Friday, 29 November 2013

Support your local book seller

Last week I was invited to an event held by Dymocks in Camberwell.

Now, most of you will have heard of Dymocks bookstores, and you've probably even shopped in some of them. You know that there are Dymocks outlets all over Australia.

What you may not know is that Dymocks is the oldest Australian owned bookshop - no mean feat in a world of online booksellers and an age where iconic Australian businesses are either closing down or selling to overseas interests.

So, back to my opening comment - last week Dymocks in Camberwell invited me to participate in a special pre-Christmas event.

There were up to 20 writers in attendance, armed with pens and ready to scribble their signatures on books purchased by cheerful shoppers getting a jump on their Christmas gift-buying.

There were platters of nibbles going around and glasses of bubbly and O.J. provided and shoppers got to meet and chat with authors, and enjoyed a 20% discount on purchases.

I've spoken before about the insular nature of writers, I mean, we do live, for the most part, in a world of our own making - to say we don't get out much is often an understatement.

When an opportunity arises to emerge from our hermitage, meet the people who enjoy our work and chat about our characters, settings, motivation et al, it's irresistible.

Trouble is, such opportunities don't come along all that often, and certainly not by one of the big-boys in the biz.

My relationship with Dymocks in Camberwell goes back to 2009 when they stocked a handful of my first published book, All That & Everything.

As a newbie to the publishing world, I can't describe the buzz I got when I first saw my little book on a shelf in a real, live bookshop!

I couldn't believe my luck, although I know now that luck had little to do with it. Kat and the team at Camberwell are huge supporters of local writers and they're genuinely passionate about books of all genres.

I learned this for a fact when Torn was released. Suddenly it was sitting there, on the shelves, proud as you like!

A short time later, Kat invited me to come along to their First Tuesday Bookclub to chat about my book and sign a few copies. What was she thinking!? It's not like I was anyone special - I'm just Karen from Mornington.

But that was the whole point.

These guys recognise that there's an awful lot of literary talent out there, and as shrewd business people they realise that to support local writers, and have local writers support their events is a win-win.

Another point to this is that many of the writers supported by Kat and her best-sellers (get it!) are self-published, and due to this status, are often overlooked by the big book shops.

Don't get me wrong, I love the E-publishing world as much as the next Kindle-owner, and both of my books are available online.

But E-publishing is both inexpensive and easy, which means so many excellent books are available at a mouse-click. Conversely, it also means that there's a load of rubbish out there too - vanity publishing is rife in the E-book world - and these crappy, often badly edited, poorly written offerings increase the stigma associated with self-publishers.

My books are self-published. But to my immense joy, Palmer Higgs, my publishers, have asked to republish Torn, under their name, in preparation for the release of Inviolate, the sequel to Torn.

This means that so many previously locked, barred and bolted doors will magically spring open - Torn will no longer be self-published!

This is fortunate for me, but there are millions of worthy writers out there, pouring their time and money into their passion, who are not so fortunate.

Do you, dear readers, have any idea how rare it is for a mob like Dymocks to not only support a writer, but to go that extra mile? And by 'extra mile' I'm talking champers, nibbles and a signing event.

Well, take it from me  - it's rare. Make no mistake though, Dymocks wouldn't run these events if they weren't worthwhile in a business sense, but it's still great to be invited all the same.

As mentioned, I'm from Mornington. There's a nice little bookshop on Main Street called Farrell's. They're happy to support local writers and have stocked both All That & Everything and Torn.

However, one of the bigger bookshop chains - who shall remain nameless but who used to have a shop in Frankston - refused to stock any of my books. They are now out of business.

Believe in Karma? I do.

It was a fun event last Thursday. I got to meet other writers - which is always fun - and a number of fans and potential fans of my work.

So, a big shout out to Dymocks Camberwell, Kat and the gang for your continued support of local writers.

And as Australian businesses go bust or overseas, let's return the favour and support our local book seller - this Christmas and beyond!

This is me, Wendy Johnson and Ashley Sievwright at the Dymocks Camberwell event, Thursday 21 November, 2013.

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