#IndieThursday Guest Post: Kelly Simmons, Author of The Bird House

September 22, 2011 #IndieThursday 6

Each Thursday, to celebrate #IndieThursday, I’ve asked authors, bloggers, readers & other lovers of books to write about how independent bookstores have influenced their lives, or the lives of those around them. Today I’m pleased to welcome Kelly Simmons, author of The Bird House:

When my first book was about to come out, all my writer friends told me to make the rounds of local libraries and independent bookstores to introduce myself.

I started at the library, arriving at the desk with my brightest salesperson-on-commission- smile, and told them I was a local author and would like to donate a few books.  I put them on the desk proudly.   “Huh,”  the head librarian replied.  “Never heard of you.”   Well, I said, this is my first book.  Silence.  But I have a two-book deal. “Uh-huh,” she said.  Finally I pulled out my last stop:  I wrote the whole thing, here at your library!  Right over there!  I pointed to a seat by the window.  I blathered on about my willingness to do a reading, alone or with others, promising to bring chocolate cookies or tequila shooters or who knows what I said, because it was so humiliating I wanted to curl up and die.

Steeling myself, I continued on to the indie bookstore a few towns over and introduced myself to the owner. I showed him my postcards and he said, “Huh. I’m an author too.”  Oh, really, I said?   “Yes,” he replied, and proceeded to tell me all about his book, and why I should buy it.  So I did, of course. (In hardcover, I might add.)And as he handed my bag to me, he informed me that he couldn’t order my book because didn’t do business with Simon & Schuster anymore.  “I’m a little bit behind on my bills.”

Welcome to the show, my friends said.

The next day, my young daughter handed me her list of summer reading books, and I drove to the only bookstore in my town:  Children’s Book World, in Haverford, Pennsylvania.   A girl named Sarah helped us find all the books, and excitedly recommended a few others she thought my daughter would like.  As we stood at the register, my daughter said, “Maybe they have your book, Mommy.”   Sarah brightened, asked me if I was an author, and I sheepishly said yes. She literally clapped her hands together, congratulating me, and brought every other employee over to meet me and exclaim over my postcards and listen to my elevator pitch about the plot. Then she said, “Well, we must order it right now!”  She got on the computer, and ordered six of them.  “We’ll sell them to the moms,” she smiled.  “And you must come back and sign them.”

And thus began an enthusiastic, symbiotic relationship with a store that shouldn’t even carry my books, yet does.  Many of my author friends, when they do their own publicity, or do festivals and events, order books directly from their publishers. Not me. I order my books from Children’s Book World.

I would order my blue jeans, my birthday cakes, and my Thanksgiving turkey from Children’s Book World if I could.  Because when you find an independent bookstore that truly loves books, and loves authors, you don’t want to shop anywhere else.

As for the library?  Well, I wrote my second book in a coffee shop.  (An independent coffee shop.)

Participation in #IndieThursday is simple: just visit your local independent bookstore, either in person or online. Tweet what you purchased, as well as the name of the store, using the hashtag #IndieThursday. Help celebrate indie bookstores!

If you would like to do a guest post on how independent bookstores have influenced your life, please email me at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.

6 Responses to “#IndieThursday Guest Post: Kelly Simmons, Author of The Bird House”

  1. Krystyn

    I loved this post!! Children’s Book World sounds like a great place!!! Off to see what “The Bird House” is about… :)

  2. Susan

    Great post, Kellie. I remember going through the same thing when my book came out. I gave Fox bookstore a free book to look over. They never got back to me, not even an email. In the end, it was Barnes and Noble in Center City (go figure!) that took me under its wing, held an event, and still keeps my book in stock two years later. You never know.

  3. Nicole Langan
    Twitter: TributeBooks

    Kelly, I hear ya, girl! As a teeny tiny publisher, I’ve had many similar encounters when it comes to getting our titles in stores, libraries, etc. It’s tough out there. But I’m glad you found a place that appreciates you and vice versa. Yay for Children’s Book World! And by the way, I’m going to check out your book right now.

  4. Melissa Taylor
    Twitter: imaginationsoup

    My Children’s Book World is Bookies – in Denver. It’s amazing, designed originally (I think) for teachers. And, like you, the library is like my Cheers. I’m such a geek.

    Now I have to ask about the ambient noise of the coffee shop – didn’t it bother you or did you just tune it out? I can’t work well in a noisy coffee shop.

  5. Roz Warren

    Great essay! I LOVE Children’s Book World. My “child” is now 23 years old, but when he was little we logged many happy hours there. In addition to the incredibly knowledgeable staff, it was just a fun place to hang out in, and browsing was always encouraged. And Kelly, as a local author myself, I think I know exactly which bookstore owner urged you to buy his book while concluding that ordering yours was out of the question. (I only hope that the library where I work isn’t the one that was so unsupportive….)