds, the Indie Movement is a human response to corporate consolidation, large-scale mishaps, and the stress on local and global economies by all things big. In the Indie Movement, creativity, sweat equity, and collaboration reign. Some of the most tangible signs are evident when indie authors and publishers partner with indie bookstores.
As booksellers have had to deal with the fact that online shopping and discounting have turned books into little more than another commodity, their response has been to focus more on creating unique selections and offering interesting events with local authors, rather than hope for an appearance during a bestselling author’s national tour. With the resources now available to writers everywhere to produce their own books, it’s easier than ever to find books that are well-edited, beautifully packaged, and appropriately priced.
Booksellers have told us time and again that some of their very best events are with local and regional authors. Some partner with an author to develop an individual event where both parties collaborate toward the book’s sell-through. Publicity, email and print newsletters, special postcard mailings, and in-store displays are all part of the typical marketing mix. Both parties furnish their own contact lists. Authors offer their promotional materials, develop an engaging presentation, and assist with local publicity. Everyone pitches in for refreshments (not always required, but helpful).
Some bookstores will coordinate a celebration of local authors, grouping them together for one large event where all authors contribute their contact lists and marketing efforts. This can not only be a very fun evening, but the event puts authors in touch with other writers they might never have met, which can inspire other collaborative efforts. When each author has five to fifteen minutes, the pace is fast and everyone is introduced to a variety of ideas and stories. One of my favorite questions at these events is, “Why did you write this book?” The answer to this single question makes the perfect human connection that is the very foundation for why we read.
In an age of homogenization, people crave authenticity. What’s fresh and new, what’s local and real is all you need to draw an audience, celebrate regional talent, feed the local economy, and have a heck of a good time doing what you love. The partnership between indie authors, indie publishers, and indie booksellers has endless possibilities and comes at a perfect time.
Donna Paz Kaufman is the founder and partner in The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates, established in 1992 to support the growth and prosperity of independent bookstores. Visit them online at PazBookBiz.com.