A New Approach to Bookselling

Small-town eateries provide a venue for authors to get their self-published books into the hands of the public

DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.

Hot coffee and good reads have gone together since the coffee house was born. But there’s something new brewing in local coffee shops. Two big bookshelves at the Keen Bean in Mt. Vernon are signs of a new experiment in marketing and self-publishing. Along with a similar bookshelf in Maggie Mae’s Tea Room in Miller, these shelves are the total floor space of a novel bookshop called Home Grown Books.

Schyrlet Cameron, who co-owns Home Grown Books with Carolyn Craig, says that the Keen Bean was a great location to launch the business. “We’ve had several book-signings,” Cameron says. “It has grown to where we are helping authors promote their books.”

Signings are followed up with workshops and lectures at the library. Visibility and author photos help sell the books as well. It’s all about making a connection. “A lot of people know these authors, Cameron says. “They will say, ‘I know them. I’m going to buy that book.’”

For Ilene Bates, author of Moment In Time and its sequel Shadows in the Mist, the Home Grown Books model is a smart idea. “I think it’s a really good concept in that Schyrlet is helping many different authors,” Bates says. “I’m pleased to be a part of it.”

For Bates, Home Grown is part of an overall marketing plan—finding venues to sell books and getting the word out—which is something local authors struggle with in general. “I’m organizing book signings and a booth at a women’s expo,” Bates says. “As a self-published author, you have to take any opportunity to get the word out and find people interested in what you produced.”

Cameron says the model for authors is simple. They pay a monthly fee of anywhere from $10–20, based on the rent Home Grown Books pays for the space and the amount of space the author wants. The shops in turn track sales and report back through Home Grown to the authors. The shop has expanded to include CDs as well.

Home Grown Books’ hours become those of its local shops. For example, its flagship location in the Keen Bean is open 6:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Monday–Thursday,  until 9 p.m. on Friday and until noon on Saturday. Shop co-owner Tracy Bradshaw says the program is an excellent fit for their coffee shop. “Our clientele loves it,” she says. “We are local, and they like to support local. They gravitate to anything that leads them in that direction.”

The 411

What: Home Grown Books
Online: homegrownbooks-carolyn.blogspot.com
Where: Keen Bean Coffee Roasters, 1031 S. Market St., Mt. Vernon
Maggie Mae’s Tea Room, 206 W. Fourth St., Miller

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