Tuesday, September 25, 2012

How to Take a Blogging Hiatus

by M. J. Joachim
Updated 11/20/15

All things considered, blogging can be quite a lot of work. Posting regularly and often, enhancing posts with pictures and other special effects, researching and including appropriate links, formatting etc. Then you have to take proper security measures and keep your blog updated and running smoothly all the time. It’s only natural to opt to take a blogging hiatus sometimes, when you completely unplug and don’t worry about your blog at all.

As with most things, there are a couple of do’s and don’ts in this regard. My biggest pet peeve is when people complain while taking their blogging hiatus. They begin with this huge negative vibe, sending out messages about how hard it is to blog, or carry on about why they aren’t blogging and don’t have time to blog. This is one sure way to get me to take their blog off my list of blogs to visit all the time.

Taking a blogging hiatus is as easy as not blogging for a while. You don’t even need to say anything. All you need to do is stop. People will still visit your blog. A few of them might wonder how you are doing, especially if you’re gone for a long time, but no one will be too upset if you skip the negativity and let the silence or lack of your posts do the rest.

If you must say something, keep it light and easy. Leave a “Gone Fishing” sign or “Will be back later” note. You certainly aren’t required to explain your whereabouts to anyone who visits your blog, and if they are faithful followers, they’ll probably be more than a little bit understanding that life took you away for a time, especially if they are bloggers themselves. If not, it’s doubtful anyone will consider you a total flake for getting too busy to blog for a time.

Life happens and we are all real people with real lives. Everyone knows that, and if they don’t, that’s more likely their problem than yours. So take a blogging hiatus if you need one, and don’t worry about all the other stuff happening in cyberspace. It will be there when you get back, and all will be well. The world will keep spinning and life will go on as it always does, because to be honest, there really isn’t any other alternative for it.

Because we all need a break from time to time, and explaining such things is not a requirement for anyone.

Best to you and yours. Enjoy your time off.

M. J.

©2015 All Rights Reserved Photo credit: CCA License

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Impressions on Edgar Allen Poe’s Poem, Eldorado

by M. J. Joachim
Eldorado – land of eternal rest…

Simplicity is the first word that comes to mind when reading Edgar Allen Poe’s poem called Eldorado.

Perhaps it’s just me, I can’t be sure. However, when I read this poem, all I can picture is a knight traveling on from place to place, searching for a land he instinctively knows exist, but for whatever reason, can’t seem to find.

It must be a bit maddening to know about something, want it and have no reasonable prospects of getting it. All one can do is accept that it’s not time to have it yet. Poe is quick to point out that regardless of all effort, if it isn’t time to have something, you aren’t going to get it, no matter how hard you try.

Did Poe have a death wish? Somehow, I don’t think so. Rather I think he was aware of eternity, and in tune with the fact that life is a journey, to be lived until such a time, as one eventually meets eternal destiny.

Poe doesn’t offer excuses or copouts in Eldorado. He quite plainly exhorts the knight to ride boldly, pointing at shadows along the way. Life is full of shadows, isn’t it? Sickness, accidents, self-destruction…each of these and many more things lend themselves to mini-shadows that could ultimately be our demise, and often surprise us when they’re not. Don’t you agree?

Eldorado is a poem about living life, traveling the journey, growing old and gallantly crossing the finish line. It is a simple poem, meant to lift up the spirit and rejoice in the life it proclaims.

That’s all for now, good people! Until next time, I wish you wellJ

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hobbies, Comedy, Edgar Allen Poe, Gardening…This Post Has It All!

by M. J. Joachim
As many of you know, some of my regular activities include crocheting, blogging, reading, writing, cooking and gardening (in no particular order, of course). These are all wonderfully relaxing activities for me, and they tend to work well together. Writing and blogging are the catch all, as it were. Words from all these activities seem to flow out of me – except the cooking…those words tend to escape me when I’m doing the dishes, unfortunately.

Last night, I was reading – Edgar Allen Poe, for our current blog series here. I read the poem Eldorado, and yes, I will be writing about it before the day is over (hopefully). But then I read another story of his, and burst out laughing! It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever read in my life, almost to the point of uncontrollable laughter.

Now that’s the genius of marketing!!!

If someone had told me Edgar Allen Poe wrote comedy, I would never have believed it in a million years. Having read it myself, I must recommend to all of you to read his story titled, Lionizing.

Meanwhile, my friend and fellow blogger, Glory Lennon, was busy as could be preparing my own guest post for her blog, Glory’s Garden. You see, kind followers, while I’ve never been inclined to create a gardening blog myself, I still enjoy sharing my garden and writings about gardening with others.


If you’d like to learn a little bit about gardening in the desert southwest, or perhaps get to know me a little better through one of my other hobbies you don’t get to hear very much about, then please pop on over and pay a visit to Glory’s Garden. I’m sure she’d love to meet you, so do let her know you’ve stopped in by chatting it up in the comments too.

That’s all for now, good people! Until next time, I wish you wellJ
M. J.
©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Edgar Allen Poe Delivers Evil Eyes and Guilt in The Tell-Tale Heart

by M. J. Joachim
Guilt is a funny thing, there’s no denying it! As you read ATell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe, you find yourself suddenly taken into the world of a madman’s psyche. The main character is utterly bonkers! His dual personality depicts the battle of good and evil to a T.

Not surprisingly, evil triumphs as fears continuously plague him – not fears of danger, mind you. This guy is “afraid” (or perhaps disturbed is a better word for it) of the evil eye. Well, symbolically speaking, one can only wonder what this evil eye truly represents in the story. Is it the Eye of God? Does it trigger memories for him of a morose childhood and remind him of the evil eye of his mother, father or some other authority figure?

No matter. The story is much more for our benefit than we know. You see, we’ve all been plagued by an evil eye at one point or another in our lives, haven’t we? Without a doubt, we’ve wished to rid ourselves of this unsightly glare that diminishes who we are with a single glance. Shamefully, we cower under such scrutiny – even when there’s nothing to cower for, because we truly haven’t done anything. It’s enough to make anyone mad, which is why the opening paragraphs in A Tell-Tale Heart are so realistic, prophetic and true.

Get to the point already! For such a short story, it takes quite a while to transition into what the effects of an evil eye can do to a person – how they can mess with one’s mind, causing it to do things quite normally incomprehensible. Crossing over is a task worth fighting at every turn, and if you lose the battle, there’s positively no turning back!

I simply can’t ruin the ending for you, good people. Suffice to say, responses to the evil eye are not the only things that mess with one’s psyche. Guilt also has a way of eating us alive; when it does so, there’s no telling what we might do!

Next up, one of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems, Eldorado...

That’s all for now, good people! Until next time, I wish you wellJ

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, GNU Free Documentation License

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Contemplating the Writings of Edgar Allen Poe

by M. J. Joachim
Good day to you, kind followers! I think it’s important to let you in on a little secret. The reality is that I did not expect to enjoy reading Edgar Allen Poe. In fact, based on my preconceived notions about him and his work, I was thoroughly convinced I would be double locking my doors and windows at night, grabbing my husband’s arm as we slept – clinging to him for comfort, as my imagination went wild with scenes from the stories I was reading.

However, nothing could be further from the truth…at least so far. A curiosity factor has developed, and despite some of the gruesome settings and details included in his work, Poe has to my mind, deserved his highly acclaimed reputation.

True confessions, as it were, I’m finding a gut reaction not suitable to the work. You see, I often need to read Poe’s stories more than once, because he includes so much detail about everything – backgrounds, environments, scenery, people – oh, how he manages to allow us to literally see every blemish and wrinkle on their faces, while picturing every grimace and hearing every sigh!

If anyone ever wants a lesson in how to write better, I’m convinced you need only read the writings of Poe and many other authors who have such all-inclusive, dynamic writing styles. Genre aside, there is much to be said for writing really good stories; giving credit where credit is due, I must admit that Poe couldn’t have written his stories for the sake of promoting horror.

Far too many of them contain vital information about the times he lived in, not to mention twists and turns that might make people step up and notice some of the troubles in their midst. Poe’s stories contain insight and messages for his present time, as well as for all time. Evil is real, as is temptation. Our response to it is optional. Poe makes this clear time and time again, all the while telling a story that captures your attention from the very first word, to the very last punctuation mark.

That’s all for now, good people! Until next time, I wish you wellJ

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allen Poe

A Commentary by M. J. Joachim

In reading The Oval Portrait by Edgar Allen Poe, I was immediately captured by his intense descriptions in the opening paragraphs. For such a short piece, one that could easily qualify as flash fiction in some circles, this special attention to detail drew me into the story, and I found myself wanting to play a role, as it were, of one of his characters, or at least participate as an extra to observe first-hand what was to take place within the scene.

Several (background) images stood out and made a bold statement within the story to me:

The Main Character was Not Well
The Environment was Chosen by Necessity
The Era of the Piece was Unmistakable
Putting Oneself Second was the Rule of the Day
That Which was Hidden, was of Prime Importance in the Story

Then there were the messages within the story, the undeniable reason Poe must have written such a piece (imho), declaring and accusing workaholics of their folly, slamming them for this indolence and absence. This was a story declaring war…showing the depravity of it! A story that could relate to any number of circumstances in our lives, where we neglect that which is truly important, to selfishly address our own, impoverished needs, whatever they might be.

That’s all for now, kind followers. Happy Monday to you! I hope your weekend was positively amazingJ I spent much of mine in the yard. It’s planting season out here in the desert southwest, and I’ve been very busy getting beds ready and planting produce seeds. Home grown tastes so much better, you know.

Until next time, I wish you well!

M. J.

©2012 All Rights Reserved
Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe

A Commentary by M. J. Joachim

Certainly Poe was chastising his demons when he wrote The Cask of Amontillado. Whether or not he was drinking sherry at the time, is not a path I wish to pursue. However, it seems clear to me that Poe was struggling with his inconsistent status – that of perpetually gaining and losing community prestige, and even more so, that he placed much of the blame on his inability to avoid his vice of drinking and partying when reliable sums of money came to him.

Fortunato, a primary character in The Cask of Amontillado, is immediately cast as a man of a “thousand injuries,” one that Poe was determined, not only to conquer, but to kill in a violent, cruel death – to prevent being ever haunted by its lure. Clearly fortune purchases the finest wine – but a dark wine, one that deceives with its delicate flavor of innocence and intensity, like Amontillado? Truly this was a tell-all about a man intent on standing firm against his vices and temptations.

Such confusion Poe had, bantering (with himself?) back and forth in the story. It’s almost as if he were writing as he walked down the street through carnival at the time. Perhaps he was in a local pub or bar, writing on a napkin or something of the sort. We writers do tend to make use of whatever is handy, don’t we? It seems reasonable to believe that if Poe had a smart tablet like we do today, he may well have composed this story as he journeyed through the steps of it, writing ad lib, if you will…until he reached the catacombs, of course.

Skeletons in the closet come to mind. A man with so many of them, ones which no one should ever have the right to know…

But people did know, and it bothered Poe deeply. He knew many of them saw the man beneath the public face he valiantly tried to present as himself to the world. Local gossip about him was taking its toll. He resolved to defeat it, put an end to the cruelty of his insecurity and personal demise. Such difficult inner turmoil to endure – expressed throughout carefully written dialog in The Cask of Amontillado.

One moment he is surrounded by all his demons – debating the pros and cons of seeking “professional help” (Luchesi). All the while he is making excuses – literally sick with the idea of succumbing to his illness (mental head trash he simply couldn’t overcome).

Expressed in uncontrollable coughing, agitated by cold and dampness, unconquerable by reason and common sense…

Why, you could almost see a devil sitting on one shoulder, while an angel sat on the other, with poor Edgar sitting in the middle at their mercy!

Finally the unsuspecting chains that bound him…the battle and battle cries as he made his final choice! It was time to end the struggle, finish the task and bury (with so many other demons) the debauchery from fortune gone awry!

Next up…

Happy Friday, dear followers! I hope your weekend is truly wonderful!

M. J.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, GNU Free Documentation License
All work published on this blog is protected by individual property rights and copyright.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Delving into the Life and Literary Works of Edgar Allen Poe

by M. J. Joachim

I think it’s pretty safe to say that Edgar Allen Poe had more than his share of head trash. Clearly, writing became an outlet to help him escape from reality, deal with demons and release creative energy.

Historically, Poe became acclaimed as one of America’s most influential authors and literary critics, known and praised throughout the world. “He is widely acknowledged as the inventor of the modern detective story and an innovator in the science fiction genre, but he made his living as America’s first great literary critic and theoretician,” states Poe Museum.

An unlikely subject for me to delve into and blog about, as I tend to shy away from reading horror stories, I became intrigued with Poe after reading The Cask of Amontillado. From there, I found myself immersed in his biography and enticed with the idea of writing a blog series relating to Poe and his work.

Mind you, this series should be considered raw. What you will read here will not be research about what anyone else says about Poe and his writings. It will be my gut reaction, first impression, unadulterated opinion (mixed in with necessary biographical facts) about the man and his works. I’m going to treat this series as a creative exercise, not an American Literature class. God only knows where it could take me...

It is my every hope that you will follow, enjoy and share your own unadulterated opinions, as we endeavor to explore the exciting world of Edgar Allen Poe.

Until next time, wonderful people, I wish you only good things!

M. J.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain
All work published on this blog is protected by individual property rights and copyright.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Marketing Your Work on Facebook

by M. J. Joachim

Those words, they were primed and ready to hit the keypad like nobody’s business…
Oops! Distracted by Facebook again!

But this post was important…and a hoax...

Of course I didn't know it was a hoax...

With the recent changes in FB, the public can now see activities on any wall. This happens when our friend hits "like" or "comment." Automatically, their friends will see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves, because Facebook has configured it this way. There is a way to protect your privacy.

Only you can change it. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click). A window will appear. Now move the mouse on "FRIENDS" (also without clicking), then down to "Settings." Click on Settings and a list will appear. REMOVE the check on "COMMENTS & LIKE" by clicking on it. By doing this, activity amongst friends and family will no longer become public. Many Thanks! Past this on your wall so your contacts can follow suit, if you want to maintain some degree of privacy on Facebook too. 

Don't you just hate it when that happens!!!

So much for marketing our writing, right?

Not so fast, good people…

Simply choose to publicize your links by clicking “public” when you post them. The rest of us can share and share alike, spreading the word like a grass roots movement on fire!

In a society where little is kept private, and words are everywhere – too often without a care or sense of decency at all…

Yea, I guess no one needs to read my sermon about that in this post…

Marketing your work on Facebook is a good idea. It also helps to mind your manners and consider the posts other people are sharing. After reading the post above, I changed a few “friend settings” for people who don’t use Facebook to market anything. They only use it to keep up with friends and family. This type of thing preserves respect for individuals, keeps the peace and makes for nicer relationships in the long run.

Happy Wednesday to All!
Wishing you only good things from sunny ArizonaJ
M. J.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Edgy Writing Declares War on Society’s Issues

by M. J. Joachim 

Perhaps it’s the thrill of sorting out good from evil. Maybe it’s the idea of sharing a symbolic message, and the fact that I can use shock value to get my point across. I suppose it could be that removing oneself from one’s comfort zone raises awareness in most people.

Yes, my FlashTyme stories are a bit edgy. There’s little room for doubt on that score. However, most of them are also filled with deeper meaning, unveiling a hidden inspiration to anyone daring to discover the message I’m trying to express.

Some topics lend themselves well to edgy literary works, much more so than research papers and documents filled with statistics. Consider all the controversy over politics, human rights, criminal rights and a host of other noteworthy subjects. Are any of these issues solved with the constant bantering that takes place around them? Aren’t people more inclined to tune out, than engage – unless of course they’re so focused on their own response, that they never hear the other person anyway?

Writers have an opportunity and an obligation to share the vision of making the world a better place. We don’t do it by sitting on the side-lines and writing fluff. We don’t do it by engaging in the over-inflated ego contest, presenting itself as a war on words. We do it by writing the stories that catch people off-guard and make them think.

I mean, who really wants to read a research article about a broken family, suffering through the plight of their loved one disappearing off the face of the earth? However, a strong flash fiction story will drive the point home that society needs to address this issue and respond to those families with more empathy and compassion. A novel about missing children and how God comes to their assistance, making their suffering so much easier to bear, speaks volumes. The Shack comes to mind, a book that continues to inspire me regarding missing children and their families.

You might feel a little bit uneasy when reading stories on FlashTyme, and that’s okay. I feel a little uncomfortable writing them too, but how can I let that prevent me from addressing real issues in a real society, albeit through an imaginary medium?

Until next time, I wish you well.
M. J. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Puzzled Over Writing Flash Fiction

by M. J. Joachim

Writing flash fiction is truly a challenge for any writer. It forces one to consolidate ideas, get to the point, avoid using unnecessary words and create an intriguing plot with minimal words. These stories, albeit extremely short, often take quite a while to produce.

I was working on one recently called The Hiking Test. I wrote the rough draft the night before, so editing it should have been relatively easy. I’m a stickler for word count when it comes to flash fiction. The challenge I personally present myself with, is to keep it at 200 words or less.

Organizing one’s thoughts to keep flash fiction short is like entering a relay race. How will your opening paragraph give you the best start, capturing your audience to the fullest extent? Which paragraph will keep the piece solid and on track? What type of closing words will get the most “oooh’s and awes” from your readers?

It’s a puzzle indeed, and definitely one that will improve your writing skills across the board!

I've been in the flash fiction zone lately, as some of you may have guessed. Challenging myself to post to my new FlashTyme blog has been intriguing and a whole lot of fun. Regarding the picture for this post, I really liked it, that's all. Seemed to fit my mood when trying to stay at 200 or fewer words...

Wishing you all the best of everything! 

That's all for now, good people:)

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Friday, September 7, 2012

Getting Your Own Book in a Bookstore

An Encore Presentation

As an author, if you’re planning to actually sell your book, you have to get it on the shelf. Oh, sure, you can sell books online in any number of places, but I’ve never met an author who said, “Um, no thanks, I don’t want to see my book in a bookstore.”

If you are with a major publisher, one of the Big Six, you probably don’t need to be reading this. If you’re with a small publisher, or have self-published, listen and learn:

First, make sure the cover looks good; make sure it stands out. Second, make sure the title is simple and memorable. Third, that book had better be edited to within an inch of its life!

Many booksellers won’t carry anything they can’t return if it doesn’t sell, and this includes a lot of small publishers and especially self-published books. Some won’t carry self-published books at all, period. Don’t bother making up a publisher name, unless you DO have a small company or intend to start one in the very near future – fake names are easy to check and besides, if a bookseller looks at what other books “you” have published or, worse yet, can’t even find a website, the jig is up. Likewise, booksellers are familiar with the names of vanity publishers, you know, the ones to whom YOU cut a large check and then they “publish” your book? Yeah, those. Stay away from them.

Don’t send letters, postcards, bookmarks, etc. Booksellers are busy people; those things are likely to end up in the trash. Bring your book to the store, in person. Present yourself well. Show the book, talk about the book. Ask for a  shelf spot, ask for a book signing. Often, the person you talk to isn’t the one who makes the decision and you may have to leave the book. It could take several weeks for them to get to it, and/or several weeks to schedule a signing. It’s okay to check back after say, two weeks, but don’t be a pest.

Most likely, a bookseller will grant you some space on a trial basis or on consignment. If it’s a trial, pick up your unsold books promptly at the end. Consignment can certainly vary from store-to-store, but since publishers usually give a discount to booksellers, they expect one from you too. Typically, you’ll paid 60% of the retail price, or sometimes the sale price if the bookseller needs to move merchandise. You could be paid monthly, quarterly, or by some other arrangement. Don’t quibble over this and, again, don’t be a pest – but do check in, no more than once a month.

It’s not particularly hard to get your book into an independent bookstore, but it does take persistence and politeness and the ability to sell yourself.

Thanks again, Robin! I’ve no doubt your series will be more than helpful to a lot of our readers! Here's all the links, for those who might have missed something: 

Until next time, good people, have a simply marvelous Friday!

M. J.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Operating and Running Your Bookstore

Primarily, you have to sell books! And other things, perhaps? Part of your business plan should include exactly what you’re going to sell – it has to, because in that plan you have to estimate expenses, cost, margin, profit, and a host of other things. The way to do this, and make that profit, is to sell books.

You can sell new ones or used ones. Or both! New ones are of more interest to some customers, the latest bestsellers for example; but many people like used books, old favorites, classics, and so forth. New books are more expensive to stock and create more paperwork for you, which equals less time to read! They’ll cost you around 40% of the cover price, but you usually have 30 days in which to pay for them. Used books are cheaper for you, and of course you charge your customers less, but the profit margin is higher.

New books are ordered from publishers, or sometimes from authors themselves. Sometimes you pay upfront, sometimes net thirty, and sometimes consignment. Additionally, some distributors have bookstore programs or you can apply to get books from them – this means you can order through them for individual customers, or a book club, or to put on the shelf; this usually includes e-books and audio books too. You can link with distributors, as an affiliate, or sell direct from your own website.

Used books will flood your doorway via customers with trade-ins, people looking to donate and, at night after close – I swear they multiply, all by themselves. I knew we should have kept that Fifty Shades book out of there….

You can also stock book accessories: reading lights, pens, journals, calendars. We also carried bookmarks at the beginning, but many publishers and authors will bring you free ones, so just keep a big basket near the counter and customers can help themselves. A lot of bookstores also carry comics, aka graphic novels, and toys, or puzzles, and things like that. I drew the line at plastic stuff – and toys, period. And no, we don’t carry comics or even magazines. But you could.

You also need a niche, something to make you stand out. For example, we specialize in local authors and even help out some local craftspeople. We have a display of quite a few nature photographs, framed and mounted, by a local photographer; we carry a rack of his notecards. We stock skin care products made by a company in-state, with ingredients they grow and mix themselves. We even have a lady who brings in homemade dog treats!

Make that store yours, make it unique, make it stand out – make it the centerpiece of your community. Host book clubs, groups, meetings, seminars, readings, whatever it takes to bring people in the door.

And this concludes our series on "How to Open Your Own Bookstore." I trust you found it as exciting and wonderful as I have, good people. 

There's more posts being kindled in the fire. Stay tuned, and if you simply can't wait until they are published, I'd welcome your visit to any or all of my other blogs :)

FlashTyme: My creative expression at work in flash fiction stories.
Lots of Crochet Stitches:  One of the best crafts I've ever learned.
Being Catholic:  A way of life, not a religion to hang my hat on...

Until next time then, this is M. J. wishing you every success with your writing!

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Driving Traffic to Your New Bookstore

A bookstore event is something special that’s happening in your bookstore: a reading, a signing, an art show, a story time, a book club, a wine tasting, a party. We’ve had them all, and more, and I love to do events! Plus, it drives traffic; traffic is people coming in to your store, and people in the store means sales. Like direct selling, it’s a numbers game – the more people, the more sales.

Contrary to popular belief, these things aren’t expensive. It costs you nothing to invite an author for a signing – especially if they bring their own books. This is marketing for authors, gets their names out there, lets them mingle with the public and promote their books. Same goes for a reading or an art show or exhibit. Story time only requires someone to read the stories – you could do that yourself. Lots of groups need places to meet, but you might have to open a little earlier or stay a little longer. Suck it up, honey, you’re a business owner now – no such thing as 9-5!

Now that the ideas are churning in your head, what next? Advertise! You should probably already have a running ad for your bookstore in the local paper, or regional paper, or doorhangers or fliers or whatever you can afford. But something! You could add your events to that, maybe for a fee, or you could use free stuff:

Your own website – you better have one!
Your store windows/door
Posters in the store
Fliers at the store counter
Free announcements in the online papers, websites, even Craigslist!

Cross-posting and copy/paste are your new best friends.

Treat all your events as celebrations – whether it’s a new book, new product, new author, or new event, celebrate, decorate, talk it up! And if, as sometimes happens, no one shows up…do it again! The advertising mantra is repeat, repeat, repeat. It takes a lot to get people in general to pay attention. Over and over, you want your bookstore name out there. It does take time – we have folks who come in and ask “how long have you been open?” a year later! Friends with bookstores have reported the same thing – FIVE years after their grand openings!

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nuts and Bolts of Opening a Bookstore

Congratulations! That’s a big decision – it’s a business, after all, which means you have to be business-like. It’s not enough to love books, or love to read; you also have to have a plan. And money.

Let’s start with the plan. It’s easier than the money part….

Open up a Word document and click “new.” That should give you some choices as to types of documents, and you want to pick “business plan.” Then you fill in the blanks and customize the whole thing.

Wait, that’s it? It’s that easy? Oh, no, no, no! You’ll need to think about stuff, and make notes, and find information – research and check figures, look around your area and see what the market is doing, scope out your competition. Make your plan, then change it; fix it; perfect it, and you’re good to go!

Next is money. It’s a necessary evil, for sure! You want good credit, of course, and a healthy bank account, but you also need access. And by that I mean that you need to know someone with money, or have assets yourself on which you can borrow, or…you might have to opt for a high-interest loan because, believe it or not, this can be a risky venture. Oh, and those SBA loans? Banks like to loan you a LOT of money – but they also want you to buy a building so they can, you know, have something to repossess if you default.

Just to give you an idea, in the last year, since we opened, we’ve spent about $60,000. And that’s just the first year, and we’re used to doing things “on the cheap.” You could spend a lot more, but probably not much less. So now you have a goal, right?

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Pros and Cons of Owning a Bookstore

Wouldn’t that be cool?? Surrounded by books every day, new boxes full of them being delivered on a daily basis, old friends you’ve read over and over, new discoveries to be made? Awesome!
Yeah. Except it’s not. Not entirely.

For starters, you have customers. Well, of course you do – or you wouldn’t be able to stay open very long! But darn it, sometimes they walk in at the most inopportune times, like right at a crucial moment in the latest book you’ve started reading. Then you have to stop readying, make conversation, help them find the right books. Sigh.

Then there are phone calls that interrupt you as well. Usually it’s someone trying to sell you something, or asking for a book for which they can’t remember the title or the author – just the color of the jacket. Or it’s a wrong number. Or, in our case once, the caller asked if this store was Borders; Borders had closed its doors six months prior!

And, well, there’s a lot more to running a bookstore than just reading. Naturally, you have to love books and know books and be able to talk about books; that’s a given. But you also have to advertise, you have to market your store, you have to do accounting and pay the bills, and keep the place clean and stocked – that means you have to order books! And you have to plan and host events and book signings and promote your authors, and on and on.

Yes, a bookstore is indeed a dream come true for a lot of people – just make sure your dream includes a little bit of reality.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Opening Your Own Bookstore – Idea Becomes Reality

Guest Post by Robin Tidwell

My husband came home one evening from his retail management job – he’d been doing this for decades – and glanced around my office while we were talking, taking in all the books and bookshelves lining the walls.

“Huh,” he said. “We should open a bookstore.”

I’m pretty sure he was being sarcastic, but I seized the opportunity and started making notes. We got to talking a bit more, and I asked what we should call it. He stared at me and said, “Wait a minute, are we really doing this? Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here!”

Two hours later, we had a website and an opening date: October 1, 2011, which was in eight weeks.

I made a business plan; he gave his retirement notice at work. We had decent credit at the time, since we’d just closed on a house three days prior to that conversation, and we had other assets to borrow against. We are now, officially, in hock to the tops of our heads. We found a retail space to lease and convinced them that yes, they could have it ready by our opening date.

We got the keys on Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. and opened on our target date, that Saturday. Whew! (And no, we didn’t sell my books – I got to buy MORE books!)

Congratulations on your (almost) one year anniversary Robin! Here's to many, many more! Sounds like this has been quite a wonderful experience and adventure for you!

That's all for now, good people! Until next time...

M. J. 

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Public Domain

The Ins and Outs of Owning a Bookstore - Overview

by M. J. Joachim

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning your own bookstore, have I got a treat for you! Hey, my first job was shelving books in a library, so it’s a natural progression for me to dream about such things.

Robin Tidwell, author of Reduced – the Novel and co-owner with her husband of All on the Same Page Bookstore, will be sharing how her love of books and writing, transformed into realizing her dream of operating and owning her very own bookstore.

You’ll get to know a bit of the playful, yet very ambitious, side of Robin through these next few posts on my Writing Tips blog. You’ll also learn about the general process, financial obligations and dedication associated with opening your own bookstore.

While Robin assures us that opening a bookstore isn’t for the faint of heart, she also encourages us with valuable information that will undoubtedly help us make our own decision about such things, a little bit easier in the long run.

Stay tuned, good people! If you’ve always wanted to open your very own bookstore, this is the place to be to find out what it takes to make your dream a reality.

Until next time, I wish you every success in all you do!

M. J.

Photo Credit: Wikicommons, Creative Commons Attribution