As you all know, it has been some time since I last posted. Many of you know the reasons why. Full-time author and full-time paycheck-earner attempted to add full-time school and full-time business entrepreneurship to her stuffed scheduled. And then, of course, there was an attempt at least at a social life! HAHA However, there have been a lot of rumors circulating as to one aspect of my life very recently, and so I’ve found myself needing to admit to something I’d rather not. But since myself and the one other person involved are the best to address the issue, and he has already done so on his blog (and quite eloquently, might I add), I felt it was time I do the same.
To borrow a line from my good friend J. Travis Grundon’s blog – They Killed a Mockingbird…
For more than ten years I’ve harbored the secret dream of owning and operating my own bookstore. In the Fall of 2010 my best friend for more than a decade (make that closer to one and a half! ha) decided to take the plunge and open The Mockingbird Book Emporium in Vincennes, Indiana. The peoples’ lament of not having a bookstore had resonated with the two of us, and with fire in our bellies we thought we could make a decent go of it – at least a passable go at it.
The anticipation of the store was nearly palpable, and we were bombarded with “future” customers asking “How long? How long? How LONG?” This may have given us a bit of over-inflated glow concerning the desire of the Vincennes people to have a bookstore, but we sincerely had hoped not. We worked tirelessly to get the store running as quickly as possible. And in September of 2010, we opened with a blow-out grand opening that included a special event by St. Louis author Joe Schwartz and an appearance by the mayor, with the local newspaper in attendance.
But the fanfare quickly died away, the shine wearing off in as little as the first month in operation. After nearly 4 months of dwindling sales, sometimes full weeks going by without so much as a single customer, we kept hearing “This is just what this town needs!” and “Finally! A bookstore. I’ll be back when I have a moment to actually browse.” But those moments never came – no one’s schedule magically opened up to reveal extra time to let them come in and support “what this town needs”. And, while we did have a few very loyal customers, and cherish them more than anything, the lack of enthusiasm or even flat interest from the rest of the populace was overwhelming.
This said, many can understand how mine and Trav’s own enthusiasm for the store began to wane. How the fire we had turned to ember. But we continued to fan those ember’s hoping for some sort of pheonix to rise from the quickly accumulating ash. But, as the weeks progressed and our frustration for the lack of support of a town that can house so many bars, fast food restaurants, and tattoo parlors but can’t manage to support one small used bookstore, we learned a valuable lesson.
There isn’t a pheonix inside those ashes; there is only choking debris. And we were choking on the dying embers of our own dream.
So, with heavy hearts and aching souls, we have decided to close the Mockingbird Book Emporium. That Vincennes desperately needs a bookstore is not a question – literature is the fuel for imagination and creativity, and without it, a town would certainly stifle and stagnate. But perhaps the ample lubrication of alcohol, preservatives of processed foods, and ever-lasting permanence of ink will manage to preserve the town longer than it should. Who knows?
In part two of my news to report, I am sad to announce the death of my publisher, Papercut Books. (Also to quote my good friend, J. Travis Grundon) Papercuts hurt.
Thrilled beyond belief to find a fledgling company with the vision to take chances on unknown authors and an honest and up-front business practice, I did not worry when the company went through an initial rough patch. (As many know, there was a loss of key personnel in the beginning which ended up putting quite a bit of strain on the creative director when he suddenly had to become publisher and CEO.) But things appeared to be shaping up with the addition of a new benefactor…who, sadly, had to back out as soon as he joined – leaving the company a one-man with limited revenue venture again.
Their announcement of closing has left me again on the elusive search for a publisher. However, I have chosen to taken on a whole new approach to my writing. I’m admitting to my limitations. I am a writer and a dang good one (or so I’ve been told). And, while school and paycheck-earning are not two things I can eliminate from my life, I want my focus of life to be my writing. What I mean by being a writer means that I am not an agent. I am not a graphic designer. I am not a publisher. And, despite a fondness for blue pencils, I am not an editor. What I am is a creator of worlds. And I do that frequently; far too frequently to try to be my own agent, my own graphic designer, my own publisher, and my own editor.
While there are several of my writing associates out there that are screaming at me that I can represent myself and saying things like “Why should you PAY someone else to do what you can do?” I am resolute in my standpoint now. I have been a long-standing advocate against non-agent-hood, but some recent reflection has shown me that I am a good writer and by trying to be all of the above mentioned I am seriously doing my writing a dis-service. My two-hour-a-day writing schedule has become 15 minutes of writing and an half and forty-five minutes of cover design, extensive editing, and publisher research. I’d say my scale was a little broken, wouldn’t you?
So, if anyone knows of reputable agents accepting new clients, I’d appreciate any information you might have. I’ll still need to dedicate some of my writing time to researching and querying agents, but I found that I can do that while earning the paycheck instead of using my writing time for that – it’s a win-win! HAHA
All right, dearies, so that is the extent of everything happening in the life of author B.C. Brown at the moment. Now repeat after me… Being a writer must be sooooo glamorous!