|Left to right: Schyrlet Cameron,|
Carolyn Craig, Kathy Brown
Sitting in your favorite chair—comfy, soothing, quiet—reading an engrossing book. Intoxicating aroma of hot coffee from a new mug surrounds your space, coffee brewed with fresh-ground Arabica beans.
Wait a minute. That’s not you? Wossamotta U? (Hats off to Rocky and Bullwinkle.)
It could be you if you ordered your book, mug, and coffee beans from Home Grown Books and KeenBean Coffee Roasters, Mount Vernon, Missouri. Treat yourself or start a holiday gift tradition while giving a boost to self-published authors who live in the Ozarks.
“This is a perfect fit for our authors and just one of the ways we help them promote their self-published books,” says Home Grown Books co-founder Schyrlet (as in Charlotte) Cameron.
In the beginning
Home Grown Books was started by Cameron, her sister Kathy Brown, and Carolyn Craig as a result of their own experiences. The women vacationed together several times and when they returned home told stories of their trips, embellished for more fun. Friends and family encouraged them to write a novel and publish it. The trio went with the popular vampire theme.
“It had to be humorous, not scary like other vampire books,” says Cameron. “The women had to be strong and get the best of the vampires instead of being victims. We figured the big traditional publishing houses wouldn’t be interested, so we self-published.”
They used the pseudonym CC Brown as the author of their paranormal thriller, Dark Side. The book was awarded Best of Show at the 2011 Northern Oklahoma Literary Arts Book Festival and chosen the Number One Summer Read by the Springfield News-Leader in 2011. It is available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. It is also in Barnes & Noble stores in Springfield, St. Louis, Kansas City, Tulsa, and San Antonio. The authors held book signings in each of those cities.
“Too many new authors don’t understand that publishers, agents, distributors, and readers are not going to break down doors to get their books,” says Cameron. Authors also don’t understand how to promote their books. That’s where Home Grown Books comes in using the bookstore-within-a-coffee-shop business model.
Their first two stores
Tracy and Darrell Bradshaw, owners of KeenBean Coffee Roasters, agreed to rent bookshelf space. The Bradshaws are supportive of the arts, showcasing and selling works of local artists and crafters in their sixties-style coffee shop. Carolyn Craig built bookshelves which she and others installed. First on the shelves were Dark Side and books of Betty Craker Henderson who writes novels for young adults.
“The exposure is good for me,” says Henderson. “I get more sales from this method than with book signings.”
It’s a win-win for everyone.
“We really like supporting local authors,” says Tracy Bradshaw. “We get customers and customers get an extra treat.”
Four months after opening and with fifteen authors on board, Home Grown Books expanded to Maggie Mae’s Tea Room in Miller, Missouri. Owner Marsha Hill was already displaying books by several authors and liked the idea of adding shelf space.
“It’s a wonderful way to show appreciation for our local authors,” says Hill.
Today, Home Grown Books has thirty authors and is looking for another location.
How the process works
An author of fiction or nonfiction, whether self-published or traditional, provides five to ten books and pays Home Grown Books ten dollars per month to help cover the shelf rental fees. Reading areas are available in the stores. Visitors find a book they like and pay for it at checkout. Stores record sales and turn over the money monthly to Home Grown Books, which forwards the money to authors. Authors receive 100% of their book’s cover price.
Sales are not guaranteed and not every member sells a book every month. To increase the likelihood of sales, Home Grown Books helps authors find speaking engagements, book signings, newspaper and broadcast interviews, buys newspaper advertising, has an online bookstore, and is developing video trailers for authors.
“At the present time this is a fun volunteer project for us,” says Cameron. “Perhaps down the road we can work out a way for us to make money. For now, we’re happy helping Ozarks authors become successful who otherwise might not receive recognition and payment.”
What’s next? Perhaps a how-to book detailing the Home Grown Books model of book promotion and sales.
In the meantime, visit Home Grown Books and order your fresh-ground Arabica coffee beans, mug, and book and start your tradition for the holidays. Shipped anywhere in the world. You provide the comfortable chair.
View a TV interview about the project and visit the Home Grown Books blog.
Schyrlet Cameron has thirty-four years of experience as an elementary and middle school teacher. She has authored or co-authored thirteen teacher resource books. Carolyn Craig has twenty-six years of experience as an elementary and middle school teacher and has co-authored nine teacher resource books. Kathy Brown is a licensed preschool educator, has thirty years of experience in early childhood education, and owns and operates a preschool day care.
Photo courtesy Schyrlet Cameron.
Tell us about your experiences in a promotional group for local authors in your area.