Who’s up for starting a revolution?

OK, so that’s a bit pretentious. But I get these ideas, and sometimes I get a little carried away.

A revolution requires two things: People willing to revolt, and something to revolt against. I think we have both here,

Not that I’m mad at anybody. Amazon, for example, is part of the problem facing writers today, but it’s also part of the solution. Same with Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and all the other players in mass market publishing. Most writers don’t want to revolt against these entities — they want to be accepted by them.

I guess my idea of a revolution, then, is overturning the notion that anyone who is not immediately accepted by the publishing establishment is doomed to sitting alone and depressed, reading their work to their cat.

The good news is that the almighty gatekeepers can be bypassed, if necessary, and an appreciative audience can be accessed directly.

Who else feels this way?

Small publishers, for one. They share the same basic concern — getting people to buy their books.  That’s why I’ve been e-mailing many of them and asking them to get involved in the Snowflakes in a Blizzard project, because the more potential readers they can reach, the better.

I also feel a kinship with some self-publishing outfits, although it can be difficult to separate the “friendlies” from the predators.

And what about independent bookstores? In many cases, they need — and deserve — our help. Take, for example, Givens Books in Lynchburg, VA,, an outfit I dealt with on several self-published books. They dedicate a sizable chunk of shelf space to locally published authors, and they are almost always amendable to hosting book signings. They know that those events, if nothing else, will bring extra people into their store.

After a month or so, when we get a few books featured and archived, I’d like to have a drawing each week of all the people who are followers of the blog, pulling one name from a hat. The winner will get his or her choice of any book on our list, free (that is, if the author goes along with that).

I wouldn’t want to do the drawing, because I will know a lot of the folks in that hat. Instead, I’d like to go to a different independent bookstore every week in my part of Upstate New York and nearby Vermont and ask someone there to pull out a slip. Then I’ll mention a little about that store in the next blog, along with the name of the winner. Meanwhile, in each of the twice-weekly posts, the writer will pick a favorite indy bookstore in his or her area.

Well ahead of time, I will have contacted that store to tell them that I am sending press releases to all the local media about that Snowflake posting, and the writer is also doing advance publicity. With luck, that might encourage the store owner to stock that book, if only on consignment, because it would be embarrassing to get requests for it and not have it. If we’re really lucky, the relationship might lead to a book signing.

I also plan to set up a page on the blog to highlight a different bookstore with each post. Will this impress anybody in the bookstore business? Maybe not at first, but if we get enough followers to this blog, it will.

No way am I advocating a boycott of Amazon, Barnes & Noble et al — that would be stupid.  Also, I’m encouraged by signs that they are “getting” it. Amazon, for instance, now has a program to help first-time and self-published writers. Good for them. There’s plenty of room on the bandwagon.

Of course, a lot of the books by hopeful authors are not very well written.  Don’t take this the wrong way, those of you who do it for a living, but outside editing is quite pricy. I understand why, because I do some of that myself. You have to make a living. But once we get, say, 1,000 followers or so (and that can be done, and done quickly), I’d like to set up yet another page highlighting an editor with each post, complete with a brief biography and a few nice words from clients. It may be the person who edited that particular book, or someone else.

In return, that editor will do a free (or greatly discounted) edit of a book that shows promise, but lacks polish (I wouldn’t ask anyone to take on something that has to be substantially re-written).

Another possibility is to set up a “barter” page. For example — I’m terrible at computer stuff, so I would be happy to edit someone’s book in return for tech help. Or maybe two writer/editors would agree to swap services. Incidentally, for those early participants in “Snowflakes” who aren’t getting the true value of these promotions, I’ll be glad to bring you back later.

Finally, if you haven’t signed on as a follower of this blog, please do. All it means is that you’ll get two posts in your inbox each week. It also entitles you to participate in the weekly contest.

And, you’ll be helping the Revolution.

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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

2 thoughts on “Who’s up for starting a revolution?”

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