Friday, February 26, 2010

Pine Creek Villages -- back in stock, for a limited time!

If you've read the blog, or the Wellsboro Gazette articles with any frequency, you've probably heard me extol the virtues of Arcadia Publishing. While some serious historians may complain that their books are a little formulaic -- and they are -- nevertheless, this company has made it their mission to help communities preserve their local histories, making photos and stories available in attractive, fairly inexpensive paperback format. We sell a lot of their books, and without a doubt, the bestseller of the bunch around here is David Kagan's Pine Creek Villages.

Pine Creek Villages gives a wonderful history of the lumber boom and the railroads that made it happen, along the Pine Creek valley, between Slate Run and Williamsport. As with other books in the "Images of America" series by Arcadia, Pine Creek shows almost 200 photos from the late 1800's and early 1900's, with fascinating captions explaining life in the wilds of north-central Pennsylvania during this time.

This has been a popular book here in Wellsboro, and Dave Kagan -- a fine writer and a really nice man, to boot -- has enjoyed three printings of this local history, which is a lot for such a "niche" market. Arcadia did not (yet) have enough demand for a fourth printing, but we still had people who wanted it, and they weren't any more to be had, so we ordered the requisite amount to make sure the fourth printing happened. We have them, and these will probably be the last ones available for quite a while! If you want one, or you've thought about gifting it to someone who loves PA history, lumber history, or railroads, now is the time! I can't make any promises about how long they'll last, but I can set a copy or two aside for you now. Give a call or an email if you want one.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Publish and Perish, Part Two

Kevin Coolidge

You have the story told; now you have to get it sold. You’ve solicited the big publishing houses, the small independent presses, and tried to get an agent to read your manuscript. You’ve heard the excuses: it’s not what we’re looking for, it’s too much like another book, it’s not enough like another book, or it’s just too niche. You’ve decided to self-publish.

It’s a tough decision, and hopefully you’ve done your homework, and you have a clear set of goals. If your goal is to get the book into bookstores, you’ve checked the discount that the self-publishing firm gives to bookstores, as well as how the price of your book stacks up against other titles in your genre.

If you are planning on selling the book yourself, either at lectures, conventions or other events, then your concern should be on what your wholesale cost is. Self-publishing firms often give authors a better price to buy their own book. This is important, as you will need to sell and publicize your own book. That’s right: if you are not going to be putting the effort into publicizing your book, then save your money and do not self-publish.

It’s important to realize that in today’s book industry, the marketing is just as important as the writing, and if you aren’t going to market the book yourself, then you must have someone do it for you, or accept that this book is just going to be for your friends and family. The good news is that marketing isn’t rocket science. There’s no secret handshake, and anyone can learn.

That being said, I can give you some ideas that I have seen work, and what I hope is productive advice. I have "discovered" three self-published books that have not only gone on to being picked up by traditional publishers, but have also led to at least another book by the author and in one case, a three book deal. All of these books had at least one thing in common, and that was heavy support by the author in blog form and with social media. Basically, these authors earned their readership, grew it with blog support, and showed a traditional publisher that there were people ready to buy these books.

Someone wants to buy your book, but they have to know about it first. Social media is a great tool for this; many musicians and authors have established a strong fan base through the use of Facebook or Twitter. Social media can be a great way to reestablish contact with old school friends, out-of-state relatives, and people with a possible interest in your book. You can even link your blog to post to Facebook after you make an entry.

When it comes to publicizing your book, don’t forget some of the more traditional methods—-such as a book signing. A book signing doesn’t have to be in a bookstore. It can be wherever the readers of your book might be. If your book appeals to hunters, you might want to try a gun show, or if your book is about wine, you might want to consider a winery.

There are a lot of great books out there about publicizing your book. One of my favorite is Guerilla Publicity for Writers by Jay Conrad Levinson, David Hancock, and Rick Frishman, which contains many practical low and no-cost marketing techniques, as well as some more elaborate and time-involving ideas that will maximize sales. When it comes to marketing, there’s no “secret”--great reviews are only a part, getting your book into a bookstore is only a step, and getting people to buy or read your book is just a start, but with a solid marketing plan, you can publish and not perish…

Perish? Or Publish? Email me at Miss part one of this column? Visit for part one and all past columns. Hobo, the cat originally self-published a book call “Hobo Finds A Home” a children’s book about a stray cat who found a home, picked up by Edgecliff Press.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Publish and Perish, Part One

Kevin Coolidge

Being in the bookselling business, I receive numerous emails every day. These emails come from both veteran small presses with great niche books, as well as first time writers who are inexperienced with marketing and how the book business works. Here is an amalgamation of those emails…

From: Desperate Writer To: Independent Bookseller,…
Subject: My self-published magnum opus

Hello booksellers:

May I have the contact information for your purchasing agent, or would you consider supporting me by buying my book? I have just finished writing my first novel! It’s the first of an exciting trilogy, and there will be at least seven more books to come. My paperback book is available online for just $24.95, or from my publisher with a regular discount available for bookstores. I am also available for book signings, radio and television interviews, and the Oprah Winfrey show. Please buy my book now!


Desperate Writer

From: Frazzled, Independent Bookseller To: Unproven, novice writer
Subject: Your self-published work

Hello neophyte author:

Congratulations on finishing your first book. As you know, writing is hard work. It takes patience, persistence, lots of time, an appreciation of the process, and that’s the easy part. What do you do after you’ve written a book?

After numerous submissions, after quite a few attempts at finding an agent, after hearing that your vision doesn’t quite work for the editor or it’s not what he’s looking for at this time, you have decided to self-publish.

I felt compelled to email you back, as I doubt you will receive many replies with your email. Bookstores get dozens of emails from self-published authors every day. I do wish to congratulate you on finishing a book, but book promotion is not just getting your novel into bookstores. As a bookstore owner, I want to know what you are doing to get people into my bookstore. People come in for Stephen King, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts. Why are they going to come into my store and pay $24.95 for someone's first novel when established, proven writers’ books sell for less? That’s what I need to know.

I did check out your book with my wholesaler. It lists for $24.95 at a net discount. That means as a retailer I get no discount. So, to make any money, I would have to increase the price of what is already almost double the price of a typical trade paperback. I haven't read your book. It might be the next best thing ready to happen, but you really need a better approach. I was just going to delete this email and go about my day, but I thought I'd give you the perspective of a bookstore owner, and that it might grant you some insight to your goals.

Good Luck,

Kevin Coolidge
From My Shelf Books

So, you’ve written that novel, self-published, and now you are wondering what you are going to do with those 500 books you bought at author discount, currently stacked in your garage? Tune in next week for some promotional ideas to get your books into the hands of readers who aren’t your neighbors or relatives.

Publish? Or Perish? Email me at Last week didn’t quite work for you? Miss a column? Don’t despair; visit our blog at for previous submissions. Hobo started his journey as a self-published cat, his children’s book “Hobo Finds A Home” originally was published by the Hobo himself, because sometimes if you want something done right, you just have to do it yourself…

Monday, February 8, 2010

February 2010 newsletter

Newsletter: Feb. 2010

From My Shelf
87 Main St
Wellsboro, PA 16901
(570) 724-5793

News! : Don’t forget about our “winter hours”: until late March or early April, we’ll be closed Wednesdays & Sundays. We’ll still be open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturdays, 9am to 6pm, to serve your book needs, and you can ALWAYS contact us via email or the website! We check the messages all the time.

*New Membership Benefits! : As we mentioned in the January newsletter, there are now special sales every day for members! Of course, members always get 25% off all new books in the store, but each day there’s an opportunity to save on certain used books as well! Here’s the schedule:

MONDAYS: mysteries & thrillers
TUESDAYS: ‘trashy’ romance (actually all romance)
PLUS! Tuesday is “Two-Fer Tuesday”: buy any 2 used books,
get a 3rd one free!!!
WEDNESDAYS: closed till spring!
THURSDAYS: Christian fiction & nonfiction; religion; spirituality
FRIDAYS: Fiction & Literature
SATURDAYS: Sci-fi & fantasy (includes young adult and paranormal romance)
SUNDAYS: closed till early May

Upcoming Events at the Bookstore: (see calendar on website for details)

*Friday, Jan. 19th, 6 to 9pm: Woolverine Game Night

*Sunday, March 20th, 1 to 4pm: Seminar: Self-Publishing & Marketing Your Book: How to Get Started, What to Consider, Pitfalls to Avoid: facilitated by Kasey, featuring guess commentary by several successful writers who have self-published
seminar cost: $15 pre-registration highly recommended

Book club: is taking an extended leave of absence, as we regroup and work on other projects right now! Look for future event notices!

Percy Jackson’s Valentine’s Quest: Sunday, Feb. 14th

BACKGROUND: The bestselling young adult series, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians", by Rick Riordan, will debut as a movie on Friday, Feb. 12th. The first book, "The Lightning Thief", was made into a movie by 20th Century Fox, directed by Chris Columbus -- who directed such big box office hits like the first two Harry Potter movies, Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Goonies. From the previews, it looks to handle the action scenes and special effects really well.

The books follow Percy Jackson, a seventh grade kid who has always had a hard time in school -- he's dyslexic, for one, and for some reason, trouble always seems to follow him. As the first book opens, one of his teachers turns into a monster (a Fury) and attacks him. His Ancient History teacher confesses: Percy is actually the son of one of the Gods of Olympus. Since Percy is Poseidon's son, Zeus believes that Poseidon asked Percy to steal his lightning bolt.... the bolt must be found soon, or there will be a war on Olympus.......

This is a great adventure story -- it's funny, smart, exciting. Kevin and Kasey both did reviews for the paper on these books and relevant Greek/Roman mythology books. (see our blog at -- notice no “www” at beginning!) The series is fantastic, and if the movies are handled well, could have much of the same appeal as the Harry Potter series. So far, the five books in the series have remained on bestseller lists since the series debuted in 2005.

Bookstore & Community EVENT FOR THE MOVIE RELEASE: A Valentine’s Quest

The movie, "The Lightning Thief", opens in Wellsboro and nationwide on Friday, Feb. 12th. Join other Olympians at From My Shelf bookstore on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 14th to participate in some mythology games & activities, then venture with us to George's Restaurant for some real Greek food before we all go to a matinee showing of "The Lightning Thief". We'll have a Valentine's Adventure together in the name of Aphrodite!

Each person must pay his/her own way at George's and at the Arcadia, but each quest has a reward waiting! At From My Shelf, get gold coins to cross the River Styx and also enter contests to win prizes (sorry, though, no chariot racing in the store). At George's Restaurant, enjoy free drinks with your meal! There are lots of inexpensive choices at George’s and the chance to try some REAL Greek food – dolmades, moussaka, souvlaki, spanikopita, baklava. Then, at the Arcadia, if you bring a copy of one of the books from the "Percy Jackson" series, you get also get a free drink with your movie ticket.

Anyone who comes in costume to the bookstore gathering on Valentine's Day is entered to win one of our great mythology collections .... we'll draw for three books .... worth as much as $25. We'll also give smaller prizes to everyone in costume. Let's see some heroes and monsters ... Cerebus or the Cyclops, Zeus or Aphrodite. If you don’t know who to be, brush up your mythology!

Please join us for one, two or all three parts of our quest on Sunday, Feb. 14th. Also, any day over the period of time the movie is showing at the Arcadia, bring your used movie ticket to the bookstore for a 10% discount off any book in the "Percy Jackson series". Also, bring any book from the "Percy Jackson" series to the Arcadia when you buy your movie ticket, and receive a free small drink with your movie!

For details regarding specific times of events and/or cost of movie ticket, call us at 724-5793.

Read It Before You See It: from Kevin – I loved reading pulp fiction when growing up. Fast paced tales of Conan, the Cthulu mythos, Tarzan, and John Carter of Mars. If you haven't heard, Pixar Productions is working on John Carter of Mars for 2012, which is the 100th anniversary of the first book in the series, A Princess of Mars. 100 years later and this book is still in print, and in stock at From My Shelf Books, as well as many other books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Hollywood loves a reboot, and there's going to be a reboot of the Conan saga originally written by Robert E. Howard, as well as a new movie of his lesser known characters, Solomon Kane. There are several books by Howard in the Conan series, but other authors have continued the adventures of this shrewd barbarian, including L. Sprague de Camp, and Robert Jordan. We have lots of Conan books in stock, though I haven't been able to locate any with the character Solomon Kane. I'm looking for those, and when they come back in print, I'll have some in.

Michelle’s corner: Meet Michelle!! Michelle is always right on top of the romance and paranormal romance section. She knows more about these authors, these series and the new releases than anyone else here, so we drafted her to give us a little insight each month.

Soulless, An Alexia Tarabotti Novel written by Gail Carriger
Alexia is a 25 year old soulless spinster who carries a specially-made umbrella as a weapon. She is considered unmarriageable due to her stubbornness and rather large nose. At a party, she is attacked by a vampire and has to kill him. This brings about an investigation led by the brawny Scottish Lord Maccon, who is also a werewolf. The two of them find themselves caught up in a mystery together. Can they figure out what’s happening to the vampires or will they just drive each other crazy?

I have to admit that just the name and the picture on the cover of this book captured my attention, but I am so glad it did! It’s such a fun, original combination of both the Victorian times and the paranormal -- two of my favorite genres. The characters have such great personalities; it’s filled with witty banter that keeps you chuckling or snorting (whatever you prefer to do). It’s a fast, fun read that I highly recommend. Good news too! The second in the series will be coming out March 30th. It is entitled Changeless.

Michelle’s picks for new releases not to miss

(These series need to be read in order)
Jan 5th - Through Stone and Sea: A Novel of the Noble Dead by Barb & J.C. Hendee

Jan 2nd - Flirt (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, Book 18) by Laurell K.Hamilton

(a new series by a prolific romance author!)
Jan 2nd - Steamed: A Steampunk Romance by Katie Macalister

(This is a new series based on some characters from her Night Huntress series)
Feb 9th - First Drop of Crimson: A Night Huntress World, Book 1 by Jeaniene Frost

This just in! New releases/new inventory to celebrate!
5 C Hero: The Joel Stephens Story by Michael D’Aloisio
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
The 39 Clues #7: The Viper’s Nest
Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A.E. Moorat
My Zombie Valentine (collection by several contemp.romance authors)
How to Tell if Your Boyfriend is the Anti-christ (And if he is, should you break up with him?) by Patricia Carlin
The Missing Ink: A Tattoo Shop Mystery by Karen Olson
Growing Up: Rachel Yoder – Always Trouble Somewhere by Wanda Brunstetter
The Future of Faith by Harvey Cox
The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney (newest Caldecott Winner!)
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (newest Newbery Winner!)

Monday, February 1, 2010

You Want Fries With That?

Kevin Coolidge

Tired, hungry, and rolling along U.S. Route 6 in rural Pennsylvania—a hankering for a black cup of coffee, a piping hot roast beef sandwich, and a warm piece of pie with vanilla ice cream melting around the edges, makes my stomach sit up and beg. I pull up next to a porcelain jewel known in these parts as the Wellsboro Diner, and make my way inside, taking a seat at the lunch counter. A broad-shouldered woman, name tag labeled “Holly”, with a long, brown braid down her back is flipping burgers and grilling onions in a stained apron, smiles.

“What can I get you?”

Ten minutes later I’m shoveling in creamy potatoes smothered in gravy when I notice that Holly’s smile has disappeared.

“Aw, damn it. Not tonight.”

I quickly sneak a look over my left shoulder, and see a shambling corpse pressed against the glass door, staring hungrily at me.

“Don’t you worry. I’ll handle this,” Holly drawls, as she pulls a double-barreled shotgun from below the counter, takes aim, and squeezes the trigger, and a spray of bone, dust, and cadaver beetles covers a display case filled with pie and pastry.

“That zombie sure is a persistent little feller. Keeps coming round trying to sell me calendars of the Grand Canyon. Seems like he’d realize this is home of the Pine Creek Gorge. Hey, you still hungry? Leave room for pie???”

Welcome to my next book review, Gil’s All Fright Diner, where zombie attacks are a regular occurrence and you don’t even want to know what’s lurking in the freezer. Duke and Earl are just your seemingly average blue-collar guys rambling through the American Southwest in their old pickup truck. They’re just passing through Rockwood County when they stop at a diner for a quick bite to eat. They aren’t planning on sticking around, but the truck is riding on the spare and the gas gauge is chasing empty. So when the diner’s owner offers them one hundred bucks to take care of the persistent zombie problem, Duke and Earl jump at the offer. After all, Duke’s a werewolf and Earl’s a vampire, and this looks right up their supernatural alley.

Course, those of you familiar with zombie infestations know that the lumbering undead are usually just the tip of the paranormal iceberg, and that’s the case in Rockwood. Seems someone is out to bring on Armageddon and more than willing to raise a little hell to accomplish it. Soon, Duke and Earl are running into otherworldly complications—such as zombie poultry, a possessed magic eight-ball, and the horrifying, occult power of Pig Latin.

This book won an Alex Award in 2006. The Alex Awards are given every year to ten books written for adults that have a special appeal to kids 12 to 18. I found this fun story packed with warped humor and action, but also the scattered four-letter word, some casual teenage sex (not graphic), and a little blood and gore (occasionally graphic). It’s all light-hearted, but a few adults may find it a little mature for your average twelve or thirteen year old.

The horror genre can take itself pretty seriously, but this fast-paced comic horror satire is sure to be an enjoyable quick read for those who enjoy Douglas Adams or Christopher Moore. Rumor has it that the movie rights have been sold for Gil’s, and that it’s currently in pre-production. So make sure you save room for popcorn and pie…

Applesauce? Or Coleslaw? Email me at Miss a past column? Order’s up at Looking for a taste of Tioga County? Check out “Hobo Finds A Home”, a children’s book about a kitten who found a home. Now available with extra pickles, grilled onions and a juicy slice of tomato, yum…