How do you excite local writers? You offer resources to help them write, publish, and promote their work, a fun group of people supporting each other, and a lagniappe of author, editor, and agent appearances for motivation. And you make it free to the writing community.
Finally, I get to tell you about the exciting new program on which the local library and I are partnering.
It started with a conversation with the new director of the Daviess County Public Library. Last fall, Jim Blanton dropped in to introduce himself to the local writing group that meets at the library on a monthly basis.
He mentioned that he was interested in reviving a project he’d created at his previous library, called ePublish or Bust. The idea was that he and a library patron would co-write an eBook and blog about their experience. Before the project could get off the ground, he found himself moving to a new state, and a new library.
Now, he proposed that the library staff and our writers’ group could co-write and publish an eBook so local readers and writers could see how it was done. There was some interest within the writing group to participate, but it wasn’t clear what genre the book would be, who would do the writing, and who would do the blogging about the process.
The more I thought about Jim’s plan, the more enthused I became. Libraries are created for readers. Writers fill the shelves of those libraries with the product of their imaginations. Yet writers have a hard time getting even their community libraries to order and promote their books. And that’s doubly true for independent or self-published authors.
The library world seems to be more than a step behind the move from traditional publishing to self-publishing. And yes, they have reason. There’s a lot of dreck out there, hiding between the pages of hundreds of books. And only so much shelf space available in any building. But there are also gems that readers will never discover if libraries maintain a “nothing but traditional publishing” mindset.
At the time I met Jim, I was creating a course, 12 Steps to Publication: From Idea to Signing Party, for the writers who were always asking me to explain the publication process. My intention was to offer the course as a product on my website.
But it was the logical companion project for Jim’s ePublish or Bust revival. And why not let any area writer get involved by writing their own book, and offer my course to walk them through each step of getting a book from idea to publication. I sat down with Jim and he offered to sponsor my course for the DCPL patrons.
We’ve spent hours brainstorming and planning. Jim is young, enthusiastic, and open to new directions for the library mission. I’m (you’re going to make me say it, aren’t you?) not as young, but passionate about writing and reading, and eager to share what I’ve learned over the mmpphh years I’ve been writing and editing. It’s a match made in reader/writer heaven.
Since the first day we talked, Jim has taken this pilot project, envisioned how to spread it to neighboring counties, is ready to present it to the state library association, and is gearing up to present it on a national level. The Henderson County Public Library has already partnered with the Daviess County Public Library to launch this pilot program.
Area writers who participate in either part of the program will have access to tools and help at the library, reams of resources, support from a group of like-minded writers, and will end up with a book ready for publication and promotion.
DCPL is working with other libraries to establish a “tour route,” where authors (local and national) can sign up to visit several participating libraries in an area, one after the other, over a few days. These authors will have an eager audience of both readers and writers. And it won’t matter how or where they’re published.
DCPL staff created a dedicated website for ePublish or Bust, with a smokin’ hot logo, for participants in the ePublish or Bust program (going live on July 14). There will be a section for blog posts by the library staff about the writing process, the problems writers encounter while creating a book, and reviews of different writing tools and resources. Another section of the website will contain a comprehensive list of resources available at this library and other participating libraries. And finally, one section will be a calendar where published writers can log on, find an open date, and sign up to talk to interested readers and writers at the participating library of their choice. (Go to the website now to sign up for email alerts.)
But the most valuable part of the program is that this is an ongoing initiative that will continue to grow, to support, and promote aspiring and self-published writers in our area.
I’m extending a personal invitation to writers within driving distance of DCPL to join us and discover what we can create together.
The kick-off session is this Saturday, June 28, at 11:00 am at the Daviess County Public Library. Jim and I will share what you can expect from the program, and how you can take part. Because of limited meeting space, Jim asks that you go to the DCPL website (click on the “register” link in the promo banner), or call the library, and register to attend. (You can find the phone number and address on their website.)
I’m thrilled to be part of this pilot program and can’t wait to watch it grow. Mostly, I can’t wait to attend your book signing! See you Saturday.
[Reminder: ePublish or Bust, copyright 2014, by the Daviess County Public Library. 12 Steps to Publication: From Idea to Signing Party, copyright 2014 by Suzanne Gochenouer, The Transformational Editor.]