A Bookstore Dedicated to Self-Published Authors

Two entrepreneuring authors have teamed up to open the first bookstore dedicated to books by self-published authors. Children’s author and illustrator Patti Brassard Jefferson and history author Timothy Jacobs decided to open a bookstore of their own after they became frustrated with the lack of opportunity for indie authors to showcase their works in existing bookstores.

Gulf Coast Bookstore

The two Florida authors opened the Gulf Coast Bookstore in Fort Myers, Florida. The store only sells books by indie authors. Currently, Gulf Coast Bookstore has around 50 local authors using the space.

Gulf Coast operates very differently from a traditional bookstore. Self-published authors rent shelf space for three months for $60, plus a $15 set-up fee, close to what they might spend to exhibit a single title at a day-long book fair. They also handle stocking and restocking of their books. In return, the authors receive 100% of every sale.

Gulf Coast Bookstore rearranges inventory every two weeks to keep the space fresh. The only criterion for authors using the store is that the author be “local.” Each author can display 10 copies of a single title or up to 10 titles with one copy each. With the rental of physical shelf space, authors are featured on the store’s website, and they can use the store for book signings.

What a fabulous idea! I am hoping that this concept will catch on and more large cities around the country will begin to host bookstores featuring only local authors’ books! If you are in or around the Fort Myers area of Florida, put this bookstore on your destination list.

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Get Caught Reading

May is “Get Caught Reading” month! What will you get caught reading this month?

Each year, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) puts together a cooperative catalog featuring products from our member publishers. This year’s catalog features 79 titles from 27 of our member publishers.

I invite you to click on the catalog cover pictured below to check out the great titles CSPA member publishers produce! I am sure you will find within the pages of the catalog a new book to read this month.

Due to the number of beautiful book covers featured in the catalog, it may take a few minutes for the catalog to load. Please be patient.

Catalog 2015 Cover

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Lord, Hear Our Cry

Today in honor of National Day of Prayer, I invite you to join with me in prayer for our country, for authors and publishers, and the church.

Prayer 2015

Father God,

I thank you for your sovereign grace and mercy. You are bigger and greater than my mind can conceive, yet you became incarnate, taking on human flesh, so that we could begin to know you.

Today I lift up the leaders of the United States of America. I pray that the leaders of this great nation would recognize you as God. I ask that our nation’s leaders would be reminded of and would remember the principles that this nation was founded on—principles of freedom for all, especially the freedom to live out one’s religious convictions in everyday life.

There are those that seek to exert their beliefs and ideas above others. We pray for this spiritual battle. We ask that the forces of heaven would be arrayed to fight on behalf of those who are committed to you and your ways. I ask that you would protect those who follow you and preserve the work they do to encourage people seek after you.

I also bring before you those who are striving to publish and promote your word. I pray that you would strengthen these individuals to continue to walk the path that you have called them to. Help them to live out their convictions. Give them wisdom, strength, and perseverance in their tasks. May your word continue to go forth through both the written and audible word so that hearts may be convicted and lives may be changed.

May you inspire those who write and publish for your glory to find creative ways to present you and your glory to their readers. Lord, we know that it is your Holy Spirit that convicts. We ask that you use our feeble efforts for your glory.

Bless those who write and publish Christian materials. For your word tells us, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’”

Bring unity within your body, Lord Jesus. You are the head; help us, the members of your body, to have tolerance for those non-essential differences and to love the other members as we love ourselves. To you be glory in the Church both now and forevermore.

Amen

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Endorsements: How Many Is Too Many?

Let’s agree that endorsements are important. Endorsements sell products.

Iscariot

Since we agree that endorsements are important, here’s the question:

How many endorsements should you get for a book?

Recently, I picked up the novel Iscariot by Tosca Lee. It is a story about Judas Iscariot so I thought it would make a great Easter read. In case you don’t know, Tosca Lee is a New York Times bestselling author. She has penned at least seven novels, three of which she co-authored with Ted Dekker. Just for fun, I counted how many endorsements were listed in the Iscariot book.

Tosca Lee had acquired 22 endorsements for this novel. Five were listed on the back cover of the book. All 22 (including the ones from the book cover) were published on the initial pages of the book. Most of these endorsements came from other authors. Some came from professors and other Christian personalities.

I hope you are asking: “Why does a New York Times bestselling author need 22 endorsements?”

The answer is that Tosca Lee knows something that many small publishers and independently published authors have yet to learn. Tosca knows that endorsements sell books.

Yes, a bestselling author will sell books based on her name alone. However, endorsements help sell more books. Sadly, huge numbers of books by small publishers and independently published authors cross my desk not toting one single endorsement.

An endorsement by a known Christian figure can help seal sales. However, if you do not know any famous people, you can still get effective endorsements. The next best thing to having a famous Christian endorse your book is to have a pastor endorse your book. Use the name of the pastor’s church with the endorsement. This sends potential readers the message Christian leaders think the book has value. Having other authors from your local writing group read and recommend your book is another great resource for endorsements.

Take notice. If you want to sell books, get endorsements. Don’t stop at one or two. Go for 20 or more! More will never hurt you, but less will.

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Independent Bookstore Day

Free Comic Book Day! Record Store Day! The events are used to raise awareness and drive sales for small independent stores. Not to be outdone, independent bookstores have decided to have their own day.

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Independent Bookstore Day will be held May 2, 2015. Last year, the event started as California Bookstore Day and was a success. This year, the event is going national, so that all independent bookstores across the nation can be involved and benefit from the publicity with the goal of increasing sales.

Truth be told, many independent bookstores are struggling. Last month, in the Christian bookstore industry, announcements were made about stores closing.

Tree of Life Christian Outlet announced that it will be closing the doors on all eight of its retail locations effective June 30. Tree of Life cites one main factor in its closing is that the costs of operating the business continue to increase, while sales decrease as competition online gets harder to compete with.

Cedar Springs Christian Stores also announced that it will be closing two of its three stores. At one time, Cedar Springs Christian Store was the largest independent Christian bookstore in the country. Cedar Springs cites that changing habits is a major factor in its decline as more people shop from the Internet.

Independent Bookstore Day is meant to bring attention to booksellers in these changing times. While independent bookstores only account for about 10% of all book sales in the United States, they continue to be an important piece of the bookselling puzzle. Traditionally, small independent bookstores have been instrumental in helping small and local authors gain traction for their books.

Yes times are changing. More books are purchased online then in brick-and-mortar stores. However, books are still purchased in stores. As authors and publishers, supporting local bookstores not only helps the overall book market, it also helps you since you are part of that book market.

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