Chicago Boyz

What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?

  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Adventures in the Indy Author Trade

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on June 11th, 2019 (All posts by )

    The Daughter Unit and I spent most of Saturday morning in the lovely little town of Wimberley, Texas. Wimberley is situated on a particularly scenic stretch of the Blanco River, in the hills to the west of San Marcos. It’s closer to Austin than to San Antonio and seems to have become even more of a weekend tourist draw, since we first visited it in the late 1990ies. Then there were just a handful of little shops catering to tourists, and one restaurant with had memorable hamburgers and an outside deck which overlooked the riverbank, all grown with cypress trees, great and green. There were a fair number of hippie artisan types; potters, glass-blowers, metal-fabricators and the like, plus the usual number of antique shops, which tended more towards the ‘quaint old country junk’ side of the scale. On the first Saturday of the month, Wimberley stages a mammoth open-air market – something we’ve been to a number of times. It’s supposed to be the oldest and biggest one in Texas.

    And for four years running, Alan Bourgeois of the Texas Association of Authors has tried to fire up a local book festival, in the community center. I’ve had a go at participating in it every time, but it has never really taken off, so the TAA is not going to try it for a fifth time. The community center is just too far away from the established track of the shoppers on foot around the town center. The Daughter Unit supposes that the energy in Wimberley for community events is pretty much taken up by staging the monthly open-air market anyway.

    There are community-sponsored book festivals which are worth participating in, though. I’ve participated in some of them since I began doing the direct marketing of my own books: generally, they are at more than a single day in duration and involve the hands-on participation by a good few local personalities and establishments. The Giddings Word Wrangler is one of those: held over three days, involving authors visiting schools, an evening small-scale gala, groups of schoolkids making a fieldtrip of it, a community-sponsored fish-fry. That one is a keeper, as is the West Texas Book Festival in Abilene. There is a lovely evening event to support the local library in Lockhart – I was invited to participate once and enjoyed it very much. Miss Ruby’s Book Corral in Goliad, which is part of Goliad’s Christmas on the Square celebration is another keeper, although it is only a single-day event. Community support of more than the perfunctory sort – as in, “here’s a venue, we’ll put up some posters and notify the local media” is absolutely necessary, it would appear from this experience.

    Alas, other market events which once were worth participating in, aren’t any more. Either the cost to participate became too great in relation to sales – either direct sales or a bump-up afterwards because of information about books handed to potential readers, or as in the case of the New Braunfels Weinachtsmarket, the management decided not to offer the venue to authors at a half-day-rate for a fairly reasonable donation. This and other potential good markets were the topic of discussion among authors on Saturday, and at other events of this sort. The other authors that I talked to pretty much agreed that the marketing situation has to change; especially given the news that Alan emailed to the membership late last week that the Barnes and Noble chain (long rumored to be circling the drain) has been bought by a hedge fund organization – which Alan believes will mean the closing of non-profitable stores in the near future. Generally, indy authors have found the B&N organization inhospitable to work with, and this insight comes over a number of years of experience – both my own, and that of other indy and small-press authors. There are local managers who bucked that corporate trend and did good work in bringing in local indy authors to their outlets. A handful of early contributors to the defunct Independent Author Association found that to be the case in their own endeavors, but in the main, most of the rest of us found nothing but indifference. In the main, as Alan discovered when he actually had a face-to-face meet with the then- B&N CEO – B&N preferred as a matter of policy to do business with the existing Big Establishment Publishing houses; not go through all the trouble of dealing with a litter of small independent or individual publishers.

    BTW, the local Borders outlets in San Antonio were wonderful in staging events for local authors – but they, alas, are now gone with the wind. The same for the Hastings chain. Independent bookstores – where they do exist, against the odds – are a variable lot. Sometimes they are supportive of local indy authors, but the bald fact that they often require books from indy and small press authors to be on consignment (rather than from a distributor) at the authors’ expense, and often are careless about the bookkeeping on consignment sales … this might have changed in recent years what with computer-based bookkeeping and all, but I and others had pretty bruising experiences with consignees who were not particularly scrupulous in the pen and paper days. Most of us indy and local authors are trying to treat this as a business, and make a profit from the exercise, and it does not help when local vendors treat us as careless dilettantes who can afford considerable of an economic hit just for the jollity of seeing our print books on the shelf, locally.
    So where is all this going, as regards retail sales in the local market for indy authors? More to follow…


    3 Responses to “Adventures in the Indy Author Trade”

    1. Roy Kerns Says:

      Another story illustrating reasons I love free enterprise.

    2. JefftheBobcat Says:

      Any new Luna City books in the works? I’ve been looking forward to the next installment!

    3. Sgt. Mom Says:

      Hi, Jeff – yes, Luna City #8 will be available around the first of July or so.

    Leave a Reply

    Comments Policy:  By commenting here you acknowledge that you have read the Chicago Boyz blog Comments Policy, which is posted under the comment entry box below, and agree to its terms.

    A real-time preview of your comment will appear under the comment entry box below.

    Comments Policy

    Chicago Boyz values reader contributions and invites you to comment as long as you accept a few stipulations:

    1) Chicago Boyz authors tend to share a broad outlook on issues but there is no party or company line. Each of us decides what to write and how to respond to comments on his own posts. Occasionally one or another of us will delete a comment as off-topic, excessively rude or otherwise unproductive. You may think that we deleted your comment unjustly, and you may be right, but it is usually best if you can accept it and move on.

    2) If you post a comment and it doesn't show up it was probably blocked by our spam filter. We batch-delete spam comments, typically in the morning. If you email us promptly at we may be able to retrieve and publish your comment.

    3) You may use common HTML tags (italic, bold, etc.). Please use the "href" tag to post long URLs. The spam filter tends to block comments that contain multiple URLs. If you want to post multiple URLs you should either spread them across multiple comments or email us so that we can make sure that your comment gets posted.

    4) This blog is private property. The First Amendment does not apply. We have no obligation to publish your comments, follow your instructions or indulge your arguments. If you are unwilling to operate within these loose constraints you should probably start your own blog and leave us alone.

    5) Comments made on the Chicago Boyz blog are solely the responsibility of the commenter. No comment on any post on Chicago Boyz is to be taken as a statement from or by any contributor to Chicago Boyz, the Chicago Boyz blog, its administrators or owners. Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners, by permitting comments, do not thereby endorse any claim or opinion or statement made by any commenter, nor do they represent that any claim or statement made in any comment is true. Further, Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners expressly reject and disclaim any association with any comment which suggests any threat of bodily harm to any person, including without limitation any elected official.

    6) Commenters may not post content that infringes intellectual property rights. Comments that violate this rule are subject to deletion or editing to remove the infringing content. Commenters who repeatedly violate this rule may be banned from further commenting on Chicago Boyz. See our DMCA policy for more information.