Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Think Fearlessly, Act Locally

So, I spent last week putting the final touches on my MS. Today I'll read it through one last time, tweak a few things here and there, rewrite the synopsis, and send it off to my agent. Yes, I'm well aware that all the news in publishing (and the auto industry and Wall Street, and . . . . ) is bleak. I believe a week ago we had "Black Wednesday." To some, I suppose, it would seem silly at best and utterly pointless/stupid/bang-your-head-against-the-wall frustrating to be sending off a MS in the hopes it'll be published. But, read this journal entry written by my dear, wise author friend Bev Marshall. She gets to the heart of why we write.

In working on this last revision/rewrite I discovered that I was writing fearlessly. Okay, the market might have cratered, but that didn't mean I should give up on my characters. I'm not writing for some vague "market" anyway. I'm writing to tell a story, an important story. I'm writing because it's who I am and what I do. And so my words soared out onto the computer screen. Nobody's buying? Okay, then, even more reason to write from the heart.

And as I went about the rest of my week, I thought how freeing it was to write without fear. And it extended beyond just writing. So, the economy is terrifying? That gave me the freedom to scale back on my holiday buying, but it also meant that I wanted to make what I give count all the more. Distill it down, so to speak. Rather than 6 or 7 wrapped presents under the tree, what are three things that will tell my son I really know him?

And what can I do for the booksellers who've helped me so much? I can get off my couch and go buy my books from them rather than adding to "my cart" with a click of the mouse. And lots of those great indies have web presences, too.

Here are two of my local stores who will get my business:

The fabulous Main Street Books in St. Charles, owned by the wonderful Vicki Erwin

And the classic Left Bank Books in the Central West End (and now also in downtown St. Louis. Yes, they just oepend a new store this fall. You gotta love that!)

Two other indie stores that have treated me (and gobs of other authors well!) are Schwartz's in Milwaukee and The Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

Feel free to share your favorite indie store when you leave a comment. And this holiday season, don't let the bad news hold you back.

Fearless. That's my new motto.


Lisa said...

I love this sentiment and I too have been covering my ears and screaming "LALALALALAI'mnotlisteningtoyou" every time another alert pops up about the end of the world as we know it.

I've slowly come around to a perspective about all of these problems with various industries -- but I'll just address publishing -- which is this. We live in a market driven economy. If a business model is outmoded or inefficient, it will fail. For years I've been trying to support local and indie businesses and I suppose it helps, but sadly it probably it won't help enough. I just watched a documentary called "Paperback Dreams" about two indies and about the plight of the indie book store and I think the sad reality is that unless they are really filling a niche, it's almost impossible for them to compete with big box stores like Wal-Mart, Target and Costco, who sell books at cost, not to mention Amazon and other online suppliers. I think buying from the indies (and I make a point to get out and buy at least a dozen books a year from mine) makes us feel better, but in the end, I'm not sure how much difference it will make.

Having said that, I don't believe the demand for content is going to change and I think writers need to keep on keeping on. The model for the rest of the industry may change and I'm optimistic that it will probably be an improvement.

Great post!

Janet said...

Not all the news is bleak. Book sales are actually up over last year.

Apart from that, I figure that there are always people who find jobs in a recession, businesses that succeed, and people who buy cars and houses. Why shouldn't somebody buy my manuscript?

Wish me luck. I'll start querying in the new year.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Lisa--Yes, that's me with my hands over my ears too. Thanks for that image . . . and for (as always) such a thoughtful comment.

Janet--You're right, book sales are up. Hooray! And here's wishing you tons of luck. Keep us posted, okay?

Bev Marshall said...

I would like to add Pass Christian Books on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to your list. Scott Naugle, who owns it, lost every book, every board, every lovely item in the store during Katrina. He's not only built back better than ever, he's one of the biggest supporters of authors I know. I'm buying from him and the good folks at Garden District you mentioned.

Janet said...

LOL, Judy. I'm sure I'll be screaming the news at my blog if anything good happens. I'll try to remember to tell you too. ;o)

Therese said...

Book sales are up, and Pub. Marketplace is reporting steady deal-making, so it's not quite as bleak as the media would have us believe.

Call it bleak-ish.

I like fearlessness as a motto. You go, girl!!

Daisy said...

Oh, Schwartz's! The memories! I used to take a greyhound bus home from college, and I'd always pick up something from the Schwartz's bargain table during the layover.

Jamie Ford said...

Sadly, I live in a small town and we don't even have an indie store. The nearest one is Fact & Fiction in Missoula.

kristenspina said...

This is so well-said. And yes, you are right. We should go forth bravely and live our lives and do good and be good and follow our hearts, regardless.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Bev, thanks for the suggestion about Pass Christian Books!

Thanks, Therese . . . and yes, the news isn't that bad.

Daisy, I loved Schwartz's. Glad I could rekindle a memory for you!

Jamie--I drove through Missoula this summer--wish I'd been able to stop into that store.

Kristen--thanks for stopping in--we are of like minds, aren't we?

Carleen Brice said...

Excellent post!

The Tattered Cover in Denver is a gem!