Writer with His Own Bookstore

by Kevin Coolidge
(Wellsboro PA)

Hobo Finds A Home - self published cover

Hobo Finds A Home - self published cover

Hobo Finds A Home - self published cover
Hobo's Edgecliff Kids cover

A writer with his own bookstore proves his book has appeal.

Hobo Did Indeed Find a Home.

I love books, and I don't remember not being able to read. So, I guess it's natural that I started a bookstore. I love matching the right person to the right book, and I always thought it'd be great if my book was one of them.

I read in my local paper about a class on how to write a children's book. I thought it would be fun, and so I jumped at the chance.

The story came naturally. It was about my cat and how my cat came to adopt me. I've always been an animal person, but I grew up with dogs and was never a cat person.

I ended up feeding a stray kitten who was getting chased away by skunks and possums and the fat, neighborhood cat. I would bring him inside to make sure he was fed, and he ended up moving in with me.

I would tell this story to my nephews. They would laugh at Hobo's adventures and how he came to live with me, and basically the book wrote itself.

It was a cute story, but I wasn't going to publish it. There are so many new books every year. But my girlfriend loved the book, and a friend of ours, Susan M. Gage, wanted to illustrate the book, so we went ahead with the project.

Bookstore owner writes book

I chose Booklocker because a friend had used them for a children's book and thought well of them. They told me what to expect, and they fit my need for the book at the time.

Hobo Finds a Home went on to be more popular than I expected. People loved the story and the childlike illustrations. We sold almost 700 copies in a year, out of a small bookstore in a rural town.

The book was popular enough that a small press out of Ohio picked it up. The new press, called Edgecliff Kids, wanted new, brighter illustrations and that's what they got.

I took the old edition out of print, but I still have some copies left. I display the older edition and the new edition right next to each other. Some customers prefer the older, out of print edition, and several reading teachers have commented how they find it easier for beginning readers.

Though I love both editions, I do feel a certain sense of fulfillment that many people prefer the "self-published" version as opposed to the new published version.

So, if you are thinking of writing that children's book, or that novel, don't let anyone talk you out of it. You probably aren't going to be the next James Patterson or Stephen King, but you might just write a book that someone falls in love with, and sometimes that's enough.

Visit a writer's bookstore (online at least).

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Dec 17, 2008
Own a bookstore, sell a book
by: Steve B. (webmaster)

Kevin, what a great story. It seems to me Hobo has found a number of homes!

But let's talk about the book. I'll bet we agree that the best place to sell a book is at a place that sells books.

Not a place that sells a book. Or an author.

That seems obvious, but it's something I often find myself preaching to writers.

They put up self-named websites almost automatically. Then they try to sell their book.

I'm reasonably sure you wouldn't have sold 700 copies of Hobo's book if it was the only one in your store!

I've sold a couple hundred books from this site so far this month. Less than 5% were my own books.

Whether offline or virtual, a bookstore needs to sell more than one book. Otherwise no one shows up!

I know I'm preaching to the choir in addressing Kevin, but I'm hoping lots of other authors - not yet choir members - take note.

If you're going to bother having a website, make sure it can attract traffic. If you sell ONLY your book...

I'm likely to sell more of your book than you are. And so is Kevin.

If you've written a book about cats, your website should probably be about cats.

Not just about your book.

If it's about cats, the search engines will likely find your site. People searching for information about cats will locate you. And then some of them will say,

"Look, honey! The guy with the cat website has a book!"

If your site is only about your book - which happens to feature a cat - then there is no information on your site about cats, which is to say...

Nothing for search engines to find and recommend.

Search engines don't rank sites highly because they sell a book on the subject that MIGHT have good information in it.

No, the engines are in the business of finding sites with information, not books with information.

This site gets more visitors in an hour than most author sites get in a month. Kevin's bookstore no doubt sells more books in a day than most author sites do in a year.

Think bigger.

A web traffic estimator suspects that this site gets 40,000 visitors a month.

Think he could sell a few cat books? He used the same outfit to create his website as I did to create this one.

Think bigger. A tiny website with a tiny focus is almost like no website at all.

Kevin, congrats to you (and Hobo) on all the well-deserved success!

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