How Indie Bookstores are killing Indie Books

The last sacred cow of the book world is planting the seeds of its own irrelevance. The untouchable, most holy of institutions, hailed as the prime literary taste-maker and engine of new discoveries, no longer holds its touted powers, yet none dare voice out loud that the ‘Emperor’ is no longer wearing their clothes.

Until now.

Once upon a time, in the blissful days of the pre-Internet literary world, local independent bookstores played a crucial role in discovering and publicizing new books. Great books on small presses could win the attention of literary agents and major publishers, and the then-Big-Six’s ‘hidden gems’ could find the accolades they deserved.

For the last fifteen years, the Web has been usurping the indie bookstores’ ‘power of influence’. Countless literary review sites and blogs, and book retailers’ online reviews, have, for the most part, taken over the role of “taste-maker and engine of discovery”. Yet, everyone in the literary world still treats the local indie stores as the most sacred of cows.

They shouldn’t.

indie-bookstore-meme

Yes, one of their biggest issues can be summed up nicely in a meme. Yet, the problems here go much deeper than that. Indies are backing away en-masse from “local author” programs and even stocking any books released by small presses. With the Big Five’s ever-increasing risk aversion, and honing of commercial formulas, how much “literary discovery” can the local indie stores really do, when they restrict themselves to carrying only major-publisher books?

Soon, the indie bookstores will be forced to recommend books by “James Patterson” his hired writers, because they’ll be the only titles left on their shelves.

james-patterson

A slight exaggeration, but you get the point.

Due to the aforementioned risk aversion, increasing numbers of excellent books will never be published by the Big Five. And those books have to go somewhere.

Over the last five years, many have headed for self-publishing. The preponderance of best-selling self-published books has long since proven that the Big Five’s commercial formulae are missing many #1 New York Times (e-book) best-sellers, and even “The Martian”, a novel that served as the genesis of a hit movie. No indie bookstore could have discovered or championed “The Martian”, because it was never on their shelves in the first place.

And the indies’ lack of shelf diversity is creating an even bigger problem for themselves.

Given the relative ease of self-publishing, it is safe to say that any author who signed to an independent publisher after, say, the year 2010, was an author who was committed to having print versions of their books available for sale at bookstores.

With the local stores turning a blind eye to small press books, in the process they also shelf-block the authors who committed themselves to the more difficult path of traditional publishing, just to have print versions of their books, that the typical indie bookstore will now no longer stock. In other words, the indies won’t stock the books by the authors who gave up full creative control and self-publishing’s higher royalty rates, just to get print editions for stores that will no longer carry them.

Not a great way to make friends of those authors. Or, for that matter, their independent publishers.

In the face of this trend, some great small presses have had to shut down (R.I.P. Booktrope). Others, like my own publisher PDMI Publishing, LLC, have moved on to targeting large book retailers. For the last several years, PDMI has been holding its author signings at major chains such as Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million, which have proven to be more receptive to the small press, its authors and its books than the typical local indie bookstore.

Other small presses still vainly holding out hope for the indie shelves will probably go the way of Booktrope, sad to say. And once all of their authors realize the “local indie Emperor” is no longer wearing their shiny book-championing armor, they’ll be free to move on.

Once again, their books will have to go somewhere.

“Yes, self-publishing,” you say, “but what about print? Print isn’t dead.”

Which is precisely why Amazon is venturing into brick-and-mortar book retailing. If the indie bookstores thought CreateSpace was bad, “they ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Once Amazon’s brick-and-mortar infrastructure is in place, any “Kindle” that catches fire can be on Amazon’s bookshelves in a couple of weeks. Are the Big Five and their self-appointed ‘indie’ taste-makers ready for a world where books that bypass them entirely can become #1 New York Times PRINT best-sellers?

Another hypothetical question: What would happen if more independent publishers followed the path of PDMI and focused on large retailers? Unlike the Big Five, smaller publishers could sign exclusive deals with large retailers, in return for print book shelf space. A “Barnes & Noble Exclusive” title could easily reach #1 NYT best-seller status, if carried in enough stores.

And, given the local stores’ current exclusionary climate, would any of the publisher’s authors really object if their publisher went “Barnes & Noble Exclusive”, especially if it meant their book got shelf space at B&N’s across the U.S.?

And, of course, there are other retailers large enough to be able to sell enough print copies of a title by themselves to push said title to #1 NYT best-seller status.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Jack-Wendell-s-Vampire-Syndrome-Book-1-in-the-Vampire-Syndrome-Saga/53628570

One thing is sure to continue. Once Amazon entries are regularly populating several places of the Top Ten New York Times print best-seller list, the indie stores will whine and complain about it. Yet much of the ‘blame’ will rest with themselves, for turning a blind eye to the smaller publishers and their authors, all parties involved who had dedicated themselves to the difficult task of producing print books, only to be rebuffed at virtually every turn. Killing off some of the geese that laid the golden eggs, but those eggs have to go somewhere.

Straight to Amazon’s waiting nest. 😈

UPDATE 9/08/16: A quote from this excellent Observer article The Truth About The New York Times and Wall Street Journal Bestseller Lists :
“(For the N.Y.T. list) a hardcover copy of your book purchased on Amazon.com is counted differently than the same hardcover book purchased at indie bookstore X.”
Here may be a more valid reason why people are still treating indie stores like sacred cows.
Yet, if you could sell a million books at Wal-Mart alone, you may not make the N.Y.T. list, and you definitely wouldn’t make the W.S.J. list, as Wall Street Journal doesn’t even tally Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club sales, which is a ‘hole’ big enough to drive literal semi-trailers full of books through….

Happy New Year, everyone!

Hi everyone, I just wanted to wish you all a Happy New Year!
Onward and upward for 2016 we go 🙂98_062712

Different, Not Weaker – Guest Post by Cindy Koepp

One of the main points I make in my Vampire Syndrome Saga is that ‘different’ does not equate to ‘weaker’. My friend and fellow PDMI Author Cindy Koepp shows us the same piece of wisdom in her upcoming novel, “Like Herding The Wind”. 🙂

“Different, Not Weaker” by Cindy Koepp

Too often, we perceive things that are different from our idea of “normal” as weaker or deficient. Sometimes, that is the case, but more often, different is just different. The things that make us unique are not weaknesses but can become our greatest strengths. The perception of strength and weakness is.

In “Like Herding the Wind: An Urushalon Novel,” soon to be released by PDMI Publishing, an Eshuvani generation ship crash-landed in a farmer’s field in Germany. Unable to find the resources on Earth to fix their ship, the Eshuvani built enclaves and tried to let the humans develop without interference. Three hundred fifty years later, Eshuvani criminals start a crime wave in the Texas coastal town of Las Palomas. With police officers being injured and killed in the efforts to stop them, Sergeant Ed Osborn attempts to use his ties to the Eshuvani community to get help for his men, but the local leadership wants nothing to do with humans. Ed contacts his urushalon, Amaya Ulonya, the Eshuvani mother he adopted when he was a boy, and seeks her help.

After the death of her partner, Amaya, the captain of a police and rescue team, finds more grief than joy in her current assignment. Amidst controversy, she arranges to spearhead the new Buffer Zone station between Las Palomas and the nearby Eshuvani enclave of Woran Oldue. She hopes the opportunity to help Ed train his people will help her bury the past. The indifference of the local administration leaves her with Ill-functioning equipment and inexperienced staff. It only gets worse when the attacks of an Eshuvani criminal grow personal. Amaya must get control of her grief to help Las Palomas or risk losing someone even more dear to her than her last partner.

As far as humans are concerned, Eshuvani are superhuman. They’re fast, seeming to react at blur speeds; and they’re strong enough to pick up an adult human male and throw him against the wall with considerable force. That strength and speed make the Eshuvani criminal element such a hazard among the human police. Without proper training, the humans don’t know how to overcome their attackers.

From the perspective of the Eshuvani, humans have incredible endurance and a remarkable resilience particularly in the face of psychological trauma. Eshuvani admire the humans’ ability to keep going both physically and mentally even after the most persistent of their own people has run out of steam.

At the same time, members of each race find the other intolerable in some ways. Eshuvani find humans too aloof and detached, while humans consider Eshuvani emotionally unstable and secretive.

Into this quagmire of misunderstanding, Amaya arrives to help her urushalon train his people to use their differences to overcome the threat.

***

“Like Herding the Wind”, releasing January 15, 2016, is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com.

Cindy Like Herding The Wind Cover Small

Five-Star Review from TV/Film Producer Joel Eisenberg

Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome” (mass market paperback) just received a five-star review from Hollywood TV/Film producer Joel Eisenberg. 😀


After Reading “Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome,” I Felt As Though I Had Never Read a Vampire Novel Before.
By Joel Eisenberg, Author of The Chronicles of Ara on October 17, 2015

Really, how many variations of the vampire theme can there possibly be? Surely, this genre is well-worn; what can possibly be done to rejuvenate it?

Welcome, “Jack Wendell’s Vampire Syndrome.” I promise, you have never read a vampire book like this one.

Let’s begin this way: Jack Wendell, a Special Olympics champion with Down Syndrome, is turned into a vampire (hence the Vampire Syndrome in the title). That enough? Then how’s this: Jack strives for acceptance within his new community and is immediately ordered to be killed. Read Daven’s synopsis on this site. It’s all there. He’s not joking about “space alien Pure vampires” either.

Somehow, Daven Anderson makes it all work. The story is metaphoric for sure, but man is this work compelling. There’s a good deal of tongue in cheek here but not once did I feel the author or his story pandered. This is a compelling work.

Jack Wendell is a character unique to modern fiction. Characters with Down Syndrome have been used frequently in media, see the television shows “Life Goes On” or “American Horror Story.” Autistic protagonists too have been used widely in literature over the past 25 years, but in lit circles fully drawn characters with Down Syndrome have been rare.

Here though is something different and I hope I express this as I mean to: Jack is ‘cool.’ Do I feel sorry for him as he runs from his death sentence? Of course. Am I curious about his budding friendship with Lilith, who will attempt to save him? Yes. But more than this, I lose track of any disabilities on the part of the main character, and root for him as I would for anyone. And then it comes back to me that I’m reading a tale about a boy – a vampire – with Down Syndrome and I’m compelled to credit the author all the more.

This is a special novel and certain to be a special series. Daven is clearly a unique author. He is also a special educator and knows this world well. Jack is a real person to me, in an extraordinary circumstance.

The conflicts inherent therein make for the best of fiction. This is one of my very favorite novels that I’ve read all year.

Kudos Mr. Anderson. A remarkable, fun work.

Joel Amazon Review - Screengrab

Drawing Dead: An Interview with Brian McKinley

Interview with Brian McKinley

BM: Drawing Dead is about Faolan O’Connor, who is a NY gangster in the 30s that gets recruited into a society of vampires called The Order. During the course of several years, as he fights his way up the ranks, he reawakens a basic humanity within himself. Naturally, this new consciousness isn’t necessarily a benefit in a ruthless battle for control.

***

CPR: How long has it taken you to write this novel?

BM: I started work on this novel back in 2005. It’s gone through a number of iterations and, to be fair, there have been several years in there when I wasn’t working on it at all. But it’s been a good several years in the writing. I finished it and got it accepted by PDMI in early 2013, which is a little lesson in how long real publishing can take.

***

CPR: Do you think writers today need an agent to represent their work?

BM: Sadly, my experience has been that it’s harder to get an agent than it is to get a publisher. It’s become so exclusive that I recommend that new authors just get their books out there and sell them. If you get big enough, the agents will approach you. Honestly, you don’t tend to need an agent anymore until you’re dealing with a Big 5 publisher.

***

CPR: I have read that you approach writing like a chore, I can empathize with that. How do you get around that? Can you tell me more about your writing practice?

BM: Again, I’m not really sure that I have found a way around it. I still don’t write as often as I should. Mostly, I just have to find a day that I have time and decide that I’m going to get some writing done that day. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Facebook has cost me many a day’s work, I can tell you that!

Order your copy of “Drawing Dead” here:
Amazon Kindle: http://amzn.to/1GDEELS
Luxe Premium Edition Mass Market Paperback: http://amzn.to/1NsBd0w

Unleashing The Muse on June 16th

Kristen - Writer's Digest 101 Best Sites
Creation Novel (Large)

This June 16th, from 10am to 6pm, Tyward Books of Albertville, Alabama, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, will host “Unleashing The Muse”, our spectacular multi-author book signing event. If you love reading, don’t miss your chance to attend one of the biggest multi-author events Alabama has ever seen. Admission is free to the public.

Our event features TV/film producer and author Joel Eisenberg, co-author of “The Chronicles Of Ara,” a heralded new eight-volume fantasy novel series, now being developed for television by Eisenberg and his co-author Steve Hillard. Joel will be signing copies of “Creation,” Volume One of The Chronicles Of Ara series. “Creation” debuted on March 15th in a standing-room-only event in Pasadena, California, and it has already received countless five-star reviews on Amazon and millions of hits on social media channels. Don’t miss this rare chance to meet Mr. Eisenberg in person and get your copy of “Chronicle” signed right here in Albertville, Alabama, instead of having to travel all the way to L.A.!

Other authors confirmed for our signing event include Kristen Lamb (renowned blogger and author of the #1 bestseller “Rise Of The Machines”), Lawayne Childrey (Nationally-renowned News Journalist, winner of the Edward R. Murrow Award, and author of “Peeling Back The Layers”), Jack Gannon and Cyndi Williams-Barnier (“Murder in Twos & Threes”, “Ancient Footsteps”, “Trail Of The Talon”), Clay Gilbert (“Dark Road To Paradise” and the “Annah: Children of Evohe” Series), Greta King (“Waiting For Santa”, “The Adventures of Fred and Ted”), Andrea Zug (the “Lancers Inc. Mysteries” Series), Virginia Jennings (“The Alien Mind” and “Visionary From The Stars”), Daven Anderson (the “Vampire Syndrome” Saga), James Christopher Hill (Renowned Artist), Clarence Bonner (“I Talk Slower Than I Think”), John T. Wayne (“Catfish John [the anatomy of a bottom dweller]”, “Ol’ Slantface”, “Blood Once Spilled” and “The Treasure Del Diablo”), T.K. Thorne (“Angels at the Gate”, “Last Chance for Justice”, “Noah’s Wife”), Debra Guyton (“Butterfly in the Breeze”), Delilah Fondren (“The House Warming”, “Be Still My Love”, “Michael [The Final Chapter]”, “Marriage, a Barrel of Laughs [Unless You’re the One in the Barrel]”, “I Fell in Love With a Witch”, “When the Storm Rolled In Lead [Surrendering My All]”, The “Forgetting” Series of 5 Novellas, Joy Ross Davis (“Countenance”, “Emalyn’s Treasure”), and Ginger Sanders (“Round Eyes”, “He Goes Before Us”).

Don’t miss this chance to meet all of these renowned authors in one mega-event, and get your books signed!
Tyward Books, 7032 Hwy 431, Albertville, AL 35950

Unleashing The Muse – Multi-Author Event on June 16th

This June 16th, from 10am to 6pm, Tyward Books, in conjunction with PDMI Publishing, LLC, will host “Unleashing The Muse“, a spectacular multi-author book signing event. If you are an author resident in or visiting the Southern U.S., you’ll want to join us for one of the best opportunities to showcase your work to the widest possible audience!

“Unleashing The Muse” features TV/film producer and author Joel Eisenberg, co-author of “The Chronicles Of Ara,” a heralded new eight-volume fantasy novel series, now being developed for television by Eisenberg and his co-author Steve Hillard. Joel will be signing copies of “Creation,” Volume One of The Chronicles Of Ara series. “Creation” debuted on March 15th in a standing-room-only event in Pasadena, California, and it has already received countless five-star reviews on Amazon and millions of hits on social media channels. Don’t miss this rare chance to meet Mr. Eisenberg and get your copy of “Chronicle” signed in Albertville, Alabama, instead of having to travel all the way to L.A.!

Other authors confirmed for this signing event include Jack Gannon and Cyndi Williams-Barnier (“Murder in Twos & Threes”, “Ancient Footsteps”, “Trail Of The Talon”), Clay Gilbert (“Dark Road To Paradise” and the “Annah: Children of Evohe” Series), Greta King (Waiting For Santa, The Adventures of Fred and Ted), Andrea Zug (the “Lancers Inc. Mysteries” Series), Virginia Jennings (“The Alien Mind” and “Visionary From The Stars”) and Daven Anderson (the Vampire Syndrome Saga).

Best of all, Tyward is inviting other authors to join all of us at this amazing event! A one-time set-up fee of $20 gets you table space from 10am to 6pm, and a ticket for a sandwich and drink of your choice. Additional food and drinks will be served. Don’t miss this chance to sell your books, and meet publishers and other authors at one of the largest multi-author events in the South!

Register for your tickets to “Unleashing The Muse” here at Eventbrite.com

Creation Novel