Saturday, May 7, 2016

Savvy Saturday: Keith Willis Talks about his Book in Stores

Oh, What a Feeling… 

When my debut fantasy novel Traitor Knight was released in trade paperback edition on March 20, 2016, I felt like I was dancing on the ceiling.

And when I actually was able to hold that book, product of seven years of painstaking labor, in my hands, I thought I would explode with happiness. It’s one thing to have a book available as an ebook. It’s so way beyond cool to actually have that print copy in your hand as to defy description.

And now that I had it, I had work to do. Like getting it out into the world.

I started off in the High School Library.

At my local High Schools (one building is 9th grade only, the other 10th – 12th), both Librarians bought multiple copies of Traitor Knight. [Full disclosure—my darling wife Patty is the secretary for both libraries, and I know both the librarians, so I did start off with a slight advantage here.] But knowing that my novel was in the library(s), available to be taken out and read, was a great feeling. Especially when Patty got feedback from kids who had read it and then recommended it to their friends.

Next my local public library (through some judicious urging by yours truly) bought a copy. And that was even more amazing!. This was getting into The Big Time. Now anyone in our town of approximately 20,000 people, plus all those folks in the surrounding environs, had access to my book. Way cool.

But it wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted a store. So I worked up the nerve to walk into a local Indie Book Store—Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza—and ask the owner if she’d be willing to carry my book.

The Book House has a long tradition of supporting local authors, and so she said yes. Not only did they take Traitor Knight and put it on the shelf—they gave me an amazingly awesome placement in the store, much better than I could have ever dreamed. I’m in the company of giants, right up there on the same display shelf with new books by Sanderson, and Weis/Hickman, and Salvatore. Holy Hobbits, what more could any fantasy author wish for? Seeing it on the shelf like this? Priceless.


I’ve heard writers—primarily self published, but not exclusively—who’ve said they don’t care if they ever see their book sitting on a shelf in a bookstore. That having their work in a bookstore is meaningless, and just knowing it’s available online is enough for them. That’s fine for them, but it’s not the way I roll. I really, really, really, wanted to see Traitor Knight on the shelf in my local indie store. And it’s there. It’s a sense of validation for me, that yes, that’s my book up there on the shelf, and I did this. It’s the culmination of the cycle.

Now I’m working on getting Traitor Knight into more bookstores (and libraries). Because I want more of that feeling of seeing the book on the shelves, waiting for readers to notice it’s striking cover (thank you, Trisha FitzGerald, for your amazing work on this) and pick it up to puruse the blurb and maybe a few pages. And hopefully buy it (or check it out. Because that’s what it’s all about—writing the book is only the first step. Getting it into readers hands is the next (and crucial) piece of the puzzle.

Author’s Note: The Book House is also where I’m having my launch party in June. Because where better to celebrate a book release than in a book store?

Visit Keith Willis on his website or take a look at his book on Amazon.

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