Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Indie Bookstore Adventures #amreading #bookstores #authors


Image by Lubos Houska from Pixabay

As authors and many readers know, independent bookstores are gems in the literary world. The “big box” bookstores … er, there’s only one bookstore chain left, isn’t there? And that one (Barnes and Noble) is hanging on for dear life. Anyway, the chain bookstores are big, with lots of non-book stuff like puzzles and toys and coffee bars (don’t get me wrong; coffee bars are good!)

Indie bookstores are much smaller, often tucked into a space that isn’t on the main drag but located on a side street along with other quaint shops. They have an appeal that goes beyond the relatively small selection of books they stock (they will order books they don’t have on the shelves if you ask). Many have coffee bars that aren’t tied to Starbucks or Caribou Coffee. Bonus there: they often also have homemade treats to go with the coffee. Think going over to Grandma’s house when she and her lady friends gather for coffee.

Other indies specialize in one or more genres. In our neck of the woods, we have an indie bookstore specializing in mysteries. And they have a great name: Once Upon a Crime. Other local indie bookstores focus on local artists as well as books, often with a theme such as indigenous or diverse art. Some cater to kids and anyone who isn’t old enough to vote.

These little bookstores offer great atmosphere. You can smell the books. You can sense the love for books that the owners and staff have. Many have cozy common areas set aside where customers can hang out and read. The bookstore I was at recently, Buffalo Books and Coffee, had a small common area. Before I left after my author signing time, I noticed someone enjoying both the comfy space and my book!

The best part about indie bookstores is they tend to be very supportive of local authors. They will gladly invite an author in for a book signing or an author event. Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis regularly hosts “big name” local authors who include William Kent Kreuger, John Sandford (even if he doesn’t live in MN anymore), and PJ Tracy. They also host authors not as well known, like Jess Lourey, Jessie Chandler, Anne Fraiser, Brian Lutterman, and soo many more (who also happen to be members of our Twin Cities Sisters in Crime 😀 ).

Today I have an author signing at Fair Trade Books in Red Wing. (Yes, that Red Wing. Where the stoneware pottery and the shoes/boots come from.) Fair Trade Books is spoken of with admiration among local authors because they are so welcoming and enthusiastic of us. When I talk to my fellow Sisters in Crime members, the two bookstores that always seem to come up when discussing author events are Once Upon a Crime and Fair Trade Books.

Do you have a favorite indie bookstore in your area? Maybe one that likes to host local authors? Have you done author events or signings at an indie bookstore?

I’ll try to get some pictures this time. I forgot when I was in Buffalo. If you want to see some of my past author events, you can find them on my author website.

Have a great writing weekend!

Enjoying summer!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, four chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

23 thoughts on “Indie Bookstore Adventures #amreading #bookstores #authors

  1. You have reminded me that I’ve been meaning to contact an indie bookstore I heard of in a nearby small town, maybe 30 miles from here. The one I knew of closer is gone, though I’ve also been meaning to see what replaced it. I just don’t get out a lot–it’s that writing thing, you know. 😀 I love the sound of the shops you described! THIS week, I’m going to see what we have left within a 30-minute drive or so. I do a lot of local presentations, but haven’t done a single one at a book store. Yet. 🙂 Great post, Julie! Thanks. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that whole writing thing. Which has been getting neglected in my neck of the woods for far too long. Seems that a full-time job, garden, and marketing take far too much time that could be better spent working on my WIP 🙂 If you’ve done other local presentations, you might want to mention that when you contact them, in case they want to make a special event out of your visit (of course they would!). I’m still trying to figure out how to approach libraries. I’m thankful for our Twin Cities Sisters in Crime, who do panels on a regular basis, so there is some opportunity there to get out and about.

      Have a great week, Marcia!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know how anyone with a full-time job manages to get a postcard written, much less a book! My hat’s off to those of you who succeed at that! 🙂

        Yes, I usually do 2 (sometimes 3) presentations a month at local venues. I talk about our wildlife and birds, and sometimes even about writing, and always have a signing table set up. I love doing them. I hadn’t thought about using that as a plus when talking to bookstores or libraries. Thanks for reminding me it could be helpful.

        Hope your week is a great one, too, Julie! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I hope your signing goes really, really well, Julie! And I couldn’t agree more about indie bookstores. They are great, and deserve to be promoted. As it so happens, I’m doing an author event/signing myself at one of the on 5 October: Book Carnival, in Orange, CA. I’m really looking forward to it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • They are great! And good luck with your one in October! Indie bookstores are such gems. The one I was at is well-known in the community, and though I didn’t meet a lot of people (I think a lot of people were taking advantage of the nice day), many knew the owners by name and came in just to visit with them.

      Have a great week, Margot!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent in a bookstore. Enjoy the signing and meeting new readers, Julie!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I can imagine how good it felt seeing a customer reading your book:) Congrats on all the book signings. I keep meaning to get to that. We have one local store thats owned by a mom I know, our daughters are friends. So I really don’t have an excuse. Have a great weekend, Julie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was pretty cool! She had just bought it, and settled in to read for a while. Denise, you have to set up a signing, especially if the store is owned by someone you know. Just do it! It’ll be a good opportunity to meet some locals and talk about books and writing 🙂

      Have a great week (and contact that bookstore 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

  5. An indie bookstore? I feel like a dolt for never looking to see if there’s one in my area. Duh! Ha ha. (Heading to an internet search next). How great to see someone cozied up with your book! You should have immortalized the moment with a photo. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Julie. Good luck at your next signing. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! With Once Upon a Crime and so many others around here, and so many fellow Twin Cities Sisters in Crime members doing book signings and events, it’s always been on my list of “things I need to do to sell my book”. I wish I would have thought to take a picture. I forgot to take a pic at the bookstore yesterday, too. I need a personal photographer to remind me!

      Have a wonderful week, Diana!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I would love the opportunity to do a book signing in a local bookstore some day. Sounds like fun! (She says easily when the real possibility of having to do so IRL (gulp!) is far far away.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! Just find the local store on FB and/or their website, get the contact email, and send them a nice “Indie bookstores are awesome! I’m a local author. Would you consider carrying my book? And by the way, I’m available for signings and author events” email. And attach your sell sheet (you do have a sell sheet, right? If not, your publisher should be able to help you.) You could even start with your local library (see, I have all kinds of ideas 🙂 ) Yes, it’s hard to execute them, being an introverted writer and all that, but I’ve had friends and family stop by at each one of my signings so far, which helps.

      Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I hope your even went well.

    I love old bookstores, but I never go to the ones here because they’re in the college part of town and I can’t stand the traffic. There used to be one easy to get to, and my friends and I went there all the time. We were crushed when it closed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ugh. Traffic. There are a number of indie stores in the Twin Cities, but they are mostly in the downtown areas, and yes, I hate the traffic, too. Luckily there are others outside of the Cities. I hate to see bookstores close, because they are sooo cool–and books, of course! I get the business side of it, though. I think that’s why a lot of them have coffee bars or something else to attract customers.

      Have a great week, Staci!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I tried the library with my first book. No response after three tries. Maybe even 4. My thought is it was too religious. All my books might be. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  9. How cool that someone was settled in the comfy space with your book! 🙂
    And I hope your book signing went well.
    I’ve done one signing at a local indie store. We don’t have many in our area but there is one in a nearby town I’d like to check out. We still have a wonderful small chain bookstore (Books-a-million) but unfortunately, they can’t host local authors 😦
    Even so, I still love them.
    Have a great week, Julie!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, too bad they don’t host local authors. B&N used to around here, but doesn’t anymore. And it is cool to see someone reading your book. Of course, my next thought is: Man, I hope they like it. Even better if they like it enough to tell their friends!

      Have a wonderful rest of your week, Mae!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love my Indie bookstore, and it’s a really good feeling to walk in and the guy who runs the place actually knows your name. Indie forever…

    Liked by 1 person

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