This summer I had the privilege to talk with Valerie Koehler from The Blue Willow Bookshop here in Houston. I have been to a number of author readings at the Blue Willow, which hosts big names like Weird Al Yankovic (see his book Weird Al), independent authors like Jennifer Daiker (see her compilation New Life Within), and literary authors like Amanda Eyre Ward (her book How to Be Lost is one of my all-time favorites).
Blue Willow also hosts Teen Book Con, Tweens Read, and the Bookworm Bookfest. (I talk about wanting to crash Teen Book Con in this interview!) If you are in Houston, you MUST give the Blue Willow Book Shop a visit! Tell them I sent you!
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 023
My Big Takeaway: I loved hearing how Valerie is passionate about connecting readers with writers, especially through the three festivals.
Can the Indie Author Get into an Indie Bookstore?
- Yes, but you need to be polished. It should go without saying to have your work edited, but many do not take the time or spend the money.
- It’s hard because the traditional gatekeepers DO keep out a lot of the slough.
- Do quality work and hire an editor!
- Working in a bookstore sounds glamorous, but there is a large dose of business involved. I loved hearing this because I think so many times we imagine jobs to be one thing, but we forget how many basic, boring, technical kinds of things must be done for success!
- One of the important things for Valerie is a commitment to keeping your word. Show up when you say you are going to show up. Again, I have heard these same parallels applied to blogging & writing: show up consistently over time.
- I loved hearing Valerie talk about her father and how he demonstrated that idea of the commitment to showing up in his life.
- Valerie also talked about the way that fiction sometimes more than non-fiction inspires us to action because we empathize with the characters and want to make changes in our lives.
- Really great books don’t preach at us, but impact us through the gray-ness of characters and seeing something of ourselves in them.
When is the last time you graced the doors of an indie bookshop? I think it’s high time!!
What is your favorite memory of going to a bookstore as a child? Let me know in the comments!