OMG, you won’t believe how inspired I was by that reading on Amazon.

Remember that question I had about my manuscript? I met someone on Amazon who had the perfect solution to my story’s problem. We’re forming a writing group.

Amazon is hosting my launch party. Want to attend? 

These are just a few things said by no writer ever

I know, Amazon is cheap, convenient, and, well, getting packages in the mail is a little like year-round Christmas. Plus, after two years of pandemic living, receiving those boxes with a little smile has become the norm.

While Amazon might be a necessary part of your publishing career, this retail giant only cares about one thingyour sales numbers. 

Fortunately, both bibliophiles and writers make the above comments about their local independent bookstores. 

Independent bookstore owners and their staff champion their local writing communities by designing programs that bring creative people together. 

They give debut and established authors places to host readings and do book signings. 

We’ve talked about this before, but it deserves repeating. Supporting independent bookstores is an investment in your writing career. Building relationships with independent bookstore owners increases the odds they’ll say yes to your event request when your book is published. Or if you decide to self-publish like Ashleigh Renard, that relationship could result in your books being featured on local bookstore shelves.

If publication feels like a far-fetched dream, think about the authors you care about. Supporting local independent bookstores ensures they have venues for book signings and readings. 

At these readings and signings, you’ll have the opportunity to develop connections with authors and learn what happened behind the scenes when they were drafting their stories. This can deepen your understanding of their work and your own process. 

Independent bookstores are so critical to writers’ careers that book influencer and host of the Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books podcast, Zibby Owens, has created a #22in22 Challenge that encourages readers to visit local bookstores 22 times in 2022, as she says, “In person. Like, with your body.” 

Participating in this week’s challenge can give you a head start.

Here’s what you need to do: 

  1. Buy something at an independent bookstore (ten-dollar minimum) and I’ll give you one ticket for this week’s drawing. You can buy anything from a book to a gift card. 
  2. Buy from a Black-owned bookstore and I’ll give you three tickets for this week’s drawing. 

 
Completed your independent bookstore shopping in the past two weeks? No problem. Send me a screenshot of your receipt and I’ll enter you into this week’s challenge.

 Later this week, I’m going to send you an entire post on the importance of Black-owned bookstores, but for now, I want to share a quote from DeShanta Hairston at Books and Crannies, a Black-owned bookstore in Martinsville, VA. 

“Books and Crannies offers a community space for writers to engage and share a love for the craft. As a black-owned bookstore, we make efforts to upsell Black authors and book titles to help readers gain perspective of our stories and livelihood. My belief is that reading about Black culture helps bridge the gap to the understanding of blackness as a whole.” 

Black-owned bookstores provide a valuable service to all of us by lifting up voices that aren’t always heard.

Many people donated to Black-owned businesses in 2020 in response to the death of George Floyd and the countless Black men and women killed at the hands of police. This led to record profits for some Black-owned businesses. While that’s great, it’s important to continue to support these businesses so they can continue to thrive.

Maybe you’re thinking, but Lisa, I love shopping online, and between Omicron and the recent uptick in COVID cases, I’m sticking close to home.

Did you know you can order on the web or call in your order to most bookstores? Many deliver or offer curbside pickup. They’d love to receive your web order or call. 

Or maybe you don’t know the name of the independent bookstore in your area. 

Here are a few links to help get you started: 

 
This week’s prize is a $30 gift card to New Dominion BookshopPLUS one copy of Seven Drafts: Self-Edit Like a Pro from Blank Page to BookThe War of ArtGetting to the Truth: The Craft and Practice of Creative NonfictionDoodling for WritersThe Best of BrevityThe Business of Being a Writer, and a signed copy of My Monticello by Jocelyn Johnson.

You’ll also be entered in my grand prize drawing for a one-year membership to James River Writers, a 3-pack of webinars from The Crow Collective Online Writing Workshops, one Jane Friedman webinar of your choice, a 10-page manuscript review plus one-hour coaching session with me, and a query letter review by Allison K Williams.

Generously donate $100 or more and you’ll get access to a mindful writing class scheduled for early 2022 and a chance to win a storytelling coaching session with Amy Eaton.

If you’re struggling financially, or you’re looking for a second way to play, I’ve got a literary-citizenship option for you. 

  1. Share events or information about your favorite independent bookstore on social media and I’ll give you one ticket for this week’s drawing. 

 
To enter this week’s drawing, here’s what you need to do: 

  1. If you’re supporting an independent bookstore, send me an email with the name of the bookstore and the amount of your purchase. Please include a screenshot of your receipt or online order. If you were able to pick your purchase up locally, send me a picture of the item for a photo collage I’ll create for my week four newsletter. 
  2. If you’re sharing independent bookstore information on social mediasend me a screenshot. 

 
Have a question? Send me an email.

The deadline for this week’s challenge is Monday, December 20, 2021, at 7:00 EST.

Thank you in advance for your literary citizenship! 

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