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A blog for authors interested in making the most of their relationship with independent bookstores.


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Booksellers and Authors: Building Partnerships that Last!

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Dear Author Friends,

At the recent North Carolina Writers’ Network Fall Conference, Nicki Leone, SIBA's marketing coordinator and systems administrator, as well as editor of SIBA's Lady Banks Commonplace Book, presented on “Booksellers and Authors: Building Partnerships that Last.” A former bookseller and longtime SIBA employee, Nicki has so much knowledge to share about this subject. I was unable to attend, but watched her powerpoint presentation online and came away believing that every author should take note of the excellent advice offered in her powerpoint slides. Even if you’re a veteran author, you will discover great tips to deepen your connections with booksellers, improve your author website, and sell more books!

Here is one of my favorite slides:


    • Have a goal for what you want to do with the store. (event, stock, reaching book clubs)
    • Create a marketing plan around your  specific goal, emphasize bringing in new customers
    • Have some pre-designed materials ready for online and real world promotion: (bookmarks, flyers, social media graphics, twitter posts)
    • Look for creative presentations instead of “reading” or “booksigning."
    • If you are reading, practice ahead of time.
    • Practice. Practice. Practice.
    • Tchatchkes and gimmicks are annoying unless they are useful. If you do them, they are worth designing well.


Tags:  authors  books  events  self-promotion 

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Support Your Local Indie and Your Own Work this Holiday Season!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Dear Author Friends,

I hope that life is treating you well and you’re able to enjoy the first tastes of autumn wherever you live. Up in the mountains of western North Carolina, trees burst with color, and we’ve experienced our first snow of the season. It is full autumn here, and lovely.

I’m writing to you today about two important topics--supporting your local indie bookstores this holiday season, and supporting your own work, too! Schedule in time to do both and make magic happen!

Support Your Local Indie BookstoreIndies First is a national campaign bringing authors, readers, and publishers together in support of independent bookstores. Held on Small Business Saturday, Indies First takes place this year on Nov. 25, the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The combination of Small Business Saturday and Indies First is powerful; both bring attention to those local businesses that help create jobs, boost the economy, and preserve your neighborhoods.

What can you do? Be a part of it by volunteering at your local indie bookstore to help handsell your favorite titles, sign copies of your books, give readings, wrap purchases, and more. Your presence adds excitement for customers, is very supportive of your local bookstore, and will deepen your relationship with a business that supports your efforts throughout the year. Help get the word out to your friends about this important day, too, as bookstores depend on holiday sales to make the rest of the year brighter. Here’s a list of stores already planning Indies Next festivities. If you don’t see your local indie on here, don’t despair! Contact them directly and volunteer to help! Maybe you’ll be the start of something very special for your community this year.

Boost Holiday Sales of Your Titles! SIBA wants to help you promote your work this holiday season. We have a huge (nearly 50k) readership for our Lady Banks’ Commonplace Book newsletter, and thousands of followers on social media. If you’ve already worked with us, you know how effective, affordable, and targeted our promotions are. If you haven’t, give us a try! The best deal going till the end of 2017 is our Social Blast. A Social Blast posts your promotional ad across all of SIBA’s social networks, reaching booksellers and the readers and followers of the Lady Banks newsletter. New to this promotion is inclusion in our Lady Banks Calendar emails, which cover eleven states and go out to booksellers and consumers. The best news yet: these ads click through to purchase at our member stores, resulting in immediate sales. Social Blasts are just $299, though beginning in January, 2018, they will be $399. Contact me if you have any questions, want to see samples of these promotions, or want to schedule yours. I’d love to work with you to reach readers across the south.

Keep well and Happy Halloweening!

Linda-Marie Barrett


Assistant Executive Director

Tags:  Authors  Indie Bookstores  Indies Next  SIBA  Social Blasts 

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What Did You Do Today that Scares You?

Posted By Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, August 1, 2017


“What did you do today that scares you?” That’s always a good question to consider, especially if you tend to be shy, controlling of your environment, and a planner! (insert photo of me). Even if you’re outgoing, it’s wise to use a bit of caution in life. Yet, the times I’ve pushed myself to do something new, even when it made me very uncomfortable and vulnerable-feeling, are the times where I stretch and grow.

Most writers don’t write to read their work in front of audiences. Few are the authors I’ve seen reading before audiences who seemed completely at ease. Witnessing their discomfort, though, makes me appreciate their bravery all the more. They’re doing the thing that scares them for the sake of their art, their readers, and the bookstores who host them. And in most cases, they do splendid jobs presenting, all the more wonderful because of their authenticity.

What else is scary for a writer? Oh, I’m sure I could name many things, but let’s put joining a writers group and submitting work for critique right up there on the “most scary” list. This act requires homework first, in that you need to make sure your writers group critiques well and in a supportive fashion, but once you know you’re among good people, being receptive to criticism about work you’ve labored over takes inner strength and an open mind. The benefits of submission are invaluable, as other writers will see the areas where you could improve, deepen, or take out, and your work will become that much better.

Want to go a step further? Go to workshops specific to your genre, run by professional writers. In Asheville, Flat Iron Writers Room offers workshops on every writing subject under the sun, and also hosts retreats, places to come write with other writers, and readings by writers traveling through. Friends who have published multiple books tell me that these workshops help them further improve their craft and feel invigorated. If you don’t have something like this in your town, approach your local independent bookseller. They may assist in setting up connections, or work with you to create opportunities in their event planning for writers workshops.

Continue on the brave path and schedule writing time into your calendar, as you would doctor’s appointments and oil changes. End the habit of putting your art second or third or last in your list of priorities. I’m reminded of the quote, “Stop thinking about what could go wrong and start thinking about what could go right.” A quote for over the desk!

Looking for some inspiration? Check out SIBA’s amazing site Authors 'Round the South. You’ll find so much there, but especially under “Southern Literary Events and News,” which features  authors talking about their work and their favorite indie bookstores, a necessary and beloved partner for success.

Below are some other links I’ve found inspiring lately. Enjoy, and feel free to share your stories with me. I’d love to hear from you.’s-1-indie-next-list-pick-36408

Yours in books!


Tags:  ARTS  Author Liaison  Linda-Marie Barrett  Rep on the Road  SIBA  TRIO 

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Promoting Your Work with SIBA, Sharing Favorite Indie Bookstore Experiences with Lady Banks!

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Saturday, July 15, 2017
Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017

Shelf Reliance: Promoting Your Work with SIBA,  An Advertising Exclusive for Authors, Sharing Favorite Indie Bookstore Experiences with Lady Banks!

One challenging arena for most authors, and likely for most people, is self-promotion. After the intense effort involved in creating their work, authors would just as well hand off marketing, and even touring, their book to someone else. However, successful promotion makes all the difference between your book being noticed by booksellers, book reviewers, and online trade magazines like Shelf Awareness, PW, and our own Lady Banks' Commonplace Book , or languishing on bookshelves unnoticed and unsold.

Nowadays it is very common for authors to supplement their in-house publisher’s marketing with their own, targeting appropriate markets, often local or genre/age-specific. One very successful YA author I know puts one-third of her publisher advance aside to do her own marketing. She creates bookmarks and some kind of enticing swag (special blend of tea, chocolate, etc that is related to her book) that she sends to her favorite bookstores. Another middle-grade author invests in full-color ads in the NYT, Shelf Awareness and SIBA’s various programming to promote advance sales of his work. He is a national bestselling author who has built his audience very wisely!

Have you explored SIBA’s tips for promoting your work to booksellers? Here we offer many ways to craft a winning marketing plan to get your books into indie bookstores.  We also offer a wide variety of very cost effective advertising options for authors that target bookstores and their staff, as well as consumers. SIBA’s reach is over 100,000 readers in eleven states!   Our eBlasts, banner ads, sponsorships, catalog listings, and galley giveaways are some of the ways we work with authors to create the biggest impact possible for their book while remaining in their budget. And, if this pertains to you or an author-friend who would like to promote their work in our territory, SIBA offers a Person of Color 35% discount, to expand exposure to books written or illustrated by people of color.

Right now we’re offering a High Summer Social Blast Special for $239!  The first five authors to sign up get a 20% discount, saving $60! We love our Lady Banks’ Social Blasts. They are a launch day promotion targeting consumers, and post across all of SIBA’s social networks, reaching booksellers and the readers and followers of Lady Banks’ Newsletter. Let me know if you’re interested and we’ll talk!

We want to thank Patti Callahan Henry for her lovely article, The Top 5 Charming Bookstores That Span the Southern States. I’ve added two bookstores to my list to visit! If you would like to let readers of Lady Banks' Commonplace Book know about your favorite indie bookstore and why it’s so special, please write editor Nicki Leone at She’d love to include articles by authors describing their best experiences at southern indies. Pictured below are some of the ladies from Page and Palette of Fairhope, Alabama, one of Patti’s favorite bookstores.

Yours in Books!



Tags:  Ads  Author Liaison  Authors  Page & Palette  Patti Callahan Henry  Promotions  Shelf Reliance 

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From Asheville to Nashville: Sharing the Scoop on Indie Bookstores, Ingram, and Opportunities to promote your work!

Posted By Linda-Marie Barrett, Monday, July 10, 2017
Updated: Monday, July 10, 2017

Dear Friends,

Your SIBA Author Liaison was on the road last week visiting two fine bookstores in Tennessee: Parnassus Books in Nashville and Union Avenue Books in Knoxville. Both bookstores are beloved cultural centers in their cities. They host author events and book clubs, and are supported by readers of all genres. Parnassus is especially dear to writers as it is co-owned by Ann Patchett, international bestselling author of Bel Canto, State of Wonder, and Commonwealth. Send these stores some author love (send them bookmarks featuring your work, a note of appreciation, some candies or cookies for their staff--whatever you are moved to do) and they’ll love you back! Truth!


Visiting with Karen Hayes (second from right), co-owner of Parnassus, and her staff.


Looking into the wonderful community bookstore Union Avenue Books in Knoxville, TN.

I also visited Ingram, a wholesale book distributor, printer, and so much more, located in Nashville. They are a critical part of the journey of millions of books from publishers to the hands of readers everywhere. Ingram describes itself as “a dedicated partner for publishers, retailers, educators, and libraries, we are working towards a vision of the world where anyone, no matter where they are, has easy access to the books they want.” Ingram is one of SIBA’s biggest supporters, and a major sponsor of our annual SIBA Discovery Show, taking place in New Orleans September 15-17. Authors, if you want to publish your own works, check out their printing services. Ingram Spark is a fabulous way to get your work out into the world and available at independent bookstores.

Looking for a way to stretch yourself, perhaps introduce readers to your poetry and essays and more? Following is a list of contests for publication in our region. Note that some of them have deadlines coming up fast:

Emrys Press’s Poetry Chapbook Contest : A prize of $1,000 and publication by Emrys Press will be given annually for a poetry chapbook.

Press 53 Award for Poetry: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Press 53 is given annually for a poetry collection.

University of New Orleans Press Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by University of New Orleans Press will be given annually for a short story collection or a novel.

Baton Rouge Area Foundation Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence: A prize of $10,000 is given annually to an emerging African American writer for a short story collection or novel published in the current year.

Black Warrior Review Writing contests: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Black Warrior Review are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay.

C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize: The C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize includes $10,000 and book publication.

That’s it for this week. Please keep in touch, and let me know how SIBA can help support your work.

Yours in books,

Linda-Marie Barrett


Put Your Money Where Your South Is!

Tags:  authors  Linda-Marie Barrett  Parnassus  Rep on the Road  SIBA Author Liaison  Union Avenue Books 

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SIBA Membership Benefits - Annual tradeshow is this month!

Posted By Amy Cherrix, Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hey y’all,

We hope you know by now that partnering with indie bookstores is one of the best things you can do to help your book.

Of course we understand that you can’t visit to every indie. But there are plenty of ways to leverage your SIBA membership to the advantage of your book.

You’ve already taken the first step, by joining SIBA. So with today’s post, I thought I’d remind you what benefits are available:

1.     SIBA provides a list of its member stores – including contact names, email addresses, as well as phone and mailing addresses.

2.     Be a STAR:  SIBA operates a speakers’ bureau for authors, the Southern Traveling Authors Registrations Service (STAR) that is marketed to bookstores and their customers.

3.     Advertise:  SIBA has a wide variety of very cost effective advertising options for authors that can target bookstores and their staff, as well as consumers. eBlasts, banner ads, sponsorships, catalog listings, galley giveaways…we work with authors to help them create the biggest impact possible for their book while remaining in their budget.

4.     Attend the SIBA tradeshow! Ours is the largest regional book show in the south. It attracts hundreds of booksellers, exhibitors, and authors. It’s a great way to meet members, network with colleagues and

SIBA’s tradeshow is coming up September 18-20, in Raleigh, NC! Click here for all the details.




Tags:  benefits  promotions  SIBA membership  SIBA tradeshow 

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Not-So-Shameless Self Promotion

Posted By Amy Cherrix, Friday, July 3, 2015

Hey y’all,

This week’s Shelf Reliance tackles the tricky business of self-promotion. I know. The whole reason you became an author in the first place was the blissful solitude of the writing Batcave, amen. Oh, if it was really that simple. Yes, the Internet has made it possible to reach tons of readers from the privacy of your own home, but the best way to get your book out there is to put YOURSELF out there. But take heart. With a little planning, it’s much easier than you might think and hey, you get to meet book people. How bad could it be? So before you step boldly into the fray, here are some indie-friendly reminders as you start to build your grassroots marketing campaign:

1.     Be professional: Indie bookstores regularly field calls from a lot of authors. When I was a bookseller, I genuinely wanted to help, but I was also trying to answer phones, shelve new titles, reconcile baffling inventory lists, and actually sell books. Polite persistence is the name of the game. Take booksellers at their word when they say they are busy and make a plan to call back when it’s convenient.

2.     Be prepared: Have a press kit available for download from your website. (Do you have a website? If not, give some serious consideration to creating a simple one. There are tons of free options online via, and countless others. If you need more advice on websites, shoot me an email.) We’ll also talk about press kits here in an upcoming post.  

3.     Make your book available to indie booksellers: Channel sales through bookstores, rather than on your website or your publisher’s online store. Sure, you take a bit of a financial hit, but what you’ll gain in return cannot be bought—the attention, appreciation, and loyalty of skilled booksellers whose super power is getting your book into the hands of readers. I’d call that a win for everyone.

4.     Be aware of the indie market: Rather than touting “available at Amazon” on your book-related promo items and swag, say something like “available where books are sold.” Steer clear of citing your Amazon sales rank or big box store numbers. Avoid listing Amazon as the only outlet suggested for purchase on your website. Remember, SIBA strongly encourages authors to choose an independent bookstore (or two) as your bookseller of choice, and become an affiliate of those stores.

As ever, I wish you every success with your book, especially with marketing. Rest assured, the whole SIBA team is here to help along the way. Sound off  in the comments below with questions, tips and suggestions.



Tags:  author liaison  independent bookstores  marketing  self-promotion  Shelf Reliance  tips 

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Three Tips for Getting your Book onto Indie Bookstore Shelves

Posted By Amy Cherrix, Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hey y’all,

You want to write books, but you want to sell them, too. It’s the number one reason authors join SIBA—to get their books into the hands of readers and onto the shelves of independent bookstores. How do you do it?

We are so glad you asked!

In the coming weeks, we’re rolling out byte-sized tips here on Shelf Reliance to help you partner with indie bookstores. We’re starting with the basics:

Here are three things you can do TODAY to start building partnerships with independent bookstores:

1.  Confirm that your book has a real ISBN (International Standard Book Number is the 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally). For more about ISBNs, click here.

2.  Be sure to get your book listed with, the database that most of the larger independent bookstores use on their websites. You can do that here.

Nuts & Bolts: As an individual you can use that link to submit a book and all the relevant data/images/etc. into the Indiebound database. It takes about 48 hours to be reviewed and approved. After that, it takes a little bit longer to populate throughout all of the indie bookstore databases that use IndieBound on their websites. Here’s the key thing to remember: once your book is included with IndieBound, it will appear in a search within those databases with each indie bookstore. Even if those stores do not stock your book, SIBA can still link to it, and people can find the listing to place an order.

3.  Verify that your book is easy to order. That means industry standard terms, and availability at a wholesaler like Ingram, Baker & Taylor, or Bookazine. Alternately, you can have a distribution deal with another publisher that lists with a wholesaler.


At the end of the day, it’s all about distribution and promotion in the real world. A listing on Amazon will only get you in front of INTERNET readers. But if you want to get your books in the hands of real-life browsers in your community bricks and mortar bookstores, avoid publishing under the imprints of competitors like CreateSpace.

Next week's tips will cover what to do once you’ve got your distribution channels in place. In the meantime, it's hot out there, y'all.  You should probably be somewhere cool, enjoying a good book.

Stay Indie Strong,


SIBA Author Liaison



Tags:  Baker & Taylor  Ingram  ISBN  or Bookazine  tips 

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Introducing Shelf-Reliance: A SIBA blog for authors

Posted By Amy Cherrix, Monday, June 15, 2015

Hey y’all,

Welcome to Shelf Reliance, a blog of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. What better way to capture the spirit of the independent bookselling community and authorship than with a nod to Ralph Waldo Emerson? We don't think he would mind. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,” he wrote in Self-Reliance. And we think you’ll agree that the indie community has been slaying hobgoblins since long before publishing was a jungle.

The landscape may have shifted, but the independent spirit is on solid ground. 

Since coming aboard this spring as author liaison, I have been working to familiarize myself with what we do and how we do it. It has been a real education. Membership benefits are plentiful and some of the best ones are free. Indeed, membership really does have its privileges!

While no author is ever alone when they are a member of SIBA, empowering your book to do well on the shelves of independent bookstores means empowering yourself first. Our hope is that this blog is a place to harness the power of the individual in the interest of the whole SIBA community with support, advice and an exchange of ideas. 

 If you’re just getting your feet wet with SIBA or have questions about how to leverage your membership, this is a great place to start. Check back for tips, interviews, and advice about how to build permanent partnerships between indies and authors. We’ll sound off about everything from crafting marketing campaigns to scheduling book signings and writing flap copy.

Like a digital back porch, we hope Shelf Reliance will be a place to share successes, lend advice, and make you feel right at home in the SIBA family.


Tags:  author liaison  independent bookstores  new blog  Shelf Reliance  SIBA 

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SIBA's B3! Book Club discusses The Signals are Talking by Amy Webb