The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

June 24, 2013

Local authors filling local shops with local fare

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@journal-register.com
Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — In the past few years a number of new books have hit local store shelves. Many books with local subject matter have been published by the author themselves.

According to Sue Phillips at The Book Shoppe in Medina and Carolyn Ricker at Bindings Bookstore in Albion, the increased number of locally published authors helps to keep customers coming to their stores.

“There are good ideas published and in my experience there are some poorly edited ones,” said Ricker, Bindings Bookstore owner. “But local books are vital because you won’t find them anywhere else.”

Ricker added that authors who self-publish bring a lot to the store.

“They tend to focus on local things, and a lot of people are interested in town history,” she explained, noting how many self-published, locally written books are historically based.

“Even small stories that are personal with a local angle, those sell, too because people are interested,” she said.

In Medina, Phillips, owner of The Book Shoppe, said most book buyers, if they know the author will likely buy a book no matter its subject.

“Family and friends tend to support the authors if they’re local,” she said. In recent months, The Book Shoppe has hosted an author signing for an urban fantasy writer and a local member of the media who published a compilation of some of his previous work. A few weeks ago a signing event was held for a children’s book writer who was also a Medina High School graduate. Using those examples, Phillips illustrated how the subjects for the books “runs the gamut because people write about whatever interests them.”

With so many people trying to get into the writing game, Ricker said self-publishing also has a few negatives, like the poor editing mentioned earlier.

“It can be expensive, and some people who aren’t careful could be caught in scams,” she cautioned. “Plus you have to be careful not to get caught writing something that won’t sell.”

However, Ricker said self-published authors bring a certain kind of enthusiasm to the customers.

“In some ways it’s exciting because as a book seller, when you have self-published local items, it makes it easier for a customer to get a signed book,” she said. Some authors try to pen works simply for the community, but for others, Ricker said “it may be a spring board for bigger things.”

Medina graduate Stephanie Dikey visited The Book Shoppe a few weeks ago and said self-publishing allowed her to skip the process of finding a literary agent. Many others, she added, have chosen to skip that step, but it can speed up the entire process.

Phillips agreed, saying that a book successful at the local level could wind up being noticed by larger companies.

She compared self-publishing to an independent film eventually being picked up by a larger distribution company. Still, she said the joy she derives from local authors is that they exist, period.

“It’s nice to see that many people are out there writing,” she said. “They have a story to tell, and they get satisfaction from doing so.”